LETTERS OF CHRIST
After Paul tells us that he is a captive in chapter 2, he goes on to tell us that we have to be letters of Christ in 3:3. The second aspect of a person who lives in the spirit, the Holy of Holies, is that he is a letter. In 3:3 Paul said that “you are a letter of Christ ministered by us, inscribed not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God.” A letter is something that has been written. But if you have never been captured by Christ, you could never be written on by the Spirit of the living God. First, you have to be captured. To be captured by Christ means that your emotions are subdued, your will is subdued, and even your desires are captured. Then the Spirit has a free way to write on you whatever He wants to write of Christ. Christ has been put into you (Col. 1:27), and as the Spirit (2 Cor. 3:17) He is within you to write the elements, the riches, of Christ into your whole being. But if you are rebellious in your mind, in your emotions, and in your will, there is no way for the Spirit of Christ to write something of Christ into your being. He is waiting for you to be willing to be captured by Christ. If you are conquered, defeated, subdued, and captured by Christ, you will be a good piece of paper for the Spirit’s writing.
You may think that you are able to go out to do some work for the Lord, but you may merely be “a piece of blank paper” with not much of Christ written into you. How much of Christ can others read in your being? This is not merely a matter of speaking or preaching but a matter of being read by others. How much of Christ can be seen or read by others in you? This depends upon how much of Christ has been written into you.
The inner working of the indwelling Christ is an inner writing. The Spirit of the living God is within you waiting all the time for a chance to write something of Christ into your being, into your inward parts. But I say again that until you are willing to be captured by Christ, the Holy Spirit can write nothing of Christ into you. Christ is in your spirit (2 Tim. 4:22), but He is not so much in your mind, emotion, and will. You have Christ within you, but you may be rebellious in your mind, emotion, and will. Now you need to be defeated, conquered, subdued, not doctrinally but practically in your mind, emotion, and will. When you are really subdued by Christ, the Holy Spirit, who is the Spirit of Christ within you, will have the chance, the free way, to write something of Christ gradually into every part of your being. Paul uses the word inscribed, not merely written. Christ is inscribed into every part of our inner being with the Spirit of the living God to make us His living letters so that He may be expressed and read by others in us.
I am for the study of the Bible, but if you study the Bible only with the desire to get the knowledge of the letters, you will get very little. It is not the knowledge of the letters but the Spirit who gives life (2 Cor. 3:6); it is not the teachings but the Spirit who gives life. If you consider that to read or to study the Word of God is merely to get some knowledge or teaching, you are absolutely wrong. To read and to study the Word is mainly to feed your inner man, to nourish your inner man, not merely to get the knowledge (Jer. 15:16; 1 Tim. 4:6). Regardless of how much knowledge you get from the Bible, if you are not subdued by Christ and being written into with the Spirit of the living God, you can do nothing for the Lord in a way which will really build up His Body.
If we are going to build up His Body, first of all, we ourselves have to be defeated. We have to be conquered. Then we will be under the inner writing of the Spirit all the time. There will be a writing, an inscribing, of Christ going on within us, not by the letters of knowledge in our mind but by the living Spirit in and out from our spirit. Some element of Christ will be inscribed, will be wrought, into the inward parts of our whole being. Something of Christ will be inscribed into our mind, our emotion, our will, and our whole person, our whole being, will become a letter of Christ. It is not merely that we go out to preach Christ by our speaking but that we are persons with Christ inscribed into our being as a living letter of Christ. Wherever we go, people can see and read something of Christ within us.
This is a matter of the ministry, not of gift. You may receive a gift in an instant, but if you are going to have a ministry, you will need an amount of time to be conquered, subdued, and captured by Christ. Eventually, the way will be paved for the indwelling Christ to write Himself gradually, little by little, into your being. Then you will become a minister with a ministry, not merely a gifted person with a gift.
Whatever has been revealed in the Scriptures has to be written or inscribed into you, not merely by your studying of the Word or your reading of the Bible but by your being willing to be captured by Christ. Many Christians think that if they hear better messages to acquire more Bible knowledge, they will become better believers. This is a wrong understanding. To be a minister with a ministry to build up the Body of Christ is not a matter of receiving better teachings or a certain help from hearing messages but a matter of Christ inscribing Himself into us in a living, real, active, and practical way.
How much we need to pray-read the verses in this chapter in a desperate way! We may even fast and pray, “Lord, in my whole life I have never been conquered by You. I have been seeking, but I have never been conquered or captured by You. I am so rebellious toward You in my mind, emotion, and will. Lord, I am fasting for this matter. Be merciful to me and conquer and capture me.” We need such a specific prayer to the Lord. Then we will be a good piece of paper for the living Spirit to inscribe all the riches of Christ into our being. God will accomplish something through us as captives and as living letters of Christ.
(Autobiography of a Person in the Spirit, An, Chapter 3, by Witness Lee)