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Philemon 21 - 25 Confidence, resilience, expectation, team-work, grace
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Philemon 21 - 25 Confidence, resilience, expectation, team-work, grace

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Here are the slides that accompany the ministry from Grace on Philemon 21-25

Here are the slides that accompany the ministry from Grace on Philemon 21-25

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  • The ONE good thing Paul consistently identifies in churches he writes to where there are often some pretty awful things going on is that they are LIVING consistently in the grace of God.Of course, Jesus is one of those people who you meet and are changed by meeting.Of course, the Holy Spirit of God lives within the consciousness of anyone who has been truly turned from sin to follow Jesus … contending against the indwelling sin that is still a part of every genuine believer in Jesus, every person who is genuinely entrusting their life into His hands moment by moment, day after day – and what He (the Holy Spirit) is doing is changing us at the deepest level, from the inside out.Of course that is the case … Our God profoundly SATISFIES His people either by granting our desires or by changing them … of COURSE that’s what He does!But what Paul finds to commend in God’s people, even when they are getting some things terribly wrong in their lives and the life of their church, is that they live depending NOT on anything good or clever or beautiful in themselves, but on everything that is good and great and glorious about God and His grace.You see that in the verse we began with today from 1 Corinthians, you see it in the way Paul starts off this epistle to Philemon “Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother:To Philemon our dear friend and coworker, 2 to Apphia our sister, to Archippus our fellow soldier,and to the church that meets in your home.“3 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ …”But you also see it in the way Paul has been seeking to motivate Christian conduct in relation to the way Philemon handles and deals with the returning runaway slave Onesimus …Our salvation from sin depends on the grace of God in at least two dimensions: His grace frees me from the penalty of my sin and motivates me to liberate my life from it.As Paul writes to Titus (2:11) “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live upright and godly lives in the present evil age …”In Paul’s theology, God’s GRACE is the driver of godliness, to which He appeals for the regulation and reformation of human conduct.If you (thus motivated) put to death the desires of your sinful nature, you will live … Paul writes in Romans 8:13.And that’s how he’s been dealing with Philemon so far in this book.God’s grace is a far more powerful motivator than His Law.Paul has established that God’s grace is strong in Philemon, as Philemon’s conduct (which Paul’s noted) so clearly attests.As a result of that, there are four things going on here in these verses, four things built on this foundation of grace at work …v. 21 expresses Paul’s confidence in Philemon BECAUSE of the grace that’s at work in him.V. 22 Paul looks forward to being released and travelling up to see Philemon, so wants to enjoy the gift of refreshment that God’s grace’s put in Philemon (‘prepare a room for me’!)Vv. 23-24 Paul’s team comes out of the woodwork … saved by grace to be heralds of graceV. 25 – the meaningful closing farewell … grace finishes the letter it opened, throughout which it’s behaviour modifying impact has been evident.
  • The evidence of God’s behaviour-modifying grace builds confidence in the people of God.You can have confidence in the community of God’s people when we all live consciously dependent on His grace.It destroys confidence when believers are living with guilt.It destroys our responses to one another.It hampers our decision making.It wrong foots our choices, our priorities, our PRAYERS.You can have CONFIDENCE in the people of grace.They can afford to be calm and at peace … because they are relying on God.They can afford to be merciful, accepting and forgiving … because they all know we only get by on the mercies of God, day by day.They are changed people, because love, because mercy changes men’s hearts … something crime, law and punishment alone never can.You can be confident in fellowship with such people.‘And I am confident’, says Paul, that reflection on the reality of God’s grace in your life and the reality of the change grace creates in you, that you are now going to respond to my appeal on the basis of grace to be gracious in receiving back this brother who previously wronged you …I’m confident that you’ll receive Onesimus in a way that glorifies and makes famous the glories and grace of our God.
  • Here’s the second thing to notice about this verse here – and this is very, very basic Christian discipleship stuff …Grace doesn’t just travel one mile.What do I mean by that?Here’s what Jesus says in His basic formulation of the prospectus for Christian discipleship, the spelling out of what it means to live by grace trough faith alone (Matthew 5:38 ff):So there’s an important aspect of what it means to live by grace through faith alone, to live CHANGED by the overwhelming grace of God!The grace of God went to the undeserved uttermost, so that we could be set free for glory.
  • v. 38 refers back to the old covenant, to the Law of Moses, which all those listening to Jesus during this sermon on the mount would have taken very, very seriously as the absolutely authoritative Word of God.Then, v. 39, Jesus says, but I tell you (claiming a superior authority even to that) “do not resist an evil person” … here is the new law (bad choice of term, but He seems to be deliberately rewriting Moses throughout this section) that prevails in the new covenant, the covenant of grace, the new age of the Spirit …(By the way, it is WE who are the ‘New Agers’ … but that’s another day’s sermon!)Here is the way it’s to be in God’s new ordering of His Kingdom by grace …Do not resist an evil person … and then He applies that basic, fundamental principle …In the case of absolute personal affront … a slap in the faceIn the case of legal challenge … sued for the shirt off your backAnd in the case of the Roman legionary on the march who exercises the oppressive Roman legal right to compel one of the subject peoples of the Empire to carry his back-pack for him for one mile to give him a rest on his long march … go TWO miles, not just one.
  • God’s lavish grace has changed us by not giving us what we deserve but paying the price, bearing the cost so that He takes what we deserve and we get what He deserved … what the eminent theologian Morna D. Hooker (I kid you not with the name) calls ‘interchange in Christ’.We have been over-abundantly BLESSED when we deserved to be abundantly condemned …Now THAT is just BOUND to affect you …So where is living in God’s grace going to take us?I am confident of your obedience … knowing that you will do even more than I say.”Now, there’s obviously LOTS of discussion in the commentaries about what the ‘even more than I say’ Paul refers to consists of.The point is, it’s the PRINCIPLE of grace-life that the Apostle is pointing to.He DOESN’T make an issue of manumission … the release of slaves – in fact he is asking for far more than that … that Philemon would take Onesimus back not simply to free him, but as a BROTHER.Paul DOESN’T make an issue of Philemon returning Onesimus to be Paul’s helper in the mission centred around Paul’s prison cell in Rome – although he drops a pretty big hint in v. 13: “I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. 14 But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favour you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary …”He DOES however point to the general principle and leaves Philemon to determine it’s fulfilment.Paul is saying that he is confident that enjoying the luxury of God’s grace has been such a life-changer for Philemon (and Paul’s described the visible impact of grace on Philemon already) that Philemon will surely go more than one mile!Again – it’s a window opened on the way this church and its people are shot through with grace.And the reality of the work of grace in these guys builds confidence in Paul about Philemon.Confidence ….
  • There are four things going on here …v. 21 expresses Paul’s confidence in PhilemonV. 22 Paul looks forward to being released and travelling up to see PhilemonVv. 23-24 Paul’s team comes out of the woodworkV. 25 – the meaningful closing farewellPerhaps instead of ‘expectation’ I should have chosen to use a word more like ‘expectancy’.Paul is stuck languishing in gaol in Rome, the prisoner of a godless, twisted, violent Emperor …Is he?He is not!He is the prisoner of Christ Jesus (on whose authority Paul finds himself there), he is patently running a mission to Rome from his cell – leading multiple missioners,And conscious that many people are praying for him he anticipates greater usefulness to come as he lives expectantly in the hope of returning to Asia, to Ephesus and to the Lycus Valley mission (which is a PART of what he had going on down at Ephesus) in order to carry the work of God forwards.A good man I know leading lots of student work in our land is known, and teased, for the way he posts overtly optimistic tweets about what is ‘happening’ through student missions and constantly over-using the hashtag: #expectant.One of his senior female workers picked it up recently and a few of us nearly choked to see this single Christian girl posting this way!But seriously …Paul’s inveterate this-world expectancy is born of living close to theological reality.He is NOT Nero’s prisoner … he is Christ’sHe is NOT removed from the Great Commission … he is called to it in an insalubrious locationHe is NOT stuck where he is, lost to the ministry – washed up and finished.Grace teaches you that God rescues the hopeless, that everything is dependant on nothing but His grace!That it IS useless and hopeless unless He shows up … but when it WAS hopeless and useless He HAS shown up!One thing more … that is, ‘at the same time as this grace you’re going to proclaim to the watching world in the way you treat Onesimus … ‘Make the bed’ … says Paul … ‘there’s a God, and He is GRACIOUS, so I’m COMING!’But you can reckon that it’ll need more than one bed … and Paul has slipped back here from the singular to the plural.It is ‘for you – for your benefit’ … but it’s going to be more than Philemon who need to make the bed because Paul is coming with his team again to bless them.
  • There are four things going on here …v. 21 expresses Paul’s confidence in PhilemonV. 22 Paul looks forward to being released and travelling up to see PhilemonVv. 23-24 Paul’s team comes out of the woodworkV. 25 – the meaningful closing farewellIn the last two verses of this letter Paul ostensibly sends greetings from his team … from his co-workers … to Philemon and the church that meets in his house.What are we (re-)learning?As Paul opens this window for us on the workings of the Pauline mission and the things that are obvious to those members of the early church, the emphasis on apostolic teams and shared ministry re-emerges.Of course, Paul has modelled for the church and its leaders the way to urge, pastor and counsel the elders who may be in error in Colossae.Of course he’s been showing how NOT to rebuke an elder harshly through his pubic handling of this guy its safe to handle this way because he’s not apparently succumbed to the serious Colossian error.But he’s demonstrating clearly the example of his team-work …
  • How many ‘fellows’ has Paul actually got WITH him?!At least five mentioned here and then Onesimus, who he longs to have back on the team with him.See, we tend to think that it’s big churches that need team ministry.It’s possible that in the early churches Paul planted it was otherwise.At least we know that until the churches were planted and lay leaders appointed (with a somehow-paid Pastor of course … the elders who directed the affairs of the church well were worthy of a double honour, especially those who worked HARD at preaching and teaching) it was all about shared ministry by apostolic teams in the mission to the Gentiles sent out from Antioch.Paul’s pioneering was always by team-work … What was the exception? Athens … and he never tried to do that again!Paul usually spells out the people with him as he closes his letters, but the closest parallel to this passage here is Colossians 4:10-15 where Epaphras, Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke are also mentioned.In the light of the simularity, the differences are worthy of note:Paul’s signature is missing … here but has come earlier in Philemon, so I doubt if that’s very significant.Tychicus is mentioned as the letter carrier in Colossians but here in Philemon he isn’t. Given the letters went together, it is quite conceivable this letter was meant to be read second after the more significant theological letter to the Colossians had been delivered, making introducing Tychicus redundantIn Colossians the names list is divided between Jews and Gentiles … whereas no such division is made in Philemon … now the unity of God’s people is stressed in Colossian, but not in Philemon … and the ethnic background of Philemon (prob. Gentile) simply doesn’t make this issue relevantMark is identified for us in Col. 4 as ‘the cousin of Barnabas’ … this is the John Mark who was with Paul and Barnabas in their first missionary journey, got wet feet and fearfully turned back busting up with Paul, now reconciled and part of the team again.In a letter that emphasises the effects of grace in producing reconciliation and appeals for reconciliation for Onesimus, that has got to be rather significant!Aristarchus is amongst Paul’s travelling companions in Acts 19 &20 … originally from Macedonia he was with Paul in the riot at Ephesus (19:21-41).In Colossians he is identified as Paul’s ‘fellow prisoner’ (Col. 4:10).He (like Epaphras) is a battle scarred veteran.The cause of God needs it’s combat scarred centurions.Demas and Luke are probably gentiles … we know Luke is an intellectual, a physician.Demas is the one who abandoned Paul later (2 Tim. 4:10-11).Jews & Gentiles, long experienced veterans and newer hand with lots to learn … all in a missional team.Luke was a long standing companion of Paul … the author of Luke-Acts, the character identified in the ‘we’ passages of Acts (16:10-17; 20:5-15; 21:1-18; 27:1-28:16) and identified in Col. 4:14 as ‘the beloved physician’Co-workers in the cause of their God … a testimony to the inclusiveness of grace.By grouping Jews along with Gentiles like this, and longer term alongside more recent partners, Paul further emphasises the breakdown of societal and hierarchical boundaries in the light of the Gospel of grace … the ground is level at the foot of the Cross and every one of us is both utterly and only significant because the Son of God loved me and gave Himself for me.That’s true of us whether our name is Onesimus or Philemon.
  • There are four things going on here …v. 21 expresses Paul’s confidence in PhilemonV. 22 Paul looks forward to being released and travelling up to see PhilemonVv. 23-24 Paul’s team comes out of the woodworkV. 25 – the meaningful closing farewellSo – given the challenge to our sinful human flesh that this Gospel of grace poses, here comes what Philemon both has and now needs …The whole point, surely, has been that the grace of God had been very evident in Philemon’s life?Paul has gone to some lengths to identify the symptoms of God’s grace that have been very evident in him.But the challenge to Christian conduct is dependant on working that grace through his attitudes and responses, like the letters through the stick of rock.And Philemon is dependant on the grace of God to meet these.In the words of Dallas Willard, the balance looks like this (and this is why Paul has sought to persuade Philemon and to motivate him the way Paul has, rather than by command and with the Law): “Grace is not opposed to effort, it is opposed to earning.”Grace is the powerful motivation to the sacrifice that’s required to follow Christ.Obviously, Paul uses the plural in this prayer – he prays not simply for Philemon but for the church that meets there in his home.This is the way God’s people are motivated and drawn to discipleship, the radical, fundamental transformation of human life in the service of the Kingdom of God.Here’s what drives the function of the community of the people of God – whose context provides the fundamental apologetic for the Gospel of God.May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, then, be with our spirit.
  • There are four things going on here …v. 21 expresses Paul’s confidence in PhilemonV. 22 Paul looks forward to being released and travelling up to see PhilemonVv. 23-24 Paul’s team comes out of the woodworkV. 25 – the meaningful closing farewell
  • Transcript

    • 1. Welcome to Grace! “I always thank my God for you because of his grace given you in Christ Jesus. For in him you have been enriched in every way – with all kinds of speech and with all knowledge” 1 Corinthians 1:4-5
    • 2. Philemon 21-25 • Introduction “Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask. 22 And one thing more: prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers. 25 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
    • 3. Philemon 21-25 • Introduction • Confidence, v. 21
    • 4. Philemon 21-25 • Introduction • Confidence, v. 21 “Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.”
    • 5. Matthew 5:38-41 “38 ‘You have heard that it was said, “Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.” 39 But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also. 40 And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well. 41 If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with them two miles. 42 Give to the one who asks you, and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you.”
    • 6. Philemon 21-25 • Introduction • Confidence, v. 21 “Since I am confident of your obedience, I am writing to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say.”
    • 7. Philemon 21-25 • Introduction • Confidence, v. 21 • Expectation, v. 22 “And one thing more: prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.”
    • 8. Philemon 21-25 • • • • Introduction Confidence, v. 21 Expectation, v. 22 Teamwork, vv. 23-24
    • 9. Philemon 21-25 • Introduction • Confidence, v. 21 • Expectation, v. 22 • Teamwork, vv. 23-24 “Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. 24 And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.”
    • 10. Philemon 21-25 • Introduction • Confidence, v. 21 • Expectation, v. 22 • Teamwork, vv. 23-24 • The meaningful closing farewell, v. 25 “The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
    • 11. Philemon 21-25 • • • • • • Introduction Confidence, v. 21 Expectation, v. 22 Teamwork, vv. 23-24 The meaningful closing farewell, v. 25 Conclusion

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