Ablaze With God’s Glory

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(1 Thessalonians 5, John 7, Revelation 18 & 21)
Lesson Number: 


Copr. 2023, Bruce N. Cameron, J.D. Scripture quotations are from the ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Suggested answers are found within parentheses. If you normally receive this lesson by e-mail, but it is lost one week, you can find it by clicking on this link: http://www.GoBible.org. Pray for the guidance of the Holy Spirit as you study.

Introduction: My son told me a story about his rotations as a resident physician. When he advised patients with diabetes, conditions that would lead to heart problems, or any medical problem that would manifest itself at some unknown time in the future, his patients seemed to pay little attention to his advice. When he was in a cancer rotation all the patients paid very close attention to his advice. Why? Because the cancer patients knew death might be close. For the rest, well, they thought they had more time before they needed to become serious about their medical problems. We have listened to the messages of the Three Angels, we have learned about the divide between the saved and the unsaved, and we think the end of time might be soon. The question is whether we are going to be smart by being prepared at all times. Are we going to take this matter seriously? Let’s dive into our study of the Bible and learn more!

  1. Be Prepared
    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:1-2. Why is Paul writing to the Thessalonians when he says that he has no need to write to them? (What he really means is that I should not need to write to you, but I think I do.)
      1. What point is he making about a thief in the night? (Most people do not expect a thief to visit them on any specific night. Normally people are sleeping at night. Paul is warning that a thief is coming.)
    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:3. How will end time events come upon us? (While the world assures itself that this is a time of peace and security, just the opposite happens - destruction.)
      1. Why would Paul pick a pregnant woman to illustrate end time events? (The woman knows she is going to have a baby. The coming event is no surprise. What does surprise is when the baby actually begins to come. We know Jesus is coming again, we know about the end of the world, but we will still be surprised when it comes.)
    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:4-6. Paul seems to say two somewhat contradictory things. He says the Christians in Thessaloniki are children of the day, they are not in darkness. At the same time he says that they need to stay awake and sober. Why? (Being up during the day is not the same as being alert.)
    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:7-8. Paul explains that sleeping or being drunk is not the way to be alert. What will make us alert? (Putting on the spiritual armor of faith, love, and the hope of salvation.)
      1. Why would that make us alert? (We are paying attention to spiritual issues. We are involved in spiritual activities.)
    5. Read 1 Thessalonians 5:9-11. Commentators understand the phrase “whether we are awake or asleep” to mean whether we are alive or dead at the Second Coming. What troubles me about this interpretation is that Paul has previously used that phrase to mean whether we are alert. Must we be alert to be saved? (I think the commentators are missing an important point. Our salvation does not turn on our correct understanding of end time events.)
      1. Why is an understanding of end time events, and being alert, important? (Just like obedience to God makes our lives better, so an understanding of what is going on at the end of time will give us confidence and peace.)
    6. Look again at 1 Thessalonians 5:8. Does this suggest that understanding end times and being ready is like being in a war? (It is a spiritual war.)
      1. Think about the views of God’s followers concerning the First Coming of Jesus. How many of them had it right? (Very few, if any. Consider that Jesus’ disciples, even after having spent three years being taught by Him, did not have it right. Acts 1:6.)
      2. My church teaches that among the obedience issues involved in the end time, the Sabbath is the most important. What is the danger of absolute certainty in our understanding of end time events and challenges? (The errors regarding Jesus’ First Coming were based on an understanding of Old Testament prophets and a misunderstanding of what Jesus taught. Since we need to prepare for war, I don’t think we should underestimate our ability to get things wrong. We should also prepare for the unexpected.)
    7. Read John 7:17-18. What does Jesus say is the foundation on which we should base our understanding of end time events? (Jesus refers to relying on teachings from God. He suggests that we can, if we are willing, be able to distinguish truth from error.)
      1. What is the key to having this kind of understanding? (Read John 16:13. The guidance of the Holy Spirit allows us to have this discernment. That is why Ephesians 1:13-14 refers to the Holy Spirit as the seal for those who are saved.)
  2. The Spotlight of End Times
    1. Read Revelation 18:1-2. What do you think it means that the earth “was made bright with his glory?” (Among all the darkness and worry during the final struggle, there is a bright light of truth.)
    2. Read Revelation 4:4-5. Why do you think that the spirit of God is represented by fire? (Read Acts 2:1-3. Fire is a common representation of the Holy Spirit. In Acts 2 the Holy Spirit came in power to teach the people about Jesus.)
      1. What is the great thing about the conflict between the Dragon and God’s followers at the end of time? (This conflict helps to bring attention to the issues. Darkness likes to stay hidden in the dark. Turning on the light makes people aware of the issues and helps them to choose.)
    3. Read Revelation 5:6. Perhaps you noticed the odd “seven spirits” reference in Revelation 4:5. Here we see it again. What do you think this means?
      1. Read Ephesians 4:4-6. How many Holy Spirits do we have? (We have only one Holy Spirit.)
      2. What, then, does this reference to “seven spirits” mean? (Seven is the perfect number. It means that the Holy Spirit is working on earth in full power mode. The light of God is shining at its brightest.)
    4. Read Revelation 21:8 and focus on the first two descriptions: cowardly and faithless. Amid the spotlight of God’s truth against the darkness of the dragon, what are we called to do? (Trust God! We must trust in God and the power of His Holy Spirit in this difficult time. We must not be cowards by shrinking back in the face of evil. We must hold onto faith. We must be bold!)
  3. New Heaven and New Earth
    1. Read Revelation 21:1. What has happened to the earth and the struggle between good and evil? (God has triumphed. He is making everything new.)
      1. Why would God need a new heaven? (Some say this merely refers to a new atmosphere. I’m doubtful about that interpretation.)
    2. Read Revelation 21:2-3. What do we know has happened to the old heaven? (God has moved His primary residence to the earth made new. He has brought the New Jerusalem down to earth. I think those two events are sufficient to note a serious change in the old heaven.)
    3. Read Revelation 21:4. What do you like least about our current earth? (Death? Illness? Pain? Sadness? All of these are gone forever.)
    4. Read Revelation 21:7. Are you a conqueror? Have you chosen to rely on God rather than human philosophy? (If so, the new earth is your heritage and God is your Father!)
    5. Friend are you prepared for the final battle between good and evil? Are you immersed in God’s word so that you will rightly understand the issues of the end time? Will you be guided by the Holy Spirit to be faithful and bold against evil? To understand what is right? If so, there is a wonderful future that awaits you. You will live with God! Will you determine, right now, to be prepared?
  4. Next week we begin a study of the New Testament book of Ephesians.