Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Philemon 1:1-21 Sharing our Faith Enlightens Us

KEY TEXT: Philemon 6 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. 

KEY THOT: Paul’s prayer for Philemon and the “church in your house” (v.2) is that they may be “active in sharing your faith” (evangelism) so that they will have “a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ” (v.6). What is implied here is that we can only grow in our understanding of all the blessings we have in Christ as we are active in evangelism. In other words, participating in evangelism allows the Spirit of God to open us to experience the full blessings of God in Christ. We can’t gain full understanding apart from being active in sharing our faith. It’s only when we are actively sharing the gospel and seeing captives of sinful addictions and demonic bondages set free and lives transformed by the gospel of Christ that we gain a real understanding of the power and the blessings of the gospel. Without being actively involved in sharing the gospel, our knowledge of Christ is academic and theoretical. We may be able to apply some truths of the Gospel for the enrichment of our personal, family and work life, but we would have missed a great chunk of the full blessing that comes with the gospel.

This is consistent with what I have observed in the last 20 years of pastoral and Alpha ministry: those who are active in sharing their faith are the ones who are growing the fastest and experiencing more of the power of Christ in their lives. Bible knowledge is just a means to an end: and the end is knowing Christ, not just knowing the Bible. And the way to know Christ and his riches is to proclaim the good news and see how it actually works out in real life. 

The reason why many Christians are losing faith is that they have very little experience of the power of the gospel. Their knowledge of the blessings of the gospel is often second-hand. To experience the power of the gospel so we would never be ashamed of it, we need to be actively sharing it: "For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek" (Romans 1:16). Paul is not ashamed of the gospel because he has witnessed its life-transforming power over and over again.

Furthermore, Philemon and the church in his house are also growing in love and faith. It's not just gaining understanding (mind) but also growing in their capacity to love (heart) the Lord and other believers, and have a stronger faith (spirit) in the Lord. The converse is also true: if we are not active in sharing our faith, our love and faith stagnate--and even shrink. There are only two choices: to grow or to stagnate. And evangelism plays a great part in the growth of disciples.  

Alpha is a good platform to share our faith. As we engage in active sharing of our faith by inviting non-believers to Alpha and then learning to engage them with the gospel, we begin to learn new truths and experience new blessing of the Gospel we would not have otherwise learned by just sitting on our bible knowledge and our pews. 

May God raise up a new generation of believers who are active in sharing their faith with a fuller understanding of what God has done for us in Christ.

Father, open our eyes to look beyond ourselves, for the Gospel is given to us to be shared, not stored. May Your Spirit help everyone become active in sharing our faith with others so that we may gain a fuller understanding of its riches and power. Amen.

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