Text: 1 Peter 1:18-19

Short Background: there was economic inflation and a financial crisis during the writing of this epistle due to Emperor Nero’s blasphemous persecution. This context explains why Peter compared the payment of salvation from gold and silver with the blood shed by Christ. Indeed, gold and silver have limited and volatile value, while Christ’s gracious act was infinite and eternal.


Buying something with a credit card. Needs payment. Or else you will end up having a bad credit score, broke, too much debt, or, worst case, be in jail (in some countries). What do we do now? It’s either we pay for it. Or someone else’s pay for us. If someone is paying for it, do we deserve it?

Biblical survey: Throughout time, humanity has been offending and building a lot of bad credit scores with God. Yet, despite the stubbornness of men, God still pays for their debt/ credit. However, it just keeps on repeating. (Illustration: 5-6 loan interest; you try to pay more so you can ask for more credit). But it does not help you get off from your status. Likewise, we would ask God for forgiveness, but then we do it again or maybe something worse. (Indulgences, “Lord, here’s my tithe or donation,” then you plan to do something wrong in the near future.

Main Idea:

1. But the Bad news is our debts to God cannot be paid by mere good works or replenishing our spiritual credit scores. No! The payment is death (Romans 6:23). No one can pay for their own, the interest is too high, and none can pay for themselves.

2. God’s solution: but praise God! There’s Good news. He saw the shortcomings of the people. They cannot do it independently (Roms 3:23, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God”). They need God’s self-giving love (Eph 2:8-9). It is not by works but only through God’s gift of payment.

What is the payment? If it requires death? Then death should also be the payment. 1 John 2:1-2 “My dear children, I write this to you so that you will not sin. But if anybody does sin, we have an advocate with the Father—Jesus Christ, the Righteous One. He is the atoning sacrifice for our sins, not only for ours but also for the sins of the whole world.”

The Christmas story is about a beloved payment, that is, Christ (John 3:16-17). God in heaven was thinking about paying all our debts once and for all by sending His Son, Jesus Christ (perfect, holy, pure, and eternal). That is the meaning of Christmas. God gave His Son. That’s why we cannot outgive God.

3. More Good News: we become co-heirs or co-sharers of God’s riches once we become part of his family. Romans 8: 16 The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children. 17 Now if we are children, then we are heirs—heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ if indeed we share in his sufferings so that we may also share in his glory.”

How do we access these riches? Through prayers, obedience, and reading His Word. Understanding the eternal riches of God gives us more joy in living in this world.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
December 25, 2022




Text: Philemon

Introduction: (vv. 1-3)

  • Verse 1 – Philemon is authored by Paul during his imprisonment (see verse 9).
  • verses 1-2 – to Philemon and family, but in verse 2 we can see that their church gathered not in a building, nor a parish church, but in a home—at Philemon’s home. The church is not the building; “church in your house” – propositional “in” pertains that there was a church inside his house. Clearly, only people can be inside a house, hence the church is the people who gather for Christ (identity).
  • v. 3 – common greeting in the time of Paul where he presented Christ as equal to God the Father who is the source of both grace and peace—charis and Eirini (shalom).

Main Idea: Part I: Identity, Community, and Mission (vv. 4-7)

v. 4 to 7: there is a massive decline in today’s generation, comparatively, in the United Kingdom around 2/3 of Gen Zers, and over a third in the US, indicated that they have ‘no religion’ also known as being in the ‘unchurched’ religious category. Some classify themselves as an agnostic, loose atheist, pragmatics, and so on. Why? Because we do not offer identity, community, and mission.

  • Identity – v5, love and the faith they have toward the Lord Jesus Christ.
  • Community – v6, “sharing” is koinonia – of food? No! it is sharing of faith. This communal sharing offers a deeper awareness and experience of the blessings that Christ has for us.
  • Mission – v7, the mission to provide joy, comfort, and love to the body of saints—the local church, so that we give others an avenue to be refreshed, healed, and renewed.

Meaning, that if our gathering or your individual lifestyle always centers on yourself, then you are failing to exemplify the love that Christ has for us (our identity), by sharing for fellowship in the body of Christ (community) and towards giving benefit to the entire community of Christ (mission).

Part 2: The Gospel in Philemon (vv. 8-20).

  • Share the story about Philemon and Onesimus (a worker, and slave).
  • “very heart” v12 – goes with Onesimus
  • He became useful, even though he was useless to you in the past (because of stealing)
  • vv15-16, no longer a bondservant of man, but of Christ – Slave here, in Paul’s argument, presents that they are on equal footing in Christ’s sake.
  • vv17–19 (we believe that the Bible is God’s Words, let us read these next verses in a canonical lens as the logos of God) as if it is Christ speaking to God the Father on behalf of us:
    • If we are one (partner is koinonia), you will receive him. (John 17)
    • If he has wronged you, charged that to my account. (1 John 2:2)
    • I will repay all what he or she owes to you (1 John 1:7)
    • Be refreshed—a new creation (2 Cor 5:17).

Final Words:

Verse 21-22- shows the confidence of Paul that “if” Philemon is a genuine Christian, he would forgive, reconcile, and brings forth the healing both grounded in the love of Christ.


Ptr. John Paul Arceno
UCBC New Jersey
June 27, 2022