Written Not With Ink by T. Austin-Sparks

23 February 1957 at Tuo Yuan, Taiwan.

Well, dear friends, we are very happy to come and have this little bit of fellowship with you. We think it is very wonderful of you to come out this wet morning and meet us, and I hope the Lord will reward you with a little word from Himself, so I am going to pass on to you something that is in my heart. It comes out of Paul’s second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 3 and the first six verses:

“Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart. And such trust have we through Christ to God-ward: Not that we are sufficient of ourselves to think any thing as of ourselves; but our sufficiency is of God; Who also hath made us able ministers of the new testament; not of the letter, but of the spirit: for the letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life.”

Now the apostle Paul was one of the greatest letter writers in history. I doubt whether any man’s letters have had as great an influence as his. All through these centuries, people have been reading Paul’s letters and here we are this morning reading them again. Paul was a great letter writer and he knew something about writing letters, he knew what a letter ought to be. And we must remember that all Paul’s writings were in the form of letters. Paul never sat down to write a book on some subject, Paul only wrote letters. Now, there must be some reason why his letters were so fruitful. Why is it that Paul’s letters have proved to be so helpful to such a great number of people? I am only going to mention one or two reasons here this morning.