Study Guide: The End of the World as You Know It

Sunday August 7, 2022 | Greg Boyd

Focus Scripture:

Brief Summary:

We long for justice, and we hope that God will deliver his justice at the end of times. This sermon introduces a series on the coming justice of God and what this means for us today.

Extended Summary:

Justice is built into how we have been created, but our world is full of injustice, much of which is performed by perpetrators who will never be held accountable. We want justice, but often we don’t see it. The question we face is: do we trust God to bring justice in the end? In this series we have talked about how we are not to judge, and now we turn our attention to what it means to say that God is the faithful judge.

The focus scripture quoted above launches us into this topic. Jesus led his disciples to believe that all these things would come to pass within their lifetime. Jesus also told several parables warning people to be prepared and ready for when the Bridegroom returns and God brings an end to this current fallen age with the Final Judgment. Paul also taught this. Jesus and the first generation of followers believed God would bring this current world order to a cataclysmic end within one generation.

This leads to two questions. First, were they wrong to expect it to come so quickly? On the surface, it seems like that they were mistaken. However, when you look deeper into these teachings, it becomes clear that the early Christians believed that the world as they knew it was about to come to an end. N.T. Wright states, “There is a strong sense of crisis, of old things tumbling and new worlds waiting in the wings. We don’t know where we’re going, but it looks as though we’re going there faster and faster.” They did not believe that the physical world was actually going to end, but that world as they knew it was ending. This is described as an apocalyptic worldview.

The second question is: what does this mean for us today? Living with the expectation that the end of the world as we know it could happen at any moment is the way followers of Jesus should always live. There is coming a time when all that is consistent with the loving character of God will be purified by the fire of God’s perfect love. All that is not consistent with his love will be destroyed. This is the final judgment.

Since this is so, what sort of persons ought we to be in waiting for and hastening the coming of the day of God? Everything you see, hear, touch, smell and taste will all someday be destroyed. But what if we expected this to happen within this generation?

Today, thinking about end times often causes people great fear, but the early Christians looked forward to the coming end when all would be made right, when the justice of God would reign. They looked ahead with hopeful expectation to God’s coming future.

Reflection Questions: