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Philemon 1:4-7 Facts vs. Feelings

Thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the sixth lesson in a series of lessons on the Book of Philemon. In this lesson I’m going to look at verses four thru seven and talk about facts vs. feelings. In recent decades evangelicalism has focused more and more on how people feel and spent less and less time on what people know and believe. This is a problem because Christianity is based on facts, not feelings. Watch the video or scroll down to read a transcript.

Transcript:

Hi, thanks for visiting Bible Mountain. This is the sixth lesson in a series of lessons on the book of Philemon. In this lesson I’m going to look at verses four through seven and talk about facts versus feelings. 

In previous lessons I talked about why Philemon is in the Bible. Philemon is a short little story about Philemon and Onesimus which illustrates for us how to live out various commands we find in the Bible about how to exercise authority and how to submit to authority. While that is the main emphasis of the book of Philemon, Philemon also touches on some other topics. We’re going to look at one of those topics today. 

What I’m going to do in this lesson is first talk about facts versus feelings and talk about the reality that Christianity is based on fact and not feeling. Then I’m going to look at some verses throughout the New Testament that teach us that Christianity is based on facts and not feelings. Then we’ll see how that is reflected in the book of Philemon. 

Over the last several decades, within evangelicalism, there has been a tendency to more and more emphasize feelings and ignore facts and truths. We see this reflected in various ways. We see this reflected in biblical illiteracy. Throughout evangelicalism, many people in our churches are biblically illiterate. What’s even worse than the fact that they’re biblically illiterate is a lot of people don’t care that they’re biblically illiterate. 

What’s been happening in evangelicalism is we’ve been focusing more and more on feelings. We’ve been focusing more and more on how people feel, that we’re ignoring what people think and what people believe. So we are to the point now where a lot of Christians don’t care about the fact that they’re biblically illiterate, and really don’t have much knowledge about Christianity. 

We also see this reflected in our music. For the last several centuries, hymns have been the dominant music genre within Christianity. While hymns are not flashy when it comes to the melody, the rhythm, and the harmony, traditional hymns have a lot of truth in them. The words have a lot of depth. 

In recent decades, we’ve more or less thrown away several centuries of hymnody and we’ve replaced it with something called Contemporary Christian Music. The problem with Contemporary Christian Music is it is the opposite of hymns. The melodies, rhythms, and harmonies are very flashy and very emotional, and they put you on an emotional high. However, the problem is the words are very shallow. There’s not a lot of depth to the words, there’s not a lot of truth in the words. 

That’s a reflection of the fact that within evangelicalism, we have abandoned facts, thoughts, and beliefs, and we’ve replaced it with feelings. Instead of focusing on how people think and what they believe, we are focusing on how people feel. 

We also see this reflected in the question, “Does God exist?” This is a question that people have been asking since the beginning of time. It used to be when people tried to answer this question they would look for facts and truths that would convince them or convict them that God does exist. What’s been happening in evangelicalism over the last several decades is when Christians ask this question, they respond by trying to feel the existence of God. That’s partly why music has gone the way it has. 

Today, when people go to church, they don’t seek truth and facts that will convict them that God exists. Instead, they look for an emotional experience, or for music that gives them an emotional experience, so that they can pretend that they are feeling the existence of God. 

As I said, this has been a trend in evangelicalism for several decades. We’re ignoring what people believe and how they think. Instead, we are focusing on how people feel. That’s a problem because the Bible makes it clear that Christianity is not based on feelings, it is based on truth. Let’s look at some verses that teach that. 

Rom. 1:18   For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, 19 because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. 20 For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. 

These verses address the question, “Does God exist?” This verse tells us “His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen”. We can see the reality that God exists. The way we see that is through what has been made. God’s existence is understood through what has been made. 

When we look at the world we live in, and see all the plants, animals, people, and everything that exists, the logical, intelligent conclusion is there has to be a living Being out there somewhere who created the universe and the world we live in. When we asked the question, “Does God exist?”, the answer to that is based on observation. It is based on fact and truth. We do not have to seek to feel the existence of God. 

John 3:16   “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life. 

Notice here the word believes. This verse does not say that whoever feels Jesus will have eternal life. It says whoever believes in Jesus will have eternal life. Believing is based on fact and truth. It is not based on feelings. 

John 20:30   Therefore many other signs Jesus also performed in the presence of the disciples, which are not written in this book; 31 but these have been written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in His name.

Again, we see the word believe. We see in these verses that Jesus did many miracles. Many of them were recorded in the book of John. The reason for recording these miracles in the book of John was so that we might believe that Jesus is the Christ. 

We have these facts of the miracles that Jesus did. That is proof to us, evidence for us, that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God.

Acts 17:30 “Therefore having overlooked the times of ignorance, God is now declaring to men that all people everywhere should repent, 31 because He has fixed a day in which He will judge the world in righteousness through a Man whom He has appointed, having furnished proof to all men by raising Him from the dead.”

Here, we see the word proof. These verses tell us that God raised Jesus from the dead in order to prove that Jesus is the man whom He appointed. These verses do not tell us to rely on our feelings to feel the existence of Jesus or to feel the fact that Jesus was appointed by God. Instead, these verses tell us we have proof that Jesus is the man whom God appointed.

As I said earlier, there’s been a trend in evangelicalism over the last several decades to ignore what people think, how people think, and what people believe. There’s an emphasis on how people feel. The problem with that is Christianity is not based on feelings. Christianity is based on facts. We see that taught in these verses we just read. 

Christianity is based on proof. We have the proof of the miracles that Jesus performed. We have the proof that Jesus was raised from the dead. When we look at these proofs, the logical, intelligent conclusion is that Jesus is God Himself. Christianity is not based on feelings. Christianity is based on fact. 

Now let’s see how that’s reflected in the book of Philemon.

Philemon 1:1  Paul, a prisoner of Christ Jesus, and Timothy the brother, to Philemon, the beloved and our fellow-worker, 2 and to Apphia the sister, and to Archippus our fellow-soldier, and to the assembly in your house. 3 Grace and peace to you from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Philemon 1:4  I always give thanks to my God, making mention of you during my prayers,  5 hearing of your love and faith which you have toward the Lord Jesus and for all the saints, 6 so that the fellowship of your faith might be effective in the knowledge of every good which is in us for Christ. 7 Indeed, I came to have much joy and encouragement from your love because the hearts of the saints were refreshed through you, brother.

In verse four we see that Paul was praying for Philemon. 

Verse five reflects something Jesus taught. Jesus taught that the greatest commandment is to love God, and the second greatest is to love our neighbor. We see in verse five that Paul had heard of the love that Philemon had. Verse five tells us that Philemon loved both Jesus and the saints. Loving Jesus would be loving God. Loving the saints would be loving our neighbor. 

In verse six Paul said, “so that the fellowship of your faith might be effective in the knowledge of every good which is in us for Christ.” Remember, we saw in verse four that Paul was praying for Philemon. In verse six we see that Paul was praying that the fellowship of Philemon’s faith might be effective. Think about the word effective. Paul prayed that the fellowship of Philemon’s faith might be effective, that it might work, that it might accomplish something. 

Then we see the word knowledge. Basically, Paul said that in order for the fellowship of Philemon’s faith to be effective, he had to have knowledge. He had to know about every good which is in us for Christ. 

This verse is a reflection of the fact that Christianity is not based on feelings. Instead, it is based on facts. Paul did not tell Philemon that his faith would be effective through feeling something. He said his faith would be effective in the knowledge of every good which is in us for Christ Jesus. 

As I said, it’s been common over the last several decades within evangelicalism to focus on feelings and ignore facts. We focus on how people feel. We are spending less and less time focusing on what people think, how people think, what people believe, and what people know. This is a problem because ultimately Christianity is based on fact, not feeling. The Bible does not tell us we have to feel the existence of God or feel the existence of Jesus. The Bible tells us there is evidence and proof that God exists and that Jesus is God Himself. 

We see that reflected in the book of Philemon. Paul said that in order for Philemon’s faith to be effective, he had to have knowledge of every good which is in us for Christ Jesus. 

As we go through our lives as Christians, we have to make sure we keep facts and feelings in their appropriate place. Facts are very important. Feelings are a reality. But Christianity is not based on feelings. Christianity is based on facts. As Christians, we have to make sure we pursue truth, knowledge, and facts, because it is facts that will give us the deep conviction we need to be an effective follower, soldier, and servant of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. 

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Scripture quotations from Philemon taken from a translation by Bible Mountain.

“All other Scripture quotations taken from the New American Standard Bible®,
Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973,
1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
Used by permission.” (www.Lockman.org)