2 Corinthians 3:1-4 (NIV) — “Are we beginning to commend ourselves again? Or do we need, like some people, letters of recommendation to you or from you? You yourselves are our letter, written on our hearts, known and read by everybody. You show that you are a letter from Christ, the result of our ministry, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the Living God, not on tablets of stone but on the tablets of human hearts. Such confidence as this is ours through Christ before God.”
Have you ever needed and asked for a letter of recommendation?
Just for clarity, there’s a letter of recommendation that is a written support of a candidate’s application for a specific scholarship, program, job or other opportunity.
A reference letter is a general endorsement of the person’s character, knowledge and skills.
My intent for today’s article isn’t to interpret this passage of Scripture but to use these verses to springboard thought and consideration.
In the Apostles writings, the basic idea in 2 Corinthians 3 is that prior to the trouble in Corinth, the same troublemaking legalists who were instigating problems in Jerusalem and Antioch were now in Corinth trying to confuse the new believers.
What I consider a key verse is 2 Corinthians 3:6b — “Not of the letter but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.” If you understand this third chapter, the difference between the letter of the Law of Moses and life through the Spirit, how blessed you are!
What if you just recently started going to church? What if you were recently baptized? Perhaps you are new at telling others, “Yes, I’m a Christian,” or “Yes, Jesus is my Savior-Redeemer.”
It seems that regardless of how new to the Christian faith you are, there is a unrealistic expectation that you are prepared and that you have a solid testimony ready for instant delivery, that you know all the books of the Bible and your understanding of your doctrine is without fault — Whew! That’s some kind of pressure! It’s one thing to have that kind of expectation coming from the world of nonbelievers, but how critical it is that it doesn’t come from within the church without guidance and preparation.
I submit the next verses for your consideration.
1 Corinthians 3:1-3a — “Brothers, I could not address you as spiritual but as worldly — mere infants in Christ. I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed you are still not ready. You are still worldly.”
In the working world, there is a process of acknowledgement regarding knowledge and experience, such as an apprentice and a journeyman and a master. In almost every field, there is some type of ranking system.
In the Apostle Paul’s writing in 1 Corinthians 2, he shows us two types of persons: a natural person and a spiritual person.
It’s in the third chapter of First Corinthians that he brings up my current focus of this article. It’s pointedly focused on the believers,what I’ve often heard labeled as Carnal Christians and Spiritual Christians.
The King James Version says it clearly for us.
1 Corinthians 3:1 — “And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as carnal, even as unto babes in Christ.”
So our walk of faith is a journey. Our new believers have been born again, babes in Christ. They need discipleship. My aim is to review or submit for your consideration the spiritual principle of the 11th chapter of Romans of the ingraffed branches. The chapter is speaking about Jews and Gentiles. My line of thought as a teaching tool to illustrate the basics of grafting in, as in the world of horticulture. There is a step-by-step process. There are different methods of grafting.
I was once told, “There’s no such thing as a Carnal Christian. You’re either Christian or you are not.” I cannot express how deeply I disagreed with that. It’s called “a walk of faith, growing in Christ” for a reason.
1 Corinthians 2:4 — “My message and my preaching were not with wise persuasive words, but with a demonstration of the Spirit’s power, so that your faith might not rest on men’s wisdom, but on God’s power.”
Each believer is a letter of recommendation. Our bearing of the fruits and gifts of the Holy Spirit is our reference letter to the world. Even more so to the new believer.