Welcome to Grace!

Open my eyes
that I may see
wonderful things
in your law.
Psalm 119:18
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
• Three things we are
– Partners, v. 17
“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as
you...
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
• Three things we are
– Partners
– Brothers, v. 20
“I do wish, brother, that I may have some...
Luke 15
“… while he was still a long way off, his father saw him
and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his
son...
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
• Three things we are
– Partners
– Brothers
– Refreshers, v. 20
“refresh my heart in Christ”
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
• Three things we are
• Three things we must do – 3 imperatives
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
• Three things we are
• Three things we must do
– Receive, v. 17
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
• Three things we are
• Three things we must do
– Receive
– Charge (it to me), v. 18
“If he ...
Philemon 17-20
• Introduction
• Three things we are
• Three things we must do
– Receive
– Charge
– Refresh hearts, v. 20
Philemon 17-20
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Introduction
Three things we are
Three things we must do
Conclusion
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Philemon 17 -20

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Slides to accompany last Sunday's Bible ministry on Philemon 17-20.
The video (part 1 only) is here: http://youtu.be/o5lXnW0Uta8

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  • Paul is asking Philemon for a favour, but as he does so he opens a window for us on the early church … and specifically in this passage three things that are true about Philemon and Paul, then three things that Philemon needs to do and be because of that.So, Paul has been showing us a dynamic (though no way perfect) early church with an awful lot that’s really good about it.We’ve noticed some core values and emphases and ways of doing things, so, in the first three verses we noticed an emphasis on apostolic ministry, suffering & persecution (because they were seeking GOD’s Kingdom first), shared ministry, and house churches run right through with grace (like the letters in the stick of rock) so that their responses and decisions and habits became shot through with grace leading to graciousness.We’ve noticed (in vv. 4-7) that love for God’s people and faith in the Lord Jesus characterised those guys, as Paul appealed for them too really practice their fellowship in the Gospel together … to BE a Christian COMMUNITY … and share their faith with one another so that they were the sort of community that shared the faith with outsiders.Then last time in vv. 8-16 we looked at the basis of Paul’s appeal to Philemon – the love the Gospel of grace had put into Philemon, the power of Paul’s appeal and the content of Paul’s appeal.Paul, was basically appealing to Philemon on the basis of the grace of God, to act and to behave like a person who had been utterly impacted by the Spirit of God and remade along the lines where not law, entitlement and just deserts condition human decisions and responses.THIS time, Paul moves on from talking about
  • We are partners, says Paul, you and me.There is no hint of papal supremacy.There is no hint of Paul insisting that he is the senior partner … although undoubtedly he was.Εἰ οὖν ἐμὲ ἔχεις κοινωνὸν … if you have me as a partner -κοινωνὸς – its that ‘fellowship, sharing, partner’ word again.Paul is HAMMERING away at this theme of partnership and sharing and COMMUNITY …Philemon is going to have to welcome Philemon as an actively sharing, fellowshipping partner because Paul is an actively fellowshipping partner with the PAIR of them because BOTH of tem are in this fellowship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.Here is fundamentally what we are (the first thing) says Paul … our SINS have been forgiven, we are therefore reconciled to God so that our fellowship with Him is restored and we are therefore partners with Him and a whole lot of other seemingly unacceptable people who have spent their lives up until now wronging and being wronged.God has sucked it up and got on with it … and (because He has) so must YOU Philemon!By virtue of Christ’s sin-atoning death on the Cross, by virtue of His application of His saving grace to us (unacceptable and offending people) by the miracle-working power of the Holy Spirit (both things – the propositional truth and the personal experience of its reality) …By virtue of THESE things, Philemon, Onesimus and Paul are all partners (along with the rest of us) in the cause of the Kingdom of God.That needs to condition and control the way we respond and react to one another.That needs to be the ethos of the fellowship Paul was praying they’d share in v. 6 and THAT is BOTH the context in which church happens and the best possible apologetic for Gospel truth … the functioning COMMUNITY of the people of God.Do you know, I just wonder sometimes about all these ‘good conversations’, because I’m not sure I know where they are getting us.I could give you a list of good conversations – stunning in a few cases – that I’ve had this week with some unpromising seeming individuals.I’m absolutely sure that you could too.I "I can have so many ‘good conversations’.I can talk about grace.I can show where and how it was paid for at Calvary.I can explain where this impacts a man's life and his troubles.But outside the community of God’s people, apart from the fellowship of the Spirit, it's just a dialogue with the deaf.“Partners in Christ.Partners with the Spirit.Partners with one another in God’s church.WORKING TOGETHER TO GIVE JESUS GLORYIt arises from who we are, Paul is saying, but it must permeate the way we behave …“So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.”It’s a very big ask, but it arises DIRECTLY in Paul’s systematic theology from the ultimate work of God’s grace … the atoning, redeeming, reconciling work of the Cross.{red herring alert}What is that ‘so’ about?“Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.”Be warned.I have NO idea what or even if Philemon prayed for this wretched useless Phrygian slave Onesimus – and Phrygian slaves were legendary for their uselessness, according to David Pao’s commentary – but be aware that if you are going to risk praying for the people who have wronged you the most (and Scripture says we should) then there may well come a day like the day Onesimus knocks on Philemon’s door, carrying a letter from someone like Paul.How GREAT and how GLORIOUS would that be?!Fancy having to treat Onesimus like a PARTNER?!We are partners.It gets ‘worse’.
  • The second thing we are here is brothers.Now, brothers fight.Brothers fall out between themselves sometimes.Brothers are not always what brothers ought to be, but if Benjamin needs help David stands in for him.The WRU have had this year a writer in residence … who’d have thought it?He was interviewed Saturday morning on Radio 4.He was comparing the experience of soldiers and rugby players and the way they thought and spoke about putting their bodies on the line.He spoke about what they said about what motivated them in sport and in combat, and it was all about fighting for the man to the right and he left of you.Stunningly, they were facing danger and they were taking hits and were doing it for their brothers in war or in sport.And he said he’d been stunned by the way that the men in both context spoke about doing this out of love for their brothers in arms.It was the bond with their mates that was motivating them.Philemon (says Paul) we’re side by side, shoulder to shoulder, life on the line for the Lord.Brother … back me up!I’ve gone into enemy territory and dragged back wounded Onesimus under fire, I’m puffing and panting and I need you to help me, let’s get him to safety in the bastion of the God’s church whether in Colossae, in Rome … get out here under fire and drag him back into safety with me.v. 20: “I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.”You Philemon are a great one for refreshing the hearts of the saints (v. 7)You Philemon know the Onesimus is ‘my heart’ (v. 12).So how about refreshing ‘my heart’? (says Paul).Whose heart is going to get refreshed?Philemon refreshes the hearts of the saints.Paul’s ‘heart’ has been sent to Philemon.That character has wronged Philemon, has escaped – probably on stolen money that has carried him the 1600 miles or so to Rome where he’s met Paul and ben converted.Onesimus is now doing what Scripture commands from at least Deuteronomy onwards and going back to seek to make restitution to Philemon.But since Deuteronomy we’ve had the Gospel, we’ve had the Gospels and (specifically) we’ve had Luke chapter 15.How does God (the Father in the parable of the Lost Sons) deal with the wayward son who comes home?
  • The father set to refreshing his returned son … robe, ring, sandals, dinner.Philemon … this is how God’s received YOU when you wronged him.How now will you receive back Onesimus?
  • You are a refresher.Here’s an aspect of ecclesiology you don’t hear so much of.I remember years ago in a previous church realising that our people came in on Sundays having had a hard week.They were battered and shattered and needed their souls NOT to be saved (that was done) but they needed their hearts to be REFRESHED.Conventional hospitality refreshes the body.And very good that is too!But within the fellowship of those who are partners and brothers together in the family of God, refreshing each others hearts is just CRUCIAL.You ARE refreshers … we’ll return to that thought in a moment.Because arising out of what this window opened on the life of the early church tells us, our calling in church is to be the very thing we’ve been MADE …
  • Those are three things we are, as we can discern them in this request Paul makes to Philemon.Now here come three things that (being those people) we will do …
  • εἰ οὖν με ἔχεις κοινωνόν προσλαβοῦ αὐτὸν ὡς ἐμέThat word ‘welcome’ in NIV is προσλαμβάνω … not ‘welcome’ in the sense of stand at the door with a handshake, but (far deeper) accept or receive Onesimus … not as the man that he was in the flesh, but as a partner, a brother and a blessing (YOUR refresher!)Receive him back as a saved one of Jesus, by grace, just as you yourself are acceptable only this way.It is refreshing to walk into a welcoming, receiving, accepting group of friends … wouldn’t you say?What sort of community of people honours the God of all grace?We’ve said that this house church in Philemon’s home was shot right through with grace, so the attitudes and responses backed up and supported te truth claims of Christianity.What sort of fellowship does that?God has accepted US, the unacceptable.Philemon, accept the unacceptable Onesimus whose stolen from you and done a runner … Philemon SHOW us, show your rich, business leader friends the grace of God held out in the Gospel!Don’t give them a BOOK!Accept the returning Onesimus!More than that … receive HIM as you would receive ME.Slightly different.Receive the renegade like you would the honoured Apostle … human source of your own faith and salvation.That is socially dangerous, politically subversive and likely to lose Philemon friends in the influential circles he moved through in Colossae.But we are partners, we are brothers, and heart-refreshers.Philemon, DO IT.Philemon will have all sorts of reasons to suggest that he shouldn’t … Paul is able to anticipate them and is keen to clear these out of the way.So here’s the first major reason not to do the right thing in the church …It isn’t financially prudent.Can we just get over this one please?Honouring God and the Gospel, embodying grace, righteousness and peace, is not answerable and accountable to some higher law of accountancy and prudency.It cost Jesus EVERYTHING … it’ll cost us guys something.Suck it up.Get on with it.Move on!(Here comes Paul …)
  • Now, I’m NOT saying (Paul’s not saying) just ‘don’t count the cost’He’s saying put it down in the right column.Onesimus is his brother (reprobate runaway slave!), his son begotten while Paul was in chains.So here Paul is saying that he will stand good for the debts of Onesimus, like a father for his profligate son.Tot up the column of what Onesimus owes you, and set it in your books against what you owe me … I told you the Gospel that saved you – you owe me everything.How about I go back now, when our funds in God’s service seem low, and I say to those who have come to Christ through my ministry … hey guys, refresh my heart in the Saviour?Or, in the words of v. 20, “I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.”I tell you, some of ‘em are doing quite well now!That’s not the point.Paul is doing that, but he’s doing it for unworthy but grace-saved Onesimus!
  • Do it.Do this thing, says the Apostle.Do it and refresh my heart in Christ!(Paul, old man, in chains for Christ, because it will bring JOY to the one who brought you the Gospel of Grace)I KNOW you, says Paul (v. 21)I KNOW you will not do only this much.I KNOW you understand the way that grace goes beyond all we can ask or imagine.I KNOW you will exceed what I’ve asked.What a JOY, how refreshing are those brethren who you KNOW will go more than one mile.OkSo the instruction is to be a refresher of hearts.I can see that there could be no better context for the Gospel to be proclaimed.The question I have for you is HOW?How do we embody the gracious community that does all that grace does for the turning and trusting individual?‘Cos they just will not believe it if they can’t see it!Accepting and receivingCharge all debts down to graceRefreshing the hearts of the way out un-worthiest saints
  • The church in Philemon’s home had a track record for doing this.They were a church run right through with grace – God’s acceptance of sinners running contrary to their deserts – and receiving us with a love that is more than is reasonable.Be it.Do it.Light up that Gospel of grace in the way that you are with each other (says Paul), in your homes, in your meeting, in your reaching out to show unreasonable grace to a world full of expectations and morality and … spiritual hunger.Paul knows that God’s work is real in Philemon … because he’s seen the impact of grace on Phil’s behaviour.Now here’s a big ask, says Paul … grace up Onesimus, and let’s put the spotlight on the God of all grace.What are the lessons for us … I’m here to ask you to go out and SHOW me!
  • Philemon 17 -20

    1. 1. Welcome to Grace! Open my eyes that I may see wonderful things in your law. Psalm 119:18
    2. 2. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction
    3. 3. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction • Three things we are – Partners, v. 17 “So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.” Εἰ οὖν ἐμὲ ἔχεις κοινωνὸν
    4. 4. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction • Three things we are – Partners – Brothers, v. 20 “I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord ...”
    5. 5. Luke 15 “… while he was still a long way off, his father saw him and was filled with compassion for him; he ran to his son, threw his arms round him and kissed him. 21 ‘The son said to him, “Father, I have sinned against heaven and against you. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.” 22 ‘But the father said to his servants, “Quick! Bring the best robe and put it on him. Put a ring on his finger and sandals on his feet. 23 Bring the fattened calf and kill it. Let’s have a feast and celebrate. 24 For this son of mine was dead and is alive again; he was lost and is found.” So they began to celebrate.”
    6. 6. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction • Three things we are – Partners – Brothers – Refreshers, v. 20 “refresh my heart in Christ”
    7. 7. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction • Three things we are • Three things we must do – 3 imperatives
    8. 8. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction • Three things we are • Three things we must do – Receive, v. 17
    9. 9. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction • Three things we are • Three things we must do – Receive – Charge (it to me), v. 18 “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. 19 I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back – not to mention that you owe me your very self.”
    10. 10. Philemon 17-20 • Introduction • Three things we are • Three things we must do – Receive – Charge – Refresh hearts, v. 20
    11. 11. Philemon 17-20 • • • • Introduction Three things we are Three things we must do Conclusion
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