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connections-uniform-10-2-16

The Imprint of God             Hebrews 1: 1-9

Focal Outline:           Hebrews 1: 1-4                      Reflection of God’s glory

                                    Hebrews 1: 5-7                      God’s angels worship Him

                                    Hebrews 1: 8-9                      God has anointed Him

 

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. If we want to know who God is and what God wants, we only need to look at Jesus.
  2. We can’t know what Jesus sounded like. But we do know that He spoke clearly and fully for God.
  3. We should strive for balance between reverence and familiarity in our thinking about Jesus.
  4. In Christ, we find strength for living because His kingdom is forever.

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

  1. Why should we follow Jesus, based on what we hear in the Bible?
  2. How did Jesus speak clearly as the voice of God? What does scripture show us about this?
  3. Why is erring on either side—reverence or familiarity with Jesus—an issue I should care about?
  4. Why should God’s eternity matter to me right here and now?

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact imprint of God’s very being, and he sustains all things by his powerful word. With that, the book of Hebrews begins to make definitive statements about Jesus. This week begins a new unit of study. Christology as portrayed in the book of Hebrews is our binding theme. That is, the New Testament understanding of Jesus’ sovereignty. The biblical writer will make a case of Jesus as above not only humanity, but also all over celestial beings. Jesus is the Son of God.

Why should we follow Jesus? The reasons are many, we Christians might say. Down our list a bit, however, might be what the Bible itself has to say about Jesus’ power and purpose. So, we do well this month to pursue these teachings in Hebrews. Here is another question we might ask, though— why did the writer of Hebrews feel the need to lay out this case (at length) in the first place? What was going on in the Church, or within culture, that needed to be addressed in this way? Among the issues might be the very earliest pangs of a pre-gnostic movement. Did God really stoop lowly enough to become incarnate in Christ?

Another theory is that angel-worship had broken out in some quarters. That is, these heavenly messengers alluded to in our Bible had become too much of the focus. Even this soon after Christ, a bit of refocus needed to happen. Still others also believe that the ongoing debate about Christ’s death had been spurred on by the Jews. Rather than a risen, victorious Christ, the Jewish version of the story was that Christ was simply dead and His body stolen. So, what is there here for you that strengthens your life? Let’s see!

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. Indeed, if we want to know who God is and what God wants, we only need to look to Jesus. (p38) At first glance, this statement seems limiting. How do you feel? If this is true, how so? Discuss this with your group.

 

  1. Who do you listen to? Whose guidance do you follow? Lots of voices compete for our attention. Some of them are worth listening to. How is Jesus our most complete revelation of God? How did Jesus speak for God?

 

  1. Who do you trust? What do you look to for security? What does Jesus offer us that is trustworthy and safe?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p35 of your Connections Uniform Teaching Guide. How do you decide who to trust?

 

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Scripture Context” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the focal passage using a variety of teaching methods…

 

           Hebrews 1: 1-4                      Reflection of God’s glory

What perspective of time and heritage is established here in v1? Why would that be an important acknowledgment for a primarily Hebrew audience? What is the news of v2, and what are some specific things Jesus was a part of? In v3-4, how many characteristics can you list for Him? What does v3 mean?

 

Hebrews 1: 5-7                      God’s angels worship Him

How does the writer differentiate Jesus from other heavenly beings in v5-6? Why might this have been important to distinguish? How does v7 contribute to the point being made?

 

Hebrews 1: 8-9                      God has anointed Him

In contrast, what is the position Jesus now occupies in God’s kingdom in v8-9? What are the characteristics of Jesus’ essence in that realm? What are we supposed to take for our own living from this?

 

  1. On p39 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “The opening verses of Hebrews assure its readers that God has spoken most clearly and fully through the Son.” What has God said to humanity through Jesus Christ?

 

  1. How does Ps 2: 7-8 relate to our text? How about Jn 1: 1-14?

 

  1. On p43 our lesson writer says “Christ’s reign is righteous because it is based on the justice and equality that God desires. Christ is anointed with the joy that comes from practicing righteousness.” Talk about what your group understands righteousness to be. Why is this a leading virtue of Christ, and what should we do with that?

 

  1. In the Connections Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour uses a fun story of 2 young friends to identify Jesus as God’s likeness. On p24-5, how is Jesus superior to the angels in Hebrews? On p26, what is the significance of Jesus being a “reflection” of God, an “imprint” of God and able to hold the world together with his “powerful word”? On p27-8, how does the Hebrews writer use at least 5 OT quotes to explain Jesus’ glory?

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. If we want to know more about God, we examine closely the life and words of Jesus Christ.
  2. Based on your study, what does Jesus reveal to us about God the Father? How does this help you?
  3. Who do you trust? What do you count on to give you security? Where do you find joy? We’ll find these questions in our lesson. (p44) Ask God to help you look only to Jesus as the source of life.

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p40 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. Do we really listen to Jesus? Do we give Him the authority that the writer of Hebrews does?

 

People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!


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Builder of the House           Hebrews 3: 1-6; Matthew 7: 24-29

Focal Outline:           Hebrews 3: 1-2                      Faithful to the One

                                    Hebrews 3: 3-6                      We are His house

                                    Matthew 7: 24-29                  Founded on the rock

 

Summary Statements: (To help you get a handle on the lesson truths.)

  1. We who make up the Church are Christ’s legacy. But, God is both the builder and foundation of the church.
  2. No one in all of history was more important to God’s mission than Jesus. But we have our purpose, too!
  3. We should strive for balance between reverence and familiarity in our thinking about Jesus.
  4. Listening to Christ makes sense if we believe that He is, in fact, greater than all others.

 

Questions for Thought: (To help you think of some questions to challenge with a “So What?”)  

  1. How does God’s role as both builder and solid foundation cast our roles as building materials?
  2. Where do we fit within what God is building?
  3. How can I find that healthy balance, where I hold Jesus up properly—but get to know Him, too?
  4. Why should we listen to Jesus Christ above all other voices, even other biblical voices?

 

Points to Ponder

[NOTE: These suggestions are to help your class be more interactive and discussion oriented. Using 3-5 different ideas will enhance your preferred teaching style and involve class participants. Build excitement and intimacy in your learners!]

The Sovereignty of Jesus is our unit theme this month. We are studying in the book of Hebrews for these 5 weeks. Don’t you wish you knew who was doing the writing of this New Testament book? And, wouldn’t we benefit from knowing more about why they felt they needed to make such a case for Jesus? Take a look at any commentaries or online resources you have access to. Get to know a little about what’s behind this book. In the end, though, Hebrews has a lot to say about Jesus’ role as the ultimate High Priest.

We should never forget that he is both the builder and the foundation of the church. That summation is at the heart of the Hebrews message. Jesus’ church has been built to last and to provide a lasting place of sanctuary. Through any door you might enter, your immediate focus is intended to be upon the Son of God. This one was appointed both apostle and high priest of our confession, we are told. For my home, and perhaps yours, the builder and architects might not even be known. Certainly they are not revered, in most cases. But in great and historic structures, the creators behind the project can live on indefinitely due to their fine work.

Moses becomes the standard against which Jesus is measured here in Hebrews 3. In Jewish history, Moses’ place is secure as arguably the greatest of their family. His leadership and example lived on in story. The very mention of his name was an event in itself. Here, though, Jesus is worthy of more glory than Moses. We read this today, as Christians, and say “of course.” But, put yourself in the place of a Hebrew reader 2,000 years ago. Your gasp might have been heard in the next room! Somewhere in all this, we are to gain a sense of hope in God’s great work. This One who exceeds even Moses continues to build a kingdom that will last!

Introductory Thoughts (5-15 minutes – These are for discussion to introduce this week’s Lesson Ideas.)

  1. We sometimes use “wish” as a synonym for “hope, “but a better synonym for Christian hope is “assurance.” Our lesson will make this claim. (p49) Why might assurance be a better word to express hope?

 

  1. We hear the word hope a lot in scripture. Old Testament prophets left glimmers of hope. New Testament writers did, too. What does it mean for us to live in hope?

 

  1. When you hear the biblical encouragement to build on a solid foundation, what do you hear that saying?

 

  1. Take a look at “Beginning the Lesson” on p42 of your Connections Uniform Teaching Guide. When have you participated in building something that you didn’t start?

 

Studying & Discussing the Passage (20-25 minutes – See Brian Harbour’s Commentary for added insights and explanations.)

  1. Share an overview of the Lesson from “Scripture Context” (Teaching Guide ) and then examine the focal passage using a variety of teaching methods…

 

           Hebrews 3: 1-2                      Faithful to the One

In ch2, what has happened just before “Therefore…” in v1? In v1, what is communicated by the names the writer uses to address the reader? In v1, what does the writer mean by Jesus as “apostle” and as “high priest of out confession”? How is v2 true of Jesus?

 

Hebrews 3: 3-6                      We are His house

What claim does the writer stake about Jesus vs. Moses in v3? How do v3-6 build his case in saying that? How is the word “in” a house place Moses lower than Jesus who was “over” the house? What does this mean?

 

Matthew 7: 24-29                  Founded on the rock

In v24, what is our calling? (to “act”) How do v25-27 substantiate this calling? In context, what do you believe Jesus had in mind when He said we needed to “act” on these words? What words?

 

  1. On p50 (lrge. print) our lesson author says, “Jesus doesn’t say we should try hard to build the right kind of life. Instead, he says we should build on the foundation graciously given to us in his life and teachings.” How does this “foundation” matter more than the house itself? What should we do with that insight?

 

  1. How does He 10: 19-25 relate to our text? How about Jas 2: 17?

 

  1. On p51, our lesson author says, “There are three steps in making Jesus the foundation of our discipleship. First, we must hear him…” Read the balance of this paragraph for more. Have someone list the 3 steps from this paragraph. Do you agree with this plan? What do you need to do to more fully embrace this?

 

  1. In the Connections Uniform Commentary, Brian Harbour makes a key assessment first thing! (p29) Also on p29, how does the word “house” mean 2 different things? On p29-30, see several key words that may help you to facilitate this text. On p31, what are 2 points at which Jesus is superior? Middle of p31, how are we a part of what Jesus Christ started? See p31-32 for discussion of our responses to Jesus’ words in Matthew.

 

Applying the Lesson (10-20 minutes – Choose one or two questions to encourage action plans for the coming week!)

Discuss any of the following questions…

  1. What does it mean for us to live in hope? How can hope become more of a reality in our daily lives?
  2. Read Hebrews 3: 7-15. Make a list of ways that we can encourage each other.
  3. How can we be faithful to God and to our mission? What are some specific things we can do? The lesson asks these reflective questions (p47) List some ways that all Christians can be faithful to God and church.

 

  1. See “Applying the Lesson” on p46 of the Uniform Teaching Guide. In what groups or affiliations do you feel like you actually belong?

 

People go where they know they’ve been prepared for and are cared for!