The Carbon Copy (Article)

THE CARBON COPY (Article) by Dr. Abidan Shah

(Published in the newspaper Daily Dispatch, Henderson on December 29, 2022)

“Clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.” (2 Corinthians 3:3)

How many of you remember using a carbon copy back in the dark ages? The top sheet was the original white copy, then the carbon paper, and then below that was the pink or yellow copy. You had to bear down on the original and the impression would transfer from the top through the carbon pigment on to the copy. You could not retrace nor alter the faint lines on the copy. Whatever made it through the carbon was final. So also, God is the author of our story. The original copy is his story of the gospel of redemption through his Son, Jesus Christ. The carbon paper is the work of the Holy Spirit through his Word. The bottom copy is our personal story. 

God has been writing on the top copy ever since the beginning of time. It’s the story of the “Lamb slain from the foundation of the world” (Revelation 13:8). Adam and Eve were the first to hear about the promise in God’s judgment against the Serpent in Genesis 3:15, referred to as the protoevangelium: “And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” Throughout the history of the world, prophets foretold regarding the plan and the people waited for “the Seed of the Woman,” “the Man of Promise,” “a Prophet like Moses,” “the Messenger of the Covenant,” “the Chief Cornerstone,” “the Mighty One of Jacob,” “Immanuel,” “the Messiah,” and so many more titles. Finally, in the fullness of time, two thousand years ago, Jesus was born. He lived a perfect sinless life, healed the sick, fed the hungry, preached the gospel of the kingdom, but then he did what he came to do—give his life on the cross from the sins of every human being. He was buried for three days but rose again on the third day and ascended to the right hand of his Father from where he is waiting to return again to finish the rest of the story.

When you receive Jesus as your Savior and King, the impression from the top copy starts marking your copy. God wants you to see and demonstrate the gospel story through your life. The problems that come into your life are no longer random events; instead, they have been allowed by our Heavenly Father to help us “know Him (Christ) and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death” (Philippians 3:10). In facing the trails of life, we become a living demonstration of the gospel of Jesus Christ for the salvation of those around us. Furthermore, we also begin to learn the greatest mystery of life—Who is God? It’s in the fiery furnace that we see the one “like the Son of God” (Daniel 3:25) It’s in life’s exile that we see the one “in the midst of the seven lampstands” (Revelation 1:12). It’s in life’s betrayals, disappointments, and sorrows that we truly understand the grace, mercy, and patient love of God. Has someone pained you? God is pained everyday by millions who deny him. Respond to them the way God responds to us. Finally, the impression from the top copy also reveals the deep selfishness of our own hearts. By allowing us to be deprived of our deepest wants, God teaches us how to love those in our lives more purely, properly, and eternally. 

As you prepare for the New Year, first study the top original copy and then your bottom copy. How close are the two copies?

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