Philemon (Sermon Notes)

Had a great time today visiting our old church New Covenant Fellowship, where Iva had asked me to preach.

– Greetings from Cambridge, it’s great to be back
– Some testimonies of street evangelism; gospel bracelet explanation
Context of Philemon: Paul led Philemon to the Lord (v.19), is now in prison (v.1), where he somehow meets Onesimus, Philemon’s slave (v.16). Paul leads him to Christ (v.10) — and is now sending Onesimus back (v.12) so they can be reconciled.

1. The Problem (?) of NT Slavery
– The common question: ‘why does the NT endorse slavery’ (eg. ‘Slaves obey your masters’ Col. 3:22)
– Aside: William Wilberforce and the (Christian!) abolition of slavery
– Paul: Apolitical Apostle or Subversive Slave-liberator?

2. The Deeper Gospel Problem
– Why didn’t Philemon evangelise Onesimus? (Reinhard Bonnke story: the people we don’t notice need to hear the gospel)
– Paul’s prayer for Philemon: thanks for your love for the Lord, for the saints, for the lost (conspicuous omission)
– Prays he would become effective in sharing his faith:
i. not out of obedience to the Great Commission
ii. not out of a burden for the lost
iii. but for his own sake–‘for the full knowledge of every good thing that is in us for the sake of Christ’!

3. Appeal not Command
– the GRACE of the Gospel
(Aside: hypothetical heavenly judgement of the unsanctified sinner saved by simple faith to the dismay of the devil)
– but do we excuse our lack of boldness (v.8) in the name of a ‘love’ without substance?
– the need for RECONCILIATION

4. Greetings from Paul’s team
Who are they? Epaphras (Col. 1:7,4:12; =Epaphroditus? Phil.2:25), [John] Mark (Acts 13:13,15:37-39; 1 Peter 5:13; Mark’s Gospel), Aristarchus (Acts 20:4, 27:2), Demas (Col. 4:14, 2 Tim. 4:9 =( ), Luke (Acts 20:5 ‘us’; Col. 4:14; Luke’s Gospel + Acts)
– God has personal plans for each one of us, esp.
i. to respond to the gospel,
ii. to be reconciled in each other,
iii. to become effective in sharing our faith

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