“If then you count me as a partner, receive him as you would me. But if he has wronged you or owes anything, put that on my account. I, Paul, am writing with my own hand. I will repay…”
I am continually amazed at God’s love, grace, power, authority, and creativity in how He communicates and applies the life-saving Gospel. God orchestrates just the right circumstances in which the Gospel can be shared and believed in. What’s more, He communicates that Gospel in endlessly creative ways, even in the Bible. Though the Gospel is on display in every book of the Bible, the books themselves are diverse. The Bible contains many different genera of writings including historical narrative, poetry, parables, proverbs and wisdom literature, general letters, personal letters, and finally, prophecy, which is sometimes heavy laden with symbolic language. Despite the diversity present among the books of the Bible, they are held together by a grand, unifying theme, namely, the Lord Jesus and His redemptive work. Paul’s short letter to Philemon is a good example. Paul wrote this letter to his friend while under house arrest in Rome. Apparently, Philemon had a slave, Onesimus, who had stolen from him and then fled. In God’s providence Onesimus came to Rome and was converted at Paul’s teachings. Paul wrote his letter to Philemon, instructing him to receive Onesimus back, not as a slave, but as a brother. Paul’s letter illustrates the ministry of Christ beautifully. Whereas we were unprofitable servants in time past, Christ now intercedes for us before God. Whereas we had stolen from God, actively withholding our belief and obedience, taking to ourselves what He alone is entitled to, Christ has paid our debt in full. Paul instructed Philemon to receive Onesimus as he would the great apostle. Today, Christ the Lord stands as our intercessor before God. Through His redemptive, intercessory ministry, the Father receives us as He receives Him. Today and every day, you and I are considered God’s beloved ones, having been made acceptable in Him (Ephesians 1:6). We are complete in Christ (Colossians 2:10), and this happy fact is reflected in every book of the Bible. May these devotions direct your thoughts to Him, and in doing so, encourage and strengthen your souls.