in the Christian Library
John L. Kachelman, Jr.
I. The memories of April 3,4, 1974 will be a permanent part of my mind's
storage. Those were the two days that witnessed a series of destructive
tornados sweep across northern Alabama. The night was spent listening to
weather alerts the morning dawned with no electricity and a wide path of
destruction. In the newspapers it was common to read statement as : "In
the wake of the spring storms there is evidence of a never before experienced
devastation. The costs are inestimatable at this time." A swath 2 miles
wide marked the path of the tornados.
II. Tornados are not the only things leaving a clear path behind them.
Jet aircraft leave the ribbons of their presence; the sea vessel leaves
the churning waters; etc. Whenever something of immense power passes through
its "wake" leaves tell-tell signs. Such is true with the gospel. So powerful
is God's Word that its wake is filled with tell-tell signs which reveal
its impact. This impact is discussed in Philemon 1-3.
I. THE EVIDENCE of the gospel's wake.
As the gospel passes through the lives of men and women it leaves specific
evidence that marks its impact.
A. An impact upon relationships.
1. The book of Philemon is a marvelous letter on relationships in Christianity.
There is found the smooth working of unbelievable personality ethnic types:
a. Paul a wealthy Jewish scholar. Trained from early youth
with an arrogance toward Gentiles women. It is reported that in his prayers
the Jewish man gave God thanks that God had not made him a Gentile, a slave,
or a woman! In early adulthood Paul was enmeshed in bitterness toward Christians.
b. Philemon -- a well-to-do Gentile businessman. Trained by social
prejudices to hold contempt for any Jew relegate others outside his social
strata as "inferior." An owner of slaves, scoffing at humane treatment.
c. Apphia a woman of high standing
d. Onesimus a slave who had run away after stealing from
e. Note : These impossible types ethnic conflicts were all united with
one another they shared something in common! An amazing thought!
2. Even more amazing are the titles used to describe each one ...
a. Paul is a "prisoner" (Ep 3:1; 4:1; 2 Ti 1:8). What a fantastic change
from the proud arrogance that his genealogy called for (Philip 3:4-8).
b. Philemon is a "fellow-worker" (Ro 16:3,9,21; Col 4:11; etc.). He
was united with Paul in common service.
c. Apphia, Onesimus Timothy are "brothers" "sister." Bound with new
life in Christ. Such shared loyalty, friendliness, a common life, obligations,
3. In the wake of the gospel a slave had become a brother, a woman had
become a sister, and a Jew gave thanks for a Gentile! (Ps 133:1). How the
gospel changes relationships.
B. An impact upon vocations.
1. As the gospel passed through Colossae it left behind "fellow-workers."
It united various people in the goal of common labor (Col 4:2-6).
2. Frequently we read of people being called "fellow-laborers" as they
join together to spread the gospel (1 Ths 3:2; 2 Co 8:23; Ro 16:3,9,21;
Philip 2:25; 4:3).
3. This word speaks of our desired achievement in this life to
be fellow workers with God. No longer do we aim for selfish ambitions,
but in unselfish service we work with God (2 Co 6:1).
C. An impact upon our temperament.
1. As the gospel's power passes through it leaves behind "fellow-soldiers"
those who are "beloved." Such terms describe the temperament that characterizes
2. Temperament toward the world as a "soldier" we are to endure
(2 Ti 2:3; Philip 2:25). There is to be aggressiveness in our attitudes
(2 Co 10:3-5).
3. The temperament toward the church "beloved." To our brethren
we are to demonstrate the true mark of discipleship (Jn 14:34; 15:12,17).
Such describes the accepting tolerating attitude of brothers/sisters.
D. An impact upon Self.
1. In the wake of the gospel's power there is a dramatic change in one's
inner-self. The gospel extends the greatest good anyone could ever possess
2. The gospel gives us God's grace the favor of God that provides
the saint with a blessed state.
3. The gospel gives us peace a healthy condition; an inner-harmony
even in the midst of conflict; the tranquility of mind (Ro 5:1).
4. In the wake of the gospel, grace is applied peace is obtained (Philip
4:4-7). From no other source can these 2 blessings be found!
E. An impact upon our association.
1. For those who understand obey the gospel "the church" becomes the
sphere of association. It is the group of saints assembled, worshiping
2. This association was the eternal design of the gospel is accomplished
only by obedience (Ep 1:3-10).
II. THE EXAMINATION from the evidence.
A. Is there the appropriate change made in my life? Have I responded
as I should?
1. Has the gospel impacted my relationships?
a. Am I a "prisoner" - this explains the cost of being a Christian;
it speaks of the commitment essential to following Christ (Ro 6:16-19).
Too often we are prisoners of sin lust not of Christ!
b. Am I a "fellow-worker" laboring for the advancement of Christianity?
Am I active in this congregation doing what I can? (1 Co 12:20,27).
c. Am I a "soldier" who is aggressively fighting to endure conquer sin?
d. Am I a "beloved" brother/sister united in God's family with
others sharing a common life, origin, obligation? (Ro 1:7).
e. Am I a "brother" to the Lord and those in the Lord's family? (Hb
2. This question accurately evaluates a critical aspect of our obedience.
It asks, "Have you responded to the gospel's power?" (2 Co 4:3,6; Ep 1:13;
Col 1:5,6; 2 Ths 2:10). If I have responded it should have a visible
impact in my life!
B. Is there an appropriate impact of my life upon those in the world? If I have felt the wake of the gospel, then I should have an impact on others (1 Pt 2:12). If no impact from the gospel, then no impact on others (Tit 1:16).
C. Do I have an appropriate understanding of the gospel's power to change
lives? (Ro 1:16,17; 1 Ths 1:5; Hb 4:2). Those who do not recognize the
gospel's potent power will never be influenced by its impact!
I. Just as a series of powerful spring storms left its mark on north
Alabama in 1974, the gospel's power left a series of amazing changes in
its wake in the 1st century. Everywhere it went people felt
its impact (Ac 17:6; Col 1:5,6).
II. In a world deceived by Satan deluded by darkness, the force of the
gospel was introduced. Its impact let a result eternal in scope (2 Ti 1:10)!
The invasion of the gospel spread the good news of Christ the lost were
saved, the forlorn cheered, the proud humbled. Enemies became brothers
love was the sovereign decree which bound all in one in dissolvable union.
III. This gospel which shattered the darkness of sin's reign in the
1st century is still filled with power 2,000 years later. Its
impact is still earthshaking. As it continues its trek into the darkness
of sin it leaves behind an unmistakable wake hearts are cheered souls
are saved when obedience is demonstrated. Such is God's desire (Rv 14:6,7).
Copyright 1998 by John
L. Kachelman, Jr. may be reproducted for non-commercial purposes
at no cost to others.