The questions this week come from the latest sermon in our Hot Topics series, “Eternity.”
These questions are designed to spark heart-level discussion in your Life Groups. They’re not meant to be a sermon quiz or feedback generator. Simply use some of the content from the sermon to dig into the most pressing needs in your group. If it just takes one question, that is fine. If you use all four, that is great, too. The goal is your Life Group’s discussion on how the gospel impacts and changes the nitty-gritty circumstances we face everyday.
Joe started the sermon by saying that we all tend to shy away from the topic of eternity. For one, it’s hard to think about. What even is eternity? But also, we’re often torn between our fear that Heaven will be boring, and our concern that Hell is cosmic overkill.
When you think about your own thoughts on the topic, do you feel like you tend to shy about from thinking deeply about eternity?
Do you think about eternity on a daily basis? If so, what kind of difference has that made, or should that make? What do you feel like are some of the main distractions when it comes to thinking more about eternity?
Think for a minute about your non-Christian friends. Do you think non-Christians think much about eternity? What about our society in general? Consider a couple songs from the last couple of years; the 2014 release of Ingrid Michaelson’s “We Are the Afterlife” —
What you didn’t know
Is that we can go forever if we want to
We can live inside of a moment
The one that we own . . .
We all, we all, we’re gonna live tonight
Like there’s no tomorrow ‘cause we’re the afterlife
Or the Strumbellas’s 2015 release, “Spirits” —
And I don’t want a never-ending life
I just want to be alive while I’m here
And I don’t want to see another night
Lost inside a lonely life while I’m here
Conscious to listeners or not, what is the message coming through these lyrics? How might you engage someone about these things?
[In other words, what is wrong with thinking this way? Why would thinking this way rob someone from the joy that God intends for humanity?]
The rational argument for why Hell is not cosmic overkill is because sin is always sin against God, who is infinite. Therefore sin is an infinite offense that deserves infinite punishment. Joe mentioned that part of the disconnect we have with this nature of punishment correlates with our aloofness to God’s holiness. Joe said:
God is the most valuable, important, and worthy being in reality. In fact, he is infinitely beautiful and infinitely valuable and infinitely worthy. What’s more, he stands in the highest and nearest relation to all of us. He is our Creator, and therefore has total rights over us, and he sustains us in existence moment by moment, upholding us by the word of his power, and therefore has the nearest possible relation to us, nearer than spouse, parent, or child. Both of these mean that our obligation to God is an infinite obligation, because he is infinitely worthy of all honor.
How do truths like this about God affect you? Are you inclined to lean in? Or does it seem puzzling? What are some things that you have done, to could do, to reawaken you to the holiness and glory of God?
You cannot out-hope Heaven.
Paul tells us in 1 Corinthians 2:9, “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, nor has the mind of man conceived what God has prepared for those who love him.” Simply put, it is impossible for us to imagine how amazing Heaven will be. And therefore, when we use our imaginations to think about the greatest possible joy we could ever experience, Heaven must be greater than that.
Joe shared about how he imagines Heaven to be something like a little league baseball game, one in which his boys play, he coaches, and his dad watches from the stands. That is one of the highest joys Joe can imagine, and based upon 1 Corinthians 2:9, Heaven must be better than that.
So what about for you? If you were to use your imagination and really embrace the truth of 1 Corinthians 2:9, how might you try to out-hope Heaven? What kind of joy would Heaven need to surpass?
[Give some time to this question. Allow each person to imagine their happiest, most joyful experience. What would it look like? Who would be there? Then close in prayer, acknowledging that what God has prepared for us is far greater.]