God's Plan In the Church:

Study Guide
by David Chadwell

Lesson 1  |  Lesson 2  |  Lesson 3  |  Lesson 4  |  Lesson 5  |  Lesson 6  |
  Lesson 7  |  Lesson 8  |  Lesson 9  |  Lesson 10  |  Lesson 11  |  Lesson 12

Lesson Eight

The challenge and appeal of the epistle of Hebrews gives unique testimony to the importance of Christian community. Read Hebrews 10:32-36. In the past these Christians endured enormous suffering, were humiliated, endured physical persecution, and lost their property. They were not new converts, novices, nor "unseasoned members."

But they were weakened and deeply discouraged. My view of their situation and thinking: they had been devout, committed, sacrificial Christians. The use of Jewish institutions and heritage is to me evidence that they were Jewish Christians. The Jewish community became increasingly resentful of Christians as the church became increasingly non-Jewish. During the second half of the first century, difficulties increased for Jewish Christians. Perhaps these weary Christians wanted to return to the security and acceptance of their old culture and community.

They were considering renouncing Christ (not God). This would allow them to attempt a reunion with their old culture and the Jewish community without deserting God (their perspective). The writer declared that if they renounced Christ they renounced God.

The encouragement that the writer gave these Christians who had suffered so much provides us an unique insight into the concept of community among Christians. While the writer definitely warned them (6:4-8;10:26-31), he also powerfully encouraged them.

How did the writer encourage these troubled Christians in these verses?

1. Hebrews 6:9,10

2. Hebrews 9:13,14

3. Hebrews 10:35,36

4. Hebrews 12:1-3

What three things were they to do for each other according 10:19-25?

  1. "Let us..."

  2. "Let us..."

  3. "Let us..."

Focus on this statement in Hebrews 12:12,13

Therefore, strengthen the hands that are weak and the knees that are feeble, and make straight paths for your feet, so that the limb which is lame may not be put out of joint, but rather be healed.

Examine carefully how the weak were to be treated. In context, who were the weak? Those who considered renouncing Christ. Those who were physically and mentally exhausted by the struggle. Those who were close to deciding that Jesus Christ was not essential to salvation. Those who thought that they needed to "turn back" to their former life and associations.

Today, would we consider similar Christians a "lost cause?" Would we consider them as our special responsibility?

1. How do we feel about those who are genuinely spiritually weak?

2. How do you feel about those who stand ready to renounce the church? Christ?

3. How do we feel about those who are exhausted by spiritual struggle?

4. How do we feel about those who suggest "turning back?"

Just how weak were these Christians?

Spiritually, their hands were weak (could not grasp or hold on to anything for long) and their knees were feeble. Their legs could buckle at any time. They could hardly "stand," and they certainly could not "walk" for a distance. Spiritually, they were in bad condition. Would anyone recommend that it was time to "cut our losses?"

What was to be done to rescue these weak Christians?

1. Strengthen (make straight--it is difficult to straighten weak limbs) the weak arms and knees.

2. Make paths easy to travel so that even the lame can be assisted.

3. Produce conditions that will allow them to recover rather than having lame legs with weak knees "thrown out of joint."

These things could occur only in the context of a caring, attentive, serving community.

David Chadwell

Christians Nurturing Christians Study Guide (lesson 8)
Wednesday evening Bible class, Summer Quarter 1999
West-Ark Church of Christ, Fort Smith, AR
Copyright © 1999
Permission is granted to freely copy and distribute with text unchanged, including author's name.
next lesson

Lesson 1  |  Lesson 2  |  Lesson 3  |  Lesson 4  |  Lesson 5  |  Lesson 6  |
  Lesson 7  |  Lesson 8  |  Lesson 9  |  Lesson 10  |  Lesson 11  |  Lesson 12

 Link to other Writings of David Chadwell

  Link to West-Ark's Online Library

Link to West-Ark Home Page
West-Ark Church of Christ