Transforming power of God’s grace – Part 2
God requires obedience from all believers. Obedience is the central evidence that we are saved. However, there are people who are obedient to things that are not commanded such as tradition, suggestions and customary observances in the community.
Apostle Paul, in his letter, pleaded with Philemon to forgive and “receive” Onesimus. Although God had forgiven him, he had to be reconciled to his master. He was willing to return and make restitution but had nothing to pay back for what he had stolen. Therefore, Apostle Paul offered to pay on his behalf. Yet, he personally had to go back to confess, apologise and submit to his offended master.
Restitution is not the Law of Moses as some people think and has not been abolished. Restitution was required long before the Law of Moses when Abimelech took Sarah, Abraham’s wife, unlawfully. God revealed to him through a dream that he must make restitution. “Now, therefore, restore the man his wife … and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die. And Abimelech … restored him Sarah his wife.” Restitution is still required today.
To maintain a living relationship with God and be right in His sight, we must make restitution wherever necessary. God emphasises this doctrine. In making restitution, it is proper to do more than is required. Abimelech and Zachaeus gave extra, but also restored what was demanded. For our offerings and services to be acceptable to the Lord, we must ensure that we resolve every pending grievance we have against others and “be reconciled” first before we come to offer before the Lord.
While salvation reconciles us to God, restitution reconciles us to our fellow men. It enables us to “have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.” We should keep our minds free of anything that anyone will legally, logically, faithfully and truthfully say they have against us. When we obey God’s demands and the indispensable truth of the Scriptures, which our leaders preach, we bring joy to them.
Comprehension of divine ownership makes believers willing to surrender their possessions for the worship of God. The believers of old gave wholeheartedly because they knew everything they possessed belonged to the Lord. God owns our life, time, talent, money, intelligence and properties. Therefore, the language of every true believer should be “My Lord, O king, according to thy saying, I am thine, and all that I have.”
Apostle Paul realised that Philemon understood divine ownership; therefore, he asked him to prepare a place to lodge for him. When Philemon eventually read the letter, he received, forgave and restored Onesimus. He also realised that Onesimus belonged to the Lord; therefore, he released him for service. “But know that the Lord hath set apart him that is godly for himself.” As believers, we should live for the Lord and give ourselves to Him without any reservation. “And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God.”
• 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 12, 15, 16, 20, 18, 19; Genesis 20:1 -10, 14; Ezekiel 33:14 -16; Luke 19: 8 -10; Matthew 5:22 – 24; Acts 24 :16; Philemon 21; Romans 6:17; Philippians 2:12; 1 Peter 1:14 – 16, 22; 4:17, 18; Philemon 1, 2; Colossians 4:15 ;Romans 16:3 – 5; Philemon 22; 2 Kings 4:8 – 11; Job 31: 32; Philemon 10 – 13, 20; Colossians 4: 7 – 9; John 17:10 ; 1 Kings 20: 4; 2 Samuel 24 : 24; Psalm 4:3; Isaiah 43:21; Romans 14:7, 8; 1 Corinthians 6:19, 20 ; 2 Corinthians 5:14, 15; 8:5; Revelation 4:11.