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The Scriptorium

The Right Credentials

Paul had 'em. 2 Corinthians 3.1-3

2 Corinthians 3 (1)

Pray Psalm 48.1-3.
Great is the LORD, and greatly to be praised
In the city of our God,
In His holy mountain.
Beautiful in elevation,
The joy of the whole earth,
Is Mount Zion on the sides of the north,
The city of the great King.
God is in her palaces;
He is known as her refuge.

Sing Psalm 48.1-3.
(Cwm Rhonda: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
Great is God, now greatly praise Him in the city of the LORD!
Holy she, His lovely mountain, great and glorious by His Word!
God her King is great within her, He, her Stronghold ever sure!
He, her Stronghold ever sure!

Read and meditate on 2 Corinthians 3.1-3.

1. What did Paul not require?

2. Why did he not require this?

Apparently, the false apostles who slithered into Corinth after Paul left insisted they should be heard because they had “credentials.” They were properly trained. Could produce some certification. Had a letter of recommendation from puffed-up theologians back in the old country.

Well, yes, not only did Paul not have such credentials, but everywhere he preached and taught the “credentialed” crowd tried to stop him. He didn’t have the appropriate paperwork (No seminary degree? Oh, my). And he refused to seek it (v. 1). But he had a better letter authenticating his teaching and work.

Paul described the Corinthians as an epistle of Christ, written on his heart and on the hearts of those who ministered with him (v. 2). All men knew and read that epistle, because they heard Paul boasting in the Lord about the Corinthians and their faith, and they saw the Corinthians themselves, like a broadside published for all to read and note.

The content of this epistle was Christ, of Whom they were a fragrance, and Whom Paul sought to form in them individually and as a community. The ink with which he wrote was the Spirit of God, working with God's Word. He and his colleagues “ministered” this epistle (v. 3), relying on the Spirit and His Presence, power, and Word to liberate the Corinthians from their former corruption into the glory of the Lord and the image of Jesus Christ (vv. 12-18). His “writing” of this epistle was from and for his heart, to and for theirs, to refocus and nurture their love for God and one another. And now he saw that this was happening.

This is the work of the Spirit and the substance of the New Covenant. This is where the glory of God is encountered and how it is displayed. This love, the love of Christ, begotten, borne, and brimming in the power of the Spirit, is our commendation to the world, the proof we bear concerning the truth of the Gospel, and the credentials by which we carry on our ministry for the Lord.

Treasures Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
God works from the inside out. He starts His work inside us, then moves it gradually from us to our family, then to our fellow Christians, then out into the world. Work needing the Right Credentials.

Imagine the joy of any parent who can say these same words about their children: “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart” (2 Cor. 3.2, 3)! That is the goal for all Christian parents; it is why God blesses us with children.

But as God’s people working in His Kingdom, we have this same goal, that we may say these same words regarding those we love and care for in our Personal Mission Field. Those in our next step beyond parents, spouse, and children. “But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1.8). From the inside out.

When we truly understand that we are an epistle, known and read by all, then we will understand the importance of following God’s Law and being exemplary pieces of writing by Him. We long to declare the beauty, grace, love, mercy, goodness, and forgiveness of Jesus Christ through our well-written and well-lived lives.

“Let not mercy and truth forsake you;
bind them around your neck,
write them on the tablet of your heart,
and so find favor and high esteem
in the sight of God and man.
Trust in the LORD with all your heart,
and lean not on your own understanding;
in all your ways acknowledge Him,
and He shall direct your paths” (Prov. 3.3-6).

Write that on your heart—own it, live it—be conferred with the Right Credentials for Kingdom work.

For reflection
1. What “epistle” are you writing for the people you will meet today?

2. What “credentials” do you possess for speaking with authority about Christ and His Kingdom?

3. Whom will you encourage today by telling them they are an epistle of Jesus to the world?

Nothing is more delightful to faithful ministers, or more to their praise, than the success of their ministry, as shown in the spirits and lives of those among whom they labor. The law of Christ was written in their hearts, and the love of Christ shed abroad there.
Matthew Henry (1662-1714), Commentary on 2 Corinthians 3.1-3

Pray Psalm 48.9-14.
Praise and thank the Lord that He loves His Church and is working to beautify her for Himself every day. Ask Him how you can share in that great work.

Sing Psalm 48.9-14.
Cwm Rhonda: Guide Me, O Thou Great Jehovah)
For Your grace and lovingkindness we proclaim Your matchless worth!
As Your Name is, great and boundless, let Your praise fill all the earth.
Let Your people sing rejoicing for the judgment of Your truth;
for the judgment of Your truth.

Walk about the blessèd city, see her beauty, see her power.
Count her ramparts, filled with glory, look on every mighty tower.
Tell her glory to the nations: God will guide her evermore;
God will guide her evermore!

T. M. and Susie Moore

The Church in Corinth was in need of revival. But there was much to be done before that would happen. The Church today needs revival, and the same is true for us. Our book, Revived!, can help us to discern our need for revival and lead us in getting there. Order your copy by clicking here.

Support for Scriptorium comes from our faithful and generous God, who moves our readers to share financially in our work. If this article was helpful, please give Him thanks and praise.

And please prayerfully consider supporting The Fellowship of Ailbe with your prayers and gifts. You can contribute online, via PayPal or Anedot, or by sending a gift to The Fellowship of Ailbe, 103 Reynolds Lane, West Grove, PA 19390.

Except as indicated, all Scriptures are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter, available by clicking here.

T.M. Moore

T. M. Moore is principal of The Fellowship of Ailbe, a spiritual fellowship in the Celtic Christian tradition. He and his wife, Susie, make their home in the Champlain Valley of Vermont.
Books by T. M. Moore

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