Father, thank You that Jesus is both fully God and fully man and that He is able to help us in times of need. We praise You for our great Savior who is greater than any man and even greater than the angels. Help me see that Jesus can help me through every situation, and give me grace to turn toward Him in times of trial. Open the eyes of the lost to see Jesus as your Son whose salvation they desperately need! In Jesus’ name, amen.
Read Hebrews 1-2
Hebrews 1 The book of Hebrews was written to Jewish Christians who were under pressure to abandon, or at least compromise, their faith. Some may have already turned back to Judaism. The author’s purpose is to encourage them to persevere in the face of persecution. But if these early believers are going to do that, they must see Jesus in all His glory.
So the author begins by reminding them Jesus is not just the latest revelation of God, as if they’ve traded up to a newer model phone with better features. He is the unique revelation of God to which all previous revelation pointed. As the divine Son of God, Jesus reveals God in all His glory. As God, He not only created and sustains everything, but He accomplished God’s plan of salvation. Therefore, He’s superior to the angels, who had delivered God’s message of redemption in the Old Testament at Mount Sinai.
In the face of trials and persecutions, we often want answers to our “why” questions—and sometimes, we get such answers. But God knows that what we really need isn’t a “why” but a “Who.” If we keep in sight the majesty and superiority of Jesus, we are strengthened to place our faith in God.
Hebrews 2 If Jesus is the “radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being,” then we need to hold on to the message we’ve received from Him. This is the first of several warnings that will come throughout the letter. Notice how the author draws a comparison: if messages from God delivered by mere angels were binding, then how much more binding would messages be that were not only delivered but accomplished by God’s Son!
Once we’ve been reminded why this message is worth our attention, the author returns to his comparison of Jesus and the angels. Unlike the angels, the Son of God became a human being to bring about “the world to come,” that is, the new age of God’s kingdom. He is the pioneer of our salvation, not only leading the way but actually setting us free from the rule of sin and death in which we’re by nature enslaved. The author wants us to understand that Jesus did this by becoming like us, identifying with our humanity and then suffering for us as a sacrifice. In that way, He is both the high priest representing His people and the sacrificial lamb who dies as a substitute, satisfying God’s wrath toward sinners.
ATONEMENT OR PROPITIATION
Watch a helpful explanation of sacrifice and atonement. (6-minute video)
Produced by the Bible Project. The Bible Project content is available for free at www.thebibleproject.com.
Consider this: if the Son had not become fully human, He could not have served as our high priest and substitute. And if the Son had not been fully God, He could not have endured God’s wrath.
Nicene Creed 325 A.D.
WE BELIEVE in one God,
the Father, the Almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all that is, seen and unseen.
We believe in one Lord, Jesus Christ,
the only Son of God,
eternally begotten of the Father,
God from God, Light from Light,
true God from true God,
begotten, not made,
of one Being with the Father.
Through him all things were made.
For us and for our salvation
he came down from heaven:
by the power of the Holy Spirit
he became incarnate from the Virgin Mary,
and was made man.
For our sake he was crucified under Pontius Pilate;
he suffered death and was buried.
On the third day he rose again
in accordance with the Scriptures;
he ascended into heaven
and is seated at the right hand of the Father.
He will come again in glory to judge the living and the dead,
and his kingdom will have no end.
We believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life,
who proceeds from the Father and the Son.
With the Father and the Son he is worshiped and glorified.
He has spoken through the Prophets.
We believe in one holy catholic and apostolic Church.
We acknowledge one baptism for the forgiveness of sins.
We look for the resurrection of the dead,
and the life of the world to come.
When Constantine won control of the Roman Empire in 312 A.D., he elevated Christianity to favored status. He soon discovered the fractured state of the church and what it believed. To bring unity, he convened a council in the year 325 that met in the city of Nicaea. Out of that convention came the Nicene Creed, which is still a standard of belief for many Christian churches.
1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets,2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world.3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high,4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.
- Consider that if the Son had not become fully human, He could not have served as our high priest and substitute. If the Son had not been fully God, He could not have endured God’s wrath.
- If we want to know what God is like, we must look to Jesus. We will not be satisfied by creation’s beauty, our spiritual experience, or any other revelation because only Jesus, the incarnate Son of God, reveals the grace of God that covers our sin. So when we share the good news, we should share Jesus—who He is and what He’s done.
- When we think of Jesus, we shouldn’t think he’s no different from any other human. Neither should we consider Jesus to be only God and not at all like us. Praise God that because He became man, He is sympathetic to our predicament, and because He is God, His help is effective. When you pray, relate to Jesus in this way.
- Take some extra time to reflect on Jesus as you go about your day. Praise Him and thank Him for who He is and what He’s done. If you face temptation, or if you feel misunderstood and alone, remember Jesus felt that, too—but He never sinned. He’s there for you today, if you turn to him for help.
- Pray for God to be at work in your new acquaintances or any new relationship with an oikos or family. Invite them into your home for coffee, meal, dessert, or a holiday. Consider hosting overnight guests (visiting missionaries in town, guest speakers, etc). [Spiritual Disciplines, Making Disciples]
(Summary of Tom Wolff’s ideas on Oikos Evangelism and Outreach)
An oikos is a social system composed of those who relate to each other through common ties and tasks. The New Testament oikos included members of the nuclear family, but extended to dependents, slaves, and employees. Oikos members often lived together, but always sensed a close association with each other. And note this carefully, the oikos constituted the basic social unity by which the early church grew. Sometimes people today also talk about tribes as any group connected to one another through an idea or a leader—kind of a voluntary oikos, if you will.
As Michael Green reminds us, an oikos for the New Testament church consisted of “blood relations, slaves, clients, and friends. Christian missionaries made a deliberate point of gaining whatever (oikos) households they could as lighthouses, so to speak, from which the gospel could illuminate the surrounding darkness.”
OIKOS EVANGELISM, then, is one God-given and God-ordained means for naturally sharing our supernatural message. The early church spread through oikos evangelism. It’s about evangelizing family members who saw the old sinner become the new saint; it’s about sharing with the neighbor who questioned how such a difference had come over his old friend or reaching the guys in the local trade union or the oikos that played tennis together.
An oikos corresponds to what contemporary anthropologists define as the three universal social systems of common kinship (extended family, though in urban settings the extended family might live far away); common community (might be neighborhoods, not in urban settings); and common interests (also referred to as a “clan” below, these are affinity groups with mutual interests and usually networks of relationships where trust is expressed).
These three natural social groupings include:
The (urban) clan has developed into social units which are basically extensions of the local group—voluntary associations based on common interests ranging from trade unions and medical associations to bridge clubs and parent-teacher associations. Each of these groupings is held together by a common interest, an interest arising from mutual participation in the same trades, the mutual enjoyment of a game, or mutual problems in relation to a set of children.
ADJUSTING OUR TACTICS FOR THE URBAN SETTING
If you expect neighborliness or extended family in urban settings, you’ll probably be disappointed. In looking for persons or households (oikos/oikoi) or peace, in urban settings you will want to aim for clans or affinity groups or clubs or societies rather than your apartment neighbors. You will need to “insert” yourself into some clans or urban social groupings. Urban outreach is different.
Check out Meetup.com below to find ways to find oikos groups in urban and not-so-urban areas.
Consider these questions:
- What am I doing to learn about the variety of urban social groupings in my city? (Examples: Cooking club, hiking, kite flying, poetry reciting, soccer, sewing, walking, exercise, yoga, retirees, urban tea houses, false religion groups, etc.)
- When do these groups get together? Where? Are they mostly men, women, young, old, mixed?
- Are they free, or is there a charge? Is there an orientation? How does one “enter” the club/group? Do I need a sponsor?
- How can I learn more about them?
- How can I (and my family) get involved in one or more of these clans (urban social groupings)?
- What can I do to intentionally approach one or more of these groupings and try to get involved?
- How can being a part of a clan help me find a person/oikos of peace?