Summary: A sermon examining the growth process in the life of a Christian. .

The Process Of Progress

Philemon 1:10-11

Babies... when they are born they are essentially helpless. There are only 2 things that come natural to them - crying and ...well, you know the other one! In the beginning they need to be held, nurtured and taught. They require constant care and supervision. But after time we begin to see progress. They begin to hold their head up, they start to eat solid foods, they learn to talk, they learn to crawl and then walk Throughout the remainder of their life they will never stop learning.

The Bible uses babies as an illustration of a new convert.

Jesus told Nicodemus that the Christian life begins with being Born again (John 3:3)

When speaking to the Corinthian church Paul says - (I) could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. - 1 Corinthians 3:1

Peter says in - 1 Peter 2:2 As newborn babes, desire the sincere milk of the word, that ye may grow thereby:

Just as that baby that I referred to will never stop learning, the same is true for the babe in Christ. You will not find someone who knows it all (you may find a few who THINK they do, but they do not!)

We have the opportunity to learn and grow in the faith until this life is over. The sanctification process in never ending here on earth. Many times we in the church are guilty of expecting a recent convert to act like they have been saved for decades. To use an old cliché we must remember that "you must crawl before you walk"

For the past several weeks we have been examining the beautiful letter that Paul wrote to Philemon on behalf of his runaway slave Onesimus. Let's briefly review what we have seen: Onesimus was a slave and Philemon was his master. It is believed that Onesimus stole from Philemon. He then left his master and went on the run. Somewhere along the way he met Paul and was introduced to Christ. He then became profitable to the ministry. Paul desired for Onesimus to remain with Him. But he knew that it was best for Him to return to Philemon. Paul writes this letter and acts and an intercessor on Onesimus' behalf. Onesimus then returns to his mater with this letter in hand. In the letter Paul explains the amazing transformation that had occurred in the life of this new believer. He also asks that Philemon receive Onesimus but not as a slave, rather as a brother in Christ.

We spent some time examining the transformation of Onesimus, then last week we saw the importance of Christian forgiveness. Tonight I want to examine the actions of the Apostle Paul. Not only does he act as an intercessor, he shows us how we should treat the new believer. In this Epistle, there is much that we can learn that will be beneficial in our approach toward discipleship. I would like to look to the text and examine "The Process Of Progress"

It would be fantastic if spiritual maturity were instant... but it is not! It is a growth process. There are 4 steps in this process that I would like to consider... the first of which is:

I. The Introduction Involved -v10 I beseech thee for my son Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my bonds:

Paul calls Onesimus his "son that he had begotton". - Begotten - (gennaō - ghen-nah'-o) {G}- to regenerate or to bring forth. Onesimus was brought to faith in Christ by the Apostle Paul. The title "son" is a term of endearment that Paul also used for Titus and Timothy (Timothy 1:2 & Titus 1:4) Onesimus was in good company, he was one of many converts as a result of Paul's ministry.

It is apparent that at the time of this letter Onesimus was a relatively new believer. We often refer to new believers as "babes in Christ" - In order for Onesimus to go from a runaway slave to a profitable servant there was a certain chain of events in his life. (a spiritual progression so to speak).

This process of progress in his life began with an introduction. It was a divine act of God that these men's paths crossed. Ultimately God was orchestrating the events and He caused Onesimus to encounter His servant Paul. After they met Paul no doubt witnessed to this runaway slave. Perhaps Onesimus was at rock bottom and was a little more receptive to the Gospel message than some of the other people Paul witnessed to. Regardless, Paul introduced Jesus to Onesimus.

That is really what witnessing is, we are not capable of saving anyone. We are simply called to introduce people to the Savior. You may have a couple of single friends that you think would make a good couple. So you make arrangements and find a way to "introduce" them to one another. That is all you can do. Whether a relationship begins or not is out of your hands. It is the same when it comes to introducing someone to Jesus, salvation is out of our hands. But we are called to witness to the lost. We are to point them to Jesus!

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