Summary: Restoration, Forgiveness, Repentance, Grace

JAIL BREAK (Breaking the Chains of Unforgiveness) -

The Restoration of a Slave

October 7, 2018

Philemon 1:1-25 (p. 837)


I believe love is the most powerful motivator known to mankind…I include something in all my wedding ceremonies that Kari and I included in ours 38 years ago.

The Power of Love

[Love makes you feel special. It changes everyone for the better…It is…the one commodity that multiplies when you give it away. The more you spread it around, the more you are able to hang onto it because it keeps coming back to you. Where love is concerned, it pays to be an absolute spendthrift. It cannot be bought nor sold, so give it away! Splash it all over! Empty your pockets! Shake the basket! Turn it upside down! Shower it on everyone - even those who don’t deserve it! You may startle them into behaving a way you never dreamed possible. Not only is it the sweet mystery of life, it is the most powerful motivator known to mankind.”]

And I believe forgiveness is one of the greatest demonstrations of Grace that anyone can extend to another person…or that can be extended to them…

But when you combine love and forgiveness something truly supernatural takes place.

Because only through the power of the Holy Spirit can we truly love people that need forgiveness…and only through the supernatural power of God’s Spirit working in others can we be loved and forgiven by them.

[Let me ask you have you ever received a letter asking for forgiveness…because I have. Shortly after coming to Gardenside, someone broke into our building…including my office, and stole the UK jerseys I had hanging on my wall…one of them signed by John Wall…ironic huh.

This young man talked about his addiction…his family and his faith…But he sincerely said he was sorry…He said he couldn’t got the jerseys back…but he asked for my forgiveness.

And I wrote back to him at Blackburn Correctional Institute and told him I absolutely forgave him…not to worry about the jerseys but to pursue Christ with the freedom of knowing forgiveness and grace can set him free. I believe I still have his letter in my desk drawer.]

Today we look at just such a letter. It’s a super short letter in the New Testament written by the Apostle Paul to a man named Philemon.

I would bet my buddy at Blackburn had some spiritual counsel as he wrote his letter to me. And Paul writes this letter for a man named “Onesimus.” Listen to the beginning of this letter…

PHILEMON 1-11 (p. 837)

Kerry Hanes writes…

Philemon, like many wealthy people of his time, owned slaves. In fact, some historians believe that nearly half the Roman Empire was enslaved during Jesus’ time, mostly because of debt problems or theft. One of Philemon’s slaves was named “Onesimus,” which means “useful” in Greek. We don’t know why, but Onesimus took off and became a runaway slave. Through the providence of God, Onesimus, like his master Philemon, met a man named Paul, and like his abandoned master, Onesimus too became a believer in Christ. Paul thought highly of him, but Paul was in a dilemma. He viewed Onesimus as a son in the faith but the law required him to return this runaway slave to his master. Paul chose to return Onesimus, but he helped him by sending with him a personal letter for Philemon imploring this slave master to recognize Onesimus as his brother in Christ and forgive him of any wrongdoing he had done.

This is a story about love and forgiveness…It’s a story about brothers in Christ seeking it and being asked to give it…

Paul has led both Philemon and Onesimus to Christ…He uses the word “Koynos” in his appeal to Philemon… “Partner” but it has a much deeper meaning…It means “fellowship” “unified love” “Koinonia.” One of the core 4 characteristics of the early church comes from this word… “And they devoted themselves to the apostles teaching, to fellowship, the breaking of bread, and to prayer.” (Acts 2:42)

It’s this fellowship or partnership that Paul calls Philemon to when he says, “If you regard me as your partner…accept Him as you would me.”

The great reformer Martin Luther loved this little letter and he said, “We are all His Onesimi if we really believe the gospel.”

And I agree…we are all escaped slaves that need love, forgiveness and restoration and we are like Onesimus in 3 ways. 1. We need a substitute. / 2. We have an unpayable debt. / and 3. We have had it paid in full.


Listen to Paul’s plea in verses 12-17:

PHILEMON 12-17 (p. 837)

Philemon was won to Christ while Paul was in Colossae…Paul has won Onesimus to Christ while in prison.

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