Saturday, February 13, 2010

Melchizedec - Preview of class February 14, 2010

Well, not really Melchizedec.  Actually, we are venturing into Hebrews chapter five, in which the priesthood of Christ is shown to be superior to that of the Levitical priests in virtually every way, one way of which consists in its classification into the order of Melchizedec.  The painting above forms part of a series of nine works executed by Matias de Arteaga y Alfaro for the Church of the Sacrarium in Seville.  We must excuse the anachronistic use of military armor belonging to later historical periods - after all, this is art.

The priesthood of the Lord Jesus Christ perfectly suits our needs as sinners.  We need to grow in our understanding of these great theological and practical facts.  Join us this week.  As you do, please bring the first draft of your exhibition plans.  We will exchange them for peer reviews.

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Hebrews Exhibition Topics - January 17, 2010

Scholars - Please post your exhibition topics as comments to this blog entry.  Hopefully, by sharing sample topics we can help those who are struggling to find a suitable idea, and perhaps encourage more consistency in our entire exhibition.

Last year's exhibition

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Preview of class January 17, 2009

The Throne of Grace  -  Hebrews 4:14-16

The inspired author paints a picture of a welcoming king on his throne of grace and mercy - Jesus Christ, our great high priest.  We could not believe such things were they not written in Holy Scripture.

This week, we will examine the encouragements the author presented to his audience, and now presents to us, to approach with confidence to this throne in our time of need.

We will also discuss a preparation schedule for our upcoming class exhibition, the plans for which have begun to coalesce.  Finally, recall that each of you will be creating a scenario showing how the Word of God described in Hebrews 4:12 might carry out its (or His) operations in people's lives.  I have not forgotten this pending exercise.

Formal education school has emphasized the importance of active learning.  One great advantage of this model is that you students get to do more of the work.  Looking forward to picking back up our studies together...

Friday, January 1, 2010

Our Class Project - January 1, 2010

Our 2009-2010 class project has been introduced amid great fanfare.

We will host an exhibition to demonstrate our collective learning from the Epistle to the Hebrews to the larger church community.  The exhibition will take place towards the latter part of May 2010 (exact date coming soon) in the gymnasium.  Each member or small team of the Sunday School class will create a physical demonstration of something they have learned from Hebrews and be present to communicate this learning to others in the church, using their physical artifact as an aide.  You may work individually or in teams of two (larger teams should have a reasonable justification; please consult with me).

Sample project ideas include: posters; quilt/pillows; poems; write and perform a song or hymn; multi-media digital presentation (using, e.g., iVideo or GarageBand); physical model or object; game; dramatic skit or reading; play an instrumental piece; painting or drawing; diorama; cookie-dough map; etc. ...  Specifically, written reports or papers are not appropriate.  Our goal will be to interest and engage the larger church population, while accurately communicating Biblical truth we have learned.

Do not panic!  We will work at this project together in a step-by-step fashion over the coming months.  As I told the class last Sunday, we will help each other and no one will fail or be disappointed at their performance during this exhibition.  Only hard work and fun will be required.

 One student making a Hebrews quilt for the upcoming exhibition

Friday, December 18, 2009

Preview of class December 20, 2009

Our text in Hebrews presents the somewhat surprising admonition to make every effort to enter God's rest.  Now, this statement would raise no eyebrows were it not that certain theological systems want to preempt it to mean something its author never intended.  You would understand perfectly well if I said to you "Try to get a good night's sleep."  You might take a relaxing bath or drink milk before bedtime, avoid eating spicy foods, and probably keep the lights down low, all as necessary preparation for the desired end of sweet repose.

Of course the Christian life involves striving to enter in at the narrow gate.  It has from the very beginning:

Jacob found this out quite early, and was never quite the same afterward.  Many Biblical texts instruct us to strive, seek, work out, make every effort, and so forth, and none of them contradict the idea of justification by faith, or the fact of the absolute sovereignty of God in the matter of man's salvation or damnation.  If some people handled tax forms as loosely as they do Biblical texts, the IRS would be all over them.

We hope to move on this week to discuss the Word of God (Hebrews 4:12).  I have a nice graphic organizer ready for you to help you understand the interconnections of the material here.

Well, OK, maybe it is not that complicated.  However, I will strive to introduce at least one surprising twist for everyone.  My home and mind are full of treasures and curiosities some of you do not even suspect.

Friday, December 4, 2009

Preview of class December 6, 2009


The author of Hebrews sweeps across a remarkable span of time in the fourth chapter.  We will start our class this week reviewing the chronology that serves as a backdrop for the exhortation (urgent pleading) in the passage.  Along the way, we will step back to consider the subjects of time and history from a distinctly Christian point of view.  Of course, every good session needs some personal application.  Prepare for a bit of surprise when I apply this subject to you.


Sometimes popular culture can help us appreciate Biblical truth all the more.  Are any of us surprised to learn that a prominent "role-model" athlete has been accused of multiple adulteries?  I won't name names.  The vultures are circling.  Apparently, in the minds of some, the apparent hypocrisy is the real sin, while the adultery is simply an accepted fact of life and manhood.  What evolving man would pass up the Darwinian opportunity to spread his genetic material a bit more widely, thereby increasing his reproductive fitness?

When I see this sort of thing (whatever the real truth might turn out to be), my mind reverts to an underlying Biblical reality that we need to hear over and over again, and that is sorely neglected today.  Do not envy those who are rich!  Very few of the wealthy in this world will inherit eternal life (Luke 18:24)!  Thank God that you are not rich, and be certain that you do not want to be so!  Possession of riches, with all the attendant temptations, may be an indication that God has marked out a person for damnation.

"The Rich Young Ruler"
Artist: Heinrich Hoffman

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Thanksgiving Day and Preview of class November 29, 2009

Dear Friends -
    How much thankfulness ought we to express to our great God and Savior, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in Jesus Christ!  This time has been an especially poignant Thanksgiving season for me because of the events with my son following on his medical emergency, and his return to my home.
     One of the many spiritual blessings we share together is the fellowship of the saints at Clarkson Community Church, as we devote ourselves to the Apostle's teaching, breaking of bread, and prayer.  As we learn together in God's word, we are reminded that we are a group of pilgrims travelling together to a celestial city from God, where we will dwell together in perfect harmony, love, and joy, and will glory in the unsearchable riches of Christ.
     This week, in our Sunday School class, we will dive back into our current Bible passage in Hebrews 4:1-13 and continue wrestling with this rather difficult text.  Some of our small groups will need a bit more time to finish their presentations from this text, so the rest of us will begin immersing ourselves in it.  Our goal will be to try to enter the author's mind and to think his thoughts after him.  After all, they are the thoughts placed there by the inspiring Spirit of God, and we are seeking to understand them.
     Immersing oneself into a text can become a messy endeavor.  We might end up with unexpected results.

This fellow was certainly immersed in his work!

As we study the text carefully, we will see that it contains a most remarkable chronology as well as some very sobering statements.  I am looking forward to digging in with you.