Philemon (Program # 2) – A Brother Recommended for the Acceptance of the New Man
A picture is worth a thousand words. Today we have a wonderful picture from the book of Philemon illustrating the believers equal status in the New Man.
The apostle Paul gave the teaching of this in Colossians 3:11 where he said, in the New Man “… cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free man, but Christ is all and in all.“ But in the real life story of Philemon with his slave Onesimus we see this illustrated in a beautiful way.
Philemon (Program #1) – A Slave Reborn to be a Brother
The short, one chapter epistle of Philemon serves a special purpose in the Divine revelation of the holy scriptures. It shows the equality in eternal life and divine love of all the members in the Body of Christ.
The New Testament reveals the Gospel of Jesus Christ. In fact the first 4 books of the New Testament are called the Gospels. Each one is unique in its focus and what it unveils regarding our wonderful Lord Jesus. But the New Testament also reveals the Gospel through the writings of the Apostle Paul. And, it’s this 5th Gospel that we come to today particularly in the book of Galatians.
We need 4 different versions of the Gospel because Christ is such a wonderful person. And, the 4 Gospels are just unveiling this most wonderful person from the angle of His being a king, the angle of His being a servant or a slave, from the angle of His being the most precious man ever revealed in the universe, and also being the Son of God who gives us Himself as the eternal life.
Ezekiel (Program #7) – The High and Dreadful Wheels
Ezekiel chapter 1 with its detailed description of the four living creatures is arranged marvelously. Once we begin to see the spiritual application of all of the details associated with the four living creatures, we realize how significant this sequence is. For example, it begins with the wind, the cloud, the fire and the electrum – all figures or pictures of our progressive experience of God. Then out of these four come the four living creatures, each with four faces depicting aspects of Christ from His humanity, to His kingship, to His being a slave to come to serve God and man, and finally, to His divine transcendency. From this point, we progress to the coordination between and among the four living creatures. A coordination very much necessary if we are to enter into the next main point of God’s move on the earth for the accomplishment of His purpose.
Judges (Program #2) – The Miserable History of Israel’s Forsaking God (1)
In the history of the children of Israel God had manifested Himself to Israel in many aspects. He fought for them as a warrior against Pharaoh and his armies, becoming their protector when they were still in Egypt. Then He supplied them with water and food in the wilderness as the source of all their living for more than 40 years. In addition He cared for them not just as a father but more so as their king. Eventually He unveiled to them His deepest longing and that was to be a husband to them and for them to be a bride, a pure and chaste wife to Him. But again and again Israel turned away from Him as their husband and as their king. At least 4 times, in the book of Judges we see the same words, “In those days, there were no kings in Israel, every man did what was right in his own eyes.” How much these words must had offended Jehovah, Who had revealed Himself so faithfully to Israel again and again. But His love is greater than the weaknesses of His people, so He appeared to them again, not as a king not even as their husband but as a servant, a slave to minister to them in their poor condition and lowest state.
When all is said and done, in the human life they are really only two basics items that we really have to be concerned with #1 our possessions, #2 ourselves. To become poor is to loose all of our possessions, and to become a slave is to loose ourselves. In Israel, in ancient times all the families were given a rich portion of the land but the foolish or the unfortunate ones might be forced to sell off their possessions in order to continue to provide food. But eventually, they may be forced even to sell themselves into slavery, if they would to continue to eat. Yet the Lord made a way for these suffering ones to be released from their captivity and to be released to return back to their portion of the land. This way was called the Jubilee. The Jubilee is an important part of the New Testament as well.
Many people wonder why the Bible gives us four historical accounts of the life and ministry in Jesus. One of reasons is the each of the four gospels portrays Christ in a unique aspect. For example, Matthew a book on the kingdom of God reveals Christ in His kingship. Luke shows us Christ’s perfect and upright humanity as a genuine man. John on the other hand stresses the eternal, uncreated life of God as it is revealed in Christ. John is the gospel of Christ’s divinity.
Then what about Mark? Well, chapter 10:45 gives us a clue, “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life as a ransom for many.” Mark is wonderful in that it uniquely reveals that Christ lay aside His kingship, His status as God and even His position as a high and honored man to become God’s servant and eventually to become a slave to all mankind giving His life as a ransom for many.
It’s very interesting to pay attention to how each of the four gospels begin. Matthew, a gospel that focuses on the kingdom, begins with the long genealogy of Christ, demonstrating that He is the bonafide heir of David the king. Luke, on the other hand also shows us the genealogy but not that of a king, rather it’s a genealogy of a proper and upright man. The gospel of John begins in a much different way – “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God.” John is the gospel that reveals Christ’s divinity.
But what about the gospel of Mark? Mark has no genealogy what so ever. Because Mark is the gospel revealing not just the humanity of Jesus, but that in His humanity Jesus Christ took the position of a slave. And He came to us a Slave-Savior.
It’s very interesting how Peter begins his two epistles. The first one begins “Peter an apostle of Jesus Christ.” whereas he begins the second book “Simon Peter, a slave and a apostle of Jesus Christ.” Simon, of course was Peter’s old name, his name before he came to the Lord Jesus. Peter is his new name given to him directly by the Lord Himself.
In putting these two together, Peter is indicating something very marvelous about the entire book of of 2 Peter. For this is the book showing us that under God’s ruling and under His government we see the Old Creation changed into the New Creation. Simon fit perfectly in the Old Creation but he had to become Peter to make it in the New Creation.
1 Peter (Program #26) – The Mighty Hand of God and Its Goal (1)
The apostle Peter says “to gird yourself with humility toward one another because God resist the proud.” Then he says “to be humble under the mighty hand of God.” Well, humility is a striking virtue in a Christian and genuine humility bears an unmistakable fragrance, a sweet aroma of Christ being expressed in a person’s living. False, religious humility also carries an identifiable fragrance as well, but not one that attracts and drives man to it. Of course the greatest humility in the universe is that of the Lord Jesus Himself who humble Himself for our benefits, putting off His own glory and even becoming a slave for us. God’s desire today is not for us to try to imitate such humility but rather to submit ourselves to His mighty hands, receiving Him not only as our Savior from sin but even as our humility.