Archive for the ‘Union In Christ’ Category

The Primary Point You Should Receive From All Christian Teaching! 

The Primary Point You Should Receive From All Christian Teaching, 1A
The Primary Point You Should Receive From All Christian Teaching, 1B

Bible Verse: 2 Peter 1


Introduction:

Because the primary goal of God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit is that we share in the Divine nature, as it says in 2 Peter 1, we are properly pointed to the primary point of all Christian teaching!

Theological Theme:

What the triune God requires of us has to be something He first does for us in our place and on our behalf since he is the only one Who is divine, and able to give and receive divinity!

Christ Connection:

Jesus Christ is not only the Gift of Humanity that God gives to us by becoming Incarnate in our place and on our behalf in a substitutionary way, but Jesus is also the Giver of our Humanity to us, and sharing His Spirit with us that we might participate with Him in His Humanity!

Missional Application:

Psalm 24: says, “The earth and everything in it, the world and its inhabitants, belong to the Lord;” Because this is so, the new humanity God shares with us in Christ is not just for Christians but something God has done for and to all mankind in the person of Jesus. Therefore we joyfully proclaim this Good News about Who Jesus is, and Who we all are in him, to everyone, that all may accept, receive, and experience Jesus’ life in the Spirit, by grace, repenting of their unbelief in Him by believing in Him!

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Once Greedy, Now Generous!

“Once Greedy, Now Generous!” – Melvin McKee, Jr.

Bible Verse: 2 Cor 8:1, 2 Cor 9:6-15


Introduction:

The grace of God works deeply into us so that it can also work out of us to benefit others. Grace
hoarded is grace squandered; in fact, it may be grace misunderstood or even unexperienced. God’s
gracious gifts are meant to be held loosely with generosity, not held onto tightly with greed. Our
motivation for living with generosity comes from God’s exceeding generosity to us in giving us the
fullness of His Son despite our total spiritual bankruptcy. Because we have been given the eternal
riches of His glory in Christ Jesus, we are compelled to live generously, not reluctantly, and with joy
and gratitude.

Theological Theme:

God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit already owns all that we have. He has called us to be stewards of the wealth He entrusts to us.

Christ Connection:

In Jesus Christ, we have both a model and a motivation for generosity. Because God has been
merciful and generous to us by giving us His Son, we are empowered to be merciful and generous
toward others.

Missional Application:

God gives us wealth in order that we might share it with others in need, not out of a sense of guilt or
obligation but cheerfully and willingly.

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GOD: The Most Important PERSONS and TASK For Everyone! Part 4 (Jesus’ Suffering/ The Biblical Worldview)

Part 4A:

Part 4B:


Bible Verse: Luke 4


Introduction:

In this series we are rehearsing and remembering the centrality of Jesus Christ, the Father’s Son, and how important every part of Who He is and what He does holds together as our Salvation. We are reviewing what it means that Jesus was born of a Virgin, that He lived a fleshly life for quite awhile, that he suffered and was crucified. We’re remembering what it means that he was the Resurrection, personally, in His Resurrection, what it means that He Ascended into Heaven, and what it means that He will return in His Final Appearing and Advent.

Theological Theme:

Jesus suffered because God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit was intent to absorb every drop of sin and evil out of our human nature, in order to give us a renewed and healed nature in its place! The cross was not about the Father punishing His Son because He hates us and took out the hate on his Son. The Cross was about us punishing His Son because we were provoked by God’s goodness and Godness and we hated him! Two crucial questions arise: How was God going to get rid of the hate in our hearts without becoming human and substituting for us?!?! How was the Potter going to shape the clay without becoming the clay, while also remaining God?!

Christ Connection:

Jesus, the Son of the Father and Holy Spirit, assuming our human nature, had to go to the depth of sin by taking on our exact nature physically and spiritually, if he were to reach every part of us. The entire extent of our human being and activity had to be assumed, and was assumed by Jesus, without sin, thereby cleansing and renewing us with the love and life of the Trinity!

Keeping Jesus’ unity with the Trinity always in mind, we can say that: God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit reveals Himself, through Himself, To Himself, As Himself, For us, and in us (for and inside our human being and nature) We then receive this gift in the Holy Spirit Jesus sends!

Missional Application:

In the Light of such Good News for humanity, the Church participates with Jesus Christ in receiving the Spirit and sharing this Good News with all, encouraging them to turn from their sin and receive relationship with the Father-Son-Holy-Spirit-God!

Our Gospel message can be proclaimed similar to what St. Augustine has written:

“There is nothing too subtle or dense for the Spirit to penetrate or too sinful for the Spirit to cleanse or too weary for the Spirit to refresh or too dead for the Spirit to breathe life into again. The Spirit strives with us, prays for us, groans with us (Rom. 8:18–27; Augustine, Hom. on 1 John 8).”

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JESUS: The Most Important PERSON and TASK For Everyone! Part 5 (Jesus’ Crucifixion / The Biblical Worldview)

Part 5A:

Part 5B:

Full Message:


Bible Verses: Mark 15 Psalm 22 Isaiah 53


Introduction:

On this Transfiguration Sunday we are reminded that the Whole God Father Son and Holy Spirit loves you/us so much that he has suffered for you/us in the Life of the Son made flesh! The Father-Son-Holy-Spirit-God loves you so much that together, in Their utter Oneness, Each distinct Person somehow shares in the humanity of the Son of God in Jesus (only the Son became human!), having suffered for you and having resisted all evil and every temptation on your behalf and in your place! In Jesus, Who sustains you from within his own human nature, you have victory over all evil principalities and powers. Even your present sufferings cannot and will not prevent you from receiving your victory in Christ! Christ’s victory is so full of the glory and love of God that you will consider your present sufferings to be light in comparison to the glory you will receive! Whereas sin and evil have no future, you have an immortal and eternal life to look forward to with Jesus in His eternal relationship with the Father Son and Holy Spirit. Jesus Transfiguration is a picture of our transformation in Him!

Theological Theme:

On one hand is the non-relational, unfeeling god of our sinful imaginations; the God more interested in law and punishment and sin than he is interested in us. On the other hand is the One and only True God – Father-Son-Holy-Spirit – Merciful and compassionate! The Relational, loving God revealed in the Person of Jesus! The triune God WITH US & FOR US despite our sin! The God Who includes us all in His Life & Love, permanently, in Jesus – Who atoned for the sins of the world!

Christ Connection:

Do you have this great vision of the Gospel before you????? You are being made fit for eternal life, and by God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit you WILL be fit with the spiritual muscle of Jesus Who has transformed our human nature in His own, turning it back fully to the Father. Our Father does nothing halfway! In Christ and by the Spirit you are becoming who and what you really are and you will be that (or you won’t be at all!) The death of Jesus means the death of death, and a nature turned from God and corrupted now turned back to God in a glorified and permanent way.

Missional Application:

As believers in union with Jesus Christ, and in the light of Who He is and what He has done, we proclaim and witness to others not yet in spiritual union with Jesus that, as George Hunsinger has well-stated “There’s always more grace in God, than there is sin in us!”, therefore, repent and believe, receive the Good News and enter a trust relationship with the Father, through the Son and in the Holy Spirit!

“JESUS: The Most Important PERSON and TASK For Everyone! Part 2” (Jesus’ Human Life / The Biblical Worldview)

Part 2A:

Part 2B:

Part 2C:

Full Message:


Bible Verses: Luke 2: 52 (Various Scriptures)


Theological Theme:

In relationship with Jesus His faith in us causes us to seek understanding about Who He is in His Person and Deeds, taking into account the entire course of His Human Life, with the help of the Holy Spirit. We’ve rehearsed Jesus’ Person and Work by grasping more of the meaning of His Virgin Birth. In this message we understand more basic and fundamentally the meaning of His Incarnate Life!

Christ Connection:

When Jesus lived He lived our life, meaning that as the Son of the Father united to us in our human nature He was the God/Man renewing our fallen human nature from the inside because he never sinned in it. Just as in Adam the human nature in which we all have shared became fallen, so in the one person of Christ the human nature in which we all shared was made right and saved! Jesus is more significant than Adam because He not only shared in our fallen human nature, but was also the One in, through, for and by Whom all things are created and made! He was both God and Man. This means that by his one human life, the human nature of everyone is now set on an entirely new basis! Where sin abounded (Adam), God’s grace in abounds even more (in Jesus!!)

Missional Application:

“Jesus embodied the unreserved presence of God with and for sinners. “Those who are well have no need of physician,” Jesus declares, “but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt. 9:12f.). Christ’s incarnate humanity — his entire life, death, and resurrection among and on behalf of sinners — provides the basis for and the reality of reconciliation. He stands in our place and acts on our behalf to heal our humanity. His vicarious humanity — i.e., his substitutionary life and death in our place and representative humanity on our behalf — reconciles us to one another and to God. Social reconciliation is both an indicative and an imperative of the gospel of Jesus Christ, both gift and task, both command and promise.” – Ray Anderson

So, as we experience reconciliation with the Father-Son-Holy-Spirit-God that Christ accomplished, and because it is social – touching the lives of every human being – we share this Good News with others that they, too, might trust Christ and experience the gift and promise of real human life before the Father along with other believers!

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JESUS: The Most Important PERSON and TASK For Everyone! Part 1 (Our Christian and Biblical Worldview)

Part 1A:

Part 1B:

Part 1 C:

Full Message:


Bible Verses: Luke 2: 52 (Various Scriptures)


Theological Theme:

God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit proclaims in a living personal relational way that:

  • God the Father does not stand far off from sinners but he draws close to sinners in His Son.
  • Though we have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory, we still have human dignity from the fact of our being God’s good creation from our conception and beginning, and now from the stronger fact of Christ living in our human nature and uniting it to his Godly nature forever!
  • God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit has revealed in the virgin birth of the Son that God does the dirty work of dealing with the tensions and paradoxes of our dignity and brokenness and heals them in HIMSELF, in our humanity that he has now taken on and assumed!
  • The Father takes responsibility for His creation and He loves us so much that He even subjects Himself to taking on our sinful flesh, suffering flesh and, ultimately, even evil for our sakes, in His Son. In the power of His Spirit he destroys sin and evil, and preserves us by grace!

Christ Connection:

“If there are two sides to humanity, ”Ray Anderson proclaims, “Christ will be on the wrong side. “1 Jesus embodied the unreserved presence of God with and for sinners. “Those who are well have no need of physician,” Jesus declares ‘but those who are sick. Go and learn what this means, ‘I desire mercy, and not sacrifice.’ For I came not to call the righteous, but sinners” (Mt.9:12f.). Christ’s incarnate humanity – his entire life, death, and resurrection among and on behalf of sinners – provides the basis for and the reality of reconciliation. He stands in our place and acts on our behalf to heal our humanity. His vicarious humanity – i.e., his substitutionary life and death in our place and representative humanity on our behalf – reconciles us to one another and to God. Social reconciliation is both an indicative and an imperative of the gospel of Jesus Christ, both gift and task, both command and promise.”

Missional application:

“A key understanding of our theology has to do with what God has accomplished for all humanity in and through his incarnate Son, Jesus Christ….. God [in and through Jesus Christ] has reconciled all people to himself.

This theological declaration is based on the biblical revelation that Christ died for all and that God has loved and reconciled the world to himself.

Because this reconciliation is accomplished, and thus a present reality, God’s desire, which is fulfilled by the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit, is for all people everywhere to come to repentance and faith so they may personally experience (receive and live into) this reconciliation and so not perish...

[from God the Father in a variety of ways, all people in all places and times have been included in God’s love and life in and through Jesus and by his Spirit. In that we rejoice, and on that basis we make our gospel declarations.” -Gary Deddo

Conclusion:

Because of the virgin birth and what it reveals about God in Christ having to replace us even from our conception, we can see that we do not gain enlightenment through meditation and mindfulness practices. We cannot look inside ourselves and come to realize what it takes to meet our true selves and the true power of self-compassion and self-love! No! We gain enlightenment through JESUS ALONE! We must look outside of ourselves to Him to find the fullness of humanity we were meant to bear! In Jesus, the Father is filling us and our human nature with His life and love as GOD – The Father Son and Spirit. Receiving this enlightenment by grace can then lead to the fruit of our practicing with Jesus His meditations and mindfulness of His Father and the Gospel, in the Holy Spirit!

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The Most Important TASK Done For Everyone Everywhere – JESUS CHRIST! (Our Christmas and Biblical Worldview)

Part A:

Part B:

Full Message:


Bible Verse: Luke 2


Introduction:

Can you see from reading this section of the Nicene Creed what would be missing if as Christians we ONLY spoke about Jesus in terms of His birth (Christmas), His suffering, death and resurrection?

Excerpt about Jesus from the Nicence Creed

“We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ, the only Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, God from God, Light from Light, true God from true God, begotten, not made, of one Being with the Father. Through Him all things were made. For us and for our salvation He came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit, He became incarnate from the Virgin Mary, and was made man. For our sake He was crucified under Pontius Pilate; He suffered death and was buried. On the third day He rose again in accordance with the Scriptures; He ascended into heaven and is seated at the right hand of the Father. He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead, and His kingdom will have no end.”

What happens if we leave out His incarnate life for 33 years? What if after speaking about His Resurrection we stopped and never addressed His human Ascension and Bodily Return?

Theological Theme:

“Christ does not heal us as an ordinary doctor might, by standing over us, diagnosing our sickness, prescribing medicine for us to take and then going away, leaving us to get better as we follow His instructions. No, He becomes the patient. He assumes that very humanity which is in need of redemption, and by being anointed by the Spirit in our humanity, by a life of perfect obedience, by dying and rising again, for us, our humanity is healed in Him, in His person. We are not just healed through Christ, because of the work of Christ, but in and through Christ. Person and work must not be separated.” – James Torrance

Christ Connection:

Christ emptied himself so we may be filled

“The very Son of God, old­er than the ages, the invis­i­ble, the incom­pre­hen­si­ble, the incor­po­re­al, the begin­ning of begin­ning, the light of light, the foun­tain of life and immor­tal­i­ty, the image of the arche­type, the immov­able seal, the per­fect like­ness, the def­i­n­i­tion and word of the Father: he it is who comes to his own image and takes our nature for the good of our nature, and unites him­self to an intel­li­gent soul for the good of my soul, to puri­fy like by like.

He takes to him­self all that is human, except for sin. He was con­ceived by the Vir­gin Mary, who had been first pre­pared in soul and body by the Spir­it; his com­ing to birth had to be treat­ed with hon­or, vir­gin­i­ty had to receive new hon­or. He comes forth as God, in the human nature he has tak­en, one being, made of two con­trary ele­ments, flesh and spir­it. Spir­it gave divin­i­ty, flesh received it.

He who makes rich is made poor; he takes on the pover­ty of my flesh, that I may gain the rich­es of his divin­i­ty. He who is full is made emp­ty; he is emp­tied for a brief space of his glo­ry, that I may share in his full­ness. What is this wealth of good­ness? What is this mys­tery that sur­rounds me? I received the like­ness of God, but failed to keep it. He takes on my flesh, to bring sal­va­tion to the image, immor­tal­i­ty to the flesh. He enters into a sec­ond union with us, a union far more won­der­ful than the first.” – St. Gregory The Theologian

Missional Application:

Just as Jesus took on all the parts of our human nature and flesh through the history of a human life to bring us Salvation, as those in union with Jesus in the Spirit we participate with Him in all the parts of His human history and continued Lordship, pointing others to Him as their Salvation also!

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The Most Important PERSON For Everyone Everywhere – JESUS CHRIST! (Our Christmas and Biblical Worldview)

Part A:

Part B:

Full Message:


Bible Verse: Luke 2


Introduction:

Luke 1:26-38

1:26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,
1:27 to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary.
1:28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”
1:29 But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
1:30 The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
1:31 And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.
1:32 He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.
1:33 He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
1:34 Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?”
1:35 The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.
1:36 And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren.
1:37 For nothing will be impossible with God.”
1:38 Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

Theological Theme:

This story in Luke, noted above, is a good example of how we can preach and witness to others similarly about the Gospel!

vv.26-31 “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.”    You should start your witnessing with Who God is as Revealed in Jesus and who we are in Him – Favored!

v.31 “And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus.” ONLY AFTER PROCLAIMING WHO GOD IS IN HIS WORDS AND DEEDS do you proclaim our participation with Him!

v.34 “Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’, 35 The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God.’”

All of this happens by the grace of God – from the Father, through the Son, and in the Holy Spirit!

Christ Connection:

“God loves you so utterly and completely that he has given himself for you in Jesus Christ his beloved Son, and has thereby pledged [promised and given] his very being as God for your salvation. In Jesus Christ God has actualized [made actual and real] his unconditional love for you in your human nature in such a once for all way, that he cannot go back upon it without undoing the Incarnation and the Cross and thereby denying himself. Jesus Christ died for you precisely because you are sinful and utterly unworthy of him, and has thereby already made you his own before and apart from your ever believing in him. He has bound you to himself by his love in a way that he will never let you go, for even if you refuse him and damn yourself in hell his love will never cease. Therefore, repent and believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior.”- (T. F. Torrance, “The Mediation of Christ,” 94)

Missional Application:

As we are filled with the Love of the Father and Son Relationship in the Holy Spirit, we participate with God, compelled to go to all and say:

“In and through Jesus, God has included all people everywhere in a particular relationship with himself for just these purposes so that what has been fulfilled for us objectively in Jesus by the Spirit, will then be fulfilled in us personally (subjectively) by the Spirit via our deliberate, purposeful participation (response) as subjects who are moral, spiritual agents. What Christ did for us, he did so that the Holy Spirit could work a response out in us. When we understand that the person and work of Christ establishes or reestablishes a living, vital, personal relationship with all humanity, then the biblical teachings concerning inviting, admonishing, encouraging, directing, commanding and warning in regard to setting forth the fitting or appropriate response make sense.”Gary Deddo

The Most Important Priority For Everyone Everywhere! Part 2 (Our Christian/Biblical Worldview)

Part 2A:

Part 2B:

Full Message:


Bible Verses: Colossians ( Various Scriptures)


Introduction:

In a world:

Where people, including those in the Church, are still fighting over the various shades of color of skin,

Where people are seeking to live life in their own made up identities and pushing politicians to identify mainly with their cause,

Where people are exalting their own independence and individualism at the complete cost of their neighbors suffering,

Where the ultimate innocents and vulnerable among us are being aborted at an alarmingly high rate, and,

Where one of the scariest places in all the world to be is a nursing home, and,

Where, in our cities, the murder rate is not only high, but where research shows that most murders are meant to kill…

What hope do we Christians have to share with the world?

Theological Theme:

According to our Christian Hope shared through our Christian Calendar (following the events of God in History), we have entered the season of Advent where we celebrate the fact, specifically, that the Father’s Son came among us as Jesus 2000 years ago, as promised in scripture, and has come and is here again after his resurrection (in the Spirit), and is anticipated to come to earth again, bodily, at his Final Appearing! What does the word Advent mean? It is a word that means “The Coming and the Arrival of something great and important!” For us Christians it means the Coming of Some-One Who is The Greatest and The Most Important Someone, and that Some-One is the Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God the Father, Filled with the Love, Communion and Power of the Holy Spirit!

Christ Connection:

Because of Who Jesus is not only as God, but also as Man, His ministry and comings not only have something to do with His Body the Church, but with all of creation. He is Creator, Reconciler, and Redeemer of All Things spiritual and physical within creation. In His Person and Work He holds all things together, uniting all things as they should be united and giving His entire creation His peace, all evil and destruction having been overcome in His Life, Death and Resurrection to a Life of New Creation!

Biblically this is spelled out in summary form in Colossians 1:

1He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn over all creation.
16 For everything was created by him,
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—

all things have been created through him and for him.
17 He is before all things,
and by him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that he might come to have
first place in everything.

19 For God was pleased to have
all his fullness dwell in him,
20 and through him to reconcile
everything to himself,
whether things on earth or things in heaven,
by making peace
through his blood, shed on the cross.

Missional Application:

Like the Apostle Paul, the Church is now eager to share this Good News with the world that it might have its hope and faith in the love of God-Father-Son-Holy-Spirit, also! We encourage the world, and share with all who will listen, that it should repent of its sin and sinful perspective about God, creation and itself, and receive the gift of a new relationship with the Father, in the Spirit and through Jesus Christ, Lord of all Creation:

Colossians 1:

21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds as expressed in your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before him— 23 if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it. 24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I am completing in my flesh what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for his body, that is, the church. 25 I have become its servant, according to God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 God wanted to make known among the Gentiles the glorious wealth of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 I labor for this, striving with his strength that works powerfully in me.”

Photo Compliments: Dr. Gary Deddo

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

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