KOINONIA

September 27, 2019

Romans 8: 1-17

 

Therefore, there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, because through Christ Jesus the law of the Spirit who gives life has set you free from the law of sin and death. For what the law was powerless to do because it was weakened by the flesh, God did by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh to be a sin offering. And so he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fully met in us, who do not live according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.

 

Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace.  The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.

 

You, however, are not in the realm of the flesh but are in the realm of the Spirit, if indeed the Spirit of God lives in you. And if anyone does not have the Spirit of Christ, they do not belong to Christ.  But if Christ is in you, then even though your body is subject to death because of sin, the Spirit gives life because of righteousness. And if the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, he who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of his Spirit who lives in you.

 

Therefore, brothers and sisters, we have an obligation—but it is not to the flesh, to live according to it. For if you live according to the flesh, you will die; but if by the Spirit you put to death the misdeeds of the body, you will live.

 

For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. The Spirit you received does not make you slaves, so that you live in fear again; rather, the Spirit you received brought about your adoption to sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.

 

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Today we will be continuing in our series on the vision statement of this Church, to be a family of Jesus followers moving “TOWARDS A COMMUNITY OF FAITH HOPE AND LOVE.”  last week Jim talked with us about what it means to be a community of Faith, and today, we are going to continue on that journey with a conversation about HOPE. 

 

So this morning I am going to do something truly revolutionary and unheard of in all Baptist life. Today I shall be preaching a sermon with three points! 

 

So! “Christian Hope” that is a term that gets tossed around quite a bit…  So much so that it has been made cliché and at the same time been obscured. 

 

POINT 1! 

 

Just a few minutes ago we read a passage from Romans 8, this section is about the spirit’s work in the life of the believer and points us towards Hope in Jesus by way of 3 juxtapositions. 

 

The passage sets up two

 

teams of three. We find ourselves victim to the first, the Axis powers of Sin, Death, and Slavery. But Jesus offers a coalition of HOPE, through forgiveness, life, and freedom.  

 

So as we look at this passage, we see the central issue is that of Sin.  But to grapple with it, we must understand what we are talking about… but therein lies another issue.  You see “sin” as it appears in the Bible is multi-faceted, with many sides, many meanings, and many manifestations.  It's a noun, and a verb. A reality to be dealt with, and a way of living to be avoided. You can sin against God, against yourself and against others…. You can sin on purpose or by accident.  Individuals can be sinful, but so can whole civilizations. It's a big messy word and a big messy problem. 

 

But the Bible is pretty clear about two things about Sin, firstly that we have all fallen victim to its power, and second, that the road of sin is headed one place, Death.  That has been one of the central issues in the whole Bible, how to overcome sin, slavery, and death. 

 

But before we go any farther, here is the definition of Sin that I am going to be working with today. When I say Sin, what I mean is “Anything that damages your relationship, with GOD, Yourself, or Others.

 

Sin is bigger than what can be articulated in a list of actions.  

 

Its an ethic of selfishness and violence, and a way or engaging with the world.

 

Anytime that we conduct ourselves in our thoughts, words, or actions, in anyway that damages our relationship with ourselves or with others, we have fallen into the realm of sin...  we make the world a colder, darker place and distances our reality from the dream of God… 

 

Anytime we engage with ourselves or others as ANYTHING less than the very image of God, deserving of dignity, respect, love, and valued by the God of the universe… We find ourselves guilty of Sin.

 

But Romans 8 opens with a volley of HOPE, “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus”  

 

Part of the HOPE that we have in hitching our wagon to Jesus is the ability to offload our guilt! To confess that we have been complicit with sin, slavery, and death --- to own up to our brokenness, to acknowledge that we have been slaves to sin, and driven by fear and hunger. 

 

...to find that our confession makes us the recipients of forgiveness and a divine invitation. 

 

Believing the Gospel and putting your faith in Jesus is responding to God’s invitation to join him in the restoration and recreation of all things, setting things right, bringing about Justice and righteousness.  Saying “YES” to Jesus is saying “YES” to freedom. Freedom from bondage to sin, freedom from feeling like God is mad at you, Freedom to know yourself as a beloved child of God. 

 

Restoration of the relationship between you and God, and you and YOURSELF! 

 

… and that’s where a lot of sermons stop… 

 

Believe the Gospel! Accept Jesus! Receive forgiveness!

 

----- but there is more! 

There is more to this story, b/c if you have said yes to the Good news of the Gospel your citizenship in the kingdom of God begins now! 

 

Many people have only received this message as the promise of life after death… but a huge part of the good news is that there is LIFE BEFORE DEATH TOO! 

 

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Remember there are three parts to the definition of SIN that we are using the Morning... 

 

GOD 

SELF

OTHERS

 

So! Point 1, was Jesus gives us HOPE for Forgiveness of Sins, HOPE for the restoration of our relationship with GOD and SELF as we are welcomed into  the promise of eternal life!

 

Point 2 takes us away from future personal hope, and points us towards the present! 

 

And that's where the book of Philemon comes in, and YES, we are going to read the whole book! 

 

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the context of this letter is that Paul has a friend named Philemon.  

Philemon is a wealthy dude, and one of the pastors of the church that meets in his home in the city of colossi. Philemon is a well to do guy in a well to do city. We know that he is educated, and that he manages a fairly large family estate - as a part of this he owns slaves. 

 

At some point one of his slaves runs away.  His name is Onesemous. Onesemous and Paul become friends and at some point Onesimous becomes a christian and what does Paul do next? He sends this run away slave back to his master!

 

Now you may be asking WHY ON EARTH WOULD HE DO THIS!? 

 

HE SENDS THE SLAVE BACK?! 

 

It sounds insane, right? 

And we are supposed to like this Paul Guy! 

 

So what on earth is he up to? 

 

Let's read it and see if we can figure it out. 

 

(The book of Philemon)

Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother,

To Philemon our dear friend and fellow worker— also to Apphia our sister and Archippus our fellow soldier—and to the church that meets in your home:

Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

I always thank my God as I remember you in my prayers,  because I hear about your love for all his holy people and your faith in the Lord Jesus. I pray that your partnership with us in the faith may be effective in deepening your understanding of every good thing we share for the sake of Christ.  Your love has given me great joy and encouragement,because you, brother, have refreshed the hearts of the Lord’s people.

 

Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do,  yet I prefer to appeal to you on the basis of love. It is as none other than Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—  that I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. (that's a statement about Onesimus’ conversion)  Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me. 

I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. (an incredible moment in this book, I want you to feel this as Onesimus… I'm sending him back)  I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel.  But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do would not seem forced but would be voluntary. (Here it comes, Paul is setting up the big ask! Paul says, there is a major kingdom opportunity here for you, if you have the strength to seize it) Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back forever - no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a fellow man and as a brother in the Lord.

 

(BOOM! There it is! Im sending him back to you, this relationship must be repaired.  Call off the dogs, takes his picture off of those posters, expunge his record. He can no longer be your slave, but must be received as family.)

 

So if you consider me a partner, welcome him as you would welcome me.  If he has done you any wrong or owes you anything, charge it to me. I, Paul, am writing this with my own hand. I will pay it back—not to mention that you owe me your very self. I do wish, brother, that I may have some benefit from you in the Lord; refresh my heart in Christ. Confident of your obedience, I write to you, knowing that you will do even more than I ask.

 

(You can sense what this means right? If Philemon frees one of his slaves, and a runaway at that, there is going to have to be some changes on his estate… the system of slavery is going to breakdown if the master looses his teeth… Philemon is going to have to disassemble his empire …

 

... and Paul knows this, Paul knows exactly what he is asking) 

And one thing more: Prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers.

Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends you greetings. And so do Mark, Aristarchus, Demas and Luke, my fellow workers.

The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

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So, why does Paul think any of this is going to happen? Why does he think Philemon is even capable of this change?   He said it a couple of times, did you see it? The phrase shows up the first in verse 6, “partnership.”   

 

Paul is building on a shared relationship between him and Philemon, and the two of them with God.  Paul and Philemon have both responded to the Gospel, and God’s call to create a better world. They have found their personal HOPE (that was point 1) and now they are called to live in a new kind of community or partnership together.  

 

In this letter, Paul invites Philemon, and US to live as INSURRECTIONISTS! 

 

Now this is one of my favorite words, INSURRECTION, most of us only use the word as a synonym for “rebellion.”  if you put it in a google search right now it will give you rebellion! But the word has a much more interesting idea behind it.  If rebellion is a verb, lets rebel… INSURRECTION is a Noun! You are an insurrectionist! The Insurrection is the community behind the revolution.  Don’t miss this... To be a part of an INSURRECTION is to live as if the revolution has already won. To be an INSURRECTIONIST is to reject the world as it is, and live in the world as it ought to be.  Paul invites Philemon and us to live out the principals of Jesus as if the Kingdom of God was already fully here. 

 

Paul says there is HOPE for NOW! We can choose to live in it! Jesus has invited us into a new kind of partnership, the word that Paul uses in greek that we translate to partnership in the NIV is KIONONIA! 

 

It means: intimacy, partnership, participation, and community. 

Does that sound like something you want? 

 

To live as if Jesus was already king?

 

*For our church to be a community of hope means that we must be a community that preaches the Gospel of Jesus Resurrected, Sins forgiven,  and salvation offered.  

 

But it must also mean that we live like these things are true now!  

 

The book of Philemon is the only letter Paul sends that doesn't lay out the gospel of Jesus’s resurrection and the hope of salvation.  Paul does not articulate any of it, he doesn't write any of it down, but rather, he acts it out. He is the bridge of reconciliation between Onesimus and Philiemon.  He is calling them to live out the gospel in their context by repairing their relationship and moving forward in partnership! 

 

For us to be a community of hope means that we must be a church that preaches the Gospel of Jesus Resurrected, Sins forgiven,  and salvation offered.  

 

For our church to be a community of hope means that we must be a community that ALSO preaches the gospel of Relationships restored, deep loving friendship, and of family.  We must preach a gospel of no elder friendless, no child without direction, no family without support. We must preach a gospel that offers community to singles and support and guidance for those in relationships. If the gospel of personal hope, freedom, and life is to be believed we must be a people of hope freedom and life now. 

 

POINT 3!  - and I promise that we are coming to the end. 

 

This sort of community, this KOINONIA requires commitment over time.

 

It starts with a moment of decision, but to change the world will take time. 

 

We will succeed or fail based on our investment in the future. 

 

Just a few min ago we celebrated with the ********** Family. (Child dedication)

 

We made promises to the family and the child, that we will be KOININIA! That we aren't going anywhere! That we will live out the true words of God with them and for them. 

 

Today we declared that the promises of God have been true for us, are true today, and will be true into the future.  The Gospel was, is, and shall continue to be the BEST NEWS the world has ever received.  

 

When we invest in our children and our teenagers we are declaring that we trust God with the future. It’s us saying “the way we have always done things may be great, but we trust that what God is building in the hearts of these young christians will be incredible too!” 

 

We do children and youth ministry not out of the fear that they will grow up wrong if we don’t, but for the joy of seeing what God is going to do next! 

 

For us to be a community of HOPE, 

 

We must make 3  bold statements.

 

Jesus is LORD, and my HOPE for Salvation.

Jesus is HERE, and our HOPE for true Community.

And Jesus is MOVING, and is our best HOPE for the future. 

 

Jesus has made the way for us to be reconciled to God, to ourselves, and to others - for the sake of the whole creation. 

 

The invitation today is to commitment, relationship, and partnership - as we move towards a community of faith, hope, and love. 

 

Amen 

 

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