May 18, 2008
Paul had the apostolic authority to demand reconciliation between Philemon and his runaway slave Onesimus. Instead, he appealed to them on the basis of love. Alistair Begg emphasizes that love is foundational in our service to Christ and our responses to each other. Just as Paul encouraged Philemon to welcome Onesimus’s return as a brother, our relationships should also be radically transformed by Christ.
Sermon Transcript: Print
Our gracious God, we thank you that in Jesus we have one who is a beautiful Savior, who is Lord of the nations. And we thank you that we have had these moments of reflection as this music has played so as to turn our gaze to Christ, the ascended Lord and the coming King. And we pray that as we turn to the Bible now, that you will be our teacher, that you will help us both to speak and to hear in such a way that we might respond to it, as it is the very Word of God. For we pray in Jesus’ name and for his sake. Amen.
I invite you to turn to your New Testament and to Philemon, which is a tiny letter that you will find nestled in between Titus and Hebrews. Philemon and verse 8.
“Therefore, although in Christ I could be bold and order you to do what you ought to do, yet I appeal to you on the basis of love. I then, as Paul—an old man and now also a prisoner of Christ Jesus—I appeal to you for my son Onesimus, who became my son while I was in chains. Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.
“I am sending him—who is my very heart—back to you. I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I am in chains for the gospel. But I did not want to do anything without your consent, so that any favor you do will be spontaneous and not forced. Perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good—no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord.”
I want you to notice first of all the tone and tenor of the appeal that Paul is making. Let me give you an overview of it, and then we’ll work our way down through the verses. His tone is humble, it is earnest, and it is in terms of genuine endearment. Indeed, he makes this appeal in a way that is frankly very difficult to resist. He points to the fact that he’s appealing not on the basis of a demand, but he is making a request. That request in verse 9 is on the basis not of rank or authority but “of love.” In verse 12, it is clear that it is heartfelt; in verse 13, that it is selfless; and, in verse 15, that it recognizes God’s providence in the circumstances as they are unfolding. So you have this sense of Paul’s genuine affection and sincere care for those to whom he writes, and particularly for the one of whom he writes and on whose part he is making this appeal.
Spurgeon, when he gave the lectures to his students many years ago, reminded them that when they went into pastoral ministry, they should make sure that they didn’t forget that more flies are caught by a jar of honey than by a pot of vinegar. And he was pointing out that genuine warmth and affection and friendliness on the part of the minister will be of far greater good than a kind of dour insensitivity that looks as though the man has been sucking on something rather distasteful, and his face has been giving an indication of just how difficult it has been for him.
There is every danger for young ministers in particular to drive their people rather than to lead their people. I recognize it in reviewing the years in which I’ve had the privilege of being a pastor. And I also recognize that old habits die hard, and therefore, that in turning to this particular little letter and recognizing the way in which Paul does what he does, it is a forceable reminder to check our lives and our ministries and our approach to people against the plumb line of the Bible. It is a relatively easy thing to drive people on, to goad them, to prod them. It is a far more difficult and demanding thing to lead them by way of example, to encourage them by tenderness and by kindness.
And those who know me best know my own struggles in this area. Indeed, sometimes when I’ve been driving in the car, of old, when my children were there, if I perhaps reflected on something or said something about a situation, and it hasn’t been altogether positive, after I have finished my little statement, there would be a pause, and then a voice from the back seat from my son when he would say, “And that’s another kind word from your pastor.” And people ask all the time, “How do you do what you do and keep an even keel?” and so on. Well, he is one of my even-keel members, and a very important one at that.
Well, look at it here. His entreaty in verse 8 is not on the strength of his apostolic authority, which gave him the ability to be bold and to issue an order. This is not high-mindedness on the part of Paul. It is an acknowledgment of his place in the purposes of God. We have no apostles today. The apostles were a small group of individuals who had a sight of the risen Christ, who were commissioned by him to their responsibilities. Apostolic authority now no longer resides in an individual but resides in the Scriptures themselves, and it is to the Scriptures that we look for our authority. That which the apostles, under the direction of God’s Spirit wrote down, has been preserved for us by God’s Spirit in our Bibles, and it is to the Bible alone that we look as our sole authority in all matters of faith and practice. Paul, however, possessing that apostolic authority, chooses not to use it as the basis of his appeal. So, he says, instead of doing what he had every right to do, rather, he appeals “on the basis of love.” “I appeal to you on the basis of love.”
Now, again, this is not something sentimental and squishy. It rather is to recognize what it means to be a Christian. And Philemon, who is described in his opening introduction as “our dear friend”—which is just one word in Greek, agapetos—this “dear friend” Philemon is now being asked on the basis of the love of Jesus, which has come to fill his life, to operate out of that resource and to respond “on the basis of love.”
Duty is an essential part of Christian living. It is not wrong, but it is ultimately inadequate as a motivating factor. And both in our service of Christ and in our response to one another, love is absolutely foundational. So, he says, “I appeal to you on the basis of love,” verse 9. “I then, as Paul,” and look at how he describes himself: “an old man and now also a prisoner of … Jesus.” “Do something nice for this old man,” he says.
Now, if Paul was about sixty, as is estimated by historians, he’s not really very old, is he? At least many of us are saying, “Oh no, he’s not old at all. In fact, he’s middle-aged; sixty is the new thirty,” and so on. Well, we can kid ourselves all we like, but he was of a certain age. But given the nature of his life and all that he had been through, sixty years for Paul was different from sixty years of ease in the lives of others. And so he may well feel himself to be older than he actually is and so takes that designation.
There is also just a chance that the word which is used here which is so close to the word for ambassador is providing Paul with the ability to say, “I’m actually an ambassador for Jesus and yet at the same time a prisoner for Jesus.” Whether it is one or the other is not really germane to the issue. The fact is, he makes his appeal in a way that is truthful and in a way that is tactful.
And it takes until verse 10 before he actually identifies the one who is the focus of this letter: “I appeal to you for my son Onesimus.” This is the first time Onesimus has been mentioned. “Well,” you say, “was he holding back the name so as to build his case? Because this will take the wind out of the sails of Philemon.” After all, Philemon has been the master of Onesimus. Onesimus has made a run for it, probably taken away some of his master’s possessions, and now Philemon is to hear news of him and is actually approached in order that he might take him back as a brother in Christ.
Well, of course, if you think about it, presumably the letter arrived simultaneously with Tychicus and with Onesimus. And so Philemon would actually know that it was about Onesimus—unless, of course, Onesimus hid behind the building. You know, that he arrived, and he said, “Tychicus, why don’t you go in and read the letter? I’ll hide behind the barn, and then you come out and see how it goes with Philemon, and then you can just go, ‘It’s okay to come in now.’” That’s always a possibility; highly unlikely, I agree. But what a striking thing for Philemon to be confronted with the fact that this runaway slave, Onesimus, has actually become a Christian in his absence. And look at what Paul says: “He has become my son while I was in chains.” The paraphrase in The Message reads as follows: “I have become a father though I have been under lock and key. And the child’s name is Onesimus.”
What does he mean, he has become a father? Does he mean that he has produced a Christian, as it were? That he was able to make Onesimus become a Christian? No, no individual is able to transfer that to another. The grace of God doesn’t pass through human genes. If that were so, then we would just be able to pass it on to our children, we would be able to press it upon our spouse, we would be able to make sure that it was true of our siblings, and so on. No, Paul understood perfectly that all of the power in seeing somebody born again of God’s Spirit is a power which belongs to God, and the instrumentality in this case—if you like, the conduit—was none other than Paul himself. Unless we’re clear about this, we will very quickly go wrong.
In seeking to see unbelieving people become the committed followers of Jesus Christ, we are asking God to bring men and women to himself. He chooses, in his purposes, to give us, often, a part in that. But all we are are voices. All we are: fingers pointing. And Paul was clear on that. He says, “What, after all”—when he writes in 1 Corinthians—“What, after all, is Paul? What, after all, is Apollos? Or Cephas? Only servants through whom you came to believe.” That was the instrumentality whereby they had come to faith. And this notion of becoming a father in the gospel is his privilege in relationship to Onesimus.
It is a reminder, is it not, of the fact that “if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has gone, [and] the new has come”? And it is this that he is affirming for Philemon: “He has become my son while I was in chains.” And look at verse 11: “Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me.” In other words, “What you need to know, Philemon, is that Onesimus is not the old Onesimus. I’m not sending back to you the Onesimus who stole your stuff and ran away. I’m sending back to you a new Onesimus.”
Now, don’t let’s miss this. This is what it means to be in Christ. By nature, the Bible says that we are not anywhere close to Jesus. Despite our superficial interest in him, our knowledge of him, our awareness of truth in the Bible, by our nature we are blind to the truth that is conveyed in Jesus. We’re actually dead in our trespasses and in our sins. We are absolutely unacceptable before the gate of heaven, and we are absolutely unable to do anything to rectify those circumstances. So unless the gospel is the good news of Jesus doing something for us what we are unable to do for ourselves, it cannot be good news at all.
But that is it: that the righteousness of Jesus is credited to the account of the sinner on the basis of the fact that the penalty due to the sinner has been borne by Jesus on the cross. And somewhere in the context of Rome, Paul, who had discovered this for himself, had declared it to Onesimus.
He would have said clearly to Onesimus, “Do you understand that your problem, Onesimus, is not that you’re estranged from Philemon? Your problem, Onesimus, is that you are estranged from the living God who made you. And I was estranged from the living God, too, Onesimus. And I hated Jesus, and I hated anybody who said anything about Jesus.”
“Well,” says Onesimus, “why and how have you changed?”
“Oh,” says Paul, “I have to tell you that when I wasn’t looking for him, he came looking for me. And on a day when I was most opposed to him, in the brightness of the noonday sun, there was a light that shone brighter than all of that. And in a great moment in time, I understood who Jesus was and what he had done on the cross and how he was alive from the dead and how he redeemed me.”
Is that your story this morning? Is that your testimony to faith in Jesus? Would you be able to come tonight and be baptized with the six and come down into the water here, understanding there’s no magic in the water, understanding that no one ever became a Christian as a result of somebody doing something to them or for them—a religious person acting on the basis of an irreligious person? Would you be able to come and say, “I once was blind, but now I see. I once was absolutely useless, and God in his grace has made me useful.” And if not, today is the day to bow before God’s amazing grace and goodness and thank him for providing for you a Savior in Jesus and casting yourself upon his mercy.
“I’m sending him back to you. Formerly he was useless, but now he has become useful.” The pun is terrific, because Onesimus, the name Onesimus, means useful. And the irony was that the fellow with the name Useful was useless. So when he would say to his wife, “Where’s Useful?” and Philemon’s wife, Apphia, would say, “I don’t know where he is,” he would say, “You know what? Useful is useless!” And his uselessness had been made most obvious in his rebellion and in his runaway. And now he gets a letter from Paul saying, “Onesimus is back with Tychicus. It’s not the same Onesimus. It’s a new Onesimus!” “If any man or woman is in Christ, they are new creations; the old has gone, the new has come!”—not the attachment of religious exercises from the outside but the transformation of God’s grace on the inside, thereby working its way out through every element of life.
And it is because of that that Christianity knows nothing of hopeless cases. Hopeless cases. There are two reasons why people stay away from Jesus as a Savior on the cross: one, because they think they’re too good to need him, and two, because they think they’re so bad that he could never cope with them. And in this room right now, those who are not in Christ are apart from Jesus on the strength of one of those two things: either that you have concluded that you can make it well enough on your own, thereby rendering the notion of a Christ who bears sin an obsolete idea; or that you have made such a royal hash of things that there is no possibility that in the sacrificial death of Jesus there is provision for you. And here’s the wonderful thing: unlike every other religion in the world, which either creates in our minds pride, whereby we’re doing everything we should, or despair, whereby we cannot do what we think we ought to do, Christianity deals with both our pride and our despair.
Because those of us who think we’re doing marvelously well run right up against the requirement of absolute perfection. “Unless your righteousness,” said Jesus, “is akin to that and greater than that of the scribes and Pharisees, you will never enter into the kingdom of heaven.” What is the standard for entry? Absolute perfection. Okay? How do you feel you’re doing on that basis? Exactly. Was there ever anybody who kept God’s law in its totality? Yes, one: namely, Jesus. So unless I am placed into Jesus and credited with all that he has done in the keeping of God’s law, I have no place before him.
And to the person who feels himself or herself in absolute, total despair and ignominy, you look up there upon that cross, and “bearing shame and scoffing rude, in [the sinner’s] place condemned he stood,” taking all of the punishment that my sin deserves so that I might be accepted before the Father.
All of this is wrapped up in what has happened to Onesimus.
People might have said of Onesimus, when they went for their shopping, they said, “I believe Philemon’s slave has buzzed off.”
“Oh yes, yes, he’s away now. Apparently, he took some of his stuff.”
Maybe they went to the church in Philemon’s house, and they said, “Well, he was always a bad egg anyway, that Onesimus character. Funny he would be called Onesimus, you know, because he frankly was useless when he was here, and he’s useless now that he’s gone. How could he ever come back useful?”
I don’t have time this morning to rehearse stories out of thirty-three years of pastoral ministry where I can tell you about guys who couldn’t hardly read, write, or do arithmetic who, for them, the starting point of the total transformation of their lives was the discovery of Jesus as a friend and Savior. And those who apparently couldn’t complete high school went on not only to graduate from college but to do postgraduate degrees in theology and are now successful and erudite pastors today. But it all started not as a result of a college course, but it all started as a result of acknowledging that they were absolutely useless and they needed someone—namely, Jesus—to come and change them from the inside out. That is what has happened to Onesimus and that is what must happen to each one of us.
What a radical change. And what a wonderful way that this once proud Pharisee describes this man who’d been one of the dregs of society. It’s terrific, isn’t it? This is what Jesus does as well. He puts people together who, if you see them from the outside, have really nothing in common with one another. One is bright, the other is silly; one is athletic, the other one’s a dolt; and here they are, and they’re having a wonderful time together. Why are these people together? Because of Jesus.
“Didn’t you go to a really good university, Saul of Tarsus?”
“Absolutely, I did.”
“Didn’t you have some of the finest teachers?”
“Well, why are you writing a letter on behalf of one of the dregs of society, a slave? What makes you so interested in the slave?”
“Well, the same Jesus that dealt with my proud heart is the Jesus that dealt with the despair of this same slave. And so actually, we’re standing side by side with one another. We’re holding hands with one another.”
“In fact, I’m sending him back to you. He’s my very heart.” “He’s my very heart.” The word there is splagchna. I hope you like that word as much as I do. There’s just some words I like. Splagchna is on my like list at the moment. It’s a graphic word. It’s in the same category as splagchnizomai, remember? Three of you do. But it is expressive of that which is at the very core of your being. It is the epicenter of your emotion and your humanity. It is that which is the area in which you get airport tummy if you are a scary flier, where all of a sudden you’re having a kind of splagchnizomai experience. What is happening? It’s all happening in your splagchna. All right?
That’s why, in the King James Version, when I was a boy growing up—and a naughty boy growing up—I looked for all the sort of funny parts of the Bible, and when I would find “bowels of tender mercy,” I thought, “Wow! There’s an interesting one!” I’d point to it with my father if it was the reading: “Look at that! It says ‘bowels’! Bowels!”
“Be quiet! Be quiet! I’ll talk to you when we get home.”
“It says, Dad, look! It says ‘bowels’! Why does it say ‘bowels’?”
But that’s it, you see. It’s the realm of compassion. It’s the very core of things. That’s what Paul’s saying about this character: “He’s my splagchna.” And there’s a lot of splagchna, actually, in this. Philemon is all about it. “You have refreshed the splagchnas of the saints,” verse 7. “I’m sending him back—my very splagchna—to you.” Down there in, what is it, verse 20: “Refresh my splagchna in Christ.” Phil Collins: “Two splagchnas livin’ in just one life.” “If you [should] leave me now, you’ll take away the [very splagchna] of me. [Ooh,] baby, please don’t go.” That’s what he’s saying here.
Do you get this? This is Christianity! This is what it means to be in Christ. This is not membership of an organization. This is not people who’ve been put together on the strength of a shared intellect. This is not folks who like the same kind of songs. This is a diverse group of people whose hearts have been invaded by Christ, and as a result of that, it transforms their relationships with each other. That’s why Paul says, “There is no Jew or gentile, Greek or barbarian, Scythian or free or bond, black, white, whatever it is.” He’s not reducing everybody to the one shape or color, but he’s saying that irrespective of all of these things, in the realm of our splagchnas, God has done something.
Well, you see, you’ll be going up to people now saying, “Do you want get a coffee? And I’ll just refresh your splagchna for a wee while before you go home.”
Now, if this is such a good deal, would Paul keep him? Yes, he says in verse 13, because this is the real test. This is not a snow job on the part of Paul: “I’m sending this character back to you. He’s really terrific, and he’s really done nicely, and you can have him.” No! Look at verse 13: “I would have liked to keep him with me so that he could take your place in helping me while I’m in chains for the gospel.” If Onesimus had stayed with Paul, he could have done what Philemon would have done. That is, he would have looked after him for the gospel’s sake. “But I did[n’t] want to do anything without your consent.” He’s given up his apostolic authority in making a demand, and now he’s prepared to give up his preferences. His preference would be to keep Onesimus. But he is prepared to forsake his preferences, and he wants Philemon to share in the decision-making process. “And therefore, without your consent, I want you to do what is good.”
The NIV again sends us wrong here, in the phrase “so that any favor you [will] do.” It doesn’t say anything about doing favors. Paul is not asking for a favor. He is appealing to him on the strength of agathos. He is appealing to him on the strength of goodness, the same goodness that is referenced in verse 6—remember, the difficult verse where it talks about pantos agathon: “that your goodness,” “that you may have a full understanding of every good thing.” Pantos agathon. Now he says, “You share in all of that goodness. And therefore, I am appealing to the goodness that is in you. And I want you to operate in a way that emerges from that goodness—that it is the result of compassion and not the result of coercion.”
And then he draws it to a close in verse 15. He says, “You know, if you think about it, perhaps the reason he was separated from you for a little while was that you might have him back for good—and no longer as a slave.” In other words, what does he do? He encourages Philemon to see these circumstances as being an outworking of God’s providence—in other words, to see God’s hand in the ordering of these events. Surely, Onesimus made his own decision and made a run for it, and yet God was at work in his departure as well as in his return.
“Perhaps he was separated for a wee while so that you might have him back for good.” It’s a similar sound, isn’t it, to Mordecai when he speaks to Esther in Esther 4:14, and he says to her, “Who knows but that you have come to royal position for such a time as this?” He says, “Maybe it is that God has ordered your steps and brought you to this absolute moment so that you can be this person in these circumstances.” In other words, our lives are not haphazard. In Christ, we’re not held in the grip of blind deterministic forces. We’re not bobbing around in the sea of chance. We are under the tutelage of God’s providence.
And you know, from a human perspective, if you stand back from this, you would say to yourself, “You know, if Onesimus was going to become a Christian, where is that most likely?” In his master’s house! He’s surrounded by them. There’s Apphia. There’s Archippus, the soldier boy. And if we look at it, we say, “You know, that would be his chance.” Onesimus, what a wonderful thing: the people in the congregation gathering in the household, saying to one another, ‘You know, and let’s, before we do anything else today, let’s pray for some of these slaves and servants in our house. Let’s pray for this one and that one. Let’s pray for Onesimus.’ And here’s the great opportunity, if you like, for the gospel.”
But no. No. Onesimus makes a run for it. And people might justifiably have said, “Well, his chance is gone. There’s little chance, now that he’s run away. If he wasn’t going to become a Christian when he’s surrounded by Christians, there’s no way he’s going to become a Christian in Rome, because that’s a big, bad place. If he goes away to Rome, there’s no chance there, is there?” Yes, there is! Why? Because God is God! Because God is omnipresent. Because God’s ways are not our ways. And here’s a word of encouragement to every parent of a runaway child: God is greater than even their rebellions. God is sovereign even over their capitulations, over their turning over the tracks. And though you may not have been successful in this moment here, hold on, and watch God do what he does in Rome and in the equivalent of Rome in the twenty-first century. There are, I say to you again, no impossible cases.
And here is Onesimus, and he runs away into the security of his anonymity in Rome. Does he get a job in the jail? I don’t know. Is he serving the meals? Is he mopping the place out? Who knows? But in the providence of God he runs smack-bang into the evangelist, the apostle Paul.
And Paul must have said to him, “What are you doing, Onesimus?”
He said, “Ah, nothing much, you know.”
“Come on, tell me what you’re doing. How did you get here?”
“Well, I… You know, I, I, I was a slave. Had a really nice boss. His wife was nice too, and… But I just… I just ran away.”
“You know what, Onesimus? You think you’re running away from Philemon. You think you’ve got issues. You think you’ve got issues, and they have to do with being a slave and have to do with being in Philemon’s house and issue this, issue that, issue the next thing. Hey, but let me tell you something, Onesimus: you don’t so much have issues as have an issue. And the issue is this: that you’re running from God. And I believe, Onesimus, that you’ve run slap-bang into me so that I could tell you that you’re running from God and I could tell you that God, in the mystery of his purposes, has appointed your steps in such a way that of all the people you might be serving lunch to or whose cell you might be mopping out, look where you’ve ended up. Let me tell you about Jesus!”
And that’s it. And as a result of that: “Maybe he was gone for a wee while so that you might have him back forever.” In other words, he’s not gonna just make an appearance and run away. He’ll stay. But even more than that, he’s gonna stay forever. The word there, “forever,” is aionion. It’s the word that gives us, in English, “the eons of time.” “The eons of time.”
I watched the really sad part… I’ve been watching Cranford, delayed, on public TV on Sunday nights. It’s serialized at the moment. There’s one to go; it’s tomorrow night. Judi Dench is in it and some others. And there was a really sad scene last night. I watched it when I finally came bouncing out of the skies from Jackson, Mississippi, and Houston. And so I said, “Let’s do something that is relaxing before we go to bed.” And so we sat and watched Cranford.
And there’s this wonderful scene where this particular girl, Matty, who’s played by Judi Dench, has been proposed to by a man thirty years previously. And because of her commitment to her family, she refused his initiatives. And thirty years of life have gone by. And this farmer, this elderly farmer, has reappeared on the scene and reappeared in her life, and he comes to her and he informs her that he is going to take a journey. And the reason he is going to take a journey to Paris is in order that he might give her time to consider in his absence whether, despite all the years that have elapsed, she might look on him with tenderness and affection and they might become one in marriage.
So he leaves and returns and dies of pneumonia as a result of his journey back across the English Channel. And the pathos that is represented as she walks in and puts her hand, removes her glove, and does what in that eighteenth-century life would be quite unthinkable and puts her hand on his hand, now gone with no prospect of a relationship, and all of the pathos that’s into that—all of the years, the thirty years, and the unresolved hopes and dreams and everything—just gave me a big lump in my throat, sentimentalist that I am.
But let me tell you something: if there’s been thirty years for you where Christ proposed to you, as it were, and, for whatever reason, you resisted his initiative, if he has come around again to your house, if he is knocking at your door, I beseech you, on Christ’s behalf, accept his invitation. Be reconciled to God.
For this little letter, O God, we thank you. For its instruction and direction we give you our humble praise. Look upon us in your mercy. Shine the light of your everlasting gospel into the darkness of our hearts and minds so that we might, first of all, see that we can’t see. And then, in learning that it is our very lack of sight that demands that he who is the Light of the World might come and illuminate the darkness of our hearts, we cry out to you, Lord Jesus Christ, the pursuing one, even when we have resisted his grace. Accomplish your purposes today, we pray.
And may the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit be the portion of all who believe, now and forevermore. Amen.
 C. H. Spurgeon, “The Minister’s Ordinary Conversation,” in Lectures to My Students (1875–94; repr., Edinburgh: Banner of Truth, 2011), 198.
 Philemon 10 (paraphrased from the MSG).
 1 Corinthians 3:5 (paraphrased).
 2 Corinthians 5:17 (NIV 1984).
 See Ephesians 2:1.
 See Acts 9:1–6.
 See John 9:25.
 2 Corinthians 5:17 (paraphrased).
 Matthew 5:20 (paraphrased).
 Philip P. Bliss, “Hallelujah! What a Savior!” (1875).
 Colossians 3:12 (paraphrased from the KJV).
 Phil Collins, “Two Hearts” (1988). Paraphrased.
 Peter Cetera, “If You Leave Me Now” (1976).
 Colossians 3:11 (paraphrased). See also Galatians 3:28.
 See 2 Corinthians 5:20.
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.