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Date: July 18, 2021
Sufficient in Christ Alone
The Point: God provides all we need as we pursue Christ daily.
Get Into the Study
Use the following as an alternate introduction to today’s session.
The northwest US has recently experienced a record-breaking heatwave. Portland, Oregon, which typically sees temperatures in the 70s during June, reached 116 degrees June 28th, the third consecutive day of all-time highs. Some ice cream shops in Portland have had to close because they reported being unable to keep the ice cream from melting. Officials warned of dangers from the high temperatures, urging people to check in on others who might be at risk. Some COVID restrictions were even lifted to give people access to large air-conditioned spaces like movie theaters.
Ask: What is your favorite way to cool off in extreme heat?
Ice water is one of the most refreshing things when it is hot outside. However, in times of drought or heatwaves, even lukewarm water is better than no water. This could cause some confusion when we read Christ’s words to the church in Laodicea, where He condemned the church for being lukewarm. But in this session, we will study why Christ told the church at Laodicea that He would vomit them out for being neither hot nor cold.
Live It Out
Use the following to conclude today’s session.
On June 24th, a 12-story residential building in Surfside, FL collapsed. As of July 6th, 28 people have been reported dead, with 117 still missing.
Lead your group in a time of prayer for the people affected by this tragedy.
The cause of the collapse is unknown, but a report from 2018 indicated the building’s exterior may have hidden a dangerously deteriorating interior. There is concern about whether officials ignored warnings about the condition of the building or downplayed the potential danger.
Christ’s warnings to the seven churches in the Book of Revelation can be used today to evaluate the strength and stability of our own church and our personal relationships with Christ. Let’s not allow a good façade to mislead us into dismissing internal rot. Encourage group members to choose one of the Live It Out statements to implement this week.
Nikki Wilbanks grew up in Tennessee before heading to California to study literature at Pepperdine University. After graduation, she enjoyed a decade-long career as a commercial real estate appraiser and investor. Having returned to Tennessee with her husband, she is now thrilled to be a stay-at-home mom and writer.
Live It Out [Option from Adult Leader Guide]
In advance, play the song “Cornerstone” for the group. Encourage group members to listen for phrases that reflect a heart posture of dependence on Christ. Afterward, discuss: what phrases stood out to you? Contrast these with the attitude of the Laodiceans.
- Which knock-off brands do you really dislike?
- When have you been disappointed to find out something was not as good as advertised?
- When have you regretted “judging a book by its cover”?
- What are the dangers of self-reliance?
- How do we discern if our works on hot or lukewarm?
- What does it look like for a Christian to be “lukewarm” in today’s world?
- How does Jesus refine us?
- Do you find it difficult or easy to rely on Jesus in today’s world? Explain.
- Why is discipline important for our relationship with Christ?
- Why do we sometimes not invite God into every part of our lives?
- What does it look like to pursue a deeper relationship with Christ?
- What might prevent someone from opening the door when Christ knocks?
For Those in Your Group
Send the following link to your group members as either a teaser before the group meets or as a follow-up thought:
When Self-Sufficiency is a Bad Thing
Click here for a 20-minute podcast for both the group member and the leader.
Tips for Leading Bible Study Groups
Podcast (adultsleadertraining): Play in new window | Download
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Susan Caldwell says
My question has to do with the preservation of the book of Revelation. Is it known if John (the author) sent the entire book out to the seven churches to share and pass along to the next church, or if he sent each church their own letter? Where was the book of Revelation discovered? My husband and I teach young adults who are very inquisitive. These seven lessons have been helpful to self-reflect where we are as individuals and as a church. I love your podcasts and use the AdultExtra weekly. Keep up the great work.
Lynn Pryor says
From Curtis Honts, the content editor of our commentary:
Thank you for your questions, but more importantly, thank you for teaching young adults and helping them to grow in the knowledge and understanding of the Bible. You are to be commended for establishing an atmosphere in which young adults feel comfortable expressing their curiosity and are encouraged to raise such questions.
I have not been asked, nor have I previously considered myself, either of the questions raised by your class, so I have had to do some research. Here is what I have learned. The oldest known complete copy of the Book of Revelation seems to date to the mid-300s and was found in a monastery at the base of Mount Sinai. The oldest known portion of Revelation was found in Egypt and dates to the 200s. Most of chapters 9-16 and the first couple of verses of chapter 17 remain in that fragment. Earlier than that, around 150, Christian apologist Justin Martyr made the earliest known reference to Revelation and John as the author.
Because we do not have the original manuscript of the Book of Revelation (or any Bible book for that matter), answering the detail of how the book was originally distributed is a bit more challenging. However, we can draw some clues. First, Revelation 1:4 indicates the target audience John had in mind: “To the seven churches in Asia.” Similarly, at the conclusion of each of the seven letters to the churches in chapters 2 and 3, Jesus’ words include, “what the Spirit says to the churches.” In all eight of these instances, “churches” is plural in the Greek, indicating John, and more importantly Jesus, expected more than just one church to read the content, including what was addressed to specific individual churches. Likewise, had there been several versions of Revelation (i.e., one that went to Ephesus with only the letter to Ephesus, one that went to Smyrna with only the letter to Smyrna, and so forth), we would likely have different versions and there would be debate as to which one was the earliest version and which one should be considered Scripture. But since Revelation is a single unit including all seven letters (and to my knowledge has always been a unit), and because of the repeated use of the plural “churches” in chapters 1–3, it seems highly unlikely John sent each church their own, “personalized” version. Now, he could very well have had multiple copies of the whole book so that each church received a copy and could refer back to it rather than passing around a single copy. However, I found no indication whether each church received a full copy or if one copy was shared among them.
Susan Caldwell says
Thank you so much for the time you gave to my questions. What great information, and I will pass it along!