In this issue: “Let the word of Christ dwell among you richly”
– Colossians 3:16  

From age to age, the prophets, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, spoke the word of God. Now God has spoken to us through his only begotten Son. Jesus Christ alone brings to us the full revelation of God and he alone enables us to enter into the very presence of God.

In many and various ways God spoke of old to our fathers by the prophets; but in these last days he has spoken to us by a Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He reflects the glory of God and bears the very stamp of his nature, upholding the universe by his word of power. When he had made purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has obtained is more excellent than theirs.

Letter to the Hebrews 4:1-4

The author to the Hebrews contrasts Jesus with the prophets who have preceded him. The prophets were given special counsel or revelation from God (see Amos 3:7). Their message, however, was fragmentary. Each had a part, but not the whole. In Jesus Christ we see the fulness of God’s revelation and truth. In him we see not some part of God but all of him. The prophets spoke of God. Jesus reveals God in himself, not only in what he said and did, but in who he is. The prophets were the friends of God; Jesus is the only begotten Son. The prophets grasped part of the mind of God; Jesus is the mind of God. He is the Word of God made flesh.

In Jesus we see the glory of God, a glory that does not crush and is not severe. It is a glory which shines through Jesus’ humble service and death on a cross for sinners. It is a glory of redemptive and suffering love.

We must pay the closer attention to what we have heard, lest we drift away from it. 2 For if the message declared by angels was valid and every transgression or disobedience received a just retribution, 3 how shall we escape if we neglect such a great salvation? It was declared at first by the Lord, and it was attested to us by those who heard him, while God also bore witness by signs and wonders and various miracles and by gifts of the Holy Spirit distributed according to his own will.

Letter to the Hebrews 2:1-4

The author to the Hebrews warns against two kinds of sins: transgression and disobedience. Transgression literally means to step across a line. God tells us through his word and by our conscience what is right and wrong and what he expects of us. To step across that line is to sin. Disobedience is related to hearing. It literally means imperfect hearing, or careless hearing. In the end it means the unwillingness to hear the voice of God. God has spoken to us through his own Son. 

It is both an awesome privilege to hear the word of God and to be changed by his life-giving word, and an awesome responsibility to believe what God says and to obey it. Are you attentive to God’s word? Do you make it your daily food to nourish your heart and spirit and your medicine to heal the wounds of sin,  strife, and neglect.

We do not grow in a vacuum or in isolation. We grow together – for better or for worse. Our life together in community is a gift of God for mutual support and for building up the body of Christ. Because we are united to Jesus our Lord and Head of his body – the people he has redeemed by the blood of his cross – we must humbly take our place to serve others willingly and to generously use the gifts and graces God has given us for the good of others and for the building up of his kingdom where he has placed us – side by side with our brothers and sisters in Christ.

Dietrich Bonhoefer wrote in Life Together,

    Christians live entirely by the truth of God’s Word in Jesus Christ. If they are asked “where is your salvation, your blessedness, your righteousness?,” they can never point to themselves. Instead, they point to the Word of God in Jesus Christ that grants them salvation, blessedness, and righteousness. They watch for this Word wherever they can. 

    Because they daily hunger and thirst for righteousness, they long for the redeeming Word again and again. It can only come from the outside. In themselves they are destitute and dead. Help must come from the outside; and it has come and comes daily and anew in the Word of Jesus Christ, bringing us redemption, righteousness, innocence, and blessedness. But God put this Word into the mouth of human beings so that it may be passed on to others. When people are deeply affected by the Word, they tell it to other people.

    God has willed that we should seek and find God’s living Word in the testimony of other Christians, in the mouths of human beings. Therefore, Christians need other Christians who speak God’s Word to them. They need them again and again when they become uncertain and disheartened because, living by their own resources, they cannot help themselves without cheating themselves out of the truth. 

    They need other Christians as bearers and proclaimers of the divine word of salvation. They need them solely for the sake of Jesus Christ. The Christ in their own hearts is weaker than the Christ in the word of other Christians. Their own hearts are uncertain; those of their brothers and sisters are sure. 

    At the same time, this also clarifies that the goal of all Christian community is to encounter one another as bringers of the message of salvation. As such, God allows Christians to come together and grants them community. 

Excerpted from Life Together, Chapter One

Let us make the Word of Christ our daily food and nourishment so that we may grow in the knowledge and truth of Christ and make him known and loved today, tomorrow, and for the rest of our lives.

May this issue inspire and challenge us to conform our minds, hearts, and wills more closely to him who loved us first and who died and rose to give us new abundant life – now and forever.

Sincerely in Christ,
Don Schwager

Top image: Man contemplating the call of Christ, photo by KEEM IBARRA on Unsplash. Free to use under the Unsplash License

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