THE GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST PROVIDES THE MOTIVATION FOR CHRISTIAN RECONCILIATION
Before we can fully grasp the process of Christian reconciliation between two parties where some wrong has occurred – where there has been a rift created by some undeserved injury – we must understand how Jesus Christ has graciously reconciled us to God the Father.
MacArthur: Forgiveness, we have noted, is the most God-like and the most Christ-like act a Christian can do. Never are you more like God or Christ than when you forgive because that is what God does, that is what Christ does. Forgiveness is a magnificent virtue.
4 REMINDERS FROM THE GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST THAT MOTIVATE FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION
I. (:17-20) GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST REMINDS US OF GREATER DEBTS WE WERE UNABLE TO PAY –
VICARIOUS PAYMENT OF ALL WRONGS THAT PAVED THE WAY FOR RECONCILIATION
A. (:17) Reconciliation Requires Gracious Acceptance
“If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would me.”
B. (:18-19) Reconciliation Requires Gracious Restitution
1. Responsibility for the Wrong
“But if he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge that to my account;”
2. Repayment of the Wrong
“I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand, I will repay it”
3. Reassessment of the Wrong (in light of former gracious compensation)
“(not to mention to you that you owe to me even your own self as well).”
Reminds me of the movie White Christmas where the one soldier saves the famous singer from the falling wall and then uses that to obligate the singer
II. (:20) GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST REMINDS US OF THE GREAT BLESSINGS OF RECONCILIATION
“Yes, brother, let me benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ.”
MacArthur: The forgiveness of Onesimus by Philemon will bring spiritual joy and refreshment because Paul loves both those men. Paul wants them to be one. Paul loves the unity of the church. Paul wants Colossae as a church to see that forgiveness as a great example, an object lesson. If Philemon refuses to forgive Onesimus, it will burden the heart of Paul, it will sadden the heart of Paul, it will trouble the heart of Paul because he loves both those men and he loves that church and he loves the unity of the church. Any failure to forgive will injure that relationship, it will injure that church. It will mar its ministry and its effectiveness and it will misrepresent the power of the gospel to the unconverted world that’s watching. So he simply says you’ve been willing to do so much refreshing for other people, would you just do this for me? Would you forgive this man and refresh me and bless me and give me joy? Two good motives to forgive. You owe more than you can ever pay and if you forgive you’ll bless the saints because you’ll pursue unity.
III. (:21) GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST REMINDS US OF HOW WE SHOULD GO THE EXTRA MILE (BEYOND OBEDIENCE)
A. Encouragement of Faithfulness
“Having confidence in your obedience,”
Hendriksen: It is exactly the gospel as proclaimed by Christ that demands that those who have been greatly benefited shall also show kindness to others. Matt. 18:21-35 proves this point in a striking manner.
B. Expression of Obligation
“I write to you,”
C. Expectation of Grace
“since I know that you will do even more than what I say.”
IV. (:22) GRACE OF JESUS CHRIST REMINDS US THAT ACCOUNTABILITY IS IMMINENT
A. Be Prepared for the Arrival of Spiritual Authority
“At the same time also prepare me a lodging,”
B. Be Praying for the Arrival of Spiritual Authority
“for I hope that through your prayers I will be given to you.”
Are we truly looking forward to the coming of the Lord Jesus Christ in terms of the accountability and judgment that He will bring?
Lightfoot: There is a gentle compulsion in this mention of a personal visit to Colossae. The apostle would thus be able to see for himself that Philemon had not disappointed his expectations.
MacArthur: So, Paul literally paints him into a corner. I’m coming and I’m expecting that what will free me is your prayers. That’s a heavy burden. Now Philemon is saying to himself…I don’t pray, he doesn’t get out of prison…I don’t want to be responsible for him being in prison, I’ve got to pray for his release, I’m praying for his release, I know where his first stop is…here, I’ve got to forgive him. That’s spiritual accountability.
Paul believed in the power of prayer
(:23-24) CLOSING GREETINGS: (see Col. 4:10-14)
A. Fellow Prisoner
“Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, greets you,”
B. Fellow Workers
“as do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, Luke, my fellow workers.”
Mark = case where Paul became estranged from Barnabas; but now Paul reflects back and sees the value of Mark in the ministry (2 Tim. 4:11)
Demas = one who will subsequently fall away from the faith; acting now as a hypocrite
(2 Tim. 4:10)
Wiersbe: Luke, of course, was the beloved physician (Col. 4:14) who accompanied Paul, ministered to him, and eventually wrote the gospel of Luke and the book of Acts.
(:25) BENEDICTION: IT’S ALL ABOUT THE GRACE OF THE LORD JESUS CHRIST
“The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.”
Back to the beginning: this epistle shows faith in action with the results being the demonstration of practical Christian love in the gracious reconciliation between Philemon and Onesimus