We are in Jerusalem the center for so much of the New Testament in the Bible. Let's get this background on the book we are approaching in this flight segment.
Our flight now banks over two New Testaments books that are easy to overlook. But we do not want to miss the sites that Titus and Philemon provide. Remember all scripture is God breathe and is profitable.
Pastor Skip Heitzig: One of my favorite little gems in my library is a little thin book it's called 'Selected Letters of Samuel Rutherford' and I realize that to most people that doesn't mean anything. So, let me just tell you a little bit about this character.
Samuel Rutherford lived in the seventeenth century, the 1600s, in Scotland. He preached a little town called Anwoth and because the political setting of the day was such, he was exiled and forbidden to preach and sent up to the town of Aberdeen in Northern Scotland. And there for a few years forbidden to preach, he could only write letters, he was effectively imprisoned, and so he wrote letters. Some letters to members of his flock that he used to preach at, letters to friends etcetera, but they reveal his personal heart, and it was said that his letters inspired Scotland in preaching for a century after that, just a few letters.
Well tonight, we are looking at a couple of very personal letters of the Apostle Paul. One was written to a pastor on the Island of Crete, I will tell you about that in a minute, and the other was to a wealthy slave owner in a town called Colossae, very, very short letters and very personal letters.
Now Titus. We mentioned last week that First Timothy, Second Timothy, and Titus were called Pastoral Epistles, and this is the last one of them. And if I were to give a theme to the book of Titus, it would be 'Order in the Church', not order in the court as the judge would often say, but Paul would say, to the church 'Order in the Church.' We need order, solid teaching, strong leadership, direction for different people groups in the church, and how to be a witness to the world and that's what he write this letter for.
Now Crete was a very difficult place. Let me tell you about it. It was an island, and you think, great I love islands, a Greek island, what a cool place to minister, not so fast. It was difficult geographically, it was difficult politically, it was difficult culturally, it was difficult spiritually, it's an island off the southern coast of Greece of the Peloponnesian Peninsula to be exact, out in the Mediterranean Sea, it's a 170 miles from east to west and only 30-35 miles from north to south, a long narrow mountainous island, difficult to get around on. And the people had a reputation for being honory, for being problematic, and it was a tough place to minister, and yet a church sprung up there. How? We don't know exactly, but a church sprung up there. And Titus was the guy that Paul sent to set the church in order, in fact those are the directions in chapter 1.
Now, I was reading a guy by the name of G. Campbell Morgan this afternoon and he said that, "The Church existing in Crete was proof of the power of the gospel, proof of the power of the Church." And he said, "The most difficult soil was selected under the most difficult circumstances." In other words if a church can work in Crete, it can work anywhere, and it could be that Titus was becoming a little bit discouraged and that's why Paul had to write a letter of encouragement.
But what excited me about reading about this from G. Campbell Morgan is sometimes people get sent by the Lord to difficult places and they want to use that as an excuse, well, you know where I live is very different from every where else in the world, where I live is a little more difficult, it's a little harder, and every place has its own personality and particular peculiarities, but if a church can spring up and thrive in Crete 2000 years ago, I think, the message is clear that God can do His work anywhere.
Now, we have sent young men out over the years to start churches and I love their excitement. I love the opportunity when our board gets to lay hands on them or our pastoral team gets to lay hands on them, and they are so excited to go out and they have got a vision and they have got a plan and they might take a little group with them. And then as soon as we pray for them and we send them out, I will often turn to my leaders or my board and I will say, "And now it begins." And they will look at me and go, "What do you mean by that?" And I say, "Well, now the phone calls and the emails and the letters and the problems and all the things they didn't foresee that will shape them into a strong men of God is now going to happen."
In fact, I remember years ago, we have sent a young man out from this church who was our youth pastor and he was so excited, because we did this outreach, I did an outreach and gave an altar call down in Tucson, Arizona. The youth pastor was Robert Furrow, and I said, "Robert, why don't you leave here and move to Tucson, and at the altar call that night, the people who come forward, brand-new believers they will be your church." So he goes, "Okay." And he would commute for a while every week from Albuquerque to Tucson to start his church until he moved there, and he was so excited the night we ordained him and sent him out, and I said to my board, "Now it begins, now the letters come, now the problems come." And it was probably two weeks later, I got my first phone call.
Oh man, this is tough, this a problem, what do I do about this situation and that situation? And you know what ministry is tough; it is hard and we do need encouragement and we do need backing. I know about that when I first moved here from Southern California with Lenya and my Datsun pickup truck, they don't even make Datsun pickup trucks anymore, and it was losing oil and we were dumping a quart in every 100 miles, and here come the Beverly hillbillies in reverse and we are coming out here and just the stress of a new place, a brand-new marriage, we knew a friend in town and all of that early hardship that God used like He was using it in this man's life.
Now, Titus was Greek. He has a Latin name. He came to faith under Paul's ministry at some point, we don't know exactly when, but in verse 4 of chapter 1, Paul calls him a true son in the faith, and his name is mentioned in other parts of the New Testament. For instance, nine times in Second Corinthians, Titus is named by Paul. So, he was a friend of Paul, Paul was a mentor to him and then he would send him out on particular journeys. Let me just read a little text in Second Corinthians chapter 7 verse 5, "For indeed when we came to Macedonia, our bodies had no rest and we were troubled on every side. Outside were conflicts, inside were fears. Nevertheless God who comforts the down cast, comforted us by the coming of Titus."
We believe that Titus was one of Paul's very first non-Jewish converts, one of Paul's first Gentile converts, and that Paul brought Titus with him to Jerusalem as exhibit 'A'. Now here is what a gentile believer, non-Jewish believer in your Messiah looks like, here is one, his name Titus.
You may have missed that when we went through Galatians. So let me just read you this passage, this is Galatians chapter 2, "Then after 14 years, I went up again to Jerusalem with Barnabas, and I also took Titus with me. And I went up by revelation and communicated to them that the gospel which I preach among the Gentiles, but privately to those who have reputation lest by any means, I might run or had run in vain. Yet not even Titus who was with me, being a Greek was compelled to be circumcised."
His all point is that salvation comes by grace through faith and here's exhibit 'A', here is a young Greek Gentile who believes in Yahshua and he is saved, and he didn't get circumcised or got through any ritual, it was just completely by faith.
So, Titus, three chapters and these three chapters have three themes: chapter 1, chapter 2, chapter 3. Chapter 1 - leadership; chapter 2 - discipleship; and chapter 3 - stewardship. Chapter 1 - leadership, what it means to serve Jesus Christ. Chapter 2 - discipleship, what it means to follow Jesus Christ. And then chapter 3 - stewardship, what it means to reflect Jesus Christ. Those are the three big themes in order in the church.
So look at chapter 1 verse 1, "Paul, a bond-servant [here's the leadership chapter] Paul, a bond-servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ according to the faith of God's elect and the acknowledgment of the truth, which accords with godliness. In hope of eternal life which God, who cannot lie, promised before time began. But in due time manifested His word through preaching, which was committed to me according to the commandment of God our Savior. To Titus, a true son in our common faith: Grace, mercy and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Savior."
Now just a little side note, only the Pastoral Epistles, Timothy and Titus, use that three-fold configuration. Typically it's just grace and peace be unto you, here it's grace, mercy and peace, and it's an all three Pastoral Epistles.
For this reason verse 5, "I left you in Crete that you should set in order the things that are lacking and appoint elders in every city, as I commanded you."
How did a church ever get started on that island called Crete? Well, it could be that Paul and he only visitor Crete we know on his fourth journey, when he was imprisoned by the Roman government and taken on that ship in Acts 27 and they landed at a place called Fair Havens in Crete and stayed a while. It could be that he was busy being Paul, like Richie is busy being Richie telling anybody who will listen about Christ, Paul was telling, anybody on that island about Jesus and perhaps a church started. But probably the best explanation is the Day of Pentecost.
The Day of Pentecost people were all gathered together from all parts of the world worshiping in Jerusalem. It says in Acts chapter 2 verse 11, "Among them were Cretans." And we know that a lot of people that day got touched by the Lord, saved, and these Cretans who are saved probably then went back after Pentecost and it was that group that started the church.
So, there is a church, but there is a problem there, there is a trouble spot in the church, it's out of order, they are in a crisis, they need strong leadership, they need good solid doctrinal teaching, and they need just the right person who won't just teach them but lead them, and that man, according to Paul, was Titus.
There is a great old story about two Greek speakers, orators. One was name Cicero and they said, he had a golden tongue. In fact whenever Cicero would give a speech, people at the end will go, "My! How he can talk? He is marvelous." The other guy was Demosthenes and Demosthenes whenever he would speak, people would say, "Let's follow him, let's march with him, let's go with him."
Well, Titus was that kind of a guy. He didn't just give messages to people but he help them forge their way in a time of crisis and that was to set things in order.
Now notice that phrase again verse 5, "set in order that things that are lacking." Set in order, is one word. Now let me explain it to you and I think it will connect. Epidiorthoō that really helped you didn't it, you are going not. Epidiorthoō, there is a word a root word there, Orthos. We get our term orthopedic from it, orthodontist from it. It means to align or to set something that's crooked and make it straight. So an orthodontist takes teeth and straightens them, an orthopedist takes bones that are broken and sets them in order.
So Titus, you need to be like a spiritual orthopedist, you need to set the spiritual lives and make them straight, because they are out of order in this island called Crete. And how is he to do that? By raising up proper leadership verse 5, by confronting false teachers, verse 6 through 10, and by giving them good solid Bible teaching and that's chapter 2.
Verse 6 of chapter 1 speaks to the first one, raising up leadership, and here is the qualifications, "If a man is blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of dissipation or insubordination." These are the elders he used to appoint in their characteristics.
"For a Bishop must be blameless as a steward of God; not self-willed, not quick-tempered, not give into wine, not violent, not greedy for money. But hospitable, a lover of what is good, sober minded, just holy, self-controlled. Holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convict those who contradict."
Now, what is an elder? Well, an elder that term is often in the Old Testament term. That's where it first developed, the elders of Israel, and it originally referred to an older, more mature gentleman. But 29 times in the New Testament, it simply refers to a spiritual overseer or a spiritual leader.
Now, you should know that elder and bishop are often used interchangeably in the New Testament, and there are three important words that describe this, three Greek words and we are familiar with them, Presbyteros, if you are Presbyterian, you know what a Presbyteros is, that's a bishop. The second word is Episkopos, and if you are an Episcopalian, you know what an Episkopos is, and that's an overseer or bishop. So you have an elder and then you have a bishop.
And the third word is Poimēnos and there is probably no Poimenomanians in here, because there really aren't any at all. So a Poimēnos simply means pastor. So you have an elder, bishop and pastor, those three words are translated, and very often they are used to describe the same person.
The early church government was very simple. There were elders, spiritual leaders, deacons, those who help the elders, and people, and it developed over church history. Now, what I want you to notice in this list is that Paul is calling for integrity, integrity in the home, verse 6, "he has to be the husband of one wife, having faithful children." "He is has have integrity in his heart, verse 7, he has to be blameless, not self-willed, not quick-tempered, [he has to have integrity in his habits] not given to wine, not violent, not greedy for money, hospitable, a lover of what is good, etcetera." And he has to have integrity in his head, and that is verse 9, "holding fast the faithful word as he has been taught." He has to be able to teach God's truth.
Now what is it mean to be blameless? A better translation would be above reproach. It means that though he may be accused, the accusations can't stick. You know Paul was accused of a lot of things by a lot of people, and yet Paul was above reproach. He had a good conscience before God and man. He could sleep well at night, because he knew who he was before the Lord. So though people leveled accusations and made stuff up, it was unsustainable, and that's the idea of being blameless, unreprovable, unaccusable, and why does Paul set so high of a standard, because shepherds influence sheep, that's why.
Sheep look to shepherds, not only listen to shepherds, but they watch their choices and their lifestyle, and if they are in a restaurant or in public, they are looking to see what they find. It's called the fishbowl effect, and sometimes it's not easy to live in that. I can tell you that from firsthand experience just the way it is. And so Paul sets this standard, the entire New Testament does.
Charles Haddon Spurgeon put it this way, "As a result of your own decline [he writes to young ministers] every one of your hearers will suffer more or less. It is with us and our hearers as it is the watches and the public clock; if our watch is wrong very few will be mislead by it, but ourselves, but if Greenwich Observatory should go amiss, half of London would lose it's reckoning. So, it is with the minister; he is the perish-clock, many take their time from him and if he is incorrect, they all go wrongly." So that's Paul's emphasis to Titus in chapter 1, Leadership.
Chapter 2, discipleship, what it means to follow Christ, and here like in Timothy, Paul goes through the different kinds of people that will be in any church, old man or I should say, older man, older woman, younger man, younger woman, bond-servants or slaves and how they are to act. And here is what's important about all of this. It's not only how they are to act in their own little groups, like we have the young men fellowship and the older men fellowship and the older women, it's how they are to interact with each other.
To me this is vital, because I have notice the tendency over the years in many churches especially in our culture, and that is, we want special interest Christianity. We want to have a group for the young people and a special group for the older people and a special group for the single older people and single younger people, and we want motorcycle single enthusiasts over 40 and we want poetry speaking people under 30 and all of these specialty groups, which are fine, but we disconnect when we do that too much.
See I have always thought that married people and single people need to hang out with each other, because I often hear people who are single go, man life is a drag being single, it's so horrible; I'm so lonely, I need to be married. I suggest, you hang out with some married people [laughter] and listen to them. And I hear married people complain, you know, it was lot easier when I was single, you know I could do whatever I want and I didn't have to checked in with the wife. I suggest you hang out with some single people and get a grip, reality grip.
And so, here is Paul showing how all of these groups interact with each other. "But as for", verse 1, "speak to things which are proper for sound doctrine. That older man be sober, reverent, temperate, sound in faith and love and patience, that older woman likewise, that they be reverent in behavior, not slanderers, not given to much wine, teachers of good things, that they admonish the younger woman to love their husbands, love their children, to be discreet, chaste, homemakers, good, obedient to their husband, that the word of God may not be blasphemed."
"Likewise exhort the younger men to be sober minded, in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works and doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility, sound speech that cannot be condemned that one who is an opponent may be ashamed having nothing evil to say of you."
"Exhort bondservants [those who were slaves] to be obedient to their own masters, to be well pleasing in all things, not answering back [not answering back underline that]; not pilfering, but showing all good fidelity that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in all things."
What a concept this is that I by my behavior could adorn God's truth. I could decorate God's truth. I could be one of the ornaments on His Christmas Tree so to speak. By my behavior, my lifestyle I could actually adorn the truth of God in Christ.
Now, the summary statement in verse 11, "For the grace of God that brings salvation as appeared to all men teaching us that denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present age looking for the blessed hope and the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ." In Greek, it's one article and it's 'The', 'The' great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, equating the two together. Jesus Christ is our great God, He is our Savior and He is the one we are waiting for.
Now, why is it called a 'Blessed Hope'? Now, notice it's called the 'Blessed Hope', it is not called the 'Irresponsible Hope', the 'Escape Route Hope', it's called the 'Blessed Hope' and I am using those terms because I have heard people say, oh, you Christians who wait for the coming of Jesus Christ, the rapture of the church, it's so irresponsible. No, it is not.
It's called the 'Blessed Hope' because believing Jesus could come back at any time keeps you on your toes, keeps you pure, keeps you purified, keeps you living a clean lifestyle. Listen to what John writes in First John chapter 3, verse 2 and 3, "We know that when He appears, we will be like Him, or we will see Him just as He is. Everyone who has this hope in Him, purifies himself just as He is pure."
There is always a close relationship between prophecy and holiness, godliness, because if I believe Jesus could really come back in any minute, I'm going to want to live to please Him. I'm not going to want to mess around. I'm going to think, okay, if I do this and Jesus comes now, what will that be like? What will I feel like? Will I go? Uh-oh or I'm glad you are here; I was waiting for you.
I remember when I was a little boy, I loved my parents, I honored my father and I loved my father, but my mom could say something when I was just sort of on the cusp of acting like a total goon in the house and it was the simple words, "Your father will be home soon." It's all she had to say. I knew what that meant. I loved him, couldn't wait to have him home, couldn't wait to hang out with him, but it put a holy fear in me, and so that's why it is called the 'Blessed Hope' because it has this effect.
And chapter 3 is about stewardship, so we have leadership, discipleship and now stewardship is what it means to reflect Christ before world, how do we as Christians, get out of the four walls of the church and reflect the glory of God when there is an ungodly society or an unfavorable government, what kind of attitude are we to have?
You've got to remember that because every Christian has two addresses, heaven and earth. Your citizenship is in heaven, guaranteed, you've got a home there. He has gone to prepare place for you, but you are not there yet. So, don't live all of your time in that world without being responsible in this world. We still have to vote, we still have to give our voice, we still have to get involved, we still have to act responsibly, we have to pay the bills, we have two addresses.
Verse 1, "Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey and be ready for every good work." Now, what does it mean to be subject to rulers? Very simply, I think you understand what it means to be subject to rulers, you'd be subject to rulers. Hypotassō, it means to align yourself in proper rank and file. To us it means have the right attitude of respect and responsibility, co-operation in this world. Verse 2, "to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men." And the summary statement of this section is in verse 8; "This is the faithful saying, these things I want to affirm to you constantly, those who believe in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men."
Now, here is the theme in this section because he is talking about good, solid, doctrine, teach them, Titus, teach them truth, love the truth, get them to love the truth. But the theme here about the good works is that doctrine ought to produce duty. Good doctrine will produce responsible duty to reflect God as stewards in this world.
Now he closes with having order for the church because he knows that there are people with ulterior motives that come to church. Not everybody who comes to church comes to worship. Not everybody who comes to church comes to grow in their faith, some people have ulterior motives. They want to get a following or they want to use the church for their own purposes. So, he addresses that, but verse 9, "Avoid foolish disputes, genealogies, contentions, strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and useless." "Reject [get this] reject a divisive man after the first and second admonition, knowing that such a person is warped and sinning, being self-condemned."
Wow! It says to do that to a divisive man, reject a divisive man. The word, 'divisive man' is hairetikos, we get heretic from it. Reject a heretic, and it simply means one who chooses, that's the root word, somebody who chooses and the context is they choose to be divisive, either by their attitude, manner or their doctrine. They choose to divide.
Now, what does it say here how you deal with them, you reject them, that is you warn them. First of all, you go, hey, you know what, what you are doing is divisive, it's wrong. You are splitting up this body, it's not good, it's against the scripture. You are wrong in this area. That's the first one, they do it again. You tell them again. They do it again three strikes, you are out. After the second admonition, you reject them. That's the church discipline for somebody who divide the body of Christ. You confront them, if it fails, you reject them because better to reject the disease that would prey on the body than to have that disease spread and hurt more people in the body. Any good surgeon will cut out that which is disease. So any good church is like any good human body. We are called the body of Christ. A healthy body can purge out its own disease. A healthy church can purge out its own disease, just like if you cut yourself and lucasites rush to the area to get rid of the bad stuff, so it is with the church.
So, a healthy church, leadership, discipleship, stewardship. This is a church in order from Paul to Titus. I found something I wanted to read to you. It's one of my favorite little prayers, and actually it's a wish, not really a prayer. Again, Charles Spurgeon said, "If he knew that he could pray one final prayer for the church of Jesus Christ on earth before he died, this is what he would pray." Ready? Here it goes. "Lord, send to thy church, men filled with the Holy Ghost and with fire. Give to any denomination such men and its progress must be mighty. Keep back such men, send them college gentlemen of great refinement and profound learning but of little fire and grace, dumb dogs which cannot bark and straight away that denomination must decline." Close quote. And to that Paul would have said, if he would have heard Spurgeon, "Amen to that. That's why I am sending Titus over to Crete, to set things in order."
Now, we get to the last chapter of our evening which is the book of Philemon. This is the shortest book in the New Testament. It's the most personal letter in the New Testament, and it deals with a controversial subject. You know what it was? Slavery. How do you deal with somebody in the church who is a runaway slave and the master happens to be the very guy that everybody in church meets in his house? And Paul deals with that.
Now, here's something about this letter. In almost every letter of Paul, Paul doesn't write it by hand, he doesn't sit down with a quill and a piece of parchment and start writing words down. He would dictate it. He had a secretary or what was called an Amanuensis. So Paul would say, "To the Church at Rome --", the guy would -- ": To the Church at Rome --", he write it down and then at the end of his letter, Paul would usually close it with a few hand-written comments and signed it. This letter is one that he writes it all short, so he can manage that, he writes it all by hand. Now, I was thinking of this this afternoon, can you imagine having an original letter penned by Paul the Apostle. What that would be worth? You know I love to collect old books I have told you. I have in my office, in fact, a hand-signed sermon by Charles Haden Spurgeon. His signature is very rare to find and I found a sermon that he wrote out by hand and then he signed it. So it's framed and I really stoked on it, but imagine having one of Paul's letters.
I heard a story about a man who is an old book fanatic and he loved old literature and he had a friend, an acquaintance who just threw out an old Bible from his family home that have been in the attic for generations, and the guy found out, he got rid of it because I can't believe that thing must be valued at something if it's been in your family for years and the guy said, this thing isn't worth much, some, I couldn't even read it, he said. Somebody named Guten somebody printed this old book. And the guy said, that wouldn't have been a Gutenberg Bible. That's it, Gutenberg, and the guy just started breaking out in sweat because do you know what you just did, the Gutenberg Bible is one of the first books, it was the really first published book on a printing press. A copy sold two weeks ago in New York for over two million dollars and his friend didn't even flinch. He said, oh, this thing wouldn't have brought two dollars because somebody named Martin Luther scribbled all over it in German. [Laughter] Could you imagine having Martin Luther's personal Gutenberg Bible that he wrote in? So that Paul's letter would be super cool. That has really nothing at all to do with our study tonight.
"Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus and Timothy our brother to Philemon, our beloved friend and fellow-laborer, to the beloved Apphia, Archippus, our fellow soldier, and to the church that is in your house." Philemon must have been a prominent church member at Colossae. So, think letter of Colossians and the Colossae church is church, his home was probably big enough, he was wealthy enough. He had several slaves, one of them ran away, we found out named Onesimus, but he probably had a large enough house that the church met in his home, or some people actually believe that when he says to the church that is in your home, he wasn't referring to the church of Colossae but he is referring here to these two names, Apphia and Archippus, who were the sons of Philemon.
So, he is saying, even in your own home, that's your church, that's your ministry. You know sometimes people will say, boy, I wish I were in the ministry. Well, you can be starting tonight. If you went home to look at your wife and your children as the place where you do ministry, you are going to cultivate that relationship, get them to know the Lord and win them to Christ, your house, your home is your church.
Now, you might be listening to this, well, I don't really have a family, I am a teenager. Well, if you have got younger brothers and sisters, lead them to Christ. Start young, pastor them, be an example to them.
Verse 3, "Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, I thank my God making mention of you in my prayers." Now, I mentioned that he was a slave owner and you are going to read about a guy named Onesimus in this story. Onesimus has been mentioned but here is the long and short of it. Onesimus, who was one of the slaves of Philemon ran away.
Now, I mentioned I think last week or the week before that the Roman Empire had 60 million slaves. Half of the population of the Roman Empire were slaves. It wasn't like American slavery, you were indebted to a master but you were taken care of and some were very menial tasks, some were very wealthy prominent citizens like doctors and tutors and teachers, and so when the church came into a town and it brought slave owners and slaves, they were co-mingled, they were all equal.
When you come to church, you are not a slave-owner and this is your slave, your brother, brother, or brother, sister. That's why Paul says to the Galatians, there is no Greek, no Jew, Greek, Gentile, bond, slave, male, or female. We are all one in Christ.
Now, the name Onesimus means useful or profitable. Please keep that in your head because you are going to see a play on words in just a minute. It's believed that Onesimus as an unbeliever stole money from Philemon and ran away and he ran away to Rome and he is thinking, I am going to get lost in this big metropolitan city. I am just going to blend in. Well, Jesus found him there and somehow he came under the ministry of Paul the Apostle who led him to Christ and found out his story. And now Paul wants to send Onesimus back to Philemon, even though Paul loved Onesimus and would love to have kept him there, he knows that there has to be buying from the owner Philemon. So he is going to send him back, but Paul also knows you just can't send a slave who has been runaway back to his master. Here's why. In those days, a runaway slave, if he was found, they would brand on the forehead. The letter 'F' for fugitivos and if you saw somebody with a brand letter 'F' tattooed on the forehead, you could kill him immediately without a trial. And there were slave hunters out there, so they are like bounty-hunters who would find these fugitive slaves and make money off of this, killing them and bringing the head in or bringing the person back. It was dangerous.
So, Paul is going to send Onesimus back to Philemon in Colossae with his good buddy Tychicus, who will take the letter back to the Colossian church.
Now, verse 8, "Therefore, I thought I might be very bold in Christ to command you what is fitting, yet for love's sake I would rather appeal to you - being such a one as Paul, the aged, and now also a prisoner of Jesus Christ." Notice that, Paul said, "You know, I'm an Apostle and I could lay down the law and be very authoritative, that is my right as the spiritual leader, but I won't do that. I want to come humbly, and ask you this." "I appeal, verse 10, to you for my son Onesimus whom might have been gotten while in my chains, [in other words, I led him to Christ], who once was unprofitable to you, but now is profitable to you and to me." That's a play on his name, which means profitable or useful. So he is using a play on words.
"I am sending him back, verse 12. You therefore receive him, that is, my own heart, whom I wished I could keep with me, that on your behalf he might minister to me in my chains for the gospel. But without your consent I wanted to do nothing, that your good deed might not be by compulsion, as it were voluntary. For perhaps he departed for a while for this purpose, that you might receive him forever."
Isn't that a beautiful principle? Paul is saying, this temporal breach may have been God allowing it for an eternal benefit. You know it's sort of like saying, hey, Philemon, do you really believe in Romans 8:28 that all things work together for good? Could it be that God allowed this to happen so that he would be one to Christ? Now, he is your brother in Christ forever.
"No longer, verse 16, as a slave, but more than a slave - a beloved brother especially to me but how much more to you, both in the flesh and in the Lord." He is not saying, you have to give him his freedom as a slave but you have to forgive him and receive him as a brother.
"If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. [Now watch this.] But if he has wronged you or owes you anything, put that on my account. I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay - not to mention to you that you owe me even your own self besides." That's a powerful statement.
Paul saying, hey, Philemon, guess what? I know Onesimus owes you a material debt but you owe me your life because I won you to Christ, you wouldn't be on your way to heaven, we wouldn't be having this conversation were it not for what I did as your spiritual Father. So he is using a little bit of leverage here. Yeah, he owes you a big material debt, but you owe me a spiritual debt, which could not be repaid.
Verse 20, "Yes, brother, let me have joy from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in the Lord. Having confidence in your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I say. But meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me. [I would like Paul, inviting himself over]. For I trust [I have friends like that], for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you, Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus greet you, as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow laborers. The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, be with your spirit, Amen."
Okay, this is how I want to end it. What Paul tells Philemon to do with Onesimus is exactly what Jesus Christ has done with us. He has forgiven us. We were slaves of sin. We have been set free. Now, here's Paul going, look, if he owes you anything at all, I will pay for it. I love him, I love you. If he owes you any material debt, put it on my tab. I will figure out a way to pay the bill. Now, that's exactly what God has done for us.
Now, here's Paul loving the slave but love isn't enough to fix the problem. Love has to pay the bill. God so love the world but love isn't enough to do anything, love must pay the bill. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten son, that's how He paid the bill.
So, what Onesimus, the slave was to Paul and Paul stepping in and saying, I will pay for it is exactly what we are like with the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus would say to the Father, I know he owes, this sinner, Skip, owes you a debt, I payed for it, put it on my account, that's substitution, that's atonement.
Second Corinthians, 5:21, "For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might be the righteousness of God in Him."
Can I just say as we close before Richie comes back out? God loves to restore broken lives. You might feel sort of like Onesimus. I know I do. Squander to life, made bad choices, beat up, scarred, you walk around with your head low. You are exactly the kind of case that God is looking for. He likes to restore.
Somebody gave me years ago a 1942 Harley Davidson. Only one problem, it had no parts inside the engine. It was just a case, so I went to work on it and had other people do it and help me and now after several years it's running, and there is just something cool about driving around a 1942 anything. I mean, it's 67-years-old, it still looks great and there is something about driving something restored that you have worked on rather than just the new model. God looks for cases to restore, hearts that are broken. If you just bring your broken heart to Him tonight and let Him as the master potter remold, he will go, yes, that's what he likes to do. Let's pray.
"Our Heavenly Father, we thank You for these great letters. In our "Bible From 30,000 Feet" we have been able to go a little bit slower in these letters than other books, really get the depth and the meaning and the lessons.
Lord, I pray if anybody is broken-hearted tonight, broken by sin, may be choices that they have made, they look at their own life like that old motorcycle, a basket case, a basket of bolts and you would love to be able to get your hands on them and work, restore.
We pray Lord they will give You that opportunity real quickly before I close this and Richie comes out and sings, if you are here tonight you have never given your life to Christ or may be you have walked away and made all of the wrong choices, all of the wrong moves and turned your life into a real basket case, but you want God to restore that tonight and forgive you.
He will do it. If you want that, would you just raise your hand right where you are sitting and I will pray for you as we close? Just raise your hand up, say, yep pray for me. God bless you and you and you. Anybody else? Yes sir, right over here.
Anybody else, right up here in the front. Yes, ma'am. Couple of you right there in the middle, God bless you! Father, we do pray that the work that You have begun, You would continue, You said that You would and do a full restoration so that we can see what You are going to do with these lives after tonight, for Your glory in Jesus' name, Amen!