Philemon, Forgiveness, and Dr. Pepper (7/19/15)

Posted by on Jul 21, 2015 in Sermons | 1 comment

What does forgiveness do for you?  And what does that have to do with Dr. Pepper???  Pastor Jim’s sermon on July 19 2015 tied it all together.  Click on the following “Play” button, scroll down, and follow along (this recording is from the 9:30 service)…


Our scripture was the book of Philemon… yep- the whole “book” (actually it’s a short letter).  Open the below drop down box and look over Philemon’s shoulder as he reads this letter from Paul…


1 This letter is from Paul, a prisoner for preaching the Good News about Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy. I am writing to Philemon, our beloved co-worker,

2 and to our sister Apphia, and to our fellow soldier Archippus, and to the church that meets in your house.

3 May God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ give you grace and peace.

4 I always thank my God when I pray for you, Philemon,

5 because I keep hearing about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all of God’s people.

6 And I am praying that you will put into action the generosity that comes from your faith as you understand and experience all the good things we have in Christ.

7 Your love has given me much joy and comfort, my brother, for your kindness has often refreshed the hearts of God’s people.

8 That is why I am boldly asking a favor of you. I could demand it in the name of Christ because it is the right thing for you to do.

9 But because of our love, I prefer simply to ask you. Consider this as a request from me—Paul, an old man and now also a prisoner for the sake of Christ Jesus.

10 I appeal to you to show kindness to my child, Onesimus. I became his father in the faith while here in prison.

11 Onesimus hasn’t been of much use to you in the past, but now he is very useful to both of us.

12 I am sending him back to you, and with him comes my own heart.

13 I wanted to keep him here with me while I am in these chains for preaching the Good News, and he would have helped me on your behalf.

14 But I didn’t want to do anything without your consent. I wanted you to help because you were willing, not because you were forced.

15 It seems Onesimus ran away for a little while so that you could have him back forever.

16 He is no longer like a slave to you. He is more than a slave, for he is a beloved brother, especially to me. Now he will mean much more to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. 17 So if you consider me your partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.

18 If he has wronged you in any way or owes you anything, charge it to me.

19 I, Paul, Write This With My Own Hand: I Will Repay It. And I Won’t Mention That You Owe Me Your Very Soul!

20 Yes, my brother, please do me this favor for the Lord’s sake. Give me this encouragement in Christ.

21 I am confident as I write this letter that you will do what I ask and even more!

22 One more thing—please prepare a guest room for me, for I am hoping that God will answer your prayers and let me return to you soon. 23 Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you his greetings. 24 So do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas, and Luke, my co-workers.

25 May the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

Holy Bible, New Living Translation ®, copyright © 1996, 2004 by Tyndale Charitable Trust. Used by permission of Tyndale House Publishers. All rights reserved.

Abraham Lincoln, when an attorney, was approached by a wealthy man who passionately insisted on bringing a lawsuit for $2.50 against an impoverished debtor.  Lincoln tried to discourage him, but the man was bent on restitution. 

When he saw that the man would not change his mind, Lincoln agreed to take the case and asked for a legal fee  of $10. which the plaintiff paid.  Lincoln then gave half the money to the defendant, who willingly confessed to the debt and paid the $2.50!

Grace… NOT restitution, brings restoration.  Bible teacher and preacher Harry Ironside was once asked what his most favorite sermon was.  He replied that it was a sermon on Philemon entitled, “Charge that to My Account“.

Like Lincoln… like the renowned teacher Harry Ironside… like Jesus- we are called to an attitude where we allow others to “Charge that to my account.

Paul tells Philemon that he will pay for any damages caused by Onesimus.  Jesus tells the Father that He will pay for the damages caused by us!


Philemon Had True Faith

In verses 4-7, Paul describes Philemon as one who has a faith which is loving and generous.  Philemon somehow refreshes the Christians who are touched by him.  Philemon had a true faith.  But Paul was putting him in a position where he had to test his true faith by forgiving his runaway slave.

True faith demands intentional forgiveness.

The late Scottish theologian William Barclay wrote (in his commentary on Philemon)

Philemon was a man whose faith in Christ and whose love to reach the brethren (everyone) knew, and the story of them had reached even Rome where Paul was in prison.

It was dangerous to be a Christian in Philemon’s time.  And yet he bore the fruits of Jesus Christ as he worked to refresh and encourage Christians.

Love,  hospitality, and generosity were all the gifts and graces that defined Philemon.  Paul wrote about these qualities in Romans 12:12-19.  Here’s how Eugene Peterson paraphrased this passage…

12 Be alert servants of the Master,  cheerfully expectant. Don’t quit in hard times; pray all the harder.  Help needy Christians; be inventive in hospitality.

14 Bless your enemies; no cursing under your breath.  Laugh with your happy friends when they’re happy; share tears when they’re down.  Get along with each other; don’t be stuck-up. Make friends with nobodies; don’t be the great somebody.

17 Don’t hit back; discover beauty in everyone.  If you’ve got it in you, get along with everybody.  Don’t insist on getting even; that’s not for you to do. “I’ll do the judging,” says God. “I’ll take care of it.”
(from THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language © 2002 by Eugene H. Peterson. All rights reserved.)


We also see this in:

So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith. ASV
Oh, the joys of those who are kind to the poor! The Lord rescues them when they are in trouble. Holy Bible, NLT


Philemon vs. Onesimus… They’re not standing on the same “legal ground” as we humans would think.  Philemon had been wronged, Onesimus was the guilty one.

Faithful Christian known for his generosity and devotion to Christ. A runaway slave who had somehow offended Philemon and fled.
Had a RIGHT to be angry and demand restitution. Had no rights.  Had only his faith in Christ and Paul’s request for grace.


Paul encourages Philemon to allow the power of forgiveness found in the Gospel to lead him to forgive, encourage, and restore Onesmius.  Forgive him unconditionally.  Philemon had the right to destroy Onesimus, but he also had the opportunity to put away his own rights and to restore Onesimus instead.

The Gospel gives us the power to change lives.

James Denney was a 19th century theologian, preacher and educator.  He believed strongly in the power of the Gospel to bring change into people’s lives.  One time Denny wrote,

Christianity is the power which can make bad men good.

In verse 16 Paul encourages Philemon to not see Onesimus as anything but a brother in Christ.  Then in verse 17 he tells him to welcome Onesimus as he would Paul himself!

That’s a tall order!  But true faith demands that we forgive.  And true faith gives us the power to forgive and to withhold the gospel from no one.


True Faith Refreshes the Saints

In verse 7, Paul writes:

Your love has given me great joy and encouragement, because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the saints.   NIV

Forgiveness- letting someone off the hook- is refreshing.  Like Irish Spring!

The protestant reformer, Martin Luther wrote:

Here in Philemon we see how St. Paul lays himself out for poor Onesimus, and with all his means pleads his cause with his master: and so sets himself as if he were Onesimus, and had himself done wrong to Philemon. 

Even as Christ did for us with God the Father, thus also St.  Paul does for Onesimus with Philemon”
(Steven Kaung, “seeing Christ in the New Testament, p325)

Paul would instruct the Christians in Ephesus to “Be kind and loving to each other, and forgive each other just as God forgave you in Christ” (Ephesians 4:32)

Over and over, the Bible tells us to have a forgiving attitude because we are forgiven people through Christ:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud.
If he sins against you seven times in a day, and seven times comes back to you and says, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive him, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”
If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.
I write to you, dear children, because your sins have been forgiven on account of his name.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.  Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.
If you forgive anyone, I also forgive him. And what I have forgiven — if there was anything to forgive — I have forgiven in the sight of Christ for your sake.

 Can you recite the Lord’s Prayer?

Most  of us learned it in Sunday School and can  proudly answer  that question with a bold “Of Course!!!”  But what does Jesus say immediately AFTER the Lord’s Prayer?  Click below for the answer…

After Lord's Prayer?

Matt 6:13-15 13

13 And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.’…

14 For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your heavenly Father will also forgive you.

15 But if you do not forgive men their sins, your Father will not forgive your sins.  

Jesus commanded us over and over to forgive:  “Judge not and you shall not be  judged” (Luke 6:37), “Forgive 70 times 7” (Matthew 18:21), and of course there’s the parable about the plank in your eye.  Don’t judge.  Just keep on forgiving.  Otherwise you’ll just be imprisoning yourself.

Solomon wrote about this too.  Check out Proverbs 19:11…

A man’s wisdom gives him patience;
it is to his glory to overlook an offense.

In other words, overlooking a transgression is to look beyond the transgression.  As we forgive, we bring glory to God.  Forgiveness bridges the gap back to God, removes tension, and provides refreshment.  But when we withhold forgiveness, we put up walls and rob ourselves of God’s blessings.

God promises to forgive us…

Psalm 103:12…

As far as the east is from the west,  so far has he removed our transgressions from us.


Isaiah 38:17…

In your love you kept me from the pit of destruction;
you have put all my sins behind your back.


When our sins are “put behind His back,” we’re better able to extend forgiveness to others and to offer refreshment and encouragement.  The power of the gospel will make us better people, to be examples of Christ in the world, and to extend forgiveness.  And, maybe we’ll loose that image of being “judgmental” by the non-Christian world.



True Faith Shares the Faith

mc-exposure-philadelphia-eagles-nuttiest-fans--009Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles are PASSIONATE!  Some of them will even take off their shirts in 25 degree weather, paint their chests green, and stand in a stadium shouting, “E-A-G-L-E-S  Eagles!!!

Do we have that kind of passion for the church?  Do we have that kind of passion about Jesus and the things of God.  Don’t be afraid to speak for Jesus!  In fact, the more you speak for Him, the more you’ll find greater boldness in doing this.  True faith in the Lord shares that faith because we know He  is the way, the truth, and the life.

Dr Pepper CanOK… How’s this Dr. Pepper stuff figure in?…..

One of my favorite soft drinks is Dr. Pepper.  It’s got a unique taste and for me at least, quenches my thirst.

In 1977 until 1895 they had a jingle  which said, “I’m a pepper, he’s a Pepper, she’s a Pepper, we’re a Pepper… Wouldn’t you like to be a Pepper too???


Relive those glory days of the 70s!…


This jingle is an INVITATION to become a participant in the Dr.  Pepper experience!  It’s an invitation to come and be refreshed.  When you think about it, that jingle is a witness to what Dr. Pepper means to people and what it does in their lives.


In verse 6 Paul writes:

 I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ. 


We are called to be active in sharing our faith.  God has called you, like Philemon, to be “pepper-uppers” to people.  That’s what true faith in the Lord does!

Like Eagles fans, are we passionate about our church?  Are we passionate about Jesus Christ?  Just as the Holy Spirit refreshes us through the people of God, we have the power to go out and refresh others.

Over and over, the Bible calls us to be encouragers…

I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith.
Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.  I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts.
We sent Timothy, who is our brother and God’s fellow worker in spreading the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you in your faith,
He died for us so that, whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.


Many years ago, a man by the name of Robert Robinson was riding in a stagecoach.  Another passenger in the coach was humming a verse of the hymn “Come Thou Fount of Every Blessing.”  She asked Robinson what he thought of the hymn she was humming. 

His answer was a strange one.  He said, “Madam, I am the poor unhappy man who wrote that hymn many years ago, and I would give a thousand worlds, if I had them, to enjoy the feelings I had then.”

Robinson had gone through some bad times and had lost the passion of his faith.

God called this woman to bring him refreshment at that time.  She didn’t know who he was, but because she was “a pepper” she brought refreshment.   Because of that encounter, Robinson later returned to the faith and remained faithful until the day he went home to be with the Lord.


Where is God calling us?  Who needs the refreshment that God can provide though our faith?




 Quiz Time!

As you reflect on what you’ve just heard/read, give this quiz a try.  If you don’t understand an answer (or if you disagree with the “correct” answer, post a comment)…


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  1. PJB

    An outstanding job, Chuck! Thanks so much.

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