Help students consider life after death.
Discussion Starter Options:
to go to our VIDEO CLIP IDEAS and The Bucket List
discussion page for an example of how to use The Bucket List
clip (in which the two dying main characters discuss the existence of God and faith).
You can use a clip from the movie Hidden Secrets
featureing John Schneider, in which two men who just experienced their friend’s funeral discuss the possibility of life after death. (If you decide to use this clip, you will need to rent the movie and cue it up to the scene described above.)
Life after death. It’s one of the biggest mysteries known to humanity. There’s no waterproof evidence that an afterlife exists, even though billions of people—the vast majority on the planet, as The Bucket List clip points out—believe we travel to a different conscious state after our bodies and minds expire here on earth. But despite our faith, the afterlife can’t be proven; instead Jesus asks us simply to believe.
Divide into Small Groups:
Let’s go ahead and split up into our discussion groups, and then afterward we’ll come back together for a final word.
CLICK HERE for a quick training article on how to maximize your small groups using our small group format—a great resource to equip your small group leaders.
- AROUND THE CIRCLE (if you watched The Bucket List clip): Before we get going, everybody say their name and share one thing you want to do before you die…
- AROUND THE CIRCLE (if you watched the Hidden Secrets clip): Before we get going, everybody say their name and share how you felt when the first character spoke and pretty much wrote off God and afterlife as nonexistent…
- ASK A FEW: Why do you suppose some people don’t believe there’s an afterlife? (Leader—answer you may be looking for: Because it can’t be proven scientifically, no one they personally know has come back from the dead to report about an afterlife, etc.)
- ASK A FEW: Do you suppose not believing there’s an afterlife brings a person more comfort facing death or less comfort?
- ASK SOMEONE: Do any of you feel like sharing about a person you knew who died and didn’t believe in Jesus or an afterlife—and how you felt after that person’s death? Only share if you’re comfortable doing so—and if no one is or no one knew someone like that, we’ll just move forward with the discussion…
The Bible has a lot to say about an afterlife—the Kingdom of Heaven. One very short passage, however, surrounding Jesus dying on the cross, speaks about this issue in a clear and simple way…
Read the following passage from the Bible:
ASK A FEW: The God-fearing thief believed that Jesus would be entering his kingdom after both of them died on their crosses. Do you suppose this thief believed Jesus was who Jesus claimed to be (i.e., God’s son) before being sent to the cross…or after?
ASK A FEW: Let’s say the thief believed in Jesus only while he was on the cross: Is that kind of “conversion” (i.e., only after you’re about to die) a legitimate way of coming to Christ? Why or why not?
ASK SOMEONE: At what time did Jesus say the believing thief would be “with me in paradise”? (Leader—answer you’re looking for: Today.)
ASK A FEW: Do you believe this passage proves (at least in a Christian faith kind of way) that there is a heaven and an afterlife? Why or why not?
ASK A FEW: What about the mocking thief? Do you suppose that since he didn’t demonstrate belief in Jesus that he didn’t meet Jesus in paradise?
ASK A FEW: Let’s suppose that the mocking thief did NOT meet Jesus in paradise. Do you believe that he just ceased to exist…or that he went to that place we call “hell”?
ASK A FEW: Do you suppose heaven and/or hell are more like the earth we live upon…or something completely different?
AROUND THE CIRCLE: What kinds of things will you do this week to either strengthen your knowledge of the afterlife that the Bible talks about or explore the possibility of God bringing us to heaven?
38 There was a written notice above him, which read: THIS IS THE KING OF THE JEWS.
39 One of the criminals who hung there hurled insults at him: “Aren’t you the Messiah? Save yourself and us!”
40 But the other criminal rebuked him. “Don’t you fear God,” he said, “since you are under the same sentence? 41 We are punished justly, for we are getting what our deeds deserve. But this man has done nothing wrong.”
42 Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom.”
43 Jesus answered him, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise.”
A lot of people seem to believe that if you’re “good” you go to heaven and if you’re “bad” you go to hell. Well, if that were the case, we’d all be in deep water because all of us have sinned or have done bad things. The Bible does say that sin (or being “bad”) keeps us from having a relationship with God. The good news is that God cares about us so much that he sacrificed his son Jesus on a cross for us so that, when we trust Jesus, we can restore that relationship with God. That’s right—not by going to church or doing a certain number of good deeds (because then we’d all fail). It’s only by truly trusting in Christ.
Let’s take some time this week (and in prayer right now) to meditate upon God’s message to us and study on our own what the Bible says about the afterlife. If any of you have questions now or later, please see me or one of the other adult leaders, and we will be glad to talk to you about this subject. Let’s pray…
Close in Prayer
Written by Dave Urbanski