HEIRS OF THE PROMISE:
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IT CHANGES EVERYTHING!
Its well and good to have a Bible Study and understand what the text means ...
But do we understand how important this is?
- It not only changes our lives, it changes our relationships with one another
- We are the Children of God, we are heirs
- When Paul confronted Peter for not fellowshipping with Gentiles in Antioch (2:11) it was because Peter wasnt acting like an heir of the promise
- He was acting like a person who just followed orders just keeping the rules
- He was a slave to the the law and the pressure of others
- But do the food laws just go away? No, but Peter and the men from James were using the food lawas in a way that separated and made distinctions. It kept people from being one in Christ
- Peter seems to have forgotten the experience of Cornelius house (Acts 10)
Do we begin to see how this promise can change everything?
- Paul put the revelation of the gospel into practice. He understood how it shook up the status quo. It is not that he wanted that to happen, but those were the implications. The social order of expectations had to give way to Gods ordering of society and community.
- When Paul was old, he received a runaway slave as a guest. The mans name was Onesimus. The master of this slave, Philemon, was a friends and a co-worker with Paul.
- Philemon, thanks to Paul, was clothed in Christ, he became an heir to the promise.
- But in the eyes of the law and society, Philemon owns Onesimus. Onesimus is his property. That is an economic reality. When Onesimus ran away, he harmed Philemon financially. Dont misunderstand, I am not suggesting that it is right for Philemon to own Onesimus, I am simply pointing out that because the society and status quo exist as they did in Pauls days, there is a cost to changing it even if it isnt right.
- Paul envisions a new relationship for Philemon and Onesimus since Onesimus has also been clothed in Christ and now he is also an heir to the promise. Paul shares his heart with Philemon (Phil. 15) perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good no longer as a slave but better than a slave, as a dear brother.
- Is this easy for Paul to say, but hard to do? It isnt easy: Philemon and Onesimus must work out an entirely new relationship. There are different expectations set by the spirit of Christ.
- And what will the neighbors think? This sort of thing could create upheaval in the world and change society. It might even lead to the end of slavery!
Do we begin to understand how profound all of this truly is?
- We may fail to realize how much newfound respect and worth women found in the ministry of Jesus and in the church of the Lord.
- In early centuries, pagan critics slandered Christianity as a religion for slaves and women. (See Contra Celsus by Origen)
- Paul showed respect for women as co-workers for the gospel and as fellow heirs of the promise
- He wrote 1 Corinthians partly in response to news given to him by Chloe and her household. He obviously regarded the news with respect as if Chloe was a reliable sister.
- He commends Phoebe to the Roman churches. Whether he considers her a deacon with title or just a servant matters not he believes that she is worthy of the respect of the saints and she ought to have the same support that they would give to Paul himself. How can he say this? Because she is a child of God, a co-heir of the promised, she has been clothed in Christ.
- Seeing others through the promise values them even in times of conflict. Consider Philippians 4. Pauls word to Euodia and Syntyche is a pleading with them. He asks them to see the best in one another. He does not appeal to their husbands nor does he ask church leaders to silence them as second class members. His word is firstly directed to the two women whose service he valued. If they were mere troublemakers or unimportant females would he make such an appeal? No, but he would do so if he regarded them as co-heirs.
- He brings the other leaders into the discussion (Clement and the loyal yokefellow) asking them to work for peace. Paul regards Euodia and Syntyche as fellow foot-soldiers in the struggle for the gospel. And he calls on others for help; after all, they are all one in Christ and it just makes sense.
- We need to regard one another as brothers and sister regardless of less important distinctions. Race, social standing, age, gender, regional concerns are not as important as our status in Christ. We are all children of God and if we are his children, then we are heirs of the promise. We need to place that expectation above all else.
- Let us have faith in God and trust in God that He will see to our needs and save us. It is not our observance of law or the status quo or the social order or culture and custom that saves us.
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Morning Sermon, 15 August 2010
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