Act 7: The Hope of Eternity


Writer: Kelly Hesterberg

Big Idea: No matter how many times you have watched your favorite movie, even though we know the end, we enjoy entering into the story. Eternity is a promise for those who have placed their trust in Jesus, regardless of how dark our world and our lives seem – we know where the story is headed. The resurrection of Jesus gives us a hope and the ultimate promise of eternity. NT Wright writes, “Christians live as a resurrection people in between Easter and the Final day, our Christian life, corporate and individual, in both worship and mission, is a sign of the first and a foretaste of the second.”  Revelation paints the culminative vision of what God’s people work towards when His Kingdom through preaching, painting, live generous lives, build hospitals, participate in community groups, mentoring others, creating art, digging wells, serving the poor – basically, any time we love our neighbor as ourselves in the name of Jesus. When we have a clear view of eternity, it gives us clarity for the lives we live every day. What’s next? What happens when we die? What matters? What are we left with? What is our legacy? 

Key passages: Revelation 21-22

Growing up, my favorite movie was Cinderella. Every day after coming home from preschool and early grade school, I would watch it – at least once, if not twice. And not only watch it, I’d also dress up, sing, and dance along. Even though I knew exactly what was going to happen, it was absolutely enthralling to interact with the movie in that way. But because the story was so familiar, the dramatic and suspenseful scenes lost their tension (we all know there is a “happily ever after” waiting at the end of every Disney movie, right?).  Even during the most dramatic scene of the movie where the Prince arrives to Cinderella’s house and her stepmother locks her in, I never found myself in suspense. There was never any doubt that she was going to get out of there and marry the Prince. And when she did, it felt so right! All those years of mistreatment were being traded in for a life of royalty.

Unlike in the movies, we are not guaranteed a “happily ever after” in this life.  On the contrary, scripture is filled with people who served and obeyed God and lived tumultuous lives: Joseph obeyed God in every Biblically recorded instance, and yet found himself falsely accused of rape and in jail. David was a man after God’s own heart, and yet spent a good portion of his life on the run from King Saul, as if he were a fugitive. Job was “blameless and upright; he feared God and shunned evil” (Job 1:1), and yet had his family, possessions, and health taken away. Ten out of the eleven apostles preached the Gospel boldly and died a martyr’s death as a result.

While we don’t know what’s in store for our lives here on earth, God does give the assurance and hope of eternity to all who believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. When we enter into the family of God through faith in Christ, our eternity is sealed. God gives us the gift of the Holy Spirit as a guide and a deposit of what is to come, “When you believed, you were marked in Him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God’s possession.” (Ephesians 1:13b-14) This assurance gives us freedom to live for Him and further His kingdom here on earth without fear. Yes! The Kingdom of God is both an eternal promise AND a present reality! We can bring glimpses of the Kingdom of God down to earth each and every day by showing Jesus to others through our words, actions, and attitudes.

This life may be all we know, but it is utterly foolish to put our hope in it. Like us, it is perishing away. The book of Revelation gives us a glimpse into the culminative picture of God’s redemption story. John is given a wondrous vision of what is to come, after Satan has been defeated once and for all, and King Jesus comes to reign on the new earth, “Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Look! God’s dwelling place is now among the people, and He will dwell with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away.’” (Revelation 21:1-4)

Everything we are experiencing here on earth is temporary: sadness, pain, suffering, death – it will all come to an end. There is an eternal “happily ever after” for those who accept Jesus as Lord and Savior. No matter how dark this world may seem, we know that Jesus wins in the end, and that we will live with Him forever. But while we await to be called home, God calls us to live in the freedom of our guaranteed future in heaven by spreading His Kingdom right here on earth. Jesus has defeated death and is coming back again to reign forever. And because of that, we can live every day in light of eternity, and the promised future God has given us.

Sharing life:

  1. If anyone is new, start here, if not go to question 2: When/how did you become aware of God’s love? Who were the people who played a key role in your spiritual journey? How? What are 2/3 key moments in your relationship with God? Take a moment to ask questions. 
  2. Where is one of the most beautiful places you have ever been?
  3. What do you think heaven will be like?

Opening Scripture:
 Read Revelation 21 & 22

  1. How does John describe heaven? 
  2. What do you look forward to most about heaven? Why? 
  3. According to Revelation 22:17, who is invited to heaven?
  4. What does Revelation 22:7, 12, 20 tell us about Jesus? How should this impact the way we live?
  5. What are some specific ways you share the Kingdom of God with others every day?

Prayer: Take a moment to share prayer requests and pray for each other.

                                                                                                                                            Weekly Prayer Focus: Pray that our church will live with the view that this life is temporary and what we do here matters for eternity.