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“NOW THERE WAS A RICH MAN…AND A POOR MAN NAMED LAZARUS WAS LAID AT HIS GATE....” (LUKE 16: 19-20)
by Barnabas

“Now there was a rich man…And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate....”
 (Luke 16: 19-20)

Dear Brethren,

Life after death is a popular topic of debate today.  Even in the Church there are many who want to downplay the Biblical reality of eternal judgment after death for those who have rejected Christ Jesus and His Gospel of redemption, in favor of a more “positive” and “seeker friendly” approach, one that isn’t so “negative”.  But what does the Bible say about life after death?  We can learn a lot from the stories Jesus shared in the Gospels, especially the testimony of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
 
“Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ But he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”  (Luke 16:19-31)

Jesus shared this story for a reason.  That reason was to drive home the reality of life after death.  According to the Scriptures, “it is appointed unto every man, once to die and after this comes judgment” (Hebrews 9:27), and telling sinners that unless they repent and turn to the Lord for forgiveness they will end up in the Lake of Fire for eternity is not unkind, insensitive or negative, it is merely following the example set by Christ Himself.  Jesus said that He was the Way, the Truth and the Life and that no one could come to the Father except through Him (John 14:6), and the truth is, that unless one turns to Christ for forgiveness, he has no hope of escaping eternal punishment.

Jesus came into the world to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15), and the Word of God says that it is through His shed blood that the penalty for sin was paid by Jesus in full, once and for all (1 Peter 3:18).  That is, for all who will humble themselves and believe on His Name (John 1:12).  Those who reject the Truth of the Gospel will surely die in their sins and trespasses (Ephesians 2:1-3), but those who believe the Gospel and come to faith, will dwell in the House of the Lord forever (Psalm 23:6). 

The Scriptures teach that “faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God” (Romans 10:17), and that it is by faith that we are saved through God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8).  We who believe need to be faithful and go into all the world and share the Good News of the Gospel (Mark 16:15) so that those who are lost can believe.

When the Apostle Peter was brought before the authorities of his day, he boldly declared to them that “there is salvation in no one else; for there is no other name under heaven that has been given among men by which we must be saved” (Acts 4:12).  In our day, for those of us who believe, it is all the more critical that we follow Peter’s lead and boldly share the Gospel so that it will be an encouragement to those who are saved and a convicting challenge to those who are wandering in spiritual darkness.

It is a great comfort and blessing to know that even though Lazarus had nothing but suffering and misery in this life, when he died in faith, God sent His angels to escort him to Paradise, where he, along with Abraham and all the Old Testament Saints, had been waiting for the day when Jesus would come to take them home to be with His Father in heaven (Hebrews 7:25).  The sober reality of this testimony is that the Rich Man is still there, fully conscious and waiting.  He is waiting for the day when he will be raised from the dead to stand before the Great White Throne.  There, in the very presence of God Almighty, he will be judged according to his works, and then he will be cast into the lake of fire to suffer the torment of unquenchable fire forever and ever (Revelation 20:11-15).  The Rich Man will spend eternity in suffering and torment because in this life he did not take God at His Word (Luke 16:31).

For those of us who believe, in the time that we have left, we need to encourage one another to share the testimony of the Rich Man and Lazarus with men, women and children all over the world, so that “he who has ears to hear may hear” and turn to Christ and be saved.  Our faithfulness is for their eternal good and to God’s eternal Glory.


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