[Thought questions for Last Things: Jesus and the Saved December 19, 2012]
1. Pivot point: The cross. How were people saved before the cross? Or were they? Is the cross symbolic? If so, what does it symbolize? What does it mean? What is the reality behind the symbol? When in human history did God begin offering the promise of redemption? If Satan was defeated at the cross, why does he keep tempting us?
2. Heavenly sanctuary. Do you believe that God ordered a physical sanctuary made for a place of worship and communion with Him in the wilderness? If so, do you also believe that this sanctuary is a replica in every detail of a physical sanctuary in heaven? If so, does that heavenly sanctuary have an altar for sacrificing animals? Or are the details symbolic? If they are symbolic, what do they symbolize that will assure our understanding of the gospel?
3. Salvation in the sanctuary. Without the sanctuary, what do you think might have been the Israelites’ understanding of the plan of salvation? Even with the object lessons of the sanctuary service before them at all times, how true were God’s people in the desert to the principles of salvation? What did they accept as truth instead of the plain teachings of God? Could you and I benefit from a serious study of topics such as the cleansing of the sanctuary and the work of a mediator as they were revealed by God through the sanctuary service? What is stopping us from doing that? What are we tempted to do instead?
4. Cleansing the sanctuary. Is there sin in heaven? If not, why does the heavenly sanctuary need to be cleansed? Another question: if God loves us with everlasting love, why do we need a Mediator between us sinners and the Almighty God? That question leads to one more: How did Jesus’ incarnation on earth provide for our salvation? Couldn’t God have given us eternal life without the death of His Son? Why not? What does the heavenly sanctuary have to say to us about the consequence of sin?
5. The Second Coming. For how long have believers in God anticipated the Second Coming of Christ? How much longer did early Christians such as Peter and Paul believe they would have to wait until the Second Coming? What about you? Do you find the thought inconceivable that Jesus may take longer than our lifetimes before He comes? Does it seem to you that nobody pays much attention to God or anticipates the Second Coming of Christ these days? If so, why would Satan bother to impersonate Christ or claim He has already come? What do you think it will take to make Satan’s deceptions effective? Or do you believe he has already succeeded in deceiving most of the world about God’s coming? Explain.
6. Waiting for Jesus. Now that we have our beliefs straightened out, what do we need to do besides rest in our faith until Jesus comes? Or should we work harder at straightening out the beliefs of others? What if they don’t want to be straightened out? Does every news report seem to carry with it signs of the aging earth or the degradation of mankind? What could be the negative consequences of telling the world every sign we see? What does God really want us to do while we’re waiting for Him to come in the clouds of glory?
7. The resurrection. Why do you think the simple concept that when the dead die they know nothing is so hard for so many to accept? To what does the devil owe his amazing success in teaching that we keep on living after we die? Why is it so important to the forces of evil to distort or hide the beauty of the resurrection? Is there anything we can do to portray the future resurrection of God’s people as a beautiful event? Or are there just too many hard questions to ask?
8. Where to? Isn’t it wonderful to belong to a church that has all the answers? Oh. We don’t have all the answers? Why not? What are the most important questions and answers for us in these end-time days? Can God lead us to the answers to the questions that make the difference between eternal life and eternal death? How? And how can we share our discoveries with others?