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Christian Hope

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THE CHRISTIAN’S HOPE 

Scripture: John 11:25; 2 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18; 1 Peter 1:18–23

Memory verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17
"And the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

Lead—In

Begin by playing “Who Am I?” Use these clues and create others about dead people.

  1. I talked to Jesus while He was on earth.
    1. Mary and Martha were my sisters.
    2. Jesus raised me from the dead.

Who am I?  (Lazarus)

  1. I was blind for a short time.
    1. I met Jesus while travelling.
    2. I was once called Saul.

Who am I? (Paul)

  1. I grew up in Great Britain.
    1. I am a famous explorer.
    2. My heart was buried under a tree in Tanzania.
    3. Who am I! (David Livingstone)

After the game, ask the students what these people had in common. Give clues until someone mentions they all died. Then ask how Jesus is different from the others. Point out that, although Jesus died, He conquered death by rising from the dead. Because of this, all Christians who have lived for Jesus will one day be raised also. This week’s study explains death is not final for those who have accepted Jesus as their Lord and Saviour.

Hearing God’s Word

Most people do not like to talk about or think about death. Yet every person must die one day. God’s Word says, “…people are destined to die once, and after that to face judgement” (Hebrews 9:27.) We may try to ignore death or pretend it does not exist, but it does.

Death Began When Adam Sinned

Ask: “How did death come into the world?” (Allow responses.)

Death came into the world as a result of sin. It began when Adam and Eve first disobeyed God and it will continue until Jesus comes to earth again.

Death is a Beginning

Ask: “What are some of the things you think of when death is mentioned?” (Allow responses.)

Perhaps some here today have lost a friend or family member through death. The pain and sorrow you felt is normal. It is not wrong to feel sad when someone dies.

For the Christian, however, there is a bright side to death. We know death is not the end of our existence; it is the beginning of a new and different life. You have probably heard the word “soul”.

Ask: “What is the soul?” (Allow responses.)

Every person is born with a soul. It is the spiritual part of us that listens either to God or to Satan. The soul is the part of us that will live eternally in either heaven or hell. Let us see what God’s Word teaches further about this.

Our Bodies—an Earthly House

(Have a student read 2 Corinthians 5:1 aloud.)

Ask: “What do you think the term “earthly tent” means?” (Allow students to respond.)

This refers to our physical bodies. They are only temporary homes for our souls. The body is the physical part of us that everyone sees.

When a person dies, the physical body or earthly house is no longer useful. The soul goes into eternity to live forever. The soul of a Christian goes to God in heaven to be with Him, while the soul of the unsaved person goes to hell to be in torment forever. The Bible tells us this, not to frighten us, but to help us prepare ourselves for eternity. We must each choose to follow and obey Jesus in order to live with Him in heaven.

Jesus Provides Eternal Life

Ask: “How is it possible for us to have eternal life? None of us is perfect; we have all sinned. How can we ever hope to be able to spend eternity in heaven with God?” (Allow responses.)

The answer to this question does not depend upon our goodness. Our future rests on Jesus alone. Jesus has won the victory over death. Because He is God’s Son and because His earthly life was perfect—not marred by any sin—He could die as the perfect substitute for the sins of every person. He did not have to die. We are the ones who deserve the punishment for our sins. But He loved us so much He chose to die for us. (Read 1 Peter 1:18–23.)

Jesus however did not stay in the grave very long. He won the victory over death. His resurrection—being raised to life again—proved His power over death. He promises that through Him we too will live forever. (Ask someone to read John 11:25.) Every person, because of sin, would have been sentenced to eternal punishment in hell. But Jesus won the victory over sin and death and made it possible for us to live with God for eternity.

We do not need to Fear Death

Ask: “Why is death such a frightening topic?” (Allow responses.)

We tend to be afraid of things we do not fully understand or cannot explain. Death seems mysterious and frightening because we have never experienced it before. No one is an authority on death. People cannot say, “When you die this is what will happen,” because they do not know for sure.

Ask: “Is it wrong to be afraid to die?” (Allow responses.)

As a human being, no, it is not. It is normal to be afraid of an experience that cannot be fully understood. It is also upsetting to think of leaving the people you love. Such feelings are normal. However, many people have an obsessive fear of death. They will not think about it or discuss it. They pretend death does not even exist.

As Christians, we do not need to feel that uneasy. We know Jesus has power over death. He has promised to be with us forever. We can be confident Jesus will stay beside us and help us when the time for our death comes. (Ask a student to read Psalm 23:4.)

Ask: “Can you think of instances when Jesus dealt with death during His earthly ministry?” (Allow responses.)

Two well-known events are recorded in the gospels: Mark 5:22, 23, 35–42—Jairus’ (JI-rus) daughter, and John 11:1–44—Lazarus. In both cases, Jesus described death in an unusual way.

Ask: “What was it?” (Ask volunteers to read Mark 5:39 and John 11:11.)

Jesus said the dead were “asleep.” That caused quite a stir from those who heard Him. Some laughed. Others misunderstood His words. But to Jesus, who is the Resurrection and the Life (John 11:25), death is as peaceful as sleep for those who have the hope of eternal life with Him.

Jesus proved His power over death when he raised Jairus’ daughter and Lazarus from the dead, and again when He rose from the grave after His own crucifixion and death. Jesus is indeed the Resurrection and the Life, and He has the same life-giving power today.

Jesus will come Again

One day, a very spectacular event will take place that will again show Jesus’ power over death. It is mentioned in 1 Thessalonians 4:13–18. When the trumpet sounds, bodies of all believers who have died will rise from their graves and go to live with Jesus forever. What a wonderful day that will be!

Accepting God’s Word

Explain that death is different for a Christian and a sinner. It is the beginning of peace and great joy to one, and the beginning of great sorrow and torment for the other. Maybe some students do not have the peace that comes from knowing they are ready to be with Jesus. Assure them that can change by repenting of their sins and living for Jesus. Death does not have to be an awful threat. Help the students understand that God and His Word will never change. Each can commit his future to God’s control knowing God will do what He said. Just as Jesus conquered death and is now with God in heaven, so through Him we will go to be with God also.

Some students may know someone who is terminally ill or someone who has recently lost a loved one. Encourage them to share the hope of eternal life we have in Jesus. Explain that the most important thing we can “will” or give to others is faith in Jesus. Then pray, thanking God that we can trust our future to Him because of the eternal life Jesus provides.

Reaching Europe

REMEMBER TO PRAY!
Pray for Unreached Tribes of Europe

1. The 449 unreached tribes in 51 countries to be targeted for evangelism,
2. Messengers—pastors and church members—to introduce Jesus to them,
3. Messengers allow Jesus to work through them in order to present an adequate witness.                                     

Prayer Promise

"The work of God is this: to believe in the one he has sent" (John 6:29).

Remember: THE CHRISTIAN’S HOPE 

Memory verse: 1 Thessalonians 4:16–17
"And the dead in Christ will rise first. After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air."

1. One day I will die. My body will be placed in a grave.
2. Death is not the end. It is the beginning of eternity.
3. My faith is in Jesus. He will lead me from this life to my heavenly home.

Pray for Unreached Tribes of Europe.

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Study 8 | All the World/Great Teachings | africaatts.org/go-teach

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