Introduction to Christianity 5
5. IS THERE ANY HOPE FOR THE FUTURE?
As we look at God's world, and see the mess we have made of it, and as we look at the cross and see how far God has gone to help us escape from the consequences of our rebellion, we wonder whether the present state of the world will continue for ever. Is there any hope of things getting better? Is God still interested in his world?
1. Does God Care About His World?
What does Jesus say? (Matthew 10.29-31)
"Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father. And even the hairs of your head are all counted. So do not be afraid; you are of more value than many sparrows." Matthew 10:29-31, NRSV.
Not only does care about us, he holds us responsible for how we live in his world.
Read Romans 14.10-12. Do you think it is fair that God expects people to live in the way he tells them to?
"Why do you pass judgment on your brother or sister? Or you, why do you despise your brother or sister? For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall give praise to God." So then, each of us will be accountable to God." Romans 14:10-12, NRSV.
2. Will God Do Anything About Evil?
The world is full of injustice. We wonder why God doesn't do something about the terrible evils in the world. He just seems to turn a blind eye to it all.
But is this really the case?
"Do not be astonished at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in their graves will hear his voice and will come out--those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation." John 5:28,29, NRSV.
"While God has overlooked the times of human ignorance, now he commands all people everywhere to repent, because he has fixed a day on which he will have the world judged in righteousness by a man whom he has appointed, and of this he has given assurance to all by raising him from the dead."" Acts 17:30,31, NRSV.
Do you think it will be a good or a bad thing for us for Jesus to be our judge?
Why does God seem to be delaying the judgment? 2 Peter 3.8-9
"But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance." 2 Peter 3:8,9, NRSV.
3. What's the Pass Mark?
What standard will Jesus use when he judges us?
2 Thessalonians 1.6-10
"For it is indeed just of God to repay with affliction those who afflict you, and to give relief to the afflicted as well as to us, when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with his mighty angels in flaming fire, inflicting vengeance on those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus. These will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, separated from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might, when he comes to be glorified by his saints and to be marveled at on that day among all who have believed, because our testimony to you was believed." 2 Thessalonians 1:6-10, NRSV.
"Or do you despise the riches of his kindness and forbearance and patience? Do you not realize that God's kindness is meant to lead you to repentance? But by your hard and impenitent heart you are storing up wrath for yourself on the day of wrath, when God's righteous judgment will be revealed. For he will repay according to each one's deeds: to those who by patiently doing good seek for glory and honor and immortality, he will give eternal life; while for those who are self-seeking and who obey not the truth but wickedness, there will be wrath and fury. There will be anguish and distress for everyone who does evil, the Jew first and also the Greek, but glory and honor and peace for everyone who does good, the Jew first and also the Greek. For God shows no partiality." Romans 2:4-11, NRSV
Do you think God has made it easy for us to pass through the judgment without being condemned?
4. Good News or Bad News?
Read Revelation 21.1-8. What are some of the good results of God's judgment?
"Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth; for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and the sea was no more. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them; they will be his peoples, and God himself will be with them; he will wipe every tear from their eyes. Death will be no more; mourning and crying and pain will be no more, for the first things have passed away." And the one who was seated on the throne said, "See, I am making all things new." Also he said, "Write this, for these words are trustworthy and true." Then he said to me, "It is done! I am the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end. To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life. Those who conquer will inherit these things, and I will be their God and they will be my children. But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the polluted, the murderers, the fornicators, the sorcerers, the idolaters, and all liars, their place will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death."" Revelation 21:1-8, NRSV.
The fact that God is going to judge the world in justice is good news. It is good because it means that all evil and all evil-doers will be done away with. God will finally renew the world in a beautiful and perfect way. Goodness and justice will finally be seen to triumph.
Whether God's judgment is good news or bad news for you depends....
What does a person have to do for the message of judgment to be good news?
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