Lesson 5

The Hope of Our Hope

(Ecclesiastes 1, 1 Corinthians 13, 15, Colossians 1)
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Introduction: Is life worth living? Is everything we do essentially meaningless? If your life is important and is worth living, what makes it worthwhile? Does hope play a role in living a meaningful life? Let's jump into our study and find out!

  1. A Meaningless Life - Solomon

    1. Read Ecclesiastes 1:1-2. Do you agree with Solomon, the wisest guy who ever lived?

      1. If you disagree with Solomon, can you think of any meaningful things that happened in Solomon's life? (Solomon may have been wise, but he certainly suffered from depression. I think anyone who reads Ecclesiastes comes away with the feeling that Solomon had some very dark moments. He built the great Temple in Jerusalem -- a fabulous monument to the worship of God and the place where God would meet His people. (See 1 Kings 5-6) It was ultimately destroyed, but it certainly had meaning for many people.)

      2. If you disagree with Solomon, what in your life has meaning? (I disagree with Solomon. What you are doing right now - learning more about God and (hopefully) sharing it with others has great meaning.)

      3. If you look at "Solomon's temple" as something that gave his life meaning, is there a connection between the temple and giving people hope? (The sacrificial service pointed to the hope of Jesus.)

    2. Read Ecclesiastes 1:3. How would you answer this question? Is there a meaningful result from your daily work?

    3. Skip down to Ecclesiastes 1:15 and read it. Is this true?

      1. Is this the subject of our hope? (This is precisely the subject of our hope. Through the power of God the twisted can be straightened and what is lacking can be supplied. This happened through the life and death of Jesus - something that the temple service represented. Solomon is absolutely wrong.)

  2. A Meaningless Life - Paul

    1. Read 1 Corinthians 15:13-19. On what points do Paul (the writer of Corinthians) and Solomon agree? On what points do they disagree.

    2. Let's focus on some of these verses. Read again 1 Corinthians 15:14. What is the key to our faith and hope? (That Jesus was raised to life.)

      1. How important to a meaningful life is that hope? (This Bible study, your work for the church, indeed, all "gospel" activity is "useless" if Jesus was not raised to life.)

    3. Re-read 1 Corinthians 15:15. In addition to being involved in useless endeavors, if Jesus has not been raised to life, what else is wrong with our gospel activity? (We are liars. We are misrepresenting God.)

    4. Re-read 1 Corinthians 15:17. What else is wrong with your life if Jesus is not raised from the dead? (You are still a sinner - with no hope of your condition changing.)

      1. As you consider verses 15 and 17, does Paul believe that there is a God even if Jesus is a fake? (Yes. This is very interesting. Many today would conclude that if Jesus was a fraud, then the whole "God-thing" was a story. That is not Paul. Paul believes there is a God who cares about the sin problem. If we are wrong about Jesus then we are lost because God will not tolerate sin.)

    5. Re-read 1 Corinthians 15:18. If all we have discussed before is not bad enough, what else goes wrong if Jesus was not raised from the dead? (Our loved ones who have died before us are forever gone.)

    6. Friend, Paul tells us that faith in Jesus' resurrection is central to our beliefs.

      1. What evidence of Jesus' resurrection do we find in Paul's life? (Paul is absolutely right that we are wasting our time on gospel work if Jesus was not resurrected. It is obvious that Paul believed in Jesus' resurrection because he devoted his life to sharing that gospel.)

    7. Re-read 1 Corinthians 15:19. Do you agree with Paul on this point?

      1. Isn't following Jesus' teaching the intelligent way to live - even if there is no hope of heaven? (I have long believed that even if we did not have heaven as our hope, if everyone lived the Christian life, our lives would be better.)

      2. What do you think Solomon would say about Paul's view? Would he agree that life is really useless? (Solomon would agree. His view was that even if you live a good life and prosper here, it ultimately means nothing. My father lived a good and prosperous life. He has been dead 12 years and many of those that knew him are dead. When my generation has passed, the memory of my father will be almost completely gone. One generation and you disappear! The gospel hope changes all of that.)

  3. The Meaningful Life

    1. Read Colossians 1:3-4. What did the Colossians have going for them? (Faith in Jesus and love for each other.)

      1. How is your church doing on the faith and love scale?

    1. Read Colossians 1:5-6. What is the source of this faith and love possessed by the Colossians? (Our hope that we will see heaven.)

    2. Read 1 Corinthians 13:1-3. Hope is the source of love, according to our text in Colossians. 1 Corinthians seems to turn this around. How important is love to our hope?

    3. Read 1 Corinthians 13:4-7. How does love change our everyday life?

      1. If your life does not reflect these characteristics, does it mean you do not have hope?

      2. Notice that verse 7 tells us the nature of love is to always hope!

    4. Read 1 Corinthians 13:8-10. Solomon told us that all our work was meaningless because it would disappear. What part of our work in life is "eternal?" (The love part.)

      1. What does that mean - that love "never fails?" What does it mean to say the "love part" is eternal? (Read 1 Corinthians 13:11-13. Our prophecy, tongues and knowledge are incomplete, like a child's knowledge is incomplete. Only when we get to heaven will our knowledge be "adult size." However, our faith, hope and love are eternal qualities that we can have now from God in "adult portions." These are gifts that we can possess now. Gifts that will endure through to heaven!)

      2. Can you transmit love to your children more easily than you can transmit your knowledge? (My parents transmitted their love for me much better than they did any specific knowledge. For example, I could not do my father's job based on what he told me about it. However, his loving (and sometimes stern) attitude toward me was something that I understood very well and could use (or reject) when dealing with my own children.)

    5. Look again at 1 Corinthians 13:13: How easy is it to transmit your hope and your faith to your children?

      1. If your children (and those around you) are to have a meaningful life, is it essential to teach them faith, hope and love?

    6. Friend, Solomon was only partially right. Life is only meaningless if we leave out the hope of the gospel. Faith, hope and love make our life meaningful now, and give us characteristics that will carry forward to heaven. I invite you today to cross over from a meaningless life to one that is full of meaning and joy.

  1. Next Week: Hope: Motivation for Mission.

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