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In The Wake Of The Gospel's Power

Philemon 1-3

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 his master. 

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, origin! 

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 God's servants. 

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 ­ grace peace. 

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 working. 

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 2:11,12). 

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.

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