Bible Reading for DEC18: Hebrews 1-3

Philemon was evidently a wealthy Christian of
Colosse who had been won to Christ through Paul’s
ministry, possibly at Ephesus. Onesimus was one of
Philemon’s slaves who had apparently stolen from his
master and fled to Rome. Under the providential leading
of the Lord, this runaway slave was brought into contact
with Paul, who led him to Christ. Legally, Philemon
could have had his slave killed for disobeying, but Paul
stepped in to intercede for the new Christian and saved
his life. This brief letter speaks to our hearts since
it pictures, in a vivid way, the heart of the great
Apostle Paul. His purposes in writing were to inform
Philemon that his slave was safe and saved, to ask
Philemon to forgive Onesimus, and to request Philemon to
prepare a room for Paul.

Of course, the main lesson of the letter is its
picture of Christ. Just as Paul was willing to pay the
price for disobedient Onesimus, so Christ paid the price
for your sins and mine on the cross. Paul wrote,
“receive him as myself.” This is a reminder to us that
we are “accepted in the beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). No one
will ever enter heaven on his own merits–only on the
merits of Jesus Christ. When the believer stands before
the Father, Christ will have to say, “receive him as
Myself.” Thanks be to God that our sins have been
covered by His precious righteousness.

The Christian today needs to keep in mind the
distinction between “accepted in Christ” and “accepted
to Christ.” The one who has trusted Christ for salvation
is forever accepted in Christ, and can never be rejected
by the Father. Whenever the believer sins, he is
accepted, but not acceptable! It is necessary to confess
that sin and receive Christ’s cleansing. Because we are
accepted in Him, we have sonship; as we live a life
acceptable to Him, we have fellowship with Him.

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