Today we present the Q&A session that followed Bart Shaw’s presentation on Gender and the Bible.
Gender Issues and The Bible Q&A MP3 Link
There is a tremendous amount of moral confusion in the world today, and those who are looking for answers to difficult questions often do not know where to turn. In this exceptionally timely study from Dr. Bart Shaw, M.D., we are offered Biblical clarity on a subject many struggle to understand – what does the Bible say about gender and why should I care? Please watch, ponder, and share.
Gender Issues and The Bible MP3 Link
Today we post the follow-up question and answer session which followed Bart’s presentation on the persecution of the early church. We hope you enjoy!
We are excited today to begin a multi-week series of sermons from the 2015 Mid-MO Study hosted by the Rice Road Church of Christ in Columbia, MO. This first presentation is a response from Bart Shaw to the book “The Myth of Persecution” by professor Candida Moss. Dr. Shaw gives a synopsis of the book, and presents a whole litany of historical information determining which parts of the book are true and accurate, and which are fallacious. This sermon is thoroughly researched and clearly presented in a way every Christian can and will benefit. On Friday, we will post the question and answer session which followed the presentation.
(by Bart Shaw)
Philemon sighed and wiped his brow as the encroaching shadows signaled the day’s end. He briefly considered working in the dark, but the appetizing smells drifting from inside his home encouraged him to finish quickly. His disposition lightened as he considered the prospect of spending the evening hours with his wife Apphia.
Apphia was a good woman–hard working, dependable, and (most importantly) committed to the spiritual growth of the whole family. She, perhaps even more than he, was excited about Jesus Christ and was an inspiration to the entire congregation that met in their home in Colossae. Before they became Christians, she had always been supportive of his status as a God-fearing gentile proselyte to Judiasm, but she was never truly enthusiastic. Since she had been baptized, however, her zeal for the Savior and the church continued to surprise and enthrall Philemon.
Apphia had not flinched when her old circle of friends (both Jewish and Greek) had deserted her because of her obedience to ‘the way’. Even when her lifelong best friend began to exclude her from their weekly visits to the agora, her Christian fervor didn’t fade. Apphia had lost none of her enthusiasm for the worship services, or reading the scriptures, or telling others about Jesus.
During a recent scripture study, Philemon had remarked that he felt sorry for Abraham’s nephew Lot. When his church brothers asked why, he told them Lot lacked the one essential blessing life could be built around–a spiritual mate. Philemon went on to explain to them that unlike Lot’s wife, Apphia’s response to God’s call was not to look back. Rather, she looked forward. She had become preserving ‘salt and light’ to her family and a great blessing to Philemon.
Philemon paused at the doorway to their home, bowed his head and prayed: “My Father, thank you for Apphia. Aside from You, she is the best decision I ever made. Please help us together to do Your will in our Lord Jesus’ name, Amen.”
With a smile he turned and took one last look down the street. Unexpected sudden movement caught Philemon’s eye. At this time of evening the road should be as deserted as Aphrodite’s temple during weekend chariot races, buttoward the house. It was too late for vendors or street hawkers and even the begging pagan priests and propositioning temple harlots should have retreated inside.
This man (for Philemon was sure of his gender now) was certainly intent on approaching Philemon’s home. Philemon’s eyes strained to discern more details in the murky twilight. Strangely, the closer the stranger came the more his gait and stride began to seem familiar. Did he know this man?
Philemon’s memory failed to identify the guest as he quickly and purposefully traversed the last few yards to the front of the house. Just as the light from the doorway was about to illuminate the visitor, Philemon perceived that he gripped something tightly in his right hand.
At that moment Philemon saw his facial features. A warm greeting froze in Philemon’s mouth as electric and palpable shock rendered him speechless. Could it be? Was it possible that the man now bowing before him in traveler’s robes was him? With downcast eyes the visitor knelt before Philemon and in his right hand offered up a small tan scroll bound with a string.
Philemon was too astonished to make a move. Long seconds passed and the outstretched hand of the man wavered and quivered as in a faltering voice he said “Master, please.” With great effort Philemon willed his numbed muscles to reach out and take the scroll from the hand of his one-time servant, Onesimus, now seemingly returned. He untied the scroll and read the first few lines:
“Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy our brother, To Philemon our beloved friend and fellow laborer…”
Tears rolled down Philemon’s face and fell upon the parchment. He knelt down next to Onesimus and embraced his new Christian brother.
THE EPISTLE TO PHILEMON
If you haven’t read the epistle to Philemon recently, it is certainly worth your time to examine again. Philemon is the shortest and one of the most powerful epistles we have from the pen of the Apostle Paul. The letter was written to the Christian Philemon by the Apostle Paul on behalf of a runaway slave named Onesimus. Philemon had been robbed and defrauded by Onesimus who had then later become a Christian and returned home. The above scenario is a fictional representation of how the reunion of Onesimus and Philemon may have occurred.
It is true that the once worthless slave Onesimus had made the fateful decision to steal from Philemon, flee to Rome, and live in anonymity in the streets of that great ancient city. But it is also true that he became profitable to God and Paul by obeying the gospel. How long he lived as a rebel and a thief we don’t know, but one day he came across Paul who was under house arrest in Rome. Paul (himself a onetime spiritual fugitive from God) led Onesimus to faith in Christ and obedience to the gospel. Onesimus then became advantageous to Paul in his evangelistic work. Imagine the conversations that Paul and Onesimus had together as they agonized over the decision to send Onesimus back home!
We can certainly learn much from each of the three main actors in this historical event recorded for us by the Holy Spirit:
1) Philemon: Philemon was a man big enough to forgive one who had sinned against him.
“And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Matt 11:25
2) Onesimus: This remarkable man (whose very name means ‘profitable’) demonstrates great courage and great dedication to the Lord. Though it was not easy to return to Philemon and give up his freedom, he was willing to make the tough decision and face the consequences. Even 2000 years later, Christianity demands everything from us! The Lord does not want us to be lukewarm, to be partially committed, or to be tepid and indifferent:
“But Jesus said to him, No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62
We must become profitable to the Lord!
Secular history records that some 30 years later there was an elder in Ephesus named Onesimus. It may have been the same former slave who had in his possession Paul’s letter to Philemon and passed it down through history that we might read it today.
3) Paul: The apostle to the Gentiles was always the great example of Christian service! Here he is in his captivity thinking about others. Paul had been deserted by many, and Onesimus was ministering to him, but Paul sent him back to Philemon.
Do we have a similar deep abiding concern for the brethren? Do we put the welfare of the church first? Let us say to our brethren-“I will repay.” Shoulder the debt of your brethren, take on yourself their balance, place upon yourself their obligation for the sake of Christ and His church.
May God bless the church of Christ!
Bart Shaw, email@example.com 6/09