Summary: What does it take to make such an impact on our society that God’s Word penetrates even the darkest corners of the region? Maybe one of the smallest book in the Bible has the answer.
What it Takes to Change The World:
The Book of Philemon is very interesting. Its probably a book we hear quoted the least out of all the books of the Bible and probably one that we look at the least. The book is a letter of Paul. But instead of a letter to a church, it’s a letter to a person – Philemon – thus the title of the book.
The book probably doesn’t turn heads because of the subject matter. It’s about a slave. Actually, its about a runaway slave named Onesimus who had stolend something from his master, Philemon and ran away to avoid being caught. Paul, in this short letter, is telling Philemon that Onesimus, the slave, has been saved under his ministry, and now he is sending him back to Philemon to see if Philemon will release forgiveness and freedom to Onesimus despite what wrong he had done.
So with the brevity of the book and the subject matter, we can see that obviously this book has little value to the kingdom right? No. In fact, in this book we find a unique picture of the entire Gospel. As our brother gave us a message on Thursday about the gospel in the book of Ester, we see in Philemon an illustration of the grace and mercy of God in the Good news of the gospel. Further proof that all the Bible points to one event in human history, the life, death, burial and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ. For in Philemon we see the Gospel portrayed in a relevant manner.
MAIN THEME - - - I see in this story a type of Christ in Paul, us in Onesimus, and the reconciliation of Onisemus to Philemon as a type of salvation.
Onesimus is the central figure. He’s the runaway slave.
Onesimus: a runaway thief (like so many of us and so many in the Bible – take for instance: Adam and Eve “I was ashamed and so I hid.” (they had just become slaves to sin). Or how about Elijah – “I am the only one left and so I ran.” (became a slave to fear.) Or how about Jonah. “I knew the people would repent and you would have mercy on them so I ran.” (Became a slave to jealousy). Also, Peter, In the time of Christ’s death he ran away from his identity. “I do not know the man.” Onesimus found himself in good company with many of the Bible’s key figures. The only problem – his story is very short. He stole something from the master/committed a sin against the master and ran away.
WE are the Onesimuses. We all are runaways. We may have a nice home, great children, or a high paying job, but in the final analysis unless we have bowed the knee to Christ, we are only runaway slaves. Slaves to sin.
Onesimus’s name means, “profitable.” But through sin, he became the opposite. Through sin he was worthless, a robbing slave. Who could trust him? Who would take him in? Who would give him a second chance for this “un profitable” thief.
Then there’s Paul: the servant of the Gospel, the bearer of good news and the image of Christ to Onesimus. He leads Onesimus to the knowledge of Christ and uses him for the benefit of the Gospel. Paul’s goal is to reconcile to Philemon the ex-slave runaway. In so doing, Paul commends Philemon to remember mercy and grace as he had received through the preaching of Paul in dealing with Onesimus.
I want us to take a look at the key verses of the book (17 and 18) which will be our text for this morning in the book of Philemon. Paul says, “If then you regard me a partner, accept him as you would accept me. But if he has wronged you in any way, or owes you anything, charge that to my account.”
First thing we want to look at is this: Paul says, whatever the boy owes you whether stolen or in time of service missed because he ran away I want you to “. . . charge that to my account.”
What great words to hear, huh? “Charge that to my account.” You are at a dinner with a person of great influence and because you are their guest the host tells the waiter or waitress, “Charge that to my account.”
You are a newly graduated high school alumnus and entering into the college of your choice and Mom and Dad if your lucky turns to the admissions office executive and says, “Charge that to my account.”
Nice words. Nice to hear.
And the amazing thing is that we have all heard them from Christ himself on our behalf.
So for us has Christ written home to his father on our Behalf. For even on the cross, the love of God through Christ gave these words, “Father forgive them, for they know not what they do.” While saying those words, it is striking that Christ is commending forgiveness for the sins of the world which put him on the cross in the first place. Christ took our offenses and paid our penalty. Christ took upon Himself the price of our sin. And in dying on the cross he paid the debt we could not pay. Isaiah 53:6 (KJV)