This is a useful tool for small group discussion, personal reflection or in a one-on-one conversation. We believe that if the Sunday teaching is discussed outside the morning services, it will be an opportunity to go deeper and build community because God's Word needs to be discussed in community.
This series Core Strength is designed to address various core truths, foundational truths of the Christian faith. It comes out of a spiritual life survey we did with the church back in November of 2014. Thus far in the series we have addressed, Scripture, faith, God and today, Jesus Christ.
In your group or on your own, what are the texts that you would go to in the OT and NT that would help describe who Jesus is?
How does Christianity collapse if Jesus is taken out of the equation?
Text: Our key text is 1 Timothy 3:16. This is believed to be an old hymn from the early church. It is a great verse to memorize.
Now before you jump in to v.16 be sure to read the preceding verses. Note that Paul is talking about how people ought to conduct themselves. It is within this context that the question comes up about godliness which leads Paul into quoting this old hymn.
What do we learn about godliness from this text?
He appeared in a body
What makes His (appearance) in a body so unique?
Check out John 20:28, Romans 9:5, Titus 2:11–13
Larry Richards and Clyde Hoeldtke write,
“The doctrine of the Incarnation is distinct and unique to the Christian faith. Many religions speak of appearances of deities in the guise of men or animals. But these are ‘appearances’ only. None takes the startling position of Christianity, which affirms that the God who existed from eternity and who created all things entered His creation to actually become a human being. Yet this is just the radical affirmation of the Christian faith.” (A Theology of Church Leadership [Zondervan], p. 61).
Who in your life would disagree with this and why?
What is their disagreement based on?
Was vindicated by the Spirit
This next line in the hymn clues us in to why he came in flesh. To be vindicated means to be “justified” (or declared righteous), to show, to exhibit. Why would Jesus need to be declared righteous?
The following doctrine helps explain.
“Substitutionary atonement”: The doctrine that Jesus is able to take and pay for the sins of mankind.
Jesus Christ was declared to be the Righteous One who could pay a debt no other person could pay. It was not His debt - He was the Righteous One. Note Romans 1:1-4, Hebrews 2:14-18
Jesus paid a debt we owed. This is very different than what religion teaches. Religion is spelt D-O! Religion teaches that I need to pay that debt by living a good enough life. On the other hand, Christianity is spelt D-O-N-E!. Christianity teaches that God (in a body) paid the debt that I could never pay on my own. To try to pay my own debt would be like offering up a looney in the face of a 1 trillion dollar debt load!
What were you taught as a kid growing up about your debt to God, about how that debt would be paid?
Why is it so hard for some to rest in what God in Christ has DONE for them?
Was seen by angels
The mystery of godliness transcends the physical and encompasses the spiritual realm. You can almost imagine a standing ovation being given by the angelic hosts!
Was preached among the nations
What did they preach? They preached “done” versus “do”.
Was believed on in the world
What did “belief” mean?
What are some of the “cheaper” versions of belief?
What has believing meant for you?
Again look at the text and you will see what belief means. For Paul belief was not just cheap insincere words or a time in the past that has no implications for today. Belief meant to trust Christ for what he has done, repent and live differently. We see this pattern of living differently in the final line and in the larger context of this text.
Was taken up to glory
This refers to the bodily ascension of the risen Lord Jesus. It is put last, out of chronological sequence, because “it is the crown of his exaltation” (Matthew Henry’s Commentary on the Whole Bible [Revell], VI:818). Now He is seated at the right hand of the Father, with all authority in heaven and earth. As the angels promised, one day He will return to earth in the same manner as He ascended: visibly, bodily, in power and glory.
We might think great, He rules and reigns, and yes that is true. But don’t forget why Paul quotes this hymn. Paul’s point in verse 16, then, is that the incarnate Son of God reveals the Father to us. And the connection between verse 16 and verse 15 is, just as Jesus reveals God, even so ... The church that believes, you and I reveal Christ to the world (3:14-15). We are the visible expression to the world of the Savior who is presently in heaven. What an awesome responsibility, one that only can be fulfilled as one is empowered by the Holy Spirit which is next week’s foundational truth.
So what is the big idea? Jesus Christ, Superstar!
He is the foundation of the Church, the anchor of our salvation, the face of God to the world, the One who appeared in a body, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believe on in the world, was taken up in glory.
I don’t know about you, but for me this certainly qualifies as superstar status!
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