The Reign of God (7 weeks)
The End Toward Which We move
Someday, somehow, the world as we know it will end. There are lots of ideas out there and people who say they have it figured out. The irony is that each writer has it “figured out” a little bit differently.
The “big picture” in the Bible is the reign of God. God’s reign is the end toward which we move. The Reformed historical view of end times looks back in time to events that have already happened to the church and that are continuing into the present and the future (Rev. 1:19).
If Christ is returning, if His judgement will be eternal, and if hell is as terrible as heaven is delectable, then studying the end times is eminently practical. Those who lose sight of the end can become careless in their conduct and arrogant in their rejection of God (2 Pet. 3:1-7)..-William Boekestein, The Future of Everything
The not-yet fulfillment of Jesus’ promise to return is also the biggest test of our faith. Do we really believe that he will come? Perhaps our greatest danger is the greatest danger spiritual complacency. This study calls us to a radical discipleship, to all-out courageous loyalty to the Lamb, passionately seeking God’s will to enact it in our lives and in our culture, calling people from death to life, while being nurtured by the sustaining power of the Holy Spirit.
“He who is the faithful witness to all these things says, ‘Yes, I am coming soon!’ Amen! Come, Lord Jesus! May the grace of the Lord Jesus be with God’s holy people.” Revelation 22:20–21 (NLT)
Resources: Discipleship on the Edge by Darrell W. Johnson; Revelation (New Testemanet Commentary) by Simon J. Kistemaker; God Wins by Lew Vander Meedr; The Day of Christ’s Return by Andrew Kuyvenhoven and Reformed Creeds and Confessions.
August 1 “The Revelation of Jesus Christ”
The Word: Revelation 1:1-20
Feel: The book of Revelation is the climax of God’s inspired Scripture. Unfortunately, many people give up on it because of its mysterious symbols, strange numbers and frightening images.
Know: There are two primary views of interpreting Revelation, premillennialism and amillennial or Reformed historical view of end times that looks back in time to events that have already happened to the church and that are continuing into the present and the future (v19). Jesus, the living Lord, is present with his churches, giving us comfort, hope, security and ultimate victory.
Desired Outcome: The great thing Revelation aims to do is to show us Jesus in a fresh, new light, not as a distant deity in a far-off heaven but as powerfully present with his church and with each of us today (Rev. 1:3). Read Rev. 1:12-20, how does this description of Jesus affect you? Which parts do you find most compelling?
Aug 8 “Jesus is With His People”
The Word: Rev. 1:12-13, 20; Chapters 2-3
Feel: Imagine you and your church are under the pressure to worship the emperor as a deity. Many Christians have already been put to death and many others are worried and afraid.
Know: The seven churches are literal but also symbolic of churches of all times and places. The One who is Lord of history, the Sovereign who stands in glory among the lampstands, and the Savior whose right hand lifts up his people and declares, “Fear not.”
Desired Outcome: What Jesus might be saying to New Life Community Church today? Where do you personally fit in the description of the seven churches? What might Jesus be commending you for? What might he say needs to be change/improvement?
Aug 15 “The Throne in Heaven and Seven Seals”
The Word: Rev. 4:1-11; Chapters 5-7
Feel: An open door into heaven, joyful worship, a mysterious scroll, four horsemen?
Know: John looks through a door and sees the reality of God’s almighty rule even in the midst of struggles and persecutions of this world as an encouragement to the church then and now. God is on heaven’s throne and there is joyful worship of all believers and all creation. Our God reigns, everything is under God’s control.
Desired Outcome: How can our worship on earth reflect our worship in heaven? Does my worship focus more on God or myself? Heartfelt Worship (Psalm 138:1, John 4:23) is one of our core values here at NLC. This value is demonstrated by allowing ourselves to be uninhibited instruments of Godly praise.
Aug 22 “Warnings of Judgement”
The Word: Rev 8:1-13; 11:15-19; Chapters 8-11
Feel: We have a hard time figuring out how to hold God’s wrath and love, Judgement and grace, together in our minds. Why does God allow such suffering in our world?
Know: Unlike the opening of the seven seals, which represent demonic attacks on the church, the blowing of seven trumpets represent God’s wrath or judgement on earth. This is a grim picture, yet we can be thankful that through all this evil visited upon the earth and its inhabitants, God remains in control, the church endures and Christ is victorious
Desired Outcome: The natural disasters and human suffering permitted by God do have a general purpose of pointing unbelievers (and us) to God and calling us to repent of the ways we have offended God. Pray for mercy and God’s leading in seeing people far from Christ being filled with Christ for the glory of God!
Aug 29 “The Rising of the Beast”
The Word: Rev. 13:1-10; Chapters 12-14
Feel: Revelation is not all about judgement. It’s also about promise and fulfillment, joy and victory.
Know: Despite the emphasis on judgement, we are also offered another wonderful view of what awaits us in glory (14:1-5), sound advise to be patient and endure (14:12), and granted wonderful comfort (14:13).
Desired Outcome: Christians are reminded that we must be willing to be different now from unbelieving people, since we hope for such a different end from that which awaits them. Go-intentionally and share the Good News to our world.
September 5 The Millennial Reign and Judgement
The Word: Rev. 20:1-15
Feel: What thoughts go through your mind when you think of standing before God to be judged on judgment day?
Know: Throughout Revelation “1,000” is symbolic of “many”. John is describing the “many” years of history between the first and second comings of Christ. The millennium is the reminder that the kingdom of Christ is present in history. But the kingdom has not yet come in resurrection glory. It’s present in history under the sign of the cross.
Desired Outcome: We may ask why Christ provided this vision to John’s readers. The answer lies in his desire to encourage them in the midst of struggles and the trial of persecution.
Sept 12 All Things Made New
The Word: Rev. 21-22
Feel: In the new creation, the curse is removed, believers will see the face of God, and there is no night. Revelation ends the way it began, with an emphasis on what “must soon take place.”
Know: At the end of time we’ll be given new bodies and we will experience real human life in the “new creation,” the renewed earth into which God has poured out “the best of all culture,” which is pure and good because God is resent.
Desired Outcome: Be encouraged and hopeful, people of God: your Lord is on the scene! Know that the night is almost over, the Morning Star is rising in the sky. Be watchful too—for no one knows the hour or the day when everything will be made new. And say with all God’s people, “Amen. Come Lord Jesus