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“Refresh My Heart” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg
The Truth Network Radio
July 30, 2021 4:00 am

“Refresh My Heart” (Part 2 of 2)

Truth for Life / Alistair Begg

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July 30, 2021 4:00 am

Do you give much thought to the Christian expressions you use around other believers? Many of us don’t—but Paul certainly did! Listen to Truth For Life as Alistair Begg explains why Paul used the words “in Christ” among his Christian family.


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All of us have had the occasion of being with other believers and using Christian language or Christian jargon without really thinking much about what it is we're saying. That's not the case with the Apostle Paul. Today on Truth for Life, Alistair Begg shows us that the Apostle Paul was purposeful and careful and intentional when he used the phrase, in Christ, as he was talking with other believers. We're picking up today in verse 17 of the book of Philemon. In the interest of clarity and brevity, I want to gather our thoughts simply around four imperatives which make up Paul's appeal.

And the first of these is, welcome Onesimus. If your eyes are open at your text, you will see in verse 17, he says, So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me. Secondly, not only welcome Onesimus, but I want you to charge it to me. Charge it to me. If you consider me a partner, and he does, and if he's done anything wrong, verse 18, and he has, then charge it to my account. Welcome him.

Charge it to me. Thirdly, refresh my heart. Verse 20, I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the LORD. Yes, brother, is how the Greek begins. Yes, brother. It's almost as if he is thinking as he goes along, and he says what he said, and then he says, Yes, brother, gathering up all that is gone before. What I would like is some benefit from you.

I'd like some benefit from you. And I am appealing to you as my brother. This is the Christian family, loved ones. This is what it actually means to be in Christ. It's not a private matter to be in Christ. It is a personal matter, but it isn't private. When we are brought into Christ, we're brought into a whole family of people, and they are our brothers and sisters—funny ones, weird ones, nice ones, ugly ones, distasteful ones, all kinds.

You know, whatever cap fits, put it on at whatever hour of the day. We are family in Christ. And that's why the ideas of sort of superficial expressions of friendship will never match what the Bible is calling for.

And indeed, such things are hardly anywhere close to that which God intends for us. But the idea of a brother is important, or a sister. I never had a brother, but I had friends with whom I was so close growing up as a boy that I would gladly have had them as my brothers, and they me. As we went to the extent of actually taking a penknife and nicking our thumbs and rubbing our thumbs together like this and declaring that we were in it with one another thick and thin. There were things that we weren't going to tell anybody, and so on.

All the times that we slid down the sliding roof of that lady's shed to gather up her rubric and take it up and sit on the shed, thinking we were so smart and then just making ourselves totally sick to our stomachs. But it was a wonderful experience, and we were in it together just like this. Well, that's exactly where Philemon and Paul are. But it's much deeper than this, because Philemon and Paul are brothers because they have been redeemed by the precious blood of Jesus Christ.

And their relationship with one another is a blood-bought relationship. They are tied together in the bonds of the gospel—bonds that cannot be severed, neither by time nor through all of eternity. So he says, I wish, brother, that I might have some benefit from you in the Lord.

Why don't you do for me what you do so well? And in verse 7, remember, he had refreshed the hearts of the saints. Now says Paul, I'd like you to refresh me as well. And notice what he says, refresh my heart in Christ. Back up a line, some benefit from you in the Lord. In Christ, in the Lord. These are favorite phrases of Paul, and they're not filler, they're vital. His appeal again—and notice it—is on account of the fact that Philemon is in Christ. Two Corinthians 5, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation.

The old is gone, the new has come. What is Onesimus? He is in Christ. Remember he says, Onesimus, I'm going to send you back to Philemon. Philemon is in Christ. Philemon, I'm sending Onesimus back to you.

He's not the one that left. He's a new Onesimus. He is in Christ. And Philemon, while you're at it, would you refresh my heart in the Lord? Would you refresh my heart in Christ? Every real and lasting benefit that, as a Christian, you will ever know comes to you in Christ. It is always en Christos. O Christ, in you my soul has found, and found in you alone the peace, the joy I sought so long, the bliss till now unknown.

Now none but Christ can satisfy, you see. And all of the refreshment that you bring to me and I may bring to you is always in the Lord and in Christ. You see, at a superficial level, all of these pleasantries and friendships and familial aspects of things that make up life and make it lovely as a result of God's common grace are engaged in at multiple levels today throughout the entire nation, people getting together. I see friends greeting friends, you know, saying, How do you do? I see them saying, I love you. And I think to myself, What a great country!

What a wonderful place! Isn't this all fantastic? But the Christian no longer views people from a worldly point of view. There is a sadness in it all for the Christian. Because the Christian knows that without Christ, all that camaraderie comes to a crashing end with death.

All of the meaningfulness and joy of relationships and family life and gatherings for celebrations are ultimately an expression of futility when we confront the radical fact that one out of one dies. Therefore you will notice how carefully Paul addresses his remarks and why I take care to point it out to you. Well, finally, he says, And I want you to prepare, to prepare a room, prepare a room. Welcome Onesimus, charge it to me, refresh my heart, and prepare a room. Verse 22, there's perhaps a gentle sense in which he's saying—and by the way, I'm coming to check up on you, and I just want you to know that—and so I'd like you to prepare a room. I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers. He's already confident, verse 21, that Philemon will step up to the mark, that he will do this.

In fact, he says, I'm sure that you will do even more than I ask. Paul has been praying for Philemon. The church in Philemon's house has been praying for Paul. And somehow, in the mystery of God's purposes, the prayers of his people, inspired and answered by the living God, will bring about the restoration which Paul anticipates. And so he sends his greetings, and the greetings of his fellow workers. Here in verse 23, Epaphras, the one who had preached in Colossae at the very beginning, he sends greetings, so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my fellow workers. Note in passing that Paul was no one-man band.

He had a significant role, he was uniquely used by God, but he recognized that he was part of a team, and every member of the team was important. Earlier this year, I think I may have told some of you, in speaking to a group of businessmen out in the northern California, I was part of an evening in which one of the businessmen present gave a talk—he was a stockbroker somewhere in Silicon Valley—and owned the San Jose Sharks, which, funnily enough, the dinner was taking place in the aquarium in Carmel. And so, literally, you were eating your food with a shark just swimming along beside you, and then he was on about the sharks.

It was rather scary. But anyway, he said he wanted to show a video clip of the San Jose Sharks, which is fair enough, and he asked us all to watch number 19. And so we watched number 19 for about two minutes. The clips came from a game, another game, another game, another game, but it was all 19, 19, 19, 19.

And then he said, I have one question for you. Tell me what stands out about number 19. And the answer was, he assisted in every goal. He assisted in every goal. His was the final pass that led to the goal.

He actually had 90 assists in two seasons, breaking all the records in the league in ice hockey for such a part. And the point the man was making was, there were no goals scored without number 19, but number 19 didn't score the goals. Most of us are number 19s. What a privilege to be a number 19, to be an assistant, to be assisting in the work of the gospel, to be playing our part. Let me conclude with a warning that is there in one name and an encouragement that is there in one word. The name is Demas. And those of you who don't know the Bible will not know this, but by the time Paul writes his final letter, Demas has forsaken him.

Demas has gone off. He's fallen in love with all the things that are on offer outside of the framework of Jesus. And so Calvin makes this comment. If one of Paul's assistants became weary and discouraged and was afterwards drawn away by the vanity of the world, let none of us rely too much on our own zeal, lasting even one year. But remembering how much of the journey still lies ahead, let us ask God for steadfastness. Let us ask God for steadfastness. And Demas's name is there as a warning to all of us who grow presumptuous, who begin to think we can do it on our own, who think that we no longer need to rely on the power and enabling of Christ.

And in a moment in time, we may be down with our face in the gutter, a warning in one name, and finally, an encouragement in one word. And the word is grace—grace. Notice verse 3, he began the letter with grace. Verse 25, he ends the letter with grace.

All of the benefits and blessings, undeserved and unearned, that God pours out upon his people in the Lord Jesus Christ—all of that is necessary. And it is this that he prays may be with your spirit. Verse 25, the your there is now back in the plural. We said when we began that the majority of the letter is in the singular, addressed to philemon, to be listened to by others.

Maybe he is back in the plural. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit. In other words, he prays that the church that meets in philemon's home may be marked by the grace of God.

Now think about this as I close. Paul had asked philemon—Paul had asked philemon—for a superhuman task, a task that involved heartfelt reconciliation, a task that involved forgiveness that was at the very core of his being. He asked him to do something which is not natural to do.

He had asked Onesimus to do something which, as a runaway slave, he would be by nature afraid to do and unwilling to do. So both of the parties in the reconciliation have only one hope, and that is the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, enabling the one to go back and say, I'm sorry, and enabling the one to whom he returns to say, in the Lord Jesus Christ, I forgive you. Now let me come back again to this. There may be a husband or a wife here. You may not even be sitting together. You may be sitting together, but your hearts are not together. And the reason is that you're alienated from one another on account of sin.

Whoever the offending party is is unknown to me and known to you. And the message of Philemon is a striking reminder that if you are in the Lord Jesus Christ, if you are in Christ, then that which God calls for, he provides, enabling you to look into the eyes of the one against whom you have offended and say, I ask for your forgiveness, and enabling the one who has been offended to say, And I forgive you from my heart. And since God has by his grace put our sins as far as the east is from the west, whereby he will remember them no more.

Reconciliation means that drawing on the resources of God's grace, we pledge to one another our desire and our commitment to do the selfsame thing. You see what would happen in the wee church in Philemon's house? Because the community would be such that everyone would have known Onesimus has made a run for it. People at the marketplace, did you hear what happened to Philemon?

No. Yeah, Onesimus took off. Where did he go? Apparently, he went to Rome. Then at the marketplace, at the beginning of a new week, somebody meets his friend and says, You know, you told me that Onesimus had run off to Rome. You're wrong, because I was at the praise time in Philemon's house, and Onesimus was there, and he wasn't just there, there, there. He was singing. Actually, he and Philemon were sitting right next to each other.

They were singing the songs and then participating in the whole thing. And the person on the street says, No, there is no way in the world that that can happen. That can't happen. Oh yes, says the person.

It can happen, and it did happen. Because Onesimus met Jesus, and Jesus changed him. And Philemon met Jesus, and Jesus changed him. And they are united together in Jesus now. Loved ones, that is supposed to be a hallmark of the family of God. That the things that are representative of an absence of reconciliation, that the aspects within our culture that are representative of alienation between people or races or intelligence factors or social strata—all of these things are completely collapsed in the discovery of the amazing grace of God.

So let us pray that where we are aware of the absence of this kind of reconciliation, that we will, under God, commit ourselves to be the very agents of reconciliation—whatever it takes, however hard it may appear to be, whatever people may think of us—that we will be the initiative-takers always. Because love always takes the initiative. Love never says, Well, if they want to talk about it, they can come and talk about it. That is not love.

Love always takes the initiative. Help me to live a life that's dependent on your grace. In the book of Romans, the Bible tells us, if possible, as far as it depends on you, we are to be at peace with all men. As believers, we should take the initiative to be agents of reconciliation. That's the challenge from today's study on Truth for Life with Alistair Begg. Alistair will be back in just a minute to close with prayer, but first I want to say thank you to an important group of people. These are our monthly Truth Partners, listeners just like you who give a donation to Truth for Life each month that helps cover the cost of producing and distributing this daily program, so that people everywhere can hear Truth for Life free of charge.

And we hear from people all the time who tell us how God has used Truth for Life to bring them from being unbelievers to a place of saving faith, or how this program has strengthened and established them in the truth. If you're one of our monthly Truth Partners, thank you for your faithfulness. And if you have not yet joined this vital team, we want to encourage you to sign up today. Signing up is quick and easy.

You can do it online. Go to slash truth partner. And when you become a Truth Partner today, we've got a great resource we would love to send you.

It's a book by Alistair that you've probably heard me mention before. The book is called Pray Big. Learn how to pray like an apostle. In the book, you'll be reminded that prayers are an expression of our faith. But let's be honest, our prayers can start to sound the same day after day, right? So to help you develop more intimacy as you talk with God, Alistair teaches us how Paul prayed for his friends in the church in Ephesus.

Paul considered it a great privilege to preach and to pray. And he recognized that prayer demonstrates our dependence on God. In fact, as Alistair notes, he says, my prayers, whether I pray, how much I pray, what I asked for in prayer, that reveals my priorities.

And it reveals how much I think I need God or whether I am deep down, in fact, self-assured and self-righteous. When you read the book, Pray Big, you'll learn how to pray bold, dependent prayers. Now, our author of this book is ending this weekend, so request your copy today when you become a monthly truth partner at slash truth partner, or when you make a generous one-time gift at slash donate.

You can also call 888-588-7884. Now let's join Alistair as he closes today in prayer. Our God and our Father, we thank you for this little letter, for the message that it brings so forcibly home to our minds. I pray for some who as yet have never come and bowed their knee to you, the living God, and confessed their sins and asked you to grant to them forgiveness. I pray today that there will be some who receive the reconciliation that you have made available in the cross of Jesus. I pray, too, that those who are living at odds with one another, whether within their home or even estranged by distance, may in Christ and in the Lord be enabled to do what you call for them to do. And we pray for our church family, not selfishly but purposefully, that whatever this means in all of the ramifications beyond our ability to even quantify them now, whatever it means, that you will immerse us in the reconciling grace of God, and so that when our country is facing the possibilities of all kinds of fracturing, that you will find among your people here a willingness to say, I love you with the love of the Lord, and I can see in you the glory of my King, and I love you with the love of the Lord. May this grace, the grace that Paul prayed for the church in Philemon's home, the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, the love of God our Father, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit rest upon and remain with each one who believes, now and forevermore. Amen. I'm Bob Lapine. I hope you will enjoy worshiping together with your local church this weekend, and I hope you can join us on Monday as we start a new series, Encore 2021. You'll hear some of Alistair's most popular messages from the past 12 months, a year that will likely be on our minds for a long time. The Bible teaching of Alistair Begg is furnished by Truth for Life, where the Learning is for Living.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-09-18 21:46:18 / 2023-09-18 21:54:37 / 8

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