Into the Lesson
Before class begins display a large wall sign “The Path to Heresy”. Begin the lesson by asking for a definition of heresy. After the discussion, summarize and write on the sign the definition(s) that your class comes up with. Compare it, or them with the dictionary definition given in the lesson Introduction. Then ask for examples of heresy within modern Christianity.
Make a transition by reminding the class that there were heresies in the church of the New Testament that still persist today. Deliver a brief lecture to include discussion of Gnosticism and Arianism, based on the lesson Introduction.
Into the Word
This activity is an opportunity to develop leadership in your class. Assign the following phrases to eight class members during the week before class. Ask each to be ready to give a brief definition or explanation of his or her assigned phrase. Give each of these students a copy of appropriate part of the lesson commentary. Encourage them to read the lesson Introduction to help them understand the significance of their assigned phrases.
The eight phrases to assign are: The image of the invisible God (v. 15); The firstborn (v. 15); By him all things were created (v. 16); He is before all things (v. 17); The pre-eminence (v. 18); In him should all fulness dwell (v. 15); Made peace through blood (v. 20); Reconcile all things unto himself (v. 20). (If your class is small, you may wish to double up on verses 16, 17 and/or verses 19, 20.)
Before asking the assigned students to share their findings, distribute to all class members a copy of the printed text with each of the phrases mentioned above underlined. Have a wide margin available for students to write notes. Read Colossians 1:15-20 together and ask the assigned class members to help clarify the phrases mentioned above.
Next, tell the class that in verses 21-23 Paul explains the implications for this wonderful snapshot of Jesus. Read these verses and ask the following discussion questions:
- How would you describe reconciliation in everyday language to an unbeliever?
- How is this a “before and after” story?
- What are the differences among, and implications of, the three words concerning how Christ presents us to God as “holy”, “unblamable,” and “unreprovable”?
- What does the word “if” imply in verse 23?
Allow class members to form small groups of no more than five people each. Each group will choose to do either Activity #1 or Activity #2 below. Since you may not know how many groups will choose to do each activity, it will be necessary to have several sheets of each of the following instructions available. You will also need several hymnals and chorus books for Activity #1.
Activity #1. Your task is to select hymns or choruses for a worship service that will focus on the supremacy of Jesus Christ. Today’s printed text will be the text for the sermon in this service. Find several hymns and choruses that speak of some of the qualities or characteristics of Jesus that are mentioned in today’s study. Be ready to share with the rest of the class the reasons you chose these songs based on the specific lines or words in the songs that reflect today’s text.
Activity #2. Your task is to write a prayer of worship based on the concepts of today’s printed text. The prayer of worship will be incorporated into the worship service that those doing Activity #1 are working on. It will become the prayer that many class members will pray throughout the week; for this, have someone from your group go to the church office and make a photocopy of the prayer for each member of the class. Allow time for discussion. Make sure to give each group equal time.