Editor’s Note: Occasionally we feature ideas for what your group can study next. If your group is experienced in Bible study, As You Wait for the Coming of the Lord covers themes that are needed and relevant to us all, right now. If your group is new to the Bible or has only some Bible study experience, choose from our Level 1 or Level 2 guides.
“Something Called ‘The Rapture’ Will Happen!”
I’ll never forget the day my professor rushed into our New Testament class in college and breathlessly announced, “I just found out Christians believe Jesus is coming back! And something called ‘the Rapture’ will happen!”
This was news to my secular university Bible professor, but Christians have anticipated Jesus’ return ever since he ascended into heaven. And when you read through the New Testament, there’s a backdrop of expectation that Jesus is returning at any time.
For many of us, events of the last year have awakened much more interest in future events that are prophesied in the Bible—such as the return of Jesus for his church.
Why don’t we know when Jesus will return?
Have you ever had to keep a house or condo ready for a potential buyer to view on very short notice? When you don’t know at what moment someone will drop by, you live differently than if you knew the visit would be scheduled with plenty of time to straighten out closets, make beds, and wash dishes.
The Bible gives us enough information about Jesus’ coming to know that we want to be ready. It’s also clear that we won’t know the day or the hour. We just know that he is coming!
What does Jesus’ coming mean for us?
If you really believed that Jesus could come at any time, how would that impact you? Would you quit your job and move to the mountains or seashore or an island and become self-sufficient, living off the land, off-the-grid and away from any chaos the world might throw at you? (I have a relative who is working toward this picture.)
My friend Angie is a leader in her church’s small group ministry in the San Francisco Bay area, and 75 people in her church’s small groups are preparing to focus on the topic of God’s instructions for our lives as we wait for Jesus’ coming. In just a few weeks they will start a Q Place Bible study that includes five New Testament letters: 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 2 & 3 John, and Jude. It’s also called As You Wait for the Coming of the Lord.
Angie recently told me, “We KNOW there will be a rapture and that Jesus will come back. We don’t know exactly when. And so many people don’t know this. God is giving us ample warning. We need to teach people what to do as we wait for the coming of the Lord. With the stuff going on now, it feels more imminent. One reason we’re home now is to talk to our neighbors and do what we can do! With the pandemic, God has us at home for a reason. Talking with neighbors is one of those reasons. For indeed, God does not want any to perish!”
Why this study, now?
The times are unsettling. End-times prophesies about global events are more palpable than most of us have ever felt in our lifetimes. We need to be connecting with each other, absorbing God’s instructions in Scripture, and growing in ways that impact people all around us. So it’s a great time for small groups to dig into this study, whether meeting in person or by Zoom.
In the 1st century A.D., Paul, John, and Jude were each compelled to write short letters on specific topics to Christians who needed guidance for living through hard times. Their letters give warnings, counsel, and encouragement for life in the present; and they also give instructions for how to live in readiness for an event that could come even in the next moment—the physical return of Jesus.
In 1 & 2 Thessalonians, 2 & 3 John, Jude (12 discussions), we have general principles and specific guidance that will help us understand how to live and face a variety of situations . . . as we also wait for Jesus’ coming.
This is a “Level 3” Q Place Bible study, for those with Bible discussion experience. It is great for believers to read, discuss, and apply. And small groups that go through this study will be strengthened and also deeply encouraged to share the love of Jesus with others.
In 1 Thessalonians, the Apostle Paul gives a benediction that shows his heart’s desire in writing this letter:
May the Lord make your love
increase and overflow for each other
and for everyone else, just as ours does for you.
May he strengthen your hearts
so that you will be blameless and holy
in the presence of our God and Father
when our Lord Jesus comes with all his holy ones.
No doubt Paul would have been surprised to learn that this prayer of blessing would extend to readers more than two thousand years later—in the wake of a pandemic and still waiting for the Lord to come at any moment.
Q Place Blog Editor
P.S. Check out As You Wait for the Coming of the Lord for your church’s small groups and place your order now for your next study. For bulk discounts (25+), call 800-369-0307 or email info@QPlace.com.
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