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The Proper Use of Authority- Part 1

Diego Silva
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Diego Silva

Pastor of the Miles City Seventh-day Adventist Church in Montana

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  • January 28, 2017
    11:30 AM
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This morning we're going to study. A little book in the New Testament the smallest book in the New Testament actually. One of Paul's letters one of Paul's many letters fourteen of the twenty seven books of the New Testament. Are Paul's letters and this is the smallest and one of the most unique of his letters. The book of the Leman if you have your Bibles you can go ahead and turn there are some pronounce it Phil Amman and if you don't have your Bible you can just open your huge Bible there and it's not an easy book The finds I'll just give you a moment to look for it finally minute this is one of Paul's letters the smallest of the letters he wrote. To a Christian from the little city of Colossus a. Unique because Filey man was a christian slave owner. And that before we get into the letter let me just remind you where colossi is if you look in the map in modern day Turkey colossi is located in the southwestern part of that country and in Paul's day it was a small town in the Roman province of Asia Minor. So this letter even though it's addressed to follow Leaman who was a Christian that lived in this city. It was sent to colossi which is one of the cities of Asia Minor that Paul wrote one of his letters to so let me just give you some background into this very interesting little letter in the New Testament one chapter shortest of Paul's letters first of all Paul wrote this letter from prison when Paul wrote this letter he was in prison and you find that in of or. Says one nine and ten you get little clues throughout the letter that Paul wasn't present when he wrote the letter it was primarily addressed to this man named Phil Lehman but in Paul's introduction he does give a hint that it was more than just a personal letter to Philine and because if we read in policeman chapter one and verse two it says and then to our beloved Afia who many believe to be a policeman's wife and Archippus who might have been fully humans son perhaps someone from his household all says our fellow soldier and to the church in your house so this letter was addressed to Philemon and to this person named Ophelia and Archippus and to the church that met in the Lehman's house so as it was back in the New Testament times. There were not churches like we have today buildings like this one were Christians met Christians met in homes and Philemon was probably a wealthy Christian he was a slave owner and we'll get to that in just a moment and that there was a congregation a group of Christians that met for worship in his home we get that clue as we read the first verses of this letter it appears that a church met in his hall as we continue here looking at the background Paul refers to a man named a NASA MOUs and this is an important name that we're going to come across as we study this letter unless a mess apparently was a fugitive slave that was converted through Paul's ministry this is what makes this letter very unique you have a layman who is a Christian to whom Paul is writing and then. You have this man named an S.M.S. who Paul mentions in the letter and it appears that he was a slave that belonged to two fully men that ran away he was a fugitive and a while he was in a Rome he was converted through Paul's ministry to Kreiss. Also focus in his letter to Philemon is on the themes of acceptance forgiveness and reconciliation. Just a real short summary Paul is writing this letter to fully men in order to help fully men understand the very important principles of acceptance forgiveness and reconciliation. It was with and this amiss in mind that Paul writes this letter it's a letter of appeal for for Leman to forgive and to accept and to embrace this fugitive slave and many consider it to be a gem of Christian love and tact the most impressive thing about this letter is the way Paul addresses the Leman as an apostle having the credentials and authority of a leader in the Church of Christ the way Paul addresses fully human is really an incredible example of how to properly use. Authority that's why the title of the message is the proper use of authority that is what this letter teaches us how to use a floor it. Let's talk about the issue of slavery for just a moment you know. The book of Philine and has actually been much debated because of the issue of slavery and so let's. Just get a background here into the issue of slavery Paul's letter to Philemon played a prominent role in the he did the Bates over slavery in Great Britain and the United States during the late eighteenth and nineteenth centuries when you understand why this book would have been used in the very heated debates over slavery. A few hundred years ago Hall never explicitly. And then the slavery in his letter of Fellini he's writing a letter to a slave owner and he doesn't ever say that slavery is wrong or that to own a slave is a sin as a matter of fact Paul talks about slavery in other apostles and we're going to find out that in any of his writings he never addresses the slavery issue in a condemn Natori way and that has led many to conclude that somehow slavery is justified based on scripture well let's just consider slavery in the Rico Roman context what was slavery like in Paul's day was it any better than slavery in the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries just a few. Points here to consider approximately a third of the Roman Empire consisted of. A lot of people you Khana me was based on slavery a substantial part of it depended on the institution of slavery it was just a normal part of life slaves weren't enter grow part of the social structure and in some cases were considered members of their mad. Households not all slaves were treated inhumanely. But most were. Some slaves were trophies of war while others were in slave because they could not pay their debts it wasn't based on the color of your skin and other factors but it was very similar to the institution of slavery that we do know from modern more recent times in this country's history in other countries histories still others were doctors teachers clerks who were taken to serve a master and had no rights. They were not always viewed as less than human some slaves were treated well. According to Roman law Masters possessed absolute power over slaves and over the life and death of their property slaves were considered property severe laws were enacted to prevent escape or revolt and punishment for running away was often debt in order to instill fear in other slaves slaves own no property they could not legally marry nor could they appeal to civil court for justice that sound like the kind of practice that God would be in favor of when you think. We're going to just talk a little bit about slavery for a moment it's impossible to really study the Book of Philemon without taking a hard look at the issue of slavery what about in the United States. Let's just compare slavery in Rome with slavery in the United States and let's understand better the big debate that took place in this country back in the nineteenth century that led to the civil war that took hundreds of thousand. Of lives. Here's a look at how the United States were divided back in the eight hundred fifty S. the states in green such as New York Pennsylvania California they were free states those in a red were slave owning states such as Texas Florida Alabama you know we take for granted today but you know it wasn't as simple of an issue to debate and to come to a consensus on as we would expect from our perspective living in the twenty first century. Was not an easy debate. Among the various issues that led to the Civil War Slavery was the most prominent. And here's the point everyone and I really want to standards stand biblical arguments were at the root of Southern Christianity's defense of slavery as a morally sanctioned practice that should not be abolished the Bible was used it was appealed to in order to justify. The institution of slavery Christians in the south defended their position based on Scripture and the book of policemen was definitely reference often in those the Bates Southerners considered the abolitionist cause as unbiblical as progressive as liberal OK you had prominent Christian writers and clergymen in the South for example James Thorne Well a famous Southern Presbyterian minister theologian religious writer and professor of theology in the Presbyterian. Theological Seminary in South Carolina in Columbia he wrote the parties in this conflict of the conflict over slavery are not merely abolitionists and slave holders they are atheists. Socialists Communists red Republican Jacob ins on the one side and the friends of order and regulation of freedom on the other and other words for them it was very black and white if you're a Bible believing Christian then you must accept slavery as a divinely established institution if you are against slavery then you are a liberal progressive atheist that reject scriptures authority because if you want to gather all the evidence from the Bible. You will come to the conclusion that slavery was something that God endorsed condoned and. Wanted. Henry Hopkins an influential Episcopal bishop he was an pro-slavery advocate and he said that anti-slavery campaigners were delusionary and in gauged in a willful or conscious opposition to the truth. Charles Hodson was a distinguished representative of the Princeton School of Theology in his bible argument on slavery article published in the monumental nine hundred page pro-slavery volume he wrote we recognize no authoritative rule of Truth and Duty but the Word of God. So they were appealing to the Bible to justify slavery why. You just show you this clip from a movie. Intitled twelve Years a Slave based on a true story of a man named Solomon Northup bup a free black man from upstate New York who was sold into slavery he was kidnapped and sold into slavery they made a movie about it he wrote a book of course back in the eight hundred sixty S. and the movie was recently made it kind of gives you a little limbs. This slave owner is quoting scripture. As you can see Corning to move. So. Many. Ways that must. Show the many stripes. On. The left. That is scripture indeed he was actually quoting Matthew chapter I'm sorry Luke Chapter twelve verse forty eight where Jesus was. Teaching a principle. Everyone To whom much is given from him much will be required and to whom much has been committed of him they ask the more this was a principle that Jesus was teaching and if you've been given much light you will be held accountable to that lie you've been given. But it's interesting in teaching this principle Jesus used an example with which people were familiar. As he often did in his teachings he used parables here he uses the illustration there arrive from slavery. A master is the least severe to the slave who did wrong in ignorance. Now the slave owner. Back in the nineteenth century would take scripture like this. And would justify the practice of owning slaves and even punishing the slaves for wrongdoing. The question I guess we should ask is Is this the proper way of reading the Bible is this the proper way of interpret NG scripture. Or maybe we should ask the question why didn't Jesus and Paul directly condemn slavery do we have in Scripture. On the teachings of Jesus and Paul and the other apostles a direct condemnation of the institution of slavery. Well let's look at a few verses Acts Chapter fourteen verse sixteen some verses that need to be taken into consideration as we consider this question the Bible says In past generations he speaking of God are allowed all the nations to walk in their own ways. In the generations gone by he permitted all nations to go in their own ways in the past God let all the nations go of their own way. Those that help at all in our understanding of the slavery issue Well let me explain this with a little diagram here a little shit chart. You know we have. Haven't Nations prominent nations throughout history that have risen and fallen you know you go back to ancient Egypt and you go back to Syria Babylon Persia Greece Rome and we could say that when you look at the institution of slavery and many of the other practices and forms of government that these nations adopted we could say that they're really bad. The Bible says that God allowed these nations to walk in their own way somehow God has this then sed himself and not necessarily intervened in every affair of humanity he has allowed nations to grow and develop according to a philosophy other than his own of government so you have oppression you have extortion you have dishonesty you have in more reality you have abuse you have slavery. But then you go to the children of Israel and you go to even the Christian church in the New Testament and that you still have slavery for example you still have in the Old Testament polygamy and many other things that many people look at and say how could the God of the Bible allow this how could this exist how could this even be in the Bible and these questions come from a misunderstanding of how to read and interpret scripture the Bible is not necessarily giving us a picture. Of exactly how God wanted things to be but the Bible is giving us a history of how God has related to fallen humanity throughout history in the context of sin so. You have Israel for example. That Abraham own slaves. Yes he did he had servants hundreds of them thousands. In the ten commandments when the children of Israel came out of Egypt is there any provision for slavery in the. Ten Commandments. If you read the Fourth Commandment make sure you give your slaves a day of rest. And then you go to history of Israel. You have a lot of walls and. Regulations on the slavery question but never is slavery completely abolished never is it completely. And them and outlawed in the economy of Israel. Does that mean God is for slavery how do we make sense of this or what about the Christian church. You know Paul speaks of slavery but he never comes and condemns it you never writes to Philemon who was a slave owner and say Philemon you need to abandon your practice of owning slaves because it is anti Christian and it is contrary to the will of God. How I would illustrate or here's how I would explain it. In the Bible we have a history of God trying to take humanity from bad to. Best and in between bad and best what do we have that are. And why is it that God works this way. Why doesn't he just press a button and just make everybody good. Everybody just the way he wants them to be. Why does he work with better. Can we argue that slavery in Israel was better than slavery in Egypt. We can make a strong case for that you look at the laws given through Moses by God. It really advocated a faith and just treatment of slaves but it never said you can't own slaves. God told the people through Moses don't return a fugitive slave but he also didn't say don't have slaves so what we find is better but not best. And some people have a problem with that you know they read the Old Testament and they read the New Testament you know Paul says the slave owners treat your slaves good don't be harsh don't abuse them but he never says don't have them some people have a problem with this it's like God is for slavery Well not necessarily God respects freedom and because God values freedom above anything else you have this better in between bad and best but where is God trying to take his people where is God trying to take humanity that he wanted to be in a situation of better you know in the Old Testament. Moses under inspiration tells a Men who has multiple wives be fair to your wives. And those and sound very good does it well it's better than Egypt. But it's not best is it what is best Avonlea one why. Would that be better. So God is working with humanity. Without violating. Freedom of Choice So here's the question how can we know what is best if you really want to know the mind of God you really want to know what God is like do you go back to the Old Testament and read the history of the children of Israel say this is what God is like many atheists have become atheists because they read the Old Testament they say I could never worship a God like this a God that would allow men who are called men after God's own heart friends of God to have multiple wives or to own slaves I could never worship a God like this well they are right to some extent I mean who wants to worship a God that would create and condone and indorse an institution where one person owns another person as property that doesn't sound like a very good God to worship does it but they fail to understand that in reading the Bible. You don't always find. Exactly how God feels about a situation. When you read the history of scripture if you want to know what is best what do you have to do. Well Jesus was asked the question once. Some men came to him and said Jesus what about divorce. You know they wanted to set up a trap for him because in the early Testament Moses said that you can give your wife a letter of divorce a certificate of divorce. And so they come to Jesus and they say what about divorce the trap is if he says no divorce he's going against Moses but if he says yes to divorce then he is somehow indorsing immortality and Jesus gives them the perfect answer and in this answer we find the answer to what is best according to God's mind Matthew nineteen verse eight Jesus said Moses. Because of the hardness of your hearts permitted you to divorce your wives but from the beginning it was not so. You catch that. From the beginning it was not so. Then that is what is best you want to know what's best you want to know how God feels about slavery you want to know how God feels about alcohol you want to know how God feels about polygamy you want to know how God feels about divorce you want to know how God feels about abuse go back to the beginning the key phrase here is this it was not this way in the beginning so they'll go to the Old Testament to try to justify what ever practice you want to justify you know the nineteenth century it was very convenient for Christians in the south to justify slavery they Connelly depended on it. And so sure go back to the Old Testament you'll find plenty of verses to list in order to justify the evil institution of slavery we can justify anything Noah got drunk right will know it was a god. God fearing man he got drunk after the flood right so hey let's just drink even if it's just a little social drinking well in the beginning it was not so. Hey David had multiple wives right and he was called a man after God's own heart so why not have several women write what is Jesus' answer in the beginning it was not so all the children of Israel. Have you ever read about how they were dressed coming out of Egypt all the stuff they had on well in the beginning it was not so if you really want to know what's best if you really want to understand God's ideal go back to the beginning. Of that means. Understand the principle here don't go back to the beginning as they will they did have clothes on so we can just all go around naked Not necessarily but you understand the principle here the principle of marriage one man and one woman. The principle of. How to relate to one another freedom no slavery was never God's intent or one man to own another in the beginning it was not so how does God feel about divorce now look to verse sixteen for the Lord God of Israel says that he hates divorce you want to know how God feels about divorce this is. What he says. He Why does he hate it because it brings pain it causes suffering anything that causes her God hates. So why did Moses give the instruction about divorce. Because of the hardness of their hearts. How did Paul addressed slavery. Lawson's for verse one masters give your slaves one is just then fair knowing that you also have a master in heaven that sound like best to you. The sound like best to me sounds like better a whole lot better than slavery in the Roman Empire. But best I believe would be. Masters if you're Christians you need to just turn away from this practice all together. In a fusion Chapter six verse nine Masters forebear threatening knowing that he who is both their master and yours isn't haven't and that there is no partiality with him. So Paul tells Christians slave owners. Erect in your slaves. He doesn't say don't have slaves he just says don't use threatening he warns christian slave owners that they have a master in heaven who value slaves as much as he values slave masters Galatians chapter three verse twenty eight for you are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus there is neither Jew nor Greek there is neither slave nor free there is neither male nor female for you are all one in Christ Jesus. Before God There is no difference between the soul of a slave and the soul of a free man by saying this Paul was condemning slavery. You just have to read between the lines the slave is eligible to salvation on the same basis as the non slave they are on an equal playing field a level playing field the slave. Is eligible to salvation the same way as the slave owner Christianity eliminates distinctions based on race gender and social standing. But again why doesn't he just say how evil slavery is fine all making a clear statement I found this statement. From the book Acts of the apostles to be very enlightening. It was not the Apostles were. Paul it was not Paul's work to overturn arbitrarily or suddenly the established order of society. To attempt a vis would be to prevent the success of the gospel if Paul would have shown up as a hard core abolitionist. Ready to overturn the very institution of slavery he would have died a martyr on the wrong hill. Jesus Himself never took on the issue of slavery as his main issue but speaking of Paul he taught principles which truck at the very foundation of slavery and which if carried into effect would surely undermine the whole system. I believe that. G.N.A.T. had a very prominent role not in the establishment or the perpetuity of slavery but on the ending of slavery in places like Great Britain and the United States I believe that the teachings of Jesus in the gospels the teachings of Paul in the New Testament laid a foundation. And planted seeds or introduced viruses into the system in such a way that slavery what ultimately come to an end it would self-destruct but they never attacked it directly that just wasn't the issue. They came to teach something deeper and far more import and that which they were teaching. Was calculated to destroy slavery and everything else that goes against the ideal that God established in the beginning. So Paul suppose ition on slavery though not clearly stated. While he didn't directly attack the institution of slavery his statements were revolutionary for his time you think about it there is neither slave nor free name that was very. Very progressive. His teachings move the social standing of slaves in the Christian community from the prevailing norms to one of acceptance. And Brotherhood and that's what we're going to find in for Leman. All wants Philemon. To be a Christian he is a Christian but he wants him to. To behave like a Christian a Christian slave owner sounds like an oxymoron but see if Paul can helpfully min understand the principles of the gospel he will treat an S.M.S. not as a slave but as a brother in Christ. As an equal so again. God is patient with humanity he wants to take people from bad to better but is ultimate goal is to take us to best it's to take us back to even but in doing so he does not violate freedom of conscience and so it's the reprocess of education it's the a process of seed planting it's the process of changing the mind not by force but by appealing to reason. That's why we find so many. Very difficult stories that are hard to reconcile in the Old Testament and the news. Is God is leading humanity through a process desire of ages page three twelve God's ideal for his children. Is a higher then the highest human thought can reach God's ideal for his children you understand what God's ideal is for you. From. Far you from God ideal. He hasn't given up on you nor should we give up on each other. He's leading us through a process but don't be satisfied with your current and the. Ideal for his children. Is higher than the hives let's just open the Philemon we're going to study this next week so we're not done we're just introducing this but this a look at the Leman verse fourteen now Paul is talking to this christians slaveowner and he tells them in verse fourteen. Without your mind would I do nothing you know Paul wanted unless a mist to be a free man an S A Mrs A Slave saleman is the slave owner and Paul is writing to this Christian slave owner and he says without your mind I would do nothing. That your benefit should not be as it were of necessity but willingly In other words what Paul is saying here very simply is this. That your good deed might be voluntary and not something for. Goal or holy man was that he'd be a Christian. A true Christian in heart and that he would treat his. Servant an S.M.S. his slave an S.M.S. as a brother not as a slave but he says really I want you to do this not because you're forced to do it. But because. You volunteered it because your mind was changed. What a difference by the way is and then me think about Paul before his conversion he was putting Christians in prison because they did not agree with him. On religion and now he is a Christian apostle. And they he instead of forcing fully man to do what's right he appeals to his heart. What's right. One of change that's what the Gospel does that's how God works with people he doesn't force it was a matter of strength and power and force God would have put an end to all of this sin confusion a long time ago he's the boss and that's what the book a holy man teaches us that God is taking us from bad to better the best Some of us may be lingering a little too long and bad and then some of us are better and so we look at those that might be a little worse than we are we feel good about ourselves when we really should be thinking about Best Jesus is our example and he's the one we should be looking at look at those around us we there feel better about our own conditions and God doesn't want us to compare ourselves among ourselves wants to compare ourselves with his ideal matters Jesus this media was brought to you by audio force a website dedicated to spreading God's word through free sermon audio and much more if you would like to know more about audio verse if you would like to listen to more sermons lead to visit W W W audio verse or.

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