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April 13, 2021 4:00 am
Somebody does something against you, offends you, owes you something. Remember this, you all such unpayable debts to others who have generously and lovingly benefited you with the richest of spiritual blessings and they don't demand payment so can you release the simple temporal debt of one who has only offended you in inspected Americans to forgive him and he didn't seek their forgiveness.
And yet, after the armistice he met some former Japanese POWs and heard about an American woman who treated Japanese prisoners with great kindness, even though the Japanese had killed her missionary parents. This shocked Uchida and it sparked his interest in the gospel helped lead to his salvation.
The key factor in his conversion was the love and forgiveness that he saw demonstrated by a Christian and that sort of life-changing forgiveness is the focus of John MacArthur study today on grace to you. John is titled the series forgiveness now with the lesson.
Here's John forgiveness we have noted is the most godlike and the most Christlike actor Christian can do. Never argue more like God or Christ.
And when you forget this wonderful little letter without ever mentioning the word forgiveness teaches us a living lesson and forgiveness. It teaches us some very essential elements of forgiveness and most gentle, most practical and most subtle ways. Paul has already helped us to see and identify the kind of character one has to have, to forgive and all that comes out of verses 4 to 7 then Paul also made us very aware not only of the character of one who forgives one of the action of one who forgives that's in verses eight through 18 and then we come now to the final verses of this letter. Verses 19 through 25, and Paul opens to us insight into the motives for forgiveness. What motivates someone to forgive number one the recognition that I owe a debt I can't pay notice verse 19 hi Paul, I'm writing this with my own hand, I will repay it stop at that point from this is quite an interesting note, Paul's custom was to dictate his letters to an amanuensis or secretary somebody who wrote them down but it was also Paul's custom at the end of many of his letters to pick up the quill and to sign his own name. Now you will notice that he has said something very significant in verse 18. He said a phone SMS has wronged you in any way or owes you anything charge that to my account.
This is the issue of restitution.
Paul knows on estimates has nothing he can't repay what he stole. He can't repay the 500 in area. I that Philemon had to spend to get someone to take Vanessa misplace you don't have that money. So Paul says, instead of trying to get it out of him.
He doesn't have it, just charge it to my account and then most interestingly, Paul says I Paul am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it and Paul picks up the pen and signs the IOU with his own name.
That's what he is doing he is signing his name and saying I will make restitution for an SMS who has no money but then notice what he says in lest I should mention to you that you owe to me. Even your own self as well. What is he saying here he saying by the way, I know Vanessa must owes you a debt, but may I remind you that you owe me a greater debt that he owes you. Here's Paul's plan put his debt on my account, then cancel it because you told me so much. $0.40 on estimates owes Philemon a material debt Philemon owes Paul a spiritual debt on estimates owes Philemon a temporal debt. Philemon owes Paul an eternal debt why Paul had given them the gospel.
Paul had led him to the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ. How is he ever going to pay that back so he says on estimates debt should be put on my account and then cancel because you owe me so much because I was used by God to deliver you from death and hell of the principal is just that simple. Somebody does something against you, offends you, owes you something. Remember this, you owe such unpayable debts to others who have generously and graciously and faithfully and lovingly benefited you with the richest of spiritual blessings and they don't demand payment and neither could you pay it. Should they demand it so can't you release the simple temporal financial debt or obligation of one who has only offended you in an earthly way since I have so many spiritual debts that I can never repay. Can I not allow gladly some material debt to go unpaid and fully forgive the one who owes it. So Paul with his inspired Junior seeks to motivate us to forgive. By reminding us of how much we owe second motivation, the recognition that I can become a blessing to others. If I forgive. I can become a blessing to others. Verse 20.
Yes brother. There is that endearing kind heartedness of Paul yes brother, let me benefit from you when the Lord refresh my heart in Christ and the words me in my are both emphatic in the Greek he saying you have blessed so many he already said that back in the first part of this wonderful book verse seven he says I've come to have much joy and comfort in your love because the hearts of the saints have been refreshed through your brother, you have blessed so many people for so long now it's my turn.
Paul said brother, let me be blessed. Let me profit let me benefit. Let me find a spiritual usefulness and this is a cognate of the very word own SMS so we still using that play on words for the very name of own estimates, which means beneficial or useful. It's my turn. He says if you will forgive him you will bless me.
You will benefit me in the Lord, what is he mean by that, in the spiritual dimension in the sphere of the spiritual. So let me benefit from you from your action from your active forgiveness. Let me benefit from you receiving him, restoring him canceling his debt that will benefit me I was going to benefit Paul will give them joy, given joy in other words, Philemon, if you will humble yourself and consider own estimates more important than yourself and seek unity and love and fellowship, and therefore forgive that man you will bring me joy to good motives to forgive.
You owe more than you can ever pay. And if you forgive your bless the saints because you will pursue unity. Third motive, the recognition that I am called to be obedient to the Lord. Verse 21 bosses having confidence in your obedience. I write to you since I know that you will do even more than what I say again with pen in hand. Paul says luck. I have confidence in your obedience, and he touches that heart string again in Philemon that is plucked by the need to obey God is not talking about being obedient to to Paul because back in the early part of the chapter you remember, Paul said to him, verse eight.
I do have enough confidence in Christ to order you to do what is proper yet for love's sake are other people do.
So Paul never did command him. Paul is just saying I know you will obey the Lord in this Paul is confident that Philemon is a godly man he laid out his characteristics in verses 4 to 7. He is confident that he will act in a right way to obey God's command to forgive. So you're motivated not only because you owe debts you can't pay not only because of what he says in verse 20. You will be a blessing and a joy to other believers, but because you know God expects you to obey some evil of made the unnecessary assumption that this is some call to Philemon to emancipate on estimates to free him from his slavery altogether. But that is an indicated in the text when he says I know you will do even more than what I say it could be that he is meaning to say you will be more grand in your forgiveness than I've even asked you will be more magnanimous in your love toward on estimates than what I have even assumed you will give to him. Maybe a prodigal son type of celebration put on the ring in the robe and kill a fatted calf and Paula celebration. Maybe that's the more that he will do. Or maybe the more that he will do is is to take him back. Not only as a servant. And Paul does indicate that he's coming back as a servant in verse 16 when he says you will not only have them in the flesh but in the Lord. In other words, he will serve you in the flesh will also serve you in the Lord and maybe that is the more that he's thinking of here. Maybe the more is you're not only going to return them to menial service as a slave, but you're going to give them liberty to do ministry because of his spiritual capability and so you'll do more than just taking back and restoring to service you will give them opportunity to minister alongside of maybe the more might be that you will not only forgive him but you'll forgive some other people. You are to forgive. And the more is a more magnanimous far-reaching and broad kind of forgiveness in which Philemon will even forgive those that Paul doesn't know. He holds bitterness against our many possibilities for what the more might be, but he says I know your character. I'm confident in it. I know you will obey and you'll even do more than I've even asked is 1/4 compelling motive for forgiveness and that is the recognition that I am accountable to godly leaders. This is very refreshing.
Verse 2210, Paul says, and at the same time. Also, prepare me a lodging for. I hope that through your prayers shall be given to you naughty saying you better do this because I'm coming to check on you sortie saying Paul says. My hope is that I'll be given to you and the means of my being given to you is through your prayers.
As I've said in years past prayers move God prayers of the nerves that move the muscles of omnipotence. Prayer is not just an exercise in futility because God can do it is going to do. Prayer is the means by which God does what is going to do the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man does avail, much as James five tells us Paul is very aware of the providential work of God. He referred to it.
Back in verse 15 when he assumed that perhaps on estimates that even run away in order that he might come back. A Christian he knew God was at work in all of this and he says my hope is that God would let me come to you in the means of that will be through your prayers. And so what he does is he not only tells Philemon I'm coming, but he tells Philemon. In effect, start praying for my arrival and I'll tell you what if he knows he's coming and he's praying for Paul's arrival. That's going to affect the way he acts toward on estimates for sure because if he hasn't fully forgiven on estimates. He's not about to have his prayer goes something like old Lord God please bring the apostle Paul soon no way, if he hasn't forgiven on estimates so Paul literally paints him into a corner. I'm coming and I'm expecting that what will free me is your prayers.
It's a heavy burden. Now Philemon is saying to himself I don't pray he doesn't get out of prison I want to be responsible for him being in prison I got a pray for his release.
I'm praying for his release. I know where his first stop is here.
I got a forgiven that's spiritual accountability is 1/5 motive, the recognition that I am not alone, but I am a part of a fellowship. I am not alone. I am a part of a fellowship versus 23 and 24 wonderful statement, Paul makes her again. He's got the pen in his hand, any rights it passed for us.
My fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus greet you as do Mark Aristarchus Dimas Luke my fellow workers.
He identifies a preference as a fellow prisoner. He identifies Mark Aristarchus Dimas Luke as fellow workers, five men, five men precious to Paul. Five men precious to Philemon. Five men Philemon knows five men who know Philemon.
What's he saying he saying you can't act independently of the fellowship you don't act alone. If you don't forgive. You will fracture the love bond that exists between these men and you five men they send her greetings Philemon. They have high expectations of you. These men are also mentioned in Colossians 4. Look at Colossians 4 because the verses there in Colossians 4 will give us some insight into these five men obviously to trick us who carried the letter to the Colossian church could give his own greetings. He also would be known to Philemon most likely, but then the list starts with a path for us in Philemon to preferences mentioned down in Colossians 412 Pappas name first, probably was converted under Paul.
He is most likely the founder of the Colossian church and the other two churches in the likeness Valley. There were three altogether.
Namely, Laodicea, and her Annapolis probably the path for us had founded those three churches. He was himself from Colossae certainly well known to Philemon. The second name in the list is the name of Mark. He's mentioned in Colossians 410 is the cousin of Barnabas in the Colossian church is told that if he comes there to welcome him.
Here we find out that he's the cousin of Barnabas, which may explain something of the conflict in next 15 year member went Paul and Barnabas were going on their journey, John Mark could come along. Only he was weak and didn't like the difficulty and you remember he wanted out. And so Paul said that's enough for him. Get rid of him.
If he's not strong enough for the deal get rid of them. Barnabas took up his defense, and you remember there was a parting of the ways of Paul and Barnabas. This explains may be why Barnabas had such an attachment to Mark they were cousins Mark by the way was much improved by this time Mark became such a wonderful man that in second Timothy 411, when Paul was at the end of his life and wrote to Timothy, he said, send me Mark because he so useful, so here is a godly man, Mark. The third one mentioned in Philemon is Aristarchus. He also is mentioned in Colossians 410. Here it says Aristarchus my fellow prisoner. He is not called a fellow prisoner in Philemon, but a fellow worker, so it may be again that he was a fellow prisoner by choice not by law, that he was simply willingly attached to the imprisonment of Paul to assist and help all furious with him sharing this time of imprisonment, perhaps willingly putting himself in bondage to serve Paul. He is known and beloved by Paul and obviously known and beloved by Philemon. The next name is that infamous name of Dimas Dimas is also mentioned in Colossians chapter 4 verse 14 simply his name.
Dimas will know much about Dimas but here he was a part of the fellowship. He was involved in assisting Paul known to Philemon. The final name in the list in Philemon is Luke.
Colossians 414 says Luke, the beloved physician. That's how he's known, a Gentile Christian Dr. full of love. He alone was with Paul in his final imprisonment second Timothy 411. Here are five very very well-known prominent people they know Philemon therein fellowship with him if he doesn't forgive he will destroy that bond with those men. You see, you don't do things in isolation. If you hold a grudge you fracture your fellowship. Finally, forgiveness is motivated by the recognition that I must be empowered by the grace of God. Verse 25. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit as Paul's final words. He puts the quill down and what he is saying is Philemon. I just want to remind you that in order to do this you're going to have the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ can't do it on your own human nature couldn't forgive this offense. This familiar benediction is really a prayer and not very general here, but very specific that divine grace may be granted to Philemon and all his family and the church at Colossae.
All of you so that you can forgive.
Vanessa puts Paul is asking what is not possible in the flesh because the flesh wants vengeance. What is not possible by the law because the law wants justice but what is possible by grace. The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ working with your spirit, your inner man.
That's the same grace that allowed Christ to forgive, Paul says, may you have that same grace to forgive that allowed Christ to forgive most of the motives, you must forgive for you Odette. You could never pay you can bless the saints you can obey God. You can fulfill your accountability and your spiritual leaders. You can keep the fellowship intact and you can do it in the power of the grace of Christ to forgive you. That's the end of the book.
It's not the end of the story at an event, no doubt Philemon for gave on this. Paul was released from that imprisonment made many trips. Surely one of them was to Colossae and to the house of Philemon. He didn't go east even though originally thought he want to go West. Remember that six years before he wrote this letter he wrote Romans and he said I'm coming in after I get there I will leave you and go west to Spain. Romans 1522, 24, in the intervening years. This plans are changed.
He was in Rome but he decided I'm not going to Spain unlocking to conquer new territory. I got to go back and fix some old territory. When he came out of that first imprisonment.
He couldn't go West because he had to go and fix some of the churches because they have fallen into sin and one of the places he must've gone was Colossae and one of the houses he must've visited. Of course, because that's where the church met was Philemon's and so he must've found out Bible scholars will tell you it's not likely that this book would've found its way into the New Testament canon.
If Philemon hadn't forgiven on estimates because it would've left Philemon to appear for all of human history as a godly, virtuous, wonderful man and if that were not the case, then there would not of been the spirit of God's purpose to leave this book in the text to give a false impression about that.
So the fact that God included this in the Cantonese means also the God wonderfully moved to accomplish this in the life of Philemon and on estimates just as a footnote. History records that some time after this man became the pastor of the church at Ephesus and his name was on estimates could be the same man.
If so, we certainly know the wonderful power of forgiveness.
Forgiveness is powerful. That's partly why that story here.
Forgiveness impacts people.
This is grace to you with John MacArthur. Thanks for being with us along with teaching on this radio station. John also serves as Chancellor of the Masters University in seminary, and he is titled our current study, forgiveness of John is a finishing thought to this study on forgiveness.
Forgiveness is costly.
It's costly to the one who forgives and I'll confess to you that even as a Christian forgiveness doesn't always come automatically or easily. So why is that, what is it that makes forgiveness. Such a challenge, and also does it get easier over time to be a person who seeks and gives forgiveness without hesitation.
Let let me start at the end of that question. It does get easier over time. I think it's all part of spiritual maturity. You know, the longer I've been in ministry analysis in a personal way.
But the longer I've been in ministry.
The more blessing God has poured out of my life. The more grace I've seen right you know that you is grace upon grace upon grace upon grace. You know your own heart you know you're not everything should be but God just keeps greasing you and blessing you and you see all of this blessing flowing out of a forgiving God. That's just relentless and lavish in the more of that you experience the more of that you are likely to give.
I just think you maturity produces anger and resentment and desire to get back to people but when you have been saturated with grace for half a century. You ready to give it you hold every relationship lightly in your hand here just as likely, this is maybe strange to say, I'm just as likely to say I love you to an enemy as I am to a friend and I find myself even doing that or to someone who is an adversary maybe not an enemy but someone has an adversary. I don't know. I think I think really that the Bible does conform you to Christ over time and so you begin to react like he reacted with this is that if you can get to this age. You can experience some pretty amazing things about what the spirit is done over 80 years so that there are levels of wisdom or levels of grace that you have learned by being taught over and over and over and I the worst thing imaginable would be to see someone my age with a bitter, rancorous, angry, unforgiving heart are such people. I don't think I don't think they follow the path of sanctification.
Thank you John and knelt with the issue of forgiveness in mind, let me recommend John's book the freedom and power of forgiveness. The book looks at Christ's amazing forgiveness toward sinners, and the blessings that come your way.
When you forgive others to get your copy, contact us today. The freedom and power of forgiveness is reasonably priced and shipping is free.
You can order by calling toll-free 855 grace or go online to Jide TY.org. Perhaps you're having a hard time forgiving someone maybe you even question. If that's the right thing to do in every case. If so, the freedom and power forgiveness could be a life changer like so many of John MacArthur's books, the freedom and power forgiveness is also available in Spanish again to order, call 855 grace or log on to Jide TY.org. There are also a number of sermons on forgiveness at our website. In fact, at Jide TY.org you can search for sermons on almost any New Testament topic just click on the resources tab and you could find sermons on prophecies concerning Christ.
Spiritual gifts God's grace and salvation. Then much, much more. Again, all of those sermons, and other helpful Bible study tools are available for firstname.lastname@example.org now for John MacArthur in the entire grace to you staff.
I'm your host Phil Johnson, thanks for joining us today and make sure you're here tomorrow when John begins his all-time most popular study series called fulfilled family.
It's another 30 minutes of unleashing God's truth one verse at a time on Wednesdays. Grace to you