The Four Writings of God

Read 2 Cor. 3.
THERE are four places in Scripture where you find God writing, and this third chapter of 2 Cor. gives us one of them. The lesson He would teach in what He does write differs in each of the four places, and according to the theme on which He is writing.
There are various materials, too, my reader, on which God writes, and also various messages that He writes. Would you like Him to come close enough to write upon you? That would be a moment of supreme blessing for your soul. And where would He write? On your heart. And what would He write? What you are to do? What you are to bring to Him? Would He write condemnation, would He write claims or curses? No, He would write Christ. And what would you find that writing to be? It would be as the apostle Paul puts it in this chapter, the ministration of glory, the ministration of righteousness, the ministration of life.
God is writing Christ now on the fleshy tables of the heart in contrast with His writing the law on the tables of stone.
1.—the Writing on the Stone
Look at the first place where you get God writing—the writing on the tables of stone. This writing has its own deep significance. In Ex. 19 where the Lord speaks to the people of Israel of His claims upon them, before ever they hear what those claims are, they make answer, “All that the Lord hath spoken we will do." Had there been a bit of modesty, a bit of sense of what we are in ourselves, they would have said, “We would like to hear first what God does command." But they say, as it were, “Whatever He commands we are quite able to do." This is the exemplification of the self-sufficiency of the heart of man, which is the very last thing we let go. We like to feel we can be something, do something.
In Ex. 20. we have the law, the Lord asserting His own claims, and the responsibility of man as a creature to meet those claims to God on the one hand, and to his neighbor on the other. The law was the perfection of love towards God and towards your neighbor. Do you think on this ground you could win eternal life? I could not, May be your neighbor's house caught fire lately. Was not the first thought of your heart this, “I am very thankful it is not my house "? Is that loving your neighbor as yourself? The moment you bring in law you put people far from God (Ex. 20:1818And all the people saw the thunderings, and the lightnings, and the noise of the trumpet, and the mountain smoking: and when the people saw it, they removed, and stood afar off. (Exodus 20:18)). “And when the people saw, they removed and stood afar off." The law was never meant to bring people to God. If the law could have given life, where would have been the need of the Gospel? The moment the law comes in you have thunderings and lightnings, and thick darkness, and the people standing afar off, for the law can only curse, can only condemn. It is the "ministration of death," the” ministration of condemnation." The law comes and makes its claims upon me, and when I cannot answer its claims it condemns me.
In Ex. 24:1212And the Lord said unto Moses, Come up to me into the mount, and be there: and I will give thee tables of stone, and a law, and commandments which I have written; that thou mayest teach them. (Exodus 24:12), Moses goes up to the mount to get this law, and in Ex. 31:1818And he gave unto Moses, when he had made an end of communing with him upon mount Sinai, two tables of testimony, tables of stone, written with the finger of God. (Exodus 31:18) we read that God gave to Moses two tables of testimony, tables of stone, " written with the finger of God." The tables of stone are the presentation to man of the claims God makes upon man, and when man puts himself under law, he says, as the people of Israel said, " I am able to answer to those claims.”
But people forget that the law has a curse connected with it, " For as many as are of the works of the law are under the curse; for it is written, Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things that are written in the book of the law to do them.”
What, then, is the value of the law? Rom. 3:1919Now we know that what things soever the law saith, it saith to them who are under the law: that every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God. (Romans 3:19) answers us: “That every mouth may be stopped, and all the world may become guilty before God." What is the object of God? To stop my mouth, and make me know that I am guilty. “Therefore, by the deeds of the law, there shall no flesh be justified in His sight, for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” Does the law give me the knowledge of God? Does it give me everlasting life? Never. It gives me the knowledge of what His claims are, but neither creation nor law will let me know the nature or the heart of God, “By the law is the knowledge of sin." The law came in to raise the question of righteousness.
We think much of ourselves God says, “You think you are able to meet all my claims. I will show you what you are," and the law came in to do it. The test comes in and reveals what the state of man is. No sooner is the law given, than it is broken. Before Moses came down from the Mount, Aaron had made the golden calf, and the people danced around it; the first commandment was broken. Boasting, then, is excluded, man is found guilty, and the Apostle says, “We conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”
The law comes in to teach us that we have no strength to do the thing we ought to do, and therefore to strip us of self-righteousness (Rom. 5:2020Moreover the law entered, that the offence might abound. But where sin abounded, grace did much more abound: (Romans 5:20)). But “where sin abounded grace did much more abound." That is glorious. When the law had come and stirred up the evil in man's heart to convict him that he was nothing but a guilty sinner, then grace comes, in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ, for grace and truth came by Jesus Christ, and He meets in grace and blesses the very sinner, whom the law has convicted of his guilt.
Do you think, my, reader, that you can be justified by the law, that you can get right with God by your good, respectable, religious life? Look at what the apostle says in the Epistle to the Galatians. In the Epistle to the Romans you have the Apostle unfolding the relation of the sinner to God, but in Galatians he is addressing those who, having professed Christ, were going back to try and get justified by the law, and he says, "By the works of the law shall no flesh be justified." If, then, you are thinking you can be justified by anything you can do, or be, for God, see how diverse your plan is from that of the Apostle Paul. Can I go to the law to get justification? Nay I can get judgment, I can get condemnation by it, but never justification. “As many as are of the works of the law are under the curse," If I do not meet its claims entirely, it can only minister condemnation and death.
“What good was the law?" you ask. Gal. 3:1919Wherefore then serveth the law? It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was ordained by angels in the hand of a mediator. (Galatians 3:19) says," It was added because of transgressions, till the seed should come to whom the promise was made." It was added to the promise which God give to Abraham, the promise to bless It came in to raise the question of righteousness, to show man he had no righteousness, and therefore no right to the blessing; that the blessing came out of the grace of God's own heart; and when man is brought down to see that he is guilty, and has no right to the blessing, and lets go his own righteousness, then he is in a condition where God can meet and bless him. When God spoke to Abraham He spoke out of His own heart before law had come in at all.
What then, my reader, can I get from the tables of stone? Nothing but condemnation.
Now we will look for a moment at another place where God wrote.
2.—the Writing on the Wall
Dan. 5 Here we have a very solemn scene of daring impiety and foolishness. Belshazzar drinks with his lords around him, out of the vessels that had been brought out of the house of God. Here we have, not a religious person, trying to be justified by his own good deeds, but a careless, godless, unconverted man. And for such has God no message? He has. Look at Dan. 5, “In the same hour came fort fingers of a man's hand and wrote over against the candlestick upon the plaster of the wall of the king's palace; and the king saw the part oi the hand that wrote. Then the king's countenance was changed, and his thoughts troubled him, so that the joints of his loins were loosed, and his knees smote one against another.” Oh, my reader, how God can break in on your worldliness, how He can break in on your carelessness or your impiety. This careless man was troubled. That hand-writing, in an unknown language, was a testimony from God. He was a terrified and affrighted sinner, and so would you be, my reader, if you saw death come in view, come up close to you. You may go on carelessly now, but the day is coming when God will pull you up, and then your countenance will be changed, your thoughts will be troubled, you too will be affrighted.
There is a reckoning day coming, unconverted reader. You will have to face God sooner or later, and when you meet Him by-and-bye, a sinner in your sins, you will read your doom as plainly as Belshazzar read the words on the plaster on the wall. Oh, think of the road you are traveling—for it is the road to hell—and you will wake up one day to find that the day of grace is over, the Day of Judgment commenced; that for you there is no longer a way of salvation, but only a way of eternal damnation.
Daniel says to Belshazzar, “Thou hast lifted up thyself against the God of heaven.... and hast praised the gods of silver..... and the God in whose hands thy breath is, and whose are all thy ways, hast thou not glorified.” What are your gods, my reader? Your gads are the things that command you, be they pleasures, or business, or whatever they be. Daniel tells Belshazzar he has not humbled his heart, and has not glorified God. Have you ever humbled your heart, or glorified God? Nay, nay, you have lifted yourself up, and the God in whose hands thy breath is has been never thought of. But let God only speak this day, and what then? The place that knows you now, shall know you no more forever.
This was the writing on the wall: “God hath numbered thy kingdom, and finished it.” Thy days are numbered. Who can say that this is not your case—your days numbered and finished, my unblessed, unsaved reader? “Thou art weighed in the balances and found wanting." Yes, unconverted reader, God looks into your heart and finds no Christ there. He weighs you and finds you wanting. Your days are numbered, and God knows you are not fit for eternity.
Belshazzar disregarded the writing on the wall. He contented himself with making Daniel a great man, and went on with his feast, and we know the result—that very night he was slain. The enemy entered under those very gates that seemed to defy the foe, after first diverting the course of the river, as history tells us, and Belshazzar met his doom. Yes, my friend, Belshazzar disregarded the warning, but do not you disregard it.
3.—the Writing on the Ground
There is again another place where the finger of God writes, and this we have recorded in John 8. A lovely scene it is. They bring to Jesus a poor guilty woman that He may condemn her, and what does lie do? " He stooped down and with His finger wrote on the ground," and then He says, the one that is sinless is the only one that can cast the stone at her, and this working on their consciences they all went out, and the sinless One who alone could cast the stone, and the guilty convicted sinner are left together.
The writing on the ground has to me this significance here, as though Jesus would show that when law could only condemn the guilty sinner, grace in His own person comes in, and as the Psalmist says, “Thou has brought me into the dust of death." In order to meet and bless the guilty condemned sinner He Himself must go into the dust of death, the sinner's place.
When the writing on the tables of stone could only condemn, and when the writing on the wall could only ring out the sentence of judgment, then this blessed One Himself comes down into the very dust of death. Not to condemn, but to seek and to save. He came down to save. Has He saved you, my reader, yet?
Do you ask, how does He save? This third chapter of 2 Cor. shows you. God saves on the ground of the finished work of Christ; and now from an ascended living Christ in glory you have the Holy Ghost coming out and ministering—what? That God does not claim anything from you, but brings something to you, that though the condemnation and the judgment have been pronounced, yet His blessed Son has come down and gone to the cross for us. All the claims of God, and the judgment of God have been met there by Him, and the One who was upon the cross for your sins, is now alive in glory, and the Holy Ghost comes down and says, what we have in the fourth writing.
4.—the Writing on the Heart
The Holy Ghost says, I will write Christ on your heart. He will not write now what God claims from you, or the sentence of judgment upon you because you have not met those claims. He is not now even writing what Christ can do, or will do; but now He speaks to you of what Christ has done, and if you receive Him, He writes Christ in your heart. It is all Christ. Christ has borne sins, Christ has taken the curse of the law, Christ has taken the judgment of God, Christ has gone into the dust of death, and now the Holy Ghost seeks to write Christ on your heart. God's thoughts are all about Christ, and He is looking for hearts on which He may write Christ. Dear believer, Jesus died for you, Jesus met all God's claims in righteousness for you, Jesus stood in your stead, and bore all that you would have had to bear.
Reader, may the Holy Ghost write Christ on your heart to-day, if He never has before, and the effect of His writing in the fleshy tables of your heart will be that Christ will be seen in you. P. W.