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Gain an exciting new vision for your life on earth in light of your future in heaven. Wonderful as is the promise of heaven, a glorious hereafter is just part of what salvation is about. What about today? Jesus called his followers the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Your life here and now is of tremendous consequence, and what you believe about the future has a direct impact on how you live in the present. In six transforming, faith-inspiring sessions, premier biblical scholar N. T. Wright opens ...
Gain an exciting new vision for your life on earth in light of your future in heaven. Wonderful as is the promise of heaven, a glorious hereafter is just part of what salvation is about. What about today? Jesus called his followers the salt of the earth and the light of the world. Your life here and now is of tremendous consequence, and what you believe about the future has a direct impact on how you live in the present. In six transforming, faith-inspiring sessions, premier biblical scholar N. T. Wright opens your eyes to the amazing full scope of what God's Word has to say about the world to come and the world that is. Designed for use with the video.
HOPE FOR THE WORLD
God wants his people to experience hope and to share it with the world. Hope that has world transforming power is more than just anticipation of what God will do in the future. It is the coming of God's kingdom here on earth ... today.
This video study series, based on N. T. Wright's book of the same name, invites us to look closer and think deeper. Wright has a beautiful way of pointing to the familiar and helping us see things we never noticed before.
There are words in the Christian vocabulary that can feel familiar, almost a bit worn. Words like heaven, resurrection, salvation, and the church should stir our imagination and cause our heart to race, but often they can feel mundane.
In these six sessions you will be invited to take a fresh new look at the theological landscape of the Christian faith. N. T. Wright will be your tour guide. Along the way those familiar landmarks, locations, and ideas will begin to take on new meaning that will do more than stir your heart ... they will transform your life!
The first destination on this journey is the place where the Christian hope is born. What is the source of our hope? Can the hope found in Jesus really transform our lives and the world in which we live? And, how can those who follow Christ bring his light to a hope-starved world?
TALK ABOUT IT
How might living with the assurance and hope of heaven, and having confidence in the resurrection, move us to action and bring hope right where we live today?
VIDEO TEACHING NOTES
As you watch the video teaching segment for session one, featuring N. T. Wright, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.
People all around of the world are asking, "Is there any hope?" and they do so with good reason! Two particular ways that people can go astray:
The "secret code" approach
The "escape the world" approach
The biblical vision for this world and the future
What the Bible means and does not mean when it talks about judging the world
The Gospels and Jesus' teaching about hope and God's kingdom
The conflict between the message of God's kingdom coming and the presiding powers of Jesus' day (religious and political)
The apostle Paul's vision of hope
A good definition of being the church
1. Tell a story from your personal life, church life, or national history, where a person of hope stood up for others during a hard time and helped bring hope back to the people.
2. N. T. Wright lives and ministers in a region where there is potential for hopelessness and fatalism. Name places in your community or country where hope seems to have run out and that desperately need a fresh infusion of the hope that only God can bring.
3. If someone asked you, "What is the hope of the Christian faith?" what would you answer?
4. Wright reflects on a series of happenings around the world that have led to a sense of hopelessness for many people—including floods, famines, disasters, wars, economic crises, and political upheaval. What happenings in your lifetime have stripped away people's hope, and why do these events have such a devastating impact?
5. Wright talks about two particular mistakes that occur when it comes to understanding the Bible and hope. How have you seen the "secret code" approach and the "escape the world" approach lived out by people in the church?
6. Though the Bible clearly offers the hope of heaven and the certainty of a future resurrection, it does not teach that God will one day throw this world into some celestial trash heap. Read the following passages and discuss how God sees the world:
7. How does Wright's understanding of judgment in Psalm 96:13—that God is coming to judge the earth with righteousness and truth—push back against the idea that God is angry at the world and ready to burn it up and throw it away?
8. In the Sermon on the Mount, Jesus teaches his followers to pray, "Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven" (Matthew 6:9–10). What do you think Jesus is asking us to pray, and how does this connect with the hope God wants to bring to this world?
9. Wright explains from the book of Acts how both the Jewish and pagan powers of the day were shocked and pushed back against the idea that a new kingdom was coming into this world. Early believers were forced to decide if they would follow the existing power systems in the world (and their way of doing things) or God's ways and his kingdom vision. How might next week look different if you fully embraced a "God's kingdom come" approach to living?
10. Wright suggests that a good definition of the church would be: "people who gather together to share hope and be people of hope in the world." What do you think of this definition of the church? How might the activity of your local congregation change if you actually functioned with a profound sense that one of your primary callings is to be a community of hope right where God has placed you?
Take time as a group to pray in some of the following directions:
Ask God to help you live with a confidence that his hope is yours, both now and forever.
Pray for a fresh new understanding that God wants to see his kingdom come on this earth as it is in heaven.
Pray for the Holy Spirit to move you, your small group, and your church into the world with actions of love and hope that reveal the presence of God.
Think about where God has placed you. God wants to bring his hope through you to the places you shop, dine, work, play, and live. At the start of the session N. T. Wright spoke of the needs in his community, the changing economy, and the pain people are facing. Reflect on the people in your life and what they are facing. Ask God to use you as a beacon of hope in each of these relationships.
Take a walk or drive around your community ... the place God has planted you. Pray for eyes to see the pain, loss, and hopelessness that can saturate our world. Actually ask the Holy Spirit to help you see beyond the physical to begin perceiving with the eyes of Jesus. As you see and feel the reality of what so many people face each day, pray for the kingdom of God to begin breaking into these places and lives. If you feel a prompting of the Spirit to take some kind of action in response to this exercise ... act on it!
Wright told a story about a church in his community that started a school for people who had great physical and mental challenges. What is one action of hope your group can take in the next month to bring heaven to earth right in your community? If possible, discuss and decide this before your next group gathering, in order to get the activity on everyone's schedule.
Pray for eyes to see the needs of the community around you.
Ask the Spirit to soften your heart to those who are hurting and needy.
Pray for your local church to become a beacon of hope in your community.
Pray that God's kingdom will come and his will be done in your life, home, and community ... as it is in heaven.
As you reflect on what you have learned in this session you may want to read chapters 1 and 2 of the book Surprised by Hope, by N. T. Wright. Then, in preparation for session two, you may want to read chapters 3 and 4 as well.
Excerpted from Surprised by Hope Participant's Guide by N.T. Wright. Copyright © 2010 by N. T. Wright. Excerpted by permission of ZONDERVAN.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
A Word from N. T. Wright
Session One Hope for the World
Session Two The Hope of the Resurrection
Session Three The Hope of Heaven
Session Four The Hope of Jesus' Second Coming
Session Five The Hope of Salvation
Session Six The Hope of the Church
Posted December 6, 2011