Tuesday, November 24, 2009

"A Hopeful People": Sunday School Lesson

International Sunday School Lesson
For Week Ending November 29, 2009

Purpose: To celebrate that waiting in hope for Christ's return is an act of faithfulness.

Scripture Text: 2 Peter 3: 1-13 (NRSV)

2nd Peter 3:1-13
(1)This is now, beloved, the second letter I am writing to you; in them I am trying to arouse your sincere intention by reminding you (2) that you should remember the words spoken in the past by the holy prophets, and the commandment of the Lord and Savior spoken through your apostles. (3)First of all you must understand this, that in the last days scoffers will come, scoffing and indulging their own lusts (4) and saying, ‘Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since our ancestors died, all things continue as they were from the beginning of creation!’ (5)They deliberately ignore this fact, that by the word of God heavens existed long ago and an earth was formed out of water and by means of water, (6) through which the world of that time was deluged with water and perished. (7)But by the same word the present heavens and earth have reserved for fire, being kept until the day of judgment and destruction of the godless.

(8) But do not ignore this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is like a thousand years, and a thousand years are like one day. (9)The Lord is not slow about his promise, as some think of slowness, but is patient with you, not wanting any to perish, but all to come to repentance. (10)But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and everything that is done on it will be disclosed.

(11) Since all these things are to be dissolved in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in leading lives of holiness and godliness,(12)waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God, because of which the heavens will be set ablaze and dissolved, and the elements will melt with fire? (13)But, in accordance with his promise, we wait for new heavens and a new earth, where righteousness is at home.

My Thoughts by Burgess Walter

This Sunday is the first Sunday of our church calendar, the beginning of a new year for our churches. It is also the first Sunday of Advent. Most of us think of Advent as a time of anticipation and expectation, awaiting the birth of the baby Jesus in Bethlehem. However, it is more than the birth of a babe, we should also be looking to the day when Christ will return in all His glory at the end of time as we know it, and we will join Him in a new creation. So Advent should also be a time of repentance, and searching our hearts, confessing our sins and looking for new ways we can point the world to a Christ that can save and redeem.

It is clear from this writing that Peter wants to make certain that the churches adhere to the words taught by Christ and the Apostles as well as the prophets of old. As we had stated in our commentary on 1st Peter, the fact that Christ had not returned was a bit of disappointment to Peter and the other Apostles. They fully expected the return of Christ in that first generation after the resurrection. Now realizing that it might not happen, Peter was preparing the community of believers for a later return of Christ.

In verse 5, Peter explains, in Near Eastern logic, the creation. Heaven and earth were created out of chaos. He goes on and says the present earth and heavens will be consumed and destroyed by fire. That will come as God judges the earth and the heavens, and all of civilization as we know it will be judged by fire.

It is God's grace that delays the end or Parousia (final judgment). Not because He is slow, but because He is patient. God does not want any to perish, but all to come to repentance. Notice it does not say everyone will be saved, only those that come to repentance. It is God's choice that everyone is given a chance to repent.

We are called as followers to be holy and righteous in our living, and the sooner the message is heard the sooner the end will come. Those that have been repentant, and lived lives of holiness and godliness will be given a new home on a new creation, “Where righteousness is at home.”

What do you think repentance is? What does it mean to repent? When we say Christ will come again are we implying He is not here now?

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