Relevant Biblical Passages: Genesis-Revelation
Preparation for a hard driving people. Given our free-will orientation, Adventists tend to be an active, energetic lot. Indeed, we sometimes give the impression that finishing God’s work is entirely up to us. There is work for us to do, but salvation is God’s business. Here are several points to keep in mind as we work and wait:
Fear. Perfect love casts out fear, says the apostle (1 John 4:18). But as one of my colleagues has quipped, perfect fear casts out love. Our love isn’t perfect, of course, and maybe that is why we are still afraid when we shouldn’t be. Yet careless people may need a touch of fear. As one pastor commented, “The existence of God is the last thing you should worry about, and I mean the very last, and I mean very worried.” But for our encouragement, even the scariest of books can be encouraging. Note, for example, that when the seven last plagues are poured out in Revelation 15, the saints are pictured as being safe by the sea of glass (Rev. 15:1-4). That has to be good news.
Time makes no difference. The parables in Matthew 25 note that even the faithful virgins slept; and those with the talents kept on working until their master returned. The frightened man hid his talent and he was the one unprepared for his master’s return. Paul’s timely reminder in 1 Thess. 5:1 is also one we need to hear: “I don’t need to write you about the time or date when all this will happen” (CEV). For the Christian, every day is today.
Jesus is our hope. The first line of Romans 8:1 is one we constantly need to hear: “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.”
Jesus is the way. There is no loftier goal than the one laid down by Jesus in Matthew 5-7, the Sermon on the Mount. But we must never allow the ideal to be oppressive. Remembering our sinful status, we will always fall short of the mark. But like the publican, we can go down to our house justified (Luke 18:14). And when panic threatens to overcome us because our hopes are eluding us, we can always pray with the father of the epileptic boy, “I believe, help my unbelief!” (Mark 9:24).
As we ponder the Advent hope, the following questions are worth asking of ourselves when we meet as a group:
- What are we as a group doing now that we could be doing better?
- What are we doing now that we shouldn’t be doing at all?
- Are we depending on the group (the church) too much or too little?
A final Bible verse: “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 as their God; 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'” – Revelation 21:1-5, NRSV