Transforming power of God’s grace – Part 1
Onesimus is one man in the Bible whose life aptly captures much of the transforming power of God’s grace and Christ’s redemption. Before his conversion, he was undependable, unprofitable and a runaway slave who had stolen from his master, Philemon. But after his conversion, he became a dependable and trustworthy believer who had the privilege of labouring with Apostle Paul. Grace transformed him from being a guilty thief to a righteous son who was ready to obey God by doing the necessary restitution to his estranged master.
Paul, the Apostle, surrounded himself with other transformed people who were profitable to the Lord and the church. Epaphras was faithful in the ministry and fervent in spirit. Marcus was formally a failure who became the favourite in ministry. Those who failed in the past should not throw in the towel, but make effort to become useful in God’s kingdom. Aristarchus demonstrated fearlessness of true friendship in ministry.
Sadly, Demas, who once stood for Christ, displayed faithlessness, fickleness, foolishness and folly, and fell in ministry. We must never allow dull, weak, lukewarm and lethargic persons around us. Like Luke, we should be focused and be firm in ministry.
Paul had confidence in Philemon’s obedience to his requests, especially to receive back the transformed and now profitable Onesimus. As believers, at all times, we should be obedient to the word of God and remain fervent, faithful, fruitful and firm to the end.
A truly converted believer who has left sin is always marked by a new life of righteousness. Regardless of the past years of living in sin and ignorance of Christ, grace, the gospel and His demands, God commands “all men every where to repent.”
When Onesimus met with Paul and was confronted with the demands of the gospel and the evidence of God’s grace, he surrendered to the Lord. And “being made free from sin, (he became a servant) to God, (and had) fruit unto holiness.”
Realisation of one’s sinful state and the eternal consequence of a life of sin leads to confession and repentance, which marks the point of conversion in the life of a sinner. This produces a change of mind and attitude to follow the Lord. Sinners who are yet to be saved should repent immediately because without salvation, they have no hope of eternal life. A change happened in the life of Onesimus after his conversion. He became born again and a new creature in Christ; old things were passed away and all things became new for him.
When a sinner meets the Lord and reconciles himself to Him, his new life in Christ will be visible to people around him. The guilt, punishment and condemnation that have been taken away will give him hope to get to heaven if he dies in the Lord or the rapture takes place. Believers who have benefitted from the grace of God that brings salvation to all men must ensure that they stay away from sin. “We know that whosoever is born of God sinneth not; but he that is begotten of God keepeth himself, and that wicked one toucheth him not.”
• Further Reading (King James Version): Philemon 10-19,22,23; Colossians 1:7; 4:12,13; Philemon 24; Colossians 4:10; 2 Timothy 4:10; Philemon 24,21; Philemon 10,11; Acts 17:30; Romans 6:21,22; 1 Corinthians 6:9-11; Ephesians 2:12-19; 5:3-8; Philemon 10; 1 Corinthians 4:15; 1 Peter 1:3; 1 John 5:18.