The theme for 2019, Answers: What God has said about important life questions
STUDY GUIDE, WEEK 11, 3.24.19
PART 1. WHAT IS THE BIBLE ABOUT AND WHY I SHOULD TRUST IT?
Opener: We’re now coming to the end of our jog through the Bible. Remind your group members that our objective over the last several months has been to understand the flow/storyline of the Bible so that we would have confidence in God’s Word.
Discuss/Share: Take about 5-10 minutes and give your members the opportunity to share how this “Jog through the Bible” has helped them. Have them focus mainly on the idea of increased confidence.
You might even remind them of the following in regards to our confidence:
“I am convinced that what is “real” is…
- “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
- “It is appointed for humans once to die and after that to face judgment.”
- “God demonstrates His love for us in that while we were sinners Christ died for us.”
- Rev. 21:4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.”
- We are made by God and for God…we exist for His glory.
Transition: Let’s now take some time and reflect on what Terry shared with us about the book of Revelation.
The book of Revelation’s theme is that God enables His people to stand fast against Satan and his forces until God brings about the ultimate and sure victory. The book of Revelation describes the ultimate triumphant outcome for all who put their faith in Jesus Christ, as well as the disastrous outcome for all who oppose God and His people. The book of Revelation sums up the key truths of the Bible, it forms the second bookend (this first bookend is Genesis) of human history in its current form.
Questions: Who wrote book of Revelation and where was he when he wrote it?
When it comes to reading the book of Revelation, what are some cautions one should be aware of?
Answer: 1. John. He was on the Island of Patmos. 2. Watch out for things like the Left Behind series. Remember there are only 22 chapters in John’s letter, but people evidently can find a whole lot more stuff in there than John intended. Don’t read it with a newspaper by your side and only see the current times in the letter, this will lead to strange conclusions. Know that the book is symbolic, to look for the unusual or strange is not helpful.
Key Point to Remember: Revelation is not meant to be a sort of Crystal Ball, it is intended to tie up the Scriptures into a final conclusion.
Question: So how does Revelation sum up the final conclusion of Scripture?
Answer: Revelation continues the Biblical theme of hope in Christ…we have a final hope that fuels faithful actions in the present. It uses symbolic language to pull together all 66 books of the Bible; it ties the beginning of time to the end. It shows how God’s original purposes will ultimately triumph.
Read the passage below: Rev. 21:1-5
1 Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away. 5 He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.”
Question: What is John saying? What does he mean by no more sea?
Answer: Symbolism, remember…the sea was seen to be a chaotic deadly place…this is the end of chaos, the end of danger leading to death…not the end of adventure…just chaos. This is the new Garden of Eden…God is dwelling with His people again. And the New Jerusalem is also the symbol of God’s presence with His people. This is all the promises of the OT wrapped up…this is all things made new that have gone wrong.
Rev. 21:22-27 “22 I did not see a temple in the city, because the Lord God Almighty and the Lamb are its temple. 23 The city does not need the sun or the moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gives it light, and the Lamb is its lamp. 24 The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. 25 On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. 26 The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. 27 Nothing impure will ever enter it, nor will anyone who does what is shameful or deceitful, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb’s book of life.
Question: What is significant about the lack of a temple in this New Jerusalem?
Answer: The Temple was where the presence of God was manifest among His people. There is no need for a Temple. God is with His people again like He was in the Garden.
Discussion: Take some time and think of what it means for God to be with us.
Questions for discussion: What is eternity going to be like? Think about what it will be like when, there will be no more death, sorrow, crying, or pain, what comes to mind as we ponder this thought? What will it be like to live in the “New garden?” Now think about “Everything will be made new,” is this thought hard to get your head wrapped around? Do you believe it to be true? Even though we don’t know as much as we’d like, it is enough to know that eternity with God is more wonderful than we could imagine.
Thought to ponder: There is an already/not yet feel to the reality that we currently live in. Jesus is now at the right hand of the Father, “far above all rule and authority, power and dominion, and every name that is invoked, not only in the present age but also in the one to come” (Ephesians 1:21). And those who put their faith in Him are more than conquerors through Him (Romans 8:37). Yet we often don’t feel much like conquerors. Our victory is already secured forever through our risen Lord, but it is not yet fully realized. We still live with the ruinous effects of sin. But just as surely as the Lamb who was slain is worthy to reign, so shall all of us who put our faith in Him reign. Williams, Michael. How to Read the Bible through the Jesus Lens (pp. 265-266). Zondervan. Kindle Edition.
Remember: Revelation is not written to blow your mind and cause you to disengage with the present; it is a very present-centric book.
- It is this timeless perspective on current times…what you see now has always been and will be until all things are made new.
- Because it is a timeless call to faithful endurance…what you are experiencing is not new…do not lose hope do not lose heart.
- Because a certain future is necessary for a certain present…even though it is hard to understand…this much is clear.
- God wins, truth wins…evil loses, injustice loses, death loses.
- No matter what is happening now…I do not have to lose hope for the future and I do not have to try and manufacturer my own meaning.
Hope and meaning are fixed points of reference for my life now, no matter how chaotic things around me may be.
Know and be confident that God will, one day, finally and fully restored things to their original status. He will again dwell with His people, those who by faith have placed their trust in Christ alone.
Are you learning how to love God and to see life with Him as your greatest treasure?
Do you see that all of your longings and desires point to Him?
Do you practice thinking of Him as the “joy of your desiring?”
Practice thinking this way. Do the mental work to shape your thoughts in the right direction.