Lesson 13

Preparing for the Apocalyptic Consummation

(John 16, Acts 2, 2 Corinthians 5, Deuteronomy 28)
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Introduction: We've read the Book. We've studied the lessons. We've puzzled out the history of the world and the outcome of the final battles between good and evil. The questions now are, "What can we do about it?" "What are we going to do about it?" "What are you going to do?" (Which is a lot easier way to put it than the title of our lesson - which sounds like something an exotic fish might get!) Let's jump into our study of what God has done and what we can and should do in response.

  1. Which Counselor?


    1. I have a dear old friend. As a young man he prepared for the ministry, but now he never attends church. He has been through counseling which has taught him guilt is a bad thing that he should leave behind. He has now "gotten over" guilt. No more "guilt trips." How would you counsel my old friend? Is he on the right track?


    2. Read John 16:7-8. We have a "Counselor" here. What does this Counselor think about guilt?


      1. On what topics does this Counselor give us "guilt trips?" (On sin, righteousness and judgment.)


      2. Who is this Counselor? ( John 16:13: the Holy Spirit.)


    3. Let's read on. Read John 16:9. How does the Holy Spirit make us guilty about sin? Why does He make us feel guilty about sin? (This text ties guilt about sin to Jesus. Jesus went to unbelievable lengths to live and die in our place. Jesus' painful and humiliating death and Satan's role in Jesus' torture, give us a very clear view of the nature of sin. When we come to believe in Jesus, we understand the true nature of sin and feel guilty when we sin.)


    4. Read John 16:10. How does the Holy Spirit make us feel guilty ("convict")regarding righteousness? (Like my friend, we all want a solution to guilt. Unlike my friend, whose counselor taught him to ignore his guilt, our Counselor teaches us that Jesus is the solution to guilt. Jesus' righteousness, should we claim it, will take away our sin and guilt. We can have confidence about Jesus' righteousness because He is in heaven right now.)


    5. Read John 16:11. What is the Holy Spirit's approach to us when it comes to the issue of judgment? (Jesus won! Satan lost. We need to get on the side of the winner, not the loser.)


    6. What do you think about secular counselors who tell people, like my friend, to simply put guilt behind them? (This advice is deadly. Imagine how you would get hurt if you lost feeling in your fingers. This counsel to my friend is exactly like someone telling you to ignore normal pain - or worse, to give an anesthetic so you will not feel anything. Feeling pain is important to protecting the body. Feeling guilt is important to protecting our spiritual well-being.)


    7. Read John 16:12-13. No doubt the counselor for my friend had the good intention of keeping him from bearing too heavy a burden. What is God's attitude about our mental burdens? (This text says that God does not completely reveal the future to us because He is concerned about our mental health.)


      1. What do you think is the most important role of the Holy Spirit in our salvation? (He leads us to truth. Laying a "guilt trip" on us is the initial step in leading us to the truth about ourselves and the battle between good and evil.)


  2. Which Response?


    1. Read Acts 2:37. Here are people with a guilt trip! What is the proper response to guilt? (What shall we do to be saved?)


    2. Read Acts 2:38. Imagine that someone in the church comes to you and says "How can I know I'm saved?" How do you respond?


      1. After September 11, I had a friend come up to me after I taught the class. He was concerned about the end of the world and his personal salvation. Because the assurance of salvation is a problem in our church (we do not emphasize enough the assurance of salvation), I simply assured him of his salvation. Within just a few weeks he unexpectedly died. Did I make a mistake in my counsel? (Yes, I think I did. Whenever anyone asks me about their salvation again, the first thing I will say is that they must repent of their sins. Even "mature" Christians need to repent of their sins.)


      2. Paul tells us that we are to repent and be baptized and that brings us the Holy Spirit. Why does he give that order of things? I thought we just decided that the Holy Spirit's first job was to convict us of sin? (This is an ongoing process. It is like a smoke detector in your home. Whenever sin enters your life, the Holy Spirit convicts you of it. He also convicts you of the solution to sin and ultimate victory.)


    3. Have you ever said, "I don't want to admit this is sin, because then I would have to give it up?" ( 1 John 1:9 tells us to confess our sins to God. An initial problem with sin is just to confess it.)


      1. Does the above statement (about not wanting to admit sin) reflect a struggle in your life? Read Matthew 11:28. What assurance does Jesus give us about these kinds of burdens? (He says that if we turn our sins over to Him, He will give us rest.)


  3. The Result


    1. Read 2 Corinthians 5:17-18. If the "old is gone" how is this consistent with my suggestion that even mature Christians need to continue to repent? (Compare Romans 7:21-25. We have a new attitude towards sin - although we still struggle with it. God has a new attitude towards us because we are now reconciled to Him.)


      1. How does this reconciliation of 2 Corinthians 5 take place? (It is through Jesus alone. When we repent, Jesus becomes our righteous substitute.)


      2. How do we engage in the "ministry of reconciliation?" (By bringing to others the message of repentance and salvation through Jesus.)


    2. Our lesson tells us that after we are reconciled to God ("justified"), we still need to engage in something called "sanctification." What is sanctification? (Our lesson (Wednesday) suggests this is a process of constant spiritual development.)


      1. Read 1 Corinthians 1:2. How does this text use the word "sanctified." (This text (and others) merges the idea of being "sanctified" with the idea of being "justified.")


        1. Does this mean that justification and sanctification come at the same time? (Look at 1 Corinthians 1:2 again. It tells us that we are called "to be holy." (KJV: "called to be saints.") Whatever term we use, the Bible teaches us that a healthy Christian life involves spiritual growth.)


    3. Is spiritual growth the same as obedience?


    4. Why would we want to obey? Why would we want to be sanctified? (The mature Christian will probably say, "Because I love Jesus.")


      1. Is God betting exclusively on love for obedience? (No! Read all of Deuteronomy 28. Particularly note Deuteronomy 28:1-2, 13, 15 and 44. God says obey and be first, disobey and be last.)


      2. In our "ministry of reconciliation," which approach is the most effective - love of God or love of self? (The whole world says, "What is in it for me?" God answers in Deuteronomy 28 (and Malachi 3:10, Matthew 20:26-27, Luke 6:38, etc.) obey Me and I will bless you. We pursue our own self-interest by careful obedience to God. Compare this to your children. When they are young they obey because of punishment and reward. When they get older they obey because of love and logic.)


      3. Which approach does your church use in bringing in new members - love of God or love of self? (If you are using a health/fitness/ healthy diet/cooking seminar approach to attract new members, you are using a "love of self" approach. I think we need to match our approach with our target audience. If you are just "stealing sheep" from another church, then love of God is the approach. If you are trying to convert the world, then you need to use the "love of self" approach God uses in Deuteronomy 28. However, we must not forget John 16:9 that we mentioned earlier. The Holy Spirit ties the conviction of sin to the life and death of Jesus. Any approach we take must include Jesus at the center.)


    5. Is the relationship between obedience and blessings like putting a dollar in a soda machine and getting a soda? (Hebrews 11 is an important "overlay" on this idea of obey and be blessed. It teaches us that many people who obey are blessed. This is probably the vast majority of those living in countries with religious freedom. However, Hebrews 11 also teaches us that some of those who obey only see their reward in heaven. The reward is certain. The timing is not.)


    6. Friend, the outcome of the battle has been determined. What remains is simply a "mop up" operation. Will you repent of your sins and claim allegiance to the side of the victors, the side of the blessed?


  4. Next week we start a new quarter.

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