Christ Manifested to All Men

2 Corinthians 3:1‑18  •  3 min. read  •  grade level: 10
Having set forth the true Christian company as composed of believers upon whose hearts Christ has been written, the Apostle presents the second great truth when he says, not only, "Ye are the epistle of Christ," but also, "Ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ," "known and read of all men."
It is one thing for a gathering of believers to be an epistle of Christ, and quite another for the gathering to be in such a right condition that they manifest to all men something of the character of Christ. The responsibility of any gathering of saints is, not to walk well in order to become an epistle, but, seeing they are an epistle of Christ, to walk well in order that the epistle may be read of all men. If anyone writes a letter of commendation it is to commend the person named in the letter. So when the Spirit of God writes Christ on the hearts of believers, it is in order that they together may become an epistle of commendation to commend Christ to the world around. That by their holy and separate walk, their mutual love to one another, their lowliness and meekness, their gentleness and grace, they may set forth the lovely character of Christ.
Thus it was with the Corinthian saints. They had, indeed, been walking in a disorderly way: but, as the result of the Apostle's first letter, they had cleared themselves from evil so that the Apostle can now say, not only that as an assembly they were an epistle of Christ, but, that they were an epistle "known and read of all men."
Alas! the writing may become indistinct, but it does not cease to be a letter because it is blotted and blurred. Christians are often like the writing on some ancient tomb stone. There are faint indications of an inscription. A capital letter here and there would indicate some name was once written on the stone. But it is so weather-worn and dirt-begrimed that it is hardly possible to decipher the writing. So, alas, may it be with ourselves. When first the Spirit writes Christ upon the hearts of a company of saints, their affections are warm and their collective life speaks plainly of Christ. The writing, being fresh and clear, is known and read of all men. But, as time passes, unless there is watchfulness and self-judgment, envying, strife and bitterness may creep in, and the gathering cease to give any true impression of Christ.
Nevertheless, in spite of all our failure, Christians are the epistle of Christ and it ever remains true that it is God's great intention that all men should see the character of Christ set forth in His people. Here, then, we have a beautiful description of the true Christian company. It is a company of individual believers, gathered to Christ, upon whose hearts Christ has been written, not with ink, but "with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart." As in the tables of stone of old, men could read what the righteousness of God demanded from man under law, so, now, in the lives of God's people, the world should read what the love of God brings to man under grace.