Well, fellow imitators, we have made it. We are in our last session in our Multiply series. So, we’ve learned that God is our King, we have a commission from Him and we fight a daily war against sin, wouldn’t you like to know how that war is going to end? Today we get to find out, join us in Part V: Session 6: The End of the Story.
Do you ever give much thought to the end? We’ve already seen how God created a perfect world that fell to the corruption of sin and death as mankind rejected their King. Thank God the story didn’t end there and we followed God’s redemption plan as it played out in biblical history, through Abraham, then Moses, then David, the ultimately in the life, death and resurrection of Christ. Finally, God sends His Holy Spirit and builds His church then gives her her mission. The Bible begins with the statement that “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” and ends with God’s declaration: “Behold, I am making all things new” (Rev. 21:5) (316).
The Beginning of the End
When Jesus announced “It is finished” on the cross, He was referring to the securing of the salvation of mankind (John 19:30). Our salvation doesn’t happen until the end of history, however, Jesus has already ensured that our relationship with God was restored and our place with Him established forever.
Just as Jesus changed all of history when He came the first time, everything will change again when He comes back. We can read about both occurrences in Hebrews:
“He has appeared once for all at the end of the ages to put away sin by the sacrifice of himself. And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him” (Heb. 9:26-28 ESV)
“Jesus appeared the first time to sacrifice Himself and secure our salvation, and He will appear again to bring that salvation to fruition” (317).
Even though many Christians disagree on how the end times are going to happen, we can agree that hanging onto the hope of the end can give us hope to continue our mission.
Discussion Question #1: Have you done much studying or thinking on how and when the world will end? If so, what has been your impression of the end times? If not, why do you think you haven’t approached this issue in the past?
What We’ve All Been Longing For
We all feel there is something wrong in the world. We know things are not the way they are supposed to be. People try to blame rulers or religions or just about anything under the sun, even God.
Christians are already able to see some of the effects of the fall reversed: we are free from the bondage of sin (Rom. 6) and God’s Spirit lives in us and empowers us to follow Christ (Rom. 8 & Gal. 5). In Christ we can have joy, but we still lives in a fallen world and can often be discouraged.
We have an amazing promise that life will not always be this way. Christ will return and right all that is wrong with the world.
Discussion Question #2: Read Romans 8:18–25. How does this promise affect your view of the world?
The Return of the King
Jesus is coming back. He isn’t done. He’s going to come back and rule over a re-created, perfected world.
When Jesus came the first time, He was meek, seemingly-ordinary servant and He died a criminal’s death on the cross. When Jesus comes again, things are going to be different. Revelation describes warfare and depicts Jesus as a victorious King returning to claim what rightful belongs to Him in the first place (Rev. 19).
Discussion Question #3: Read Revelation 1. Based on this description of Jesus, how will Jesus in His second coming be different from in His first coming?
The New Heavens and the New Earth
The Bible begins and ends with God’s creation the way it should be. In Genesis, God creates His perfect world. In Revelation, God creates His world to restore it to it’s former glory, except even better! Everything about the old creation has become corrupted. So God is going to make all things new, no more sin, no more death. All will be full of joy and life. And we will finally enjoy perfect communion with our God! “And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” (Rev. 21:3 ESV). People from “every tribe and language and people and nation” will be worshipping at the feet of Christ. (Rev. 5:9 ESV).
Discussion Question #4: Read Revelation 21–22. As you read this beautiful description of the New Creation, don’t get caught up in trying to interpret every detail. Instead, try to picture and feel the beauty and peace of the scene that awaits us. What stands out to you most from reading this account?
Discussion Question #5: Based on what you read in Revelation 21–22 and what you read and discussed in the session on creation, how will God’s new creation reflect the reality of God’s initial creation before the fall? How will it be better?
A Day of Judgment
Not everything will be “hunky dory” in the end of time. Eternal judgment is in store for those who have completely rejected God and His rule. All those who practice evil will not be allowed into the Holy City. Christ will judge people according to their deeds (Rev. 22:12) and only those who are covered by Christ will be allowed to enter. The rest will be cast into a lake of fire (Rev. 20:11-15).
I don’t know about you, but I can’t think about this kind of judgment without shuddering. Just as Paul says in Rom. 9:2, we should “have great sorrow and unceasing anguish” when we consider the lost who have not acknowledged Christ as King.
“What about you? Do you understand the extent to which sin stains your life and separates you from the Holy God of the universe? Do you see your rebellion for what it is? Have you embraced the sacrifice that Jesus made to remove your sin and restore your relationship with God? Or are you under the illusion that your own moral effort will grant you access to God’s everlasting rest? Hear Jesus’s words: ‘To the thirsty I will give from the spring of the water of life without payment’ (Rev. 21:6). Come, believe, and drink freely” (323-324).
Discussion Question #6: How should the promise of judgment at Jesus’s return affect the way we think about and interact with the non-Christians in our lives?
Discussion Question #7: Is there anyone in your life whom you need to be more purposeful in reaching out to? If so, spend some time asking the Holy Spirit to give you confidence and wisdom in reaching out to this person with the gospel.
Living with the End in View
Revelation helps to give us hope when all seems hopeless. It encourages us to remain faithful to Christ to the end. And it urges those who are not followers to turn before it is too late.
The apostle Peter warns us that we will be mocked for believing in the day of judgment, but he also offers us hope:
“But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance. But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a roar, and the heavenly bodies will be burned up and dissolved, and the earth and the works that are done on it will be exposed.
Since all these things are thus to be dissolved, what sort of people ought you to be in lives of holiness and godliness, waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set on fire and dissolved, and the heavenly bodies will melt as they burn! But according to his promise we are waiting for new heavens and a new earth in which righteousness dwells” (2 Pet. 3:8-14 ESV).
“Make no mistake, Jesus is returning. He is patiently waiting for the men and women He created to repent, but He will not wait forever” (326).
Discussion Question #8: How should the end of the story affect the way we live today? Be as specific to your own situation as possible.
Why We Make Disciples
We now know God’s story of redemption. “We can follow the storyline from beginning to end, yet there is one gap that still remains in the story, and that is the part that we are called to play” (328). We have a mission. We are entrusted with a sacred role in God’s plan and that is to reach people around the whole earth.
Discussion Question #9: Spend some time in prayer. Thank God that Jesus will return to set the world to rights and that His plan of redemption will be completed. Ask God to affect your heart with the reality of what the future holds. Ask Him to guide you and empower you to live as a faithful disciple maker at this moment in history.
So now we are at the end of our study. I hope you all enjoyed it and learned as much as I have (I find no matter how much you study the Bible, there is always more to learn!). Where to from here? Keep reading your Bible and get out there and make disciples! I’ll see you back here next week for the beginning of a brand new study. God bless!