Advanced Bible Study
There are two purposes for this lesson. For those of you who are not Christians, it is written to persuade you to become obedient to the faith. For those of you who have obeyed, it is written to comfort and strengthen you as you begin to live and grow as a Christian.
Becoming a Christian does not free you from all the difficulties, trials, and sorrows of this life, but it does enable you to live with them, become stronger by them, and eventually to rise above them. One of the ways it does this is by setting before us hope. As it is written, "...we might have strong consolation, who have fled for refuge to lay hold of the hope set before us steadfast" (Hebrews 6:18-19). Here hope is compared to an anchor. In the midst of a stormy sea, the shipmen depend on the anchor to prevent the ship from being driven into the rocks along the coast. So also in the storms of life, the Christian finds comfort in the anchor of hope. Paul put it this way, saying, "For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us For we were saved in this hope " (Romans 8:18, 24).
Concerning the things of this life, the Christian has the same kinds of hopes as do other men. The Christian has a natural desire for peace, comfort, happiness, health, and a long life. However, many have had to give up these things in order to become Christians. Paul wrote, "If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men the most pitiable" (1 Corinthians 15:19).
The hope of a Christian is the return of Christ. The last time Christ was with His disciples on this earth, it is said: " while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel, who also said, Men of Galilee, why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven" (Acts 1:9-11).
A Christian must work for the necessities of this life as do others. However, he does not become overly concerned with the material things of this world, because it is written: "...the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up" (2 Peter 3:10).
Though a Christian sorrows at the death of a loved one, at the death of a fellow Christian he sorrows not as others who have no hope. Paul wrote: "...I do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning those who have fallen asleep, lest you sorrow as others who have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words" (1 Thessalonians 4:13-18).
Christians have a natural desire to live and enjoy life, but they do not fear death as the final end. Paul assures the Christians, "And as we have borne the image of the man of dust, we shall also bear the image of the heavenly Man. Now this I say, brethren, that flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God; nor does corruption inherit incorruption.Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed-- in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed. For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality" (1 Corinthians 15:49-53).
At the return of Christ there will be the great judgment. Paul wrote concerning this, saying, "...we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. For it is written: As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, And every tongue shall confess to God. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God" (Romans 14:10-12). Christ said, "Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forththose who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation" (John 5:28-29). This damnation spoken of here is described elsewhere as a place of "outer darkness," where there shall be "weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Matthew 25:30)a place "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched" (Mark 9:44).
Those who are condemned to hell are those who do not obey the Gospel. It is written: "...when the Lord Jesus is revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on those who do not know God, and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. These shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord" (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). Those of you who have obeyed may take comfort in the precious promise of Christ who said, "Let not your heart be troubled; you believe in God, believe also in Me.
"In My Father's house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you to Myself; that where I am, there you may be also" (John 14:1-3).
That is the hope set before us as an anchor for the soul, both sure and steadfast. And it is upon this hope that we must "lay hold." Once Christ was asked, "Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life?" (Luke 10:25). The answer was, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength, and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself" (Luke 10:27). Then Christ said, "...do this and you will live" (Luke 10:28). Love for God is not just an emotion we feel; it is also something we must "do." It is written, "...this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome" (1 John 5:3).
We are commanded to believe: "...whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life." (John 3:16); to repent: "The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance" (2 Peter 3:9); to confess: "...whoever confesses Me before men, him the Son of Man also will confess before the angels of God" (Luke 12:8); to be baptized: "For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ" (Galatians 3:27); and to be faithful: "...Be faithful until death, and I will give you the crown of life" (Revelation 2:10). If you fail in this, you are without Christ, without God, and have no hope (Ephesians 2:12). But, if you obey from the heart, you may "...rejoice in hope of the glory of God" (Romans 5:2).
Back to the Bible Correspondence Courses Homepage »