Grace To A Runaway Slave!

Part A:

Part B:

Full Message:


Bible Verse: Philemon 8-22


Introduction:

In his short letter to Philemon, Paul made an appeal for oneness and unity in Jesus Christ. He placed himself in the middle of a broken relationship between Philemon, a slave master, and Onesimus, a runaway slave. Contained within this story of reconciliation, grace, and de-exaltation is the gospel itself. A slave himself, Paul urged Philemon to consider love—not law, duty, or obligation. His instruction to receive Onesimus as a brother, not a slave, challenges us to evaluate our pride and align our perspectives of others with Christ’s perspective. In this letter, Paul helps us reflect on the racial, radical, and redemptive reconciliation Christ offers.

“The salvation secured by Christ in the gospel is more comprehensive than justification alone: it brings repentance, wholeness, love for brothers and sisters in the Christian community.” –D. A. Carson

Outline:

1. Appealing to Love, Not Obligation (Philem. 8-14)

Like Philemon, love is to be our motivation for obeying God in all things. We can easily fall into the trap of obeying God primarily out of obligation. We obey because we have to. We know we should. While this is certainly true—God has given us commands, not suggestions in Scripture— obligation cannot be what prompts our obedience. Love must be.

Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commands (John 14:15). Love fuels obedience; obedience verifies love. A steady diet of love fattens obedience, but obligation will starve it at some point. This is why Jesus fused the two together. Our love for God produces obedience that pleases Him and also brings Him glory as the world around us sees us joyfully obey.

2. Accepting a Brother, Not a Slave (Philem. 15-17)

Love all men, even your personal enemies, not because they are brothers but in order that they may be brothers, in order that you may always burn with brotherly love, whether for one already become a brother or for an enemy so that by [your] loving he may become a brother.” –Augustine

3. Anticipating Grace, Not Duty (Philem. 18-22)

If we as Christians only obey God out of a sense of obligation or duty, then we commit the sin of the Pharisee: righteousness without right-heartedness. God desires that our obedience come from the heart.

After committing adultery with Bathsheba, David discovered, “The sacrifice pleasing to God is a broken spirit. You will not despise a broken and humbled heart, God” (Ps. 51:16-17). God cannot overlook a broken heart. He collects them, tends and mends them. Duty is a harsh master, but through the cracks of a broken spirit, the Holy Spirit enters into us and distributes grace to every limb. Paul had a broken heart when he penned his letter—a heart that Philemon could heal by demonstrating the grace of Christ to Onesimus. “Refresh my heart in Christ,” he instructed (Philem. 20).

Theological Theme:

Christian reconciliation models the cross of Christ.

Contained within this story of reconciliation, grace, and de-exaltation is the gospel itself – a gospel that regardless of background, skin color, class, or cultural difference unites God’s [Father-Son-Holy Spirit] family members and demonstrates the reconciling power of the cross. Christian unity is not about sameness; it’s about oneness.

Christ Connection:

When Paul appealed to Philemon on behalf of the runaway slave Onesimus, he placed himself in the middle of their broken relationship. In order to make peace, he volunteered to pay Onesimus’ debt. Through this action, Paul modeled Jesus Christ, who is the peacemaker between God and sinful humanity. By volunteering to pay our debt, Jesus reconciled us to God and to each other.

Missional Application:

God, through his Holy Spirit, calls us to live as peacemakers who reflect the heart of our crucified Savior.

Conclusion:

Jesus once promised that He would “go away and prepare a place for you” (John 14:3).

After the toils of life are over, God will declare your emancipation also. Like Paul, you will escape “this body of death” (Rom. 7:24) and abscond to your mansion in glory—a home where “neither moth nor rust destroys” and “where thieves don’t break in and steal” (Matt. 6:20). This future home is what should motivate us today. Because we anticipate entering Christ’s presence and basking in His love and grace as His brothers and sisters, we give to others today what we will receive then. It is the least we, all former slaves to sin who are now one family in Christ, can do for one another.

“We have but one leading aim, to which it is our deliberate and unreserved desire that every thing else in which we are concerned may be subordinate and subservient—in a word, that we are devoted to the Lord, and have by grace been enabled to choose him, and to yield ourselves to him, so as to place our happiness in his favor, and to make his glory and will the ultimate scope of all our actions.” –John Newton

Photo Compliments:

http://www.upperclydeparish.blogspot

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