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Posts Tagged ‘Philemon’

Release of the Captives

July 8, 2012

Philemon

Paul, a prisoner for Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our beloved fellow worker our fellow soldier, and the church in your house:

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers,because I hear of your love and of the faith that you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, and I pray that the sharing of your faith may become effective for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ. For I have derived much joy and comfort from your love, my brother, because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through you.

Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required, yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you for my child, Onesimus, whose father I became in my imprisonment.  Formerly he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful to you and to me.  I am sending him back to you, sending my very heart.  I would have been glad to keep him with me, in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I preferred to do nothing without your consent in order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but of your own accord. For this perhaps is why he was parted from you for a while, that you might have him back forever, no longer as a bondservant but more than a bondservant, as a beloved brother, especially to me, but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord.

So if you consider me your partner, receive him as you would receive me. If he has wronged you at all, or owes you anything, charge that to my account. I, Paul, write this with my own hand: I will repay it, to say nothing of your owing me even your own self. Yes, brother, I want some benefit from you in the Lord. Refresh my heart in Christ.

Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.  At the same time, prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that through your prayers I will be graciously given to you.

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you, and so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

I.  WHEN WE ARE OFFENDED

Let’s start off with a bad memory today

Who has offended you recently => difficulty forgiving

Claims of inability to forgive

Declarations of unwillingness to forgive

When we have been hurt … we seek justice

The deeper the wound … the more difficult to forgive

If you have forgiveness issues, the book of Philemon is for you

Onesimus, a runaway slave is being sent back to Philemon by Paul

II.  LOOK AT GOD’S WORK RATHER THAN THE OFFENSE

God has changed Onesimus … he has confessed and repented

Three changes in Onesimus

He is a convert and a changed person

He desires to make restitution (repentance)

He was of value in service to Paul while in prison

Paul gives God the credit for conversion and repentance

Calvin:

To renew a soul of man and form it anew to the image of God—is not a human work, and it is of this spiritual regeneration that he now speaks

This is where forgiveness has it’s birth

When someone comes seeking forgiveness, they have been sent by God

To deny them forgiveness is to deny God what He desires

This is the theological root of Paul’s appeal

III.  PAUL’S APPEAL TO PHILEMON

Based upon their relationship as Christian brothers

They were co-workers in the Gospel

One of grace and charity

Invites him to forgive, rather than commands him

Luther:

Paul empties himself of his rights to compel Philemon also to waive his rights

Again

A man is more easily drawn than pushed, and compulsion brings with it a rebellious will

Genuine forgiveness flows from the heart, is not forced by command

John 3:16 … For God so loved the world

Romans 5:23 … While we were still sinner, Christ died for us

Love and grace are free acts

Corinthians 9:7 –

Each one must give as he has decided in his heart, not reluctantly or under compulsion, for God loves a cheerful giver.

Forgiveness can be neither demanded nor commanded

We teach the opposite with kids to siblings

IV.  DOES GOD HAVE A PLAN WHEN PEOPLE HURT US?

Joseph and his brothers … remember Joseph’s declarations

Genesis 45:5  

Now do not be distressed or angry with yourselves because you sold me here, for God sent me before you to preserve life.

Genesis 50:20

As for you, you meant evil against me, but God meant it for good, to bring it about that many people should be kept alive, as they are today.

Paul points to the work of God and God’s will

Philemon lost a slave

Paul gained a servant

Philemon gains a brother

Our obsessive focus on the offense blinds us to God’s redemptive mercy

Are we going to follow the work of the Holy Spirit or Satan?

Luther:

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to lead to confession of sin. On the other hand, it is the work of the devil to make the sin worse.

When we withhold forgiveness or fix conditions to earn forgiveness, we play into Satan’s hand

V.  PAUL ASKS PHILEMON TO WELCOME HIM BACK

Paul could have kept Onesimus => thwarting the work of God

Philemon had the right to punish and demand justice

Paul did not deny this or argue against civil law

Paul even offers to cover Onesimus’ debt to Philemon

Paul is willing to make the sacrifice … he becomes the Christ

When we freely and graciously forgive other … we become Christ

Practical theology from the Lord’s Prayer

Forgive us our debts as we forgive others

Paul invites Philemon to live out his faith

VI.  WHEN OTHERS TURN TO US 

When we side with others justifying NO forgiveness …

Often done is sympathy and empathy

Often done as a stand against sin

We are actually standing against God and His grace

Paul teaches how we ought to take care for and restore those who sin

Luther:

The kingdom of Christ is a kingdom of mercy and grace, while the kingdom of Satan is a kingdom of murder, error, darkness, and lies.

Forgiveness is providing sinners and sinned against a new start.

I started by asking you to remember pain

Now I ask you to remember grace => taught you about forgiveness

Art Ross’ grace to me and my high school buddies

The Pope forgiving the man who attacked him

When someone honors your confession and repentance with grace

=> is always a great day for you

This is the day the Lord has made, let us rejoice and be glad in it


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