A century ago, many of those living in the so-called Western world were very optimistic about human nature and thus, very optimistic about the future. How much of this optimism remains is open to debate. Has hope been lost?
1. This discussion guide has addressed three themes so far this quarter: love, faith, and hope (see 1 Cor 13:13). How are these three concepts related? What is the difference between faith and hope? Does one fuel the other? Must the three (faith, hope and love) always go together, or can one of these exist in our lives without the other two being present?
2. Eph 2:12 suggests that some live without hope. Is this true? Can a person “of the world,” who does not believe in heaven, still live with hope? Is it possible to live without hope?
3. What factors tend to rob us of our hope? Is hope something that is best nurtured personally or corporately?
4. (1 Cor 15) 1 Cor 15 is a chapter filled with hope-the blessed hope of Jesus” return.
A. Paul says, “If only for this life we have hope in Christ, we are to be pitied more than all men.” What does he mean by this? Wouldn”t a life of hope in Christ be a good life, even if there was no heaven?
B. In what ways will life in heaven be different from life here on earth?
C. Will heaven be a place where we continue to hope, or is hope something which only operates on this side of eternity?
5. (Rev 21:1-4; Isa 65:17-25)
A. Heaven is often described in negative terms. In other words, the Bible writers tell us what will NOT be there. Try creating your own list of those things you are most thankful will not be in heaven.
B. What are your greatest hopes for heaven? What do you hope you will be able to experience there?
C. Isa 65 and Rev 21 present a picture of eternity which is both different from our world today, yet similar. We often shy away from these concrete issues about the nature of heaven. Is it acceptable (or even helpful) to reflect on such issues as family relationships in heaven? Eating? Travel? Work? Study? In what way will our relationship with the rest of creation change in heaven?
D. If we live in expectant hope of the soon return of Jesus, how might that impact how we treat the earth?
6. (2 Pet 3:8-9) Can we still honestly say that Jesus is coming soon? On what basis might we say Jesus is coming soon? Does a persistent preaching of the soon return of Jesus fuel hope or discourage us? Finally, how can we maintain a genuine, expectant, advent hope while carefully planning for an extended time here on earth? Can we do both at the same time?