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The Bible Hope Book Intro - by the Lombard Christadelphian Sunday School class 2011
Copyright© 2011 by the Christadelphians of Lombard, IL. USA
Published and printed in the USA
Scripture taken from the HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, Copyright© 1973, 1978, 1984 by International Bible Society. Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved.
The Bible is full of hope.
From promises to prophecies, the Bible is eternally hopeful. “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the LORD, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future” (Jer 29:11). The Bible gives incredibly detailed descriptions about eternal life beginning with the promises to Abraham and David, to the hopeful visions of Isaiah. It’s a free gift from God and centered on the “kingdom of God and the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 8:12).
This book is the result of a unique process. It was not written by one person, but instead, collectively, by our church members. No paid ministers or professionals were involved in writing or proofreading. We had already made www.thebiblehope.org our official church website and determined to write a book to further share our great Bible Hope. We agreed on sub-topics and structure, wrote during the week and proofed together during our normal adult Sunday school class. The process proved to be challenging, energizing, stimulating and very rewarding. It helped promote personal Bible study among our members for each of these studies. We hope you enjoy the fruit of our work.
This short book is not intended to provide exhaustive answers to all questions about eternal life in the Bible. Nor does it aim to give rebuttal to differing opinions about the Bible. You may be surprised how scripture provides a hope that is different from what most Christians believe. Our hope is that these words will prompt readers to do additional Bible study about God’s incredible promises. Jesus Christ is coming back to earth as King to set up his long-awaited Kingdom. The good news is that you are invited to participate with other faithful believers and inherit eternal life.
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our
instruction, that through perseverance and the encouragement
of the Scriptures we might have hope.”
Lombard, IL Christadelphians (Brethren in Christ)
“For the fate of humans and the fate of animals is the same; as one dies, so dies the other. All go to one place; all are from the dust, and all turn to dust again. Who knows whether the human spirit goes upward and the spirit of animals goes downward to the earth?”
Hope for life
Hope makes all the difference.
A wise teacher once asked a promising student a simple question: “What are your plans for life?” The student answered that he planned to work hard in high school to get good grades in order to get into one of the better universities. The teacher commended her student for planning ahead and then said, “And then what.” He told her what he knew about college and how he hoped to earn a four year degree in business in order to get a good job. The teacher gave a positive nod and again said, “And then what.” The student thought for a moment and then said that he would like to get a job in management in the advertising field so he could earn a good living. The teacher predictably followed up again, “And then what.” He was ready this time and said that he would like to get married and have a family, buy a house and get promoted at work. “And then what”, she said. The student now gave thought to areas beyond where he was comfortable. He gradually said that he would like to earn enough money to retire early, travel with his wife and enjoy hobbies like golf. “And then what” came the expected response. The young man said that he would like to age gracefully and in good health, spend plenty of time with his grandchildren and dabble with inventions in his final days. His teacher pushed the envelope again and asked, “And then what.” The student had no more plans beyond these and so he replied that after all of these things were done, he supposed he would just die. That’s when the wise teacher played her final card by asking, “And then what!”
Do you relate better to the teacher or the student in this story? Does it really matter what you believe? Why should anyone spend time hoping for the future when life today is so good for so many? Knowing that so many religions teach opposite eternal rewards, why invest anything into something so uncertain? Who knows what THE Bible hope is anyway?
Why hope in any afterlife?
3,000 years ago, the wisest and richest man in the world was king of Israel. He built an empire with a strong military and key foreign alliances. He wrote 3,000 proverbs and 1,005 songs. He was known for having a kingdom of peace and built the greatest temple ever to the Lord God of Israel. The king became great and his wisdom and fame spread to peoples far away. Kings and queens traveled vast distances to see if the amazing news they had heard about him could be true. The king enjoyed life and personally had 1,000 wives and concubines to keep him happy. Whatever he wanted he got, and he didn’t hold back from any pleasure. He also worked hard and built incredible buildings and fortified cities. He designed innovative water systems and planted all kinds of fruit trees and gardens. Indeed, life was very good for the king we know as Solomon.
Yet despite having everything imaginable, Solomon grew old and unsatisfied. He wrote in his latter days: “Whatever my eyes desired I did not keep from them; I kept my heart from no pleasure...Then I considered all that my hands had done and the toil I had spent in doing it, and again, all was vanity and a chasing after wind, and there was nothing to be gained under the sun” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11). Solomon recorded his final thoughts and advice for his subjects in a book in the Bible called Ecclesiastes. That’s where he reveals how his entire outlook on life, and eternal life, changed when he grew old.
You may not be old in the chronological sense, but everyone can relate to Solomon and learn from his wisdom and unique experiences. He probably didn’t have the same kinds of problems that you have, but he did have one big problem we all have in common. Solomon was mortal and knew he would die. Here are some of the wise lessons he left to his people regarding his mortality:
But whoever is joined with all the living has hope, for a living dog is better than a dead lion. The living know that they will die, but the dead know nothing....even the memory of them is lost (Ecc 9:4-5).
Just as you do not know how the breath comes to the bones in the mother’s womb, so you do not know the work of God, who makes everything (Ecc 11:5).
Follow the inclination of your heart and the desire of your eyes, but know that for all these things God will bring you into judgment (Ecc 11:9).
The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God, and keep his commandments; for that is the whole duty of everyone. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil (Ecc 12:13-14).