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  Bro. Tom’s Weekly Bible Study
  Week #88
Posted: July 28, 2006

A Study of Positional Truths

Our IN CHRIST study takes us this week to the book of Philemon.  It is here that Paul deals with a very touchy subject.  The subject is that of a runaway slave who robbed his master and has now been gloriously saved.  He wants to return and make restitution.

It is in this book that Paul uses three IN CHRIST phrases in verses 6, 8, and 23, which say, That the communication of thy faith may become effectual by the acknowledging of every good thing which is in you IN CHRIST JESUS. Wherefore, though I might be much bold IN CHRIST to enjoin thee that which is convenient, There salute thee Epaphras, my fellow-prisoner IN CHRIST JESUS.”

Paul uses the sandwich technique here to present these touchy truths.  In verses 6 and 23 there are blessed thoughts for Philemon the reader, but sandwiched between in verse 8 is the touchy subject of Onesimus the run away slave.

In verse 6 Paul commends Philemon for his effectual communication of his faith.  He reminds Philemon every good thing has come from being IN CHRIST.  Many believe Philemon was saved through Paul’s ministry.  The church at Colosse started and met in Philemon’s home.

He reminds him in verse 7 how often he has refreshed other believers by his Christian life so boldly lived out.

In verse 23 Paul mentions Epaphras, one probably well known to Philemon, who is now a fellow-prisoner with Paul in Rome.  Paul began this book reminding Philemon in verse 1 that we are all prisoners of Christ, if we, are IN HIM.  We are not our own but we have been bought with a price.

Paul says in verse 8 he comes in the boldness of love to deal with a touchy subject.  In verse 10 he lays it on the table when he says, Onesimus robbed you and ran away to Rome where he got saved and now wants to make restitution.

In laying Onesimus’ case for forgiveness before Philemon Paul brings up for great truth before his readers.  The first is mentioned in verse 11, which is TRANSFORMATION.  It is here Paul plays on Onesimus’ name, which means unprofitable.  Paul says he has been transformed and is now profitable.  What assurance the radical change in the life of a believer gives.  In verse 18 Paul brings up the truth of IMPUTATION.  Paul tells Philemon whatever Onesimus owes you put it on Paul’s account.  So it was in my salvation that Jesus took my sin and imputed His righteousness to me.  Jesus became all that I was that I might be made all that He is.  In one of my favorite Tom Haye’s songs he sings Christ said, ‘Put that on my account…and settled all the debt…my sins where oh so much…but when placed on Christ’ account…it settled all the debt.’

In verse 19 Paul brings up the truth of MEMORIZATION.  Paul reminds Philemon he owes his own spiritual life to Paul’s faithfulness to tell the story of the gospel. 

In verse 21 Paul brings up the truth of SANCTIFICATION.  Because of Philemon’s growth in Christ Paul is confident that he will do more than he asks.

How can the redeemed of Christ do less than forgive those who have offended us?  They could never offend us as much as we have offended Christ and yet He forgave us all our sins!