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July 21, 2020 9:00 am
The gospel at work. From Jamie Greer. Philemon is a self-centered businessman transformed into a beautiful picture of generosity and an SMS is a pilfering fee transformed into the leader of one of the most important churches in the ancient world, can you see why I think there is no better picture of the vision of our church than this book, the Bible teaching ministry of Pastor Jeannie. I'm your host Molly for a while. You've probably heard JD say that the gospel just philosophy. We believe our for the Christian life today, you'll see a picture of that in the lives of two first century believers dating account. You might have flipped right past as you read the Bible were in a series called everyday theology and Pastor Jeannie titled this message from ruthless to generous and enslaved to empower today we are going to briefly look at a New Testament book that I think captures the heart of her vision.
It is the book of Philemon in your Bible.
So if you have a Bible would you take it out to get open at the Philemon. The book comes right after the book of Titus. So, if you will been here last few weeks and got good body Titus. It's the very next page. We just finished our study be. Titus and really Philemon is an extension of the fought him Titus so you could consider this like a bonus track. Philemon is one of the shortest books in the Bible on one page 335 words in Greek is actually a postscript that was attached to the book of Colossians a really interesting story behind this blog. Philemon was a Roman nobleman who lived in Colossae and Paul had led to Christ on a mission trip there will Philemon was was was really wealthy and had a bunch of servants and one of them made an SMS stole a bunch of stuff from Philemon's house and then ran away to Rome. What a crazy twist of Providence Maximus runs into the apostle Paul in Rome. Rome was a huge city but it just happens. Running the Paul who is being held in a minimum security prison there in Rome. So Paul leads Ernesto Mr. Christ.
Then he finds out that an SMS is a runaway slave would stole a bunch of stuff from Paul from Philemon. So Paul send him back to Philemon to turn himself in, and as he is going.
He says Asia one attorney selling to Philemon. I want you to take this letter to the church in Colossae which is the book of Colossians in your Bible, and many attached is this little postscript to that letter as a private letter to Philemon. That's the book of Philemon and so this is what Paul says in a private letter to Philemon. Verse six is will pick up.
Paul says I'm praying that you Philemon will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Accordingly, though I am bold enough in Christ to command you to do what is required.
Yet, for love's sake. I prefer to appeal to you, so I Paul old man now now prisoner also for Christ Jesus. I appeal to you for my child, an SMS father. I became in my imprisonment. You let in the crisis. What he means.
Formerly, he was useless to you, but now he is indeed useful. There is a play on words happening in Greek because an SMS in Greek literally means useful in SMS as a thief had become useless. Now Paul says he's living up to his name useful, but he's not just useful to you is also useful to me more than just his previous usefulness as a servant in your house Philemon God has a role for him and his kingdom. He's gone way beyond his previous usefulness.
God has chosen him to be an instrument of blessing verse 12. I am sending him back to you and sending my very heart when I do so I would have been glad to have Capt. with me in order that he might serve me on your behalf during my imprisonment for the gospel, but I prefer to do nothing without your consent.
In order that your goodness might not be by compulsion but all of your own accord for this is perhaps why he was parted from you for a while that you might have been back forever. Not as a bondservant. However, more than a bondservant that you would have them back is a beloved brother. Verse 17. So if you consider me your partner receive him as you would receive me. If he is wrong. Do it all for owes you anything charge that to my account.
I Paul write this with my own hand, I will repay it to say nothing of you owing me even her own self since, after all, I let you Christ life's are both pretty good at the guilt trip Jewish Christian friend who says clearly here. Paul had a Jewish mother laid on the kind of guilt trip because that's a talent Paul baseball says so Philemon while you languish around in your luxurious house with all your servants high and old man in here in prison for the gospel.
I let own estimates to Christ and now you really feel the Cold War ministry and I could really use a cell. But if you really want to come back. I guess you can, by the way, did I remind you that that I led you to Christ about me you would be on your way to help. Well, if you can find it in your heart to do that great. If not, when I got out of prison.
I'll personally company his debts.
It's up to you Philemon and then Paul concludes with this verse 22.
One more thing please repair a guestroom for me, for I'm hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon. In other words, oh yeah, I met you to be there in a few months. This can be really really awkward if you do not do what I am saying. Furthermore, this letter is going to go in the Bible, which means that for the rest of Christian history you don't do what I say you're going to be known as that guy, but no pressure man totally up to you in course an SMS is the one who actually delivers this letter so I Philemon is reading it an estimate gonna stand there grinning like you know what you say uncle fly. You know what can happen here. Right before we go any farther. Let's deal with an obvious question that some of you had as I have been reading through this question is does the Bible here condone slavery because it seems pretty clear that there is some kind of ownership that Philemon has over an SMS and recognizing that is Paul legitimizing slavery. Great question. Sadly, some Christians throughout history have interpreted it that way but that is a very simplistic, very twisted and quite frankly, very wrong. Understanding three things to remember number one. The bondservant here is nothing like what we think of when we say slave we think slave we think you take somebody captive and force them into labor.
That kind of slavery is explicitly condemned in the Bible. Exodus 2116 anyone who kidnaps another and sells him shall be put to death in first Timothy chapter 1 verse eight Paul put slave traders in the same category as those who kill their parents.
Adulterers perjurer's perverts so that cannot be the kind of servant. An SMS was this scholar say was more like what we think of as indentured servant hood and it was part of the economic system in Rome for some your translation say bondservant sums a servant, someplace labeled one word in Greek the community number of things. The word was due to loss in those days of somebody became extremely poor for they had a lot of data they can provide for their family. The only thing left for them to sell was there labor soon agreement to pay off their data for the promise of provision then people would often sell themselves to a wealthy person like Philemon.
Now that is not to say that it was a good system or that it was ever part of God's plan in the original creation.
God never intended us to own each other.
He told us to have dominion over the earth, not other humans.
Which leads me to number two. The New Testament subverts the entire premise of any form of slavery you can summarize the entire New Testament ethic about how we are to treat one another in love your neighbor as yourself and one others as you would have been doing to you. It calls us to treat one another as brothers and sisters and tells us that in Christ there is neither slave nor free, you can see the details. We are all family.
There is no hierarchy in the kingdom of God, and you can see that in the verse, Paul uses the closes letters people say greet one another with a holy kiss as a teenager in church.
I wondered why does no one ever preach on that verse because there were several girls I wanted to apply that verse with that very morning, but then my dad explained to me that Paul said it is a holy kiss which is not what you have in mind when you want to apply that verse.
Secondly, he said you have to apply to men and women alike, which took care of any desire that I had replied that verse at church.
But what Paul meant through that command was treat one another like family. When you come into the kingdom of God, there is neither Jew nor Greek, black nor white, rich nor poor employer employee. There is no educated uneducated prisoner free incarcerate. None of that is that in Christ we are one race of people. The human race. We are one class of people center.
There is one solution. Jesus there is one future of the resurrection. There is one fortune and that is the eternal riches of Jesus Christ. So he says when we come into this place. We leave any distinctions behind because we have been made one in Jesus Christ. We are family. The ground is level at the foot of the cross. In Christ masters and servants become brothers and sisters that new view of humanity would ultimately undo any form of slavery which leads me to number three, rather than issuing a political manifesto. God planted seeds which undid the current order. She had God said this system is wrong.
Get rid of it now Jesus followers may have focused is focused exclusively on political action and there is a time to work politically but God had a different way of going about his agenda on earth he was transforming the world from within. In the place that he started that transformation was in his church. Eventually this new vision of humanity would transform the whole society. But God started it through the gospel and the church, DA Carson, the historian and theologian says that the best work on slavery in his opinion, is by an African-American scholar named Thomas soul.
It's massive it's three volumes of look through it.
It's it's really impressive soul points out that slavery was a universal problem going out to about the 17th century. He says the terrible European slave trade with which we are familiar that traffic over 11 million Africans. He said twice that many were bought and sold on the Arabian Peninsula. During that same time. Furthermore, he says almost every slave sold in the European slave trade were taken captive and sold to them by other Africans. So another words he says. Slavery was a nearly universal problem yet.
He points out, you have an enormous amount of guilt, literature, coming out of the West, yet not out of Arabia and all the efforts to stop slavery came from the West why he asked if slavery was universal. What stopped it in the West.
His answer, he said, undeniably, it was the great awakening. There was the preaching of men like John Wesley and the reforms of Christian statesmen like William Wilberforce. The gospel planted seeds that ultimately undid the broken systems of the world from within.
Yes, Christians have been hypocritical about that at various times throughout history, but the point was when people began to awake to what the gospel actually taught it did undid the entire world system from within. That's what Paul is doing here Philemon. He says in verse eight I could command you to be generous. That will be required.
I could rub the apostle bomb in order you around, but I would rather press the gospel of your heart and tell you obey the implications Casitas real change. I would rather see you transform my log liberated with all because I can't change is permanent and beautiful and I can't change leads to an entirely new world order. So that's the way that I am going to press this into your heart to the question then is what it Philemon do with this letter you obey it never tells us, but ask yourself this. How did this little letter get in the Bible.
It was a private letter only sent only to Philemon, which means that he would have the only copy to get into wide circulation.
Philemon would've had to put it there and I just don't think Philemon would've said hey your letter, Paul wrote me with counsel that I completely ignored the David into circulation because he heated it for himself or gave an estimate of his debts and released him. Even though it came at great personal cost himself even circulated a letter is a picture of the new world order that the gospel would create in the churches in here is where it gets even more interesting to me. A few decades later a church leader named Ignatius refers to an elderly bishop of Ephesus, which was one of the leading churches in the ancient world named an SMS which scholars say would have been a very uncommon name among people in leadership positions in the day so many scholars based on the timing and the context of Ignatius's reference believe that to be the anastomosis of Philemon. So what you see in the book of Philemon is a beautiful picture of the gospel and a perfect picture of the mission of this and really any church. Philemon is a self-centered businessman transformed into a beautiful picture of generosity and an SMS is a pilfering feed transformed into the leader of one of the most important churches in the ancient world, can you see why I think there is no better picture of the vision of our church than this book. Write this down to taken notes. A. We as a church want to see Philemon's become radically generous participants in the mission of God. I would say that we have a lot of Philemon's in this church who are sincere in their faith like Philemon was who are regular, the church, the pastor knows their name like Paul Newman.
Philemon was but they have yet to ask the really hard questions about how God wants to use their lives in the mission to give and serve where it is costly. It's not that they are evil, just that life for them has been about building their kingdom and so they use people like Philemon used an SMS.
It's not that it's illegal, it's just self focused.
God wants you to become a person who is characterized by grace and generosity were you don't just ask what do I have to give you start to ask how can I best leverage my life for the kingdom of God.
What do I have Betty's use goal for God's kingdom and not just useful in my I presented you; generosity ladder on it.
We try to chart how people grow in generosity throughout their lives. The idea is that God has called us to grow more and more Christlike. The discipleship is not just about meeting some minimum requirement like the time that you just check often are done with you on to say to God, it's all yours, got everything I have is yours.
You poured out everything for me.
Where would I be without you. You didn't hide your blood for me. You poured out everything so got I don't want to just be faithful to 10% how to be faithful with all of you that was always my mistake. I was, I got your 10% bone check that all paid my tax to God not to do whatever I want. Got the note I didn't hide my blood for you on it all to the question of the believer is God. How do I level what you had to choose full what resource do I have what what calendar I have. What time do I have that is useful in your kingdom because I want my life like Philemon to be a response not just of the minimum requirement. I wanted to be poured out to the measure the Jesus for his out for me. There's a couple in our church in their mid-30s with young kids about my kids his age that felt led by the Lord to grow their generosity year-by-year for as long as they can sustain it by 5% per year beginning 2013, there were giving away 12% in 2013 they achieved 20% in 2014. They tried to get 25% but ended up at 22%. So I asked them how high are you going to go. They said well if we can get our business to the right place. We like to one day give 100% of our annual income into the kingdom of God.
Now I'm not saying that your plan has to look exactly like bears what you see. A mentality and that mentality is God.
I'm not just meeting the minimum requirement and then going back to figure out how life becomes useful for me.I want to leverage what I have all that I have for yours.
It's all yours.
God I want to grow yearly in my generosity.
I want to become more and more like Jesus because I think about, and I understand where I would be without him is the same place. Millions of people or the world without me leveraging what God has given to me, Philemon, and by the way this applies to all areas of your life, not just your resources when you begin to look at all of your life as time, treasure counts, what do I have what estimates do I have that would be useful in God's kingdom and God do you want to use that in your kingdom.
Show me how you see what I realize is we do this is there's a lot of Philemon thing here that need to actually get engaged in the mission of God, because Jesus listen Philemon. Jesus did not save you to sideline you, he saved you with the intent of putting you in the prime spot in his game say believers just to bless them. He blesses you to be a blessing as a question you gotta start asking yourself is God I am Philemon you want to use me. I told you before that, I mean yes I love you how God is grow in our church. I told you that often. I thought your quarterback in hot so this is Tom Brady.
Okay you guys I worry laughing is at that heartedly right so we come in here each week as a quarterback in the huddle, I called worry and like, what happens is a lot of people like little man. I was an awesome play. The play down was a great play told their friends about it and they all coming back over and sit down on the bench. We met a field by myself so I can deflate the ball my own not getting he didn't do that and then like a couple minutes later you run back onto the field you like. Call us another play cyclone of the plan you like wow that was an awesome play goosebumps when you call, not what you the best play: the city and immerse Michael play like you, podcast that play throughout the week.
Listen to it again and again and back you go over and sit on the bench and this is what we do, week by week at some point I want to say it's not me calling play. The point is you running play, I only call the place of you will run the place. Am I excited about how many people come here is Coldplay. I'm excited about how many people throughout the week are actually running the play in the place that God has placed them to run the play was a mild pastor used to say much, only to get off your blessed assurance and start doing something you need is for you to start standing on the promises he would say not just sitting on the premises sitting on the premises and somebody else a 4 x 4 by the way you said you you need to cease to be spectators and start to be movers in the movement. It starts with small steps, giving financially the kingdom for the first time reaching out to somebody in your neighborhood or workplace, and inviting them to come with you in this journey of faith here volunteering join in a small group but I would counsel you with what Paul said the Philemon. I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ. Generosity that comes from your faith translation. What kind of generosity was your faith demand.
Think about how much your life is owing to grace near your life like your self-made man Philemon were to be without Jesus. Would you be had God not sent me to preach the gospel to you.
Where would you be jealous and I'm an American through and through. I believe in personal initiative and the God is given us the ability to prosper and do great things in the governments of mostly to stay out of her way but think for a minute about how much of your success, you owe to others. You had no real control the talent you inherited. I was a senior DNA. Your parents gave you. You control the country of your birth. You didn't really control the make a bigger body and your health. These things are a gift that's not even to mention the price Jesus paid to free you from sin and Paul would say to Philemon. I would say to you that demands something that demands something. Those who have received that kind of grace those who feel how helpless they were no longer look at live their lives have something to acquire to make them your good to put in the useful service for them. They say God how does what I have, how can it bless someone else's. You have blessed me minute for about extreme statement here are harsh self-made men go to hell. Why, because what you may, by yourself, was a massive condemnation. What Jesus gave to you when you were helpless was his grace, not what only the concept of handouts, you better learn to go to heaven because God's grace was God giving you what you can never earn on your own. You were helpless you were dead and God saved you and he says if you have received that kind of grace you will give that kind of raises, he loved you, brothers and sisters, we ought also to love one another. We are not self-made. We are blood-borne and that makes us grace filled you powerful reminder Jeannie Greer on Senate series. We've learned that a solid foundation based on the gospel produces a life that reflects the grace of the gospel, but where do we start our new Bible study workbook is called start the foundations of Christian faith to pastor Jenny help us understand this is this new curriculum intended for individuals or for greens yes amen yeah I mean both the mean it's your community is is a very important part of I think discipleship I would always encourage you if you have a chance to study something with somebody else you do that, we always say our church in the best sub-Saharan happens not in rows but in circles so we pray this resource and you can use for yourself but you know hopefully you will find somebody else maybe a group of people you can go through with the goal this what we call the start experiences that take these these core ideas about knowing God and show you how to use at a billing foundation that will take you farther and farther best way to think of start is like your survival guide to the beginning of a journey, not just a bunch of information you learn.
We would love for you have a copy. I think it will be a blessing to you so you get email@example.com we can find information on this and other resources. Would love to have you as a gospel partner would help us in our ministry of reaching people through on the preach gospel when you get will say thanks by sending you this new Bible study resource. Like Katie said, start interactive study bill next foundation for your copy of start when you begin by calling 85 5220 866-335-5220 Jenny online. I'm writing join us Wednesday every theology right away. Our right here on defendant life