It was an unusual meeting taking place entirely in the minds of those attending.
“Jesus is coming again in seven days.” One of the faithful who had seen Jesus after the resurrection was sure He would return right away. A week would be about right.
“He’s coming on October 22, 1844.” A young Adventist believer spoke with conviction. “The Bible says so.”
“We got the date wrong. He’s coming in 1845.”
“He’s coming 120 years after the Great Disappointment of 1844, just the Flood came 120 years after the warnings. That would be 1964.”
“The world is caught up in war. Jesus will come and put an end to this horrible fighting.” It was 1944.
“He’s coming within the next twenty years,” a member said in 1990.
But He hasn’t come–yet. Is it our fault? Or has He changed His mind?
Discussion points for the topic, “Final Events,” based on 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11.
[Thought Questions For Final Events August 29, 2012]
1. Continued readiness. If Jesus came tonight, would you be ready? Does this question ever bother you? Do you ever go to sleep at night wondering what might happen if the Second Coming would occur before morning? Or if you would die without warning in a traffic crash or from an extreme illness? Wouldn’t it be a lot easier if you knew how long it was going to be before the Second Coming? What hint(s) do we have from this week’s lesson that the Christians in Thessalonica were full of questions about how long it would be before Jesus’ coming? How has the urgency of Jesus’ soon return been preserved among the Adventist church and other Christians who believe in the Second Advent? Is it God’s desire that we should sense that His coming is soon? Why? or Why not?
2. Ready for the judgment? Does Paul caution us in the verses assigned to us about the judgment at the end of time? If not, what is a good reason for devoting a full day of this week’s lesson to deal with the judgment? When I was a little girl, my mom would take me to the judge at his request to be sure I was being well taken care of after my father died. The judge was kind, and even though I was very shy, I was not in the slightest bit frightened. Why wasn’t I afraid of the judge? Should we be afraid when the judgments of all time descend upon us? When the judge of the trial is the most powerful Being in all creation? From a heavenly perspective, is it be better to learn to welcome judgment or to fear its coming?
3. Surprise. For more than two millenia Advent believers have been looking forward to the Second Coming, but it hasn’t happened yet. Why? When a woman is giving birth, does she know how much time will yet go by? Does it seem much longer than it actually is? (If you don’t know, ask.) Would our Christian experience be more solid if we knew how long it would be before Jesus comes? Or is it better for us if we don’t know precisely the date? If so, why? Are you or people you know totally unconcerned about the time of Jesus’ coming? Is that a helpful attitude? How will people who don’t know or care about the Second Coming respond when it is reality? Do you think it’s likely they’ll be angry with us for not warning them?
4. The believer’s advantage. Why is it so important to be ready at all times for Jesus to come? Have you ever picked up the idea that if we aren’t careful every minute, Jesus will come and if we’re looking the wrong way, we’ll be lost? Can you think of a more cheerful way of describing the importance of being immersed in Jesus? Is Jesus looking for reasons not to save us? Or for reasons to bring us home with Him? Could our belief be made more precious and rooted more firmly in God when we long for His attitude, His outlook on life, His mind to be in us? Do we study the Bible and pray enough to have this perspective? How much is “enough?” How can I tell?
5. Watch and be ready. Paul cautions in 1 Thessalonians against sleeping too much. Does he suggest we should try to see how little sleep we need to get by? Is it possible for a church-going Seventh-day Adventist to spend so much time sleeping or taking it easy on Sabbath that very little spiritual preparation gets done on God’s holy day? Can dissecting a few verses in Scripture and debating uncertain meanings be a way of “sleeping?” How could that be? What should we be watching for as the old earth gets older and the coming of Jesus approaches? What about church members who are watchful in order to levy criticism on other believers? Or members who stay away from the fellowship because there are a couple of people in that group who don’t seem to be Christian friends? How can you and I watch for the signs Jesus wants us to see? and to act according to His will?
6. Encourage one another. When was the last time someone offered you Christian encouragement? Did it make you feel confident and warm? Look at 1 Thessalonians 5:8-11. Why do we need a breastplate and a helmet in these last days? Does God rejoice in offering us His protection from the sins of those who surround us? Is God a God of wrath? If so, does that bring us comfort and joy? Does our heavenly Father want to make us strong enough to withstand the horrors of sin? Or does He want us to suffer from sin so that we will never wander inside its realm again? In what way(s) is the wrath of God good news for us Christians and encouragement for the times to come?
7. Summing up. Do you remember when you first understood that Jesus is coming back to rescue us from sin? Is that a happy memory or a scary one? Today, does the term “Adventist” bring you the joy of anticipation or the pain of being scoffed? Can Jesus save people who are so steeped in sin that they don’t even recognize it? Instead of worshipping the Almighty One, what are common objects of worship among non-Christians? Are you ever tempted to slip away from a walk with God “just for a little while” to enjoy other activities that are loaded with sin? Do you ever feel totally unworthy of a heavenly life with God? Instead of finding fault with others, what is a better approach that will lead men and women to seek Jesus with all their hearts?