Summary: What is real faith? What is real love?

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[Hold up book: How I Play Golf by Tiger Woods]

Most of you are not golfers.

Let’s pretend you take this book home today and read it from cover to cover. Then you read it again… and again. Eventually you know everything there is to know about golf. You know the history of golf. You know the rules of golf. You know the techniques of golf.

But are you a golfer?

No. You’re not a golfer unless you actually play golf.

Is a person a Christian if he or she doesn’t live like a Christian?

Philemon was a man who not only believed like a Christian but also lived like a Christian.

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers, because I hear about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints (vv. 4-5).

Philemon was a man of faith and love.

Basic facts about the book of Philemon:

• Written by: PAUL

When? Around A. D. 60

• Written from: PRISON

Where? Probably Rome

• Written to: PHILEMON

Who? A prominent Christian in Colossae

(1) He was Paul’s “dear friend” (v. 1).

(2) He was Paul’s “fellow worker” (v. 1).

(3) The church at Colossae met in his house (v. 2).

(4) He was saved through Paul’s ministry (v. 19).

(5) He was hospitable (v. 22).

• Written about: ONESIMUS

Who? A runaway slave who was saved


We can see a picture of salvation in verses 17-18.

First, Paul was willing to pay Onesimus’s debt (v. 18). “If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me [put that on my account, NKJV].” Onesimus may have stolen something from Philemon before he ran away. Or Paul may be referring to the loss of service that Philemon suffered while Onesimus was gone.

Second, Philemon was asked to welcome Onesimus as he would welcome Paul (v. 17).

Christ paid the debt of our sin so that we could be welcomed into God’s family. “God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God” (2 Corinthians 5:21). Christ’s death on the cross made it possible for our sin to be put on Christ’s account and His righteousness to be put on our account. What must we do? Place our faith in Him.

[Hold up a “Get Out of Jail Free” card]

Probably most of you have played Monopoly. Many people think salvation is like a “Get Out of Jail Free” card. You just “say a prayer” or “walk an aisle” or “join a church” and you become a Christian. You can live however you want because you have your “card.” And then when you die, you present your “Get Out of Jail Free” card to God, and He will let you into heaven.

Is that how salvation works? No.

1. Faith is not just an INTELLECTUAL thing; faith WORKS.

Your faith in the Lord Jesus (v. 5).

“Lord” (kurios) – master, he to whom a person belongs.

Faith includes both belief and commitment.

“It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9). Salvation is by grace through faith, not by works. “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:8-10). We are not saved by works, but we are saved to do works.

“What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him? Suppose a brother or sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to him, ‘Go, I wish you well; keep warm and well fed,’ but does nothing about his physical needs, what good is it? In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead” (James 2:14-17).

2. Faith is not just an INDIVIDUAL thing; faith CONNECTS.

I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ (v. 6 TNIV).

“Partnership” (koinonia) – fellowship, communion.

So if you consider me a partner… (v. 17).

Faith in Christ not only brings us into fellowship with God; it also brings us into fellowship with other believers. We are all brothers and sisters in God’s family.


“Love” (agape) – the kind of love God has for us.

“Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs” (1 Corinthians 13:4-5).

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