Introduction: This is the last of our series of lessons on hope.
What, really, is your ultimate hope? We have discussed the hope
given to us by Jesus’ life, death and resurrection. What, exactly,
does that give us? Where do we end up with that hope? What is your
ultimate goal? Let’s jump into our lesson and consider some hopeful
words about “ultimate things” given to us by God.

  1. Hope About Death

    1. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:13. Paul writes to the
      Thessalonians to cure two problems, what are they?
      (Ignorance and grief in the context of death.)

      1. Is Paul going to completely take away grief by what
        he is about to say? (He says they will not grieve
        like those who have no hope. Our grief will not be as
        severe as others who do not have the gospel hope.)

      2. Why does Paul call death “sleep?” Or, is he really
        speaking about sleep? (Paul is speaking about death.
        We don’t grieve when our friends and family go to
        sleep each day. Compare Jesus’ description of death
        as sleep in John 11:11-14. Calling death “sleep”
        conveys a couple of important ideas. First, it tells
        us this is not a permanent state. Second, it conveys
        a sense of unconsciousness during death.)

    2. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:14. On what basis do we have hope
      that death is not permanent? (Our hope is based on the
      fact that Jesus rose from the dead – therefore we can be
      raised from the dead.)

      1. What hope do those have who believe that Jesus was
        simply a “good man” who died 2,000 years ago?

      2. Notice the phrase, “God will bring with Jesus those
        who have fallen asleep in him.” What does this
        suggest: a) That Jesus will bring the dead from
        heaven at the Second Coming? or, b) That Jesus will
        bring the dead from the earth to heaven at the Second
        Coming? (It would be more logical to use the word
        “come” instead of “bring” if the dead were coming
        from heaven. Bring gives the sense that God is
        retrieving Jesus and the dead back from earth.
        However, I do not believe there is sufficient
        evidence in this language to make a theological
        decision. The Greek word translated “bring” means to
        “lead” or “guide.”)

    3. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:15-17. Paul’s statement assumes the
      dead in Christ are where? (Now we have enough evidence to
      make a theological decision. Paul assumes the dead are not
      in heaven now. His words (v.15) “we who are still
      alive…will certainly not precede” rebut the idea that
      those who are alive at the Second Coming will go to heaven
      first. If the people believed that the dead went
      immediately to heaven upon death, he would have no reason
      to rebut that idea that the living would get to heaven
      first. The Thessalonians did not assume the dead went to
      heaven first.)

      1. What does verse 16 say is the timing of the
        resurrection? (At the Second Coming, the “dead in
        Christ will rise first.”)

      2. What happens to those who are alive at the Second

      3. When verse 17 says we will be “caught up together
        with them” who is the “them?” (The dead in Christ.)

      4. With this background, tell me now how you think the
        term “bring” in verse 14 should be interpreted? (This
        now makes verse 14 very clear. Jesus is bringing
        (leading, guiding) both the resurrected righteous and
        the living righteous with Him from earth and taking
        them to heaven. He is not bringing the dead from

      5. In what way does this news give hope to you, as one
        who follows Jesus? (If you are alive when Jesus
        comes, He will take you to heaven. If you are dead
        when Jesus comes, He will do the most remarkable
        thing – He will call you from the dead and you will
        rise up to meet Jesus in the air. From there, He
        will take you to heaven.)

    4. Read 1 Thessalonians 4:18. Does this message from Paul
      encourage you?

      1. Aren’t Christians generally hopeful anyway? Why would
        Paul say to encourage each other with these words?
        (The idea that the righteous dead will arise and go
        to heaven to live forever with Jesus is the “ultimate
        hope.” While Paul acknowledges (1 Thessalonians
        4:13) that death reasonably causes us grief, our
        grief should not be as severe as those with no hope.
        Ultimately, we will have no grief at all. Instead, we
        will have the joy of being reunited with our loved
        ones forever!)

  2. Hope About Eternity

    1. Let’s leave heaven out of our discussion for just a
      minute. What would you like to accomplish in your life?
      What would you like to be remembered about you after you
      have died? (Human nature generally wants to be remembered.
      The worry is that no one will remember that we ever
      existed. Most want to make “a mark” on life. That is one
      of the good things about being a lawyer. There are a
      number of important legal decisions where I was the
      winning lawyer in the case. These written decisions,
      which include my name, can be found in just about every
      town that has a decent law library. As long as the United
      States exists, these decisions bearing my name will be
      part of the “law books.” Of course, the more practical
      question is, “Who will be looking?”)

      1. Why do we want to “make our mark?” (This is poor
        attempt to “live” beyond the span of our life.)

      2. How does Paul’s discussion in 1 Thessalonians 4
        impact on our hope of being remembered? (We do not
        need to worry about being remembered, because we will
        ( 1 Thessalonians 4:17) be around forever. No need to
        worry about being remembered if you are still

      3. Is “being around” a better hope than simply being

    2. The concept of living for eternity is mind-boggling. Can
      you imagine unfinished mansions in heaven? On the earth
      made new? (If time is no consideration, and you have
      forever to get it done, perhaps we will see a little “tar
      paper” along with the gold.)

  3. The Blessings of Hope

    1. Read Romans 15:13. This little verse contains a lot of
      information. If you tried to figure out what you needed
      to obtain hope, and your study was only this verse, what
      would you conclude? (We need the power of the Holy Spirit.
      We also need trust in God.)

      1. You have a “God of hope,” and you have the tools to
        tap into that hope (The Holy Spirit and trust), what
        results can you expect in your life? (Joy and peace.)

        1. Would you like joy and peace in your life?

        2. Are joy and peace some of the “ultimate things”
          in life?

      2. Notice this verse speaks of “overflow[ing]” with
        hope. Why would you want to “overflow?” Isn’t being
        full of hope enough? (This is where Christian sharing
        comes in. If you “overflow” with hope, you will
        naturally share it with others. Joy and peace are
        highly desired. If you are overflowing with something
        that brings joy and peace, you can be sure others
        will want to learn more.)

    2. Friend, we have a God of Hope. The greatest thing we can
      hope for, eternal life for ourself, our family and our
      friends is a central part of our hope. This hope
      profoundly affects our life now, by giving us joy and
      peace. This hope also promises life forever with our
      loving Lord and Creator. Will you accept God’s offer? Will
      you become a follower of the God of hope? Will your life
      overflow with hope so that others may see and share in
      your hope?

  4. Next week: We begin our study of a new topic, “The Promise:
    God’s Everlasting Covenant.”