Explore the Bible Study: With Anticipation

9:31 AM

Another Black Friday shopping day has come and gone, and I wonder which one of you stood in line the longest. While I didn't brave the onslaught of tired, anxiety-ridden adults daring anyone to cut in line as they waited for a store to open, I know many of you might have done so. So I ask the question: was the anticipation and hype worth the wait? I surely hope so. This week's Explore the Bible study: With Anticipation from LifeWay focuses on one event that is highly anticipated and well worth the wait! It is the return of Christ.

As believers, our wait is not for a prize that will be forgotten, discarded, returned for a refund, or set aside for next year's prize. It is the prize of seeing Christ face-to-face; it is the prize of seeing our faith and hope become a reality; it is knowing that the time spent serving Him, enduring hardships, learning how to live our faith, was well worth the wait!

This week you have the opportunity to lead your group to remain confident in all situations, knowing that Jesus Christ will return! Here are some ideas that might help you lead a discussion of 1 Peter 3.

LOOK UP: Getting focused on the text.
Ask (Once most adults have arrived): 
  • Did anyone do any Black Friday shopping this weekend? How long were the lines where you shopped?
  • What is the longest you have waited in line for something?
  • Why did you wait?
  • How did you feel once the wait was over?
Introduce: Last week Peter gave us some descriptions of false teachers so that we could avoid being led astray by them. We also learned from Jude how we should respond to them and those whom they lead astray. It was the response of mercy mixed with additional actions based on whether someone had drifted in their faith, was lost, or was antagonistic toward the ways of God.

Transition: We conclude our study today with Peter encouraging the readers of his second letter not to  give up, get discouraged, or be led astray as they wait for the return of Christ. The nearness of Christ’s return gripped Peter's thoughts as he pushed his readers to look past the errors of the false teachers and to focus on the hope they have because of the promised return of Christ. This same hope should motivate us to continue to live godly lives and to share our faith with others.

LOOK IN: Unpacking the text.
Direct: As 2 Peter 3:1-7 is read, listen for ways Peter expressed passion for helping his readers. Then listen for how he describes the attitude of those who don’t believe Jesus will return.

2 Peter 3:1-7

Identify: How did Peter describe the attitudes of those who didn’t believe in Christ’s return? Based upon verses 3-4, do you think these scoffers had any desire to believe? What was the rationale they gave for not believing in Christ’s return? How do people today express their doubt about the second coming of Christ? How do these compare to Peter's description?

State: Peter reminded his readers of one past event and one future event that the scoffers ignore – The destruction of the earth and judgement of man, first by a flood and finally, destruction and judgement through fire. Verse 5 states that scoffers “willfully ignore” the flood therefore the coming destruction of the earth.

Discuss: How is the flood “willfully” ignored or explained away today? How does the denial of the flood affect people’s view of the return of Christ and God’s final judgement of this earth and man? How does the belief in the biblical story of the flood affect our view of Christ’s return? How does doubt regarding the flood cast doubt on everything God says about the end times?

Consider: What if scoffers caused you to doubt the validity of the flood? How would that affect your faith?

Video Option:
Transition: Peter indicates in verse 7 that there is a delay in God’s judgement. He is holding back what is in store for this world and “ungodly men.” As 2 Peter 3:8-9 is read, listen for the reason for the delay.

2 Peter 3:8-9

Discuss: How would you describe the reasons for God’s delay? How would you describe God’s grace and mercy based upon this passage? How would you describe His view of time? How does this passage refute the argument that our God is a cruel God? Why is knowing this important to believers, especially when we hear people continually scoffing, not only the flood, but the return of Christ as well?

Transition: Peter wanted his readers to remember that God's timing is perfect. A perceived delay from our perspective is only God’s way of demonstrating His love for man. But, Peter doesn’t leave us wondering what to do. He gives us some instructions on how we should respond in the next verses.

2 Peter 3:10-13

Identify: How did Peter describe what would happen to the earth? What does saying it will come like a “thief in the night” indicate about when this will happen?

Someone Read: Matthew 24:43; Luke 12:39; 1 Thessalonians 5:2.

Discuss: How would you summarize Peter’s instructions for believers while we wait for this to be fulfilled?

Consider: Does Peter’s description of what will take place cause you to fear, or does it give you hope? What does your response indicate about your faith or understanding of God?

Transition: Peter closes his letter with two “Therefores” that are very important for us to remember as we face the scoffers, doubters, and cynics of our world. They may try to cause us to be discouraged; they may tempt us to doubt; they may describe us as ignorant, stupid, or foolish; they may even publicly ridicule us. But we cannot and should not be discouraged.

LOOK OUT: Responding to the text.
Direct: Listen to Peter's final words of encouragement, and identify at least one action he gives that can help you remain strong, faithful, and hopeful as you live your Christian life!

2 Peter 3:14-18

Share: What action did you most identify with? Why?

  • Peter states in verse 15 that we should “regard the patience of our Lord as an opportunity for salvation.” Are you the person Peter is talking to in this passage? Are you at peace with God? Do you know Christ? If not, why not respond now? God has patiently and graciously delayed His judgment just for you.
  • As believers, we need to grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord by studying and learning God’s Word; we need to guard our faith; and we need to continually share with others about the long-suffering love of Jesus Christ.
Challenge: Despite the confusion that exists today, be assured that the Lord is still in control. He has promised in the past that he will return; he will keep that promise. So don't despair, and don't give up living lives that honor the Lord. Many people will continue to attempt to detour you from the path that you are on. Resist them, but never stop loving them and others. That will be the case as you continue to grow in your appreciation of the grace of your Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.  – Holman New Testament Commentary – 1 & 2 Peter; 1, 2, 3 John and Jude.


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