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Lesson 13: His Return as King and Friend *

Introduction: What is next for the believer? Last week we learned how we can have confidence in our salvation. What does salvation do for us? We are not going to dwell on this point, but salvation lets us avoid hell. The edge of the "Great Dismal Swamp" is not too far from where I work and the swamp is currently on fire. Smoke blankets everything. The whole area smells like wood burning or a barbeque. Coming inside from the smoke and turning my thoughts to the future for believers reminded me of that we are avoiding hell. What is the positive side of things? What will heaven be like? That is worthy of extended discussion. Let's dive into the Bible and find out!

  1. The Great Divide

    1. Read Matthew 25:31-33. What does this teach us about whether there is a final judgment for humans?

      1. Will every human be saved?

    2. Read Matthew 25:34-40. What troubles you about these verses? (What troubles me is that the judgment seems purely based on human works, when last week we learned that it was based on our acceptance of Jesus' works. I'm also troubled with the suggestion that the saved are Bible illiterates! If they had studied the Bible, they would have read about this dialog and know the answer to their questions!)

      1. What do you think that these verses are really teaching? (That those who are saved have a transformation of their hearts where they naturally do good works. They are not self-conscious of their good works. Otherwise, they would respond, "You bet we did. And, don't forget all the other good works we did." I think this proves the truth of Hebrews 10:16, a text we studied last week. Part of our salvation is that God writes His law in our hearts and minds.)

    3. Read Matthew 25:41-43. What is the downside of the final judgment? (The worst part is where God says "Depart from Me." I never want to hear those words! The devil and his angels are active agents of rebellion. If I am lost, I will get at least a part of what they get.)

    4. Is this view of a judgment and hope of heaven only a New Testament teaching? (No. Read Daniel 12:2-3.)

  2. The Perfect Change

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:12-14. What is the guarantee given to believers of being resurrected to eternal life? (That Jesus was resurrected.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:50-52. When will believers be resurrected?

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:35. Our prior text said that "we will all be changed." When we are resurrected, what kind of body will we have? What kind of place will heaven be? What will things be like? Have you ever asked yourself those questions? What are your thoughts?

      1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:36. Is the Bible saying that it is foolish to contemplate these things? (No. It says it is foolish not to understand this point. It is something we can grasp!)

      2. Read 1 Corinthians 15:37-41. What does Jesus suggest about the way we will look in our resurrected body? (He says we will not look like birds or fish or stars. God distinguishes these things now and He will distinguish them when we are resurrected.)

        1. What do you think is meant by the "seed?" Does this suggest that you will not look anything like what you used to look like? (Jesus says we do not have to worry about getting our old body back. The old plant dies and is gone. But, a seed that carries all of the genetic information of the old plant re-emerges as the new plant.)

          1. Does the new plant look like the old plant? (Yes!)

          2. What does that suggest about the way you will appear in your resurrected body? (First, it assures us we will have a body. Second, we will look like humans and not like birds or frogs or stars.)

      3. Read 1 Corinthians 15:42-44, 49. In what ways will our body be better and different? (It will be perfect. We will be like Jesus.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. What event do you think is forecast by the phrase "when perfection comes?" (The Second Coming of Jesus. The resurrection. Love is present on this earth and will be present in heaven. Love will remain when the "imperfect" disappears. The concept is that what is good remains, what is imperfect is gone.)

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 13:11-12. The difference between earth and heaven is illustrated by the difference between a child and an adult. What does that suggest about heaven? (It suggests that the good things we know on earth will exist in a much advanced form in heaven.)

      1. Will our friends and relatives be able to recognize us in heaven? When we are this new "plant," will we look enough like the old to be recognized? (I think so. Verse 12 refers to a poor mirror and then says "I shall know fully, even as I am fully known." This suggests people will know you!)

        1. Read Luke 24:13-16. This is after Jesus' resurrection. Did Jesus look like He used to look? (Yes. The two disciples had to be supernaturally "kept from recognizing Him.")

        2. Read Luke 9:29-31. How does this suggest that Moses looked? (He was recognizable as a man. Indeed, he looked as much like a man as did Elijah - who never died, but was translated to heaven.)

  1. The Perfect Place

    1. Read Revelation 19:11-13. This rider is named the "Word of God." Who is He? ( John 1:1-14. This is Jesus!)

    2. Read Revelation 19:14-16. Where is Jesus and His army heading? (For earth! The following verses in this chapter and in Revelation 20 discuss a great battle that ends with the destruction of the wicked.)

    3. Read Revelation 21:1-2. After sin and evil are judged and destroyed, what happens to the earth? (We have a "new heaven and new earth.")

    4. Read Revelation 21:3-4. Where does God dwell? In heaven? (Friend, our earth made new is the future dwelling place for God and for us.)

      1. How will this new earth be different from the old earth we know? (There will be no death, mourning, crying or pain.)

    5. Think back on the verses that we have just read. We have a "new Jerusalem" and a "new earth" with no sea. What does that suggest about whether we will recognize our surroundings? (The reference to things we know on earth, like "Jerusalem" and "earth" suggest that we will recognized the earth. Telling us that there will be "no sea" implies that the rest of the familiar features of the earth will be there.)

    6. Read Revelation 21:10-14. What will we have in the earth made new? (Mountains!)

      1. What kind of city is the New Jerusalem? (It has a wall and gates. That suggests it looks like something we will recognize.)

        1. What does this description tell us about our heavenly bodies? (It suggests that we have real bodies because spirits would have no use for walls or gates.)

    7. Friend, imagine living in the earth made new in the same place you now live. Now imagine that everything that is wrong and unpleasant where you live is gone. Imagine that everything that is wrong and unpleasant with you is gone. Now imagine that you have all the time to do whatever it is you would like to do. Travel to new and perfect places. Learn what you would like to learn. Build what you would like to build. Have the relationships with the heroes of the Bible which you would like to have. Live in the presence of Jesus. Will you confess your sins and give your heart to Jesus today? If you will, all these things (and much more than you can imagine) will be in your future!

  2. Next week: We start a new series entitled "Agents of Hope: God's Great Missionaries."
* Copr. 2008, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. All scripture references are to the New International Version (NIV), copr. 1973, 1978, 1984 International Bible Society, unless otherwise noted. Quotations from the NIV are used by permission of Zondervan Bible Publishers. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. The lesson assumes the teacher uses a blackboard or some other visual aid.

© 2021 Bruce N. Cameron, J.D.
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