Victoria Fellowship Church
International & Interdenominational
Bible Study Worksheet – June 12, 2016
Theme: Living with Eternity in View
Topic: Reality of Eternity
Main Texts: Luke 16: 19-31; Mark 9:42-48
Key Verse: Luke 16:31 – “He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’” (NIV)
Last Sunday, we saw what the mandate of Preaching the Gospel should mean for every Christian. Our key learning from that study includes the following:
- We have a mandate to make Christ known to the world – to get people to understand God’s plan of salvation to the point of being able to make a choice to be saved. This is the “testimony to all nations” that Christ spoke of. He did not promise us that all who hear would believe.
- Besides the challenges to the gospel posed by the hostile world, we Christians often contribute to creating a resistance to the gospel by the way we live. Indeed, failure of the Christian to live out the gospel could be a stronger cause for rejection of the gospel by unbelievers, than the world’s rebellious disposition.
- Our ultimate objective as we preach the gospel is to turn people into disciples – beyond merely seeing them respond to an altar call to receive salvation. It is therefore important that we have an effective follow-up and mentoring plan for those that come to know Christ.
This Sunday, we will be discussion the Reality of Eternity. To some, the personal implication of eternity – a life that never ends – is no more than an idea, having no real implication for today’s living. We will however see that eternity is real, and its reality must impact the way we live here on earth. Our key learning should include:
- Beyond the grave, there is a life in which each person is conscious, remembers all that happened in his or her lifetime, and the full implications of the way we lived on earth are brought to the consciousness. We must therefore weigh all we do on the scale of eternal values.
- The contemporary world constantly seeks to make us believe that the idea of life beyond the grave is superstitious. Fewer preachers today speak of heaven and hell in their messages because it is unpopular to do so. The church runs the risk of taking eternity out of the gospel for the sake of acceptance.
- While there are several stories of people who died for a few hours and came back to life and testimonies of their experience in those hours of death, our faith in the fact of life beyond the grave must not hinge on such testimonies, but on God’s word.
Although every human being born into this world has built into him or her a feeling that there is something beyond this life, many still live as if there is nothing more beyond the grave. Even among professing Christians, despite our acknowledgement of eternity and the Bible teaching of the eternal consequences of how we live here on earth, somehow, at the back of our minds, eternity is still more of head knowledge. The greatest challenge to living is living with the consciousness of eternity. The story of the rich man and Lazarus that Jesus spoke about in our main text was not a parable. There was a real man, whose name we don’t know, who was rich and there was a poor man whom Jesus said was Lazarus.
1. Considering Luke 16:19-21, what could the rich man have done differently to show real consciousness of eternity in the way he lived, especially in his relationship with the poor In Mark 9:43 Jesus spoke of two possible outcomes of dying. One is to “enter life”, the other is to be “thrown into hell”. In v48 he describes hell as “where the worms that eat them do not die, and the fire is not quenched.” Jesus buttressed these in his revelation to John – see Revelation 20:12- 15. The modern society tries hard to convince us that these are mere superstitions. Many are buying into this idea, to the point that in churches these days, the word “hell” is rarely mentioned, because it makes people uncomfortable. The appeal of the gospel has been reduced to what it could do for us here on earth.
2. List some factors that tend to dull the consciousness of eternity in the minds of people. In what ways do Christians contribute to this phenomenon? There were several preaching and teaching sessions of Jesus when he was on earth, to which we are not told of the response of his hearers. The story of the rich man and Lazarus is one of them. Jesus painted a very vivid picture of what it could be like when we cross over to eternity – how the rich and the poor could swap places, a rich man’s regrets, and a sense of anxiety and desperation over loved ones still living. The objective of the story was for people to know that heaven and hell are real, that we will retain our consciousness there (including recognising people), that the choice is ours to make, and that our choices do have eternal consequences.
3. What feelings does the story of the rich man and Lazarus evoke in you and what personal actions does it make you want to take? The rich man believed that if someone rose from the dead to preach to his brothers still on earth, they would listen. Abraham told him that if those brothers would not believe the prophets they would also not believe if someone from the dead preached to them – Luke 16:27-31. Today, we have several stories of people said to have died for some minutes or even hours and coming back to life, changed by their experience. Some of the stories have become anchors for some preachers in preaching the gospel.
4. What is the long-term impact of other people’s dramatic and miraculous experience on our personal faith and what should be the place of such testimonies in our lives?
Father, thank You for the assurance of eternity with You. We believe your word concerning heaven and hell, and ask for Your grace to walk the path that leads to heaven, In Jesus’ name, Amen.