Paul has just described the believers in Corinth as 'letters from God'. They were His 'handwriting' to communicate to other people the richness of His grace and His life-changing power. Paul then compared those 'living letters' with the writing on stone tablets which God gave Moses to teach His people. Not only were those words literally stone cold, they could never bring life. The commandments condemned lawbreakers. And yet the scene on Mount Sinai was frighteningly full of God's glory, endorsing the law as God's 'gold standard' (Exodus 33:18-23).
Even though Moses was not allowed to see God, the glory of the Lord clung to him and radiated from him for a while when he met the people. It was so bright that Moses had to veil his face (Exodus 34:29-35). Paul commented that if the ministry which announced condemnation was glorious, how much more glorious is the ministry of the gospel which announces forgiveness and a righteousness which is given to us freely through Christ (Philippians 3:8-9). This message is not chiselled into stone but welded into our hearts by the Holy Spirit.
The word 'glory' in the Old Testament conveys a sense of weighty awesomeness. It is both seen and felt. It is a part of the way God expresses Himself. In comparison to Sinai with its thick clouds, smoke, thunder and lightning (Exodus 19:16-19), Calvary was very quiet apart from Christ's final cry, but also dark (Luke 23:44-46). No trace of glory there. And yet the preaching of Christ crucified is the most glorious message in all eternity (2 Corinthians 4:4-6). Unlike the glory on Moses' face which faded, the glorious effect of the gospel grows greater and greater, as people trust in Jesus (Proverbs 4:18).
Although the message of the gospel is foolishness to the world, it is the daily demonstration of God's power to us who believe (1 Corinthians 1:18). Sharing that message is considered to be a worthless activity by those who resist Jesus. But it is one of the reasons for our existence as believers, to announce that Jesus the Saviour has come so whoever trusts in Him will be forgiven and welcomed into His eternal life (John 3:16). Jesus (John 17:22-24) wanted His disciples to see and share His glory; and that is true for all who repent and obey the gospel. Even if you are not confident to tell the whole story you can use www.crosscheck.org.uk to explain the gospel to your friends. Let God write His glorious truth on their hearts so that they might share His glory.
© Dr Paul Adams