Paul’s credential is the transformed Christians at Corinth.
The vision of our church is to reach people with the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to gather together to praise and worship Him, and to grow in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ and His Word. Have you ever felt God calling you to be a part of His ministry? God has gifted each of us uniquely with spiritual gifts so that He can use us to reach people with the Gospel, facilitate our gatherings and worship, and grow and help others to grow in the Lord.
When we answer the call of God to be used by Him, God will work through us to draw others to Himself; and through worship and Bible studies, equip others to reach out to the lost. When God is working in and through us, His Holy Spirit will do a great work in the lives of those to whom we are ministering. Yet, it always seems that when God is doing a great work through His people, Satan begins to attack that work and the workers in various ways in order to keep people from coming to the Lord and growing in His Word.
That is the situation we find in 2 Corinthians chapter 3. Paul, and those ministering with him, are accused by false teachers of not having the proper credentials to be an apostle. Paul responds by saying he was appointed an apostle by God and that the Christians in Corinth who had come to know Christ through Paul’s ministry, and whose lives were transformed by the Holy Spirit, were his credentials, “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men” (2 Corinthians 3:2 NKJV). The results of one’s ministry prove whether he is God’s teacher or not.
The false teachers were insisting that God wanted the people to focus on the old covenant, but Paul responded that the Corinthian Christians were his credential written not in ink on tablets of stone, but rather by God’s Spirit on tablets of their hearts. His defense is that he was not sufficient in himself, but the Holy Spirit made him sufficient for ministry – and the transformed lives of the Corinthian Christians were the proof (verses 4-6).
Paul then goes on to show how the new covenant of grace through Jesus Christ is more glorious than the old covenant of the Law. God gave His people the Law through Moses on Mt. Sinai, and when Moses came down from the mountain, his face radiated with the glory of God. However, Paul points out that the old covenant was a ministry of death. It pointed out God’s perfect standard, but no human could keep it. Since man could not keep the law, it sentenced man to death.
Paul goes on to show the church at Corinth in verses 7-11, that if glory was associated with the old covenant of death, how much more glorious the new covenant of grace through Jesus Christ is because it brings the promise of eternal life.
In verses 12-16, Paul explains that Moses wore a veil over his face because God’s glory would blind the people and because this radiated glory and the old covenant would pass away. Those who followed the false teachers and clung to the old covenant of the law would not be able to see the truth and glory of the new covenant of grace that Jesus brought. However, when one turns to the Lord and embraces the new covenant of grace, the veil is lifted from their eyes and their heart, and they can see the greater glory of Christ.
In verse 17 (NKJV), Paul says, “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty.” Those who accept the new covenant of grace through faith in what Jesus did for us on the cross and in the resurrection have a liberated boldness in our relationship with God. Christ did not nullify the old covenant but fulfilled it so that we can boldly approach the throne of grace to receive mercy and grace (Hebrews 4:16). When we do this, verse 18 tells us that we are being transformed into the image of our Lord by His Spirit.
The new covenant is so much more glorious than the old covenant, and when we embrace this truth, God will use us to reach others for Him, be in our midst when we gather to worship and glorify Him and help us to grow in the likeness of His glorious Son.