By Andy Alexander
Our Lord in Luke 16:19-31 related a story about the rich man and Lazarus concerning the present state of their souls and the future state of our souls. The facts contained in this story will be faced by all, sooner or later. We may choose to ignore these facts and live as if they will go away, but ignoring or running from them will not alter our position to them. They are part of the truth of God’s word and they shall remain for everyone to deal with one way or another. How we choose to deal with these facts while on this earth will determine where we will spend eternity. Let us consider these facts as they come from God’s word and determine whether or not we are prepared to face them.
All Must Die
One apparent fact happened to both of these men, they died. Very few people like to think abut death, but it is a fact that all who have ever lived, have died (excepting Enoch and Elijah). Strange thing about this fact, as universal as it is, most people feel it is something in the distant future. Rarely do we think about death as coming in the near future. However, this is an appointment of God that we will keep (Heb. 9:27). One thing all need to prepare for is this sure event of death. We may not get all our earthly plans finished or get to see everyone or visit every place we would like to, but one sure fact remains, we will die and face God in the judgment (Heb. 9:27).
All Have A Soul
After both the rich man and Lazarus died, they were aware of who they were and where they were. Thus we learn, death is not the end of man, but merely the separating of the body and the soul (Jas. 2:26). The soul is the part of us that lives on while the body returns to dust.
Hades Has Two Compartments
There are two places in Hades separated by a great gulf. The rich man was in the place of suffering and torment while Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom or the place of comfort (Lk. 16:22-23). The place of comfort was for those who were righteous and who had repented of their sins and obeyed the gospel of Christ. Torment is reserved for the unrepentant, unrighteous, those that have rejected God’s way of life (2 Thess. 1:6-9).
The goal of reaching the place of comfort and avoiding the place of torments is not had by finding a church that suits us or a doctrine that we are comfortable with, but it’s a matter of learning what God says and of our submitting to his will. We must become a member the body of Christ the spiritual body that God established. It is that body that he will save in the last day (Eph. 5:23). That’s the body we need to be members of, if we are going to go to heaven.
Going to a church that pleases or satisfies our desires does not necessarily please God. The apostle Paul was satisfied with his false religion until the Lord appeared to him and said.”Paul, you’re wrong” (Acts 9:4-5). Paul then changed from his error to the truth of God’s word. We need to recognize this fact: Paul was happy and satisfied with what he was doing. In his speech to King Agrippa, Paul said, “I verily thought with myself, that I ought to do many things contrary to the name of Jesus of Nazareth” (Acts 26:9). He earlier said, “I have lived in all good conscience before God until this day” (Acts 23: 1). So with everything he had done Paul was satisfied and thought he was serving God. That’s not the way to obey God. We must learn what God says, what God demands of us, and do what God tells us to do (1 Jn. 5:3; Matt. 7:21). For those who follow the voice of the Lord, there is a place of comfort in the other world. For those who choose to follow their own opinions or the doctrines of men, the place of torment has been prepared (2 Thess. 1:6-9).
Some Are Lost And Some Are Saved
The rich man was in torment. This is an undeniable fact. Some people are going to be lost. Another fact our Lord, stated in Matthew 7:13-14 is that the majority of people will be lost and only a few will walk that narrow path that leads to heaven. Many people, preachers include ‘ d, discuss the after life as if there is no hell or place of everlasting punishment. But, erasing it from our minds does not change the fact that hell exists and that most people are now preparing for their retirement there.
There is only one way to go to heaven and that is for man to be obedient to God. We must learn his will, give our heart and life to him, and submit to his commands while on this earth (Matt. 13:15; Rom. 6:17). It takes more than just living a good life or having a preacher say some kind words over our earthly body after we die to reach heaven. The only place to find out what pleases God and can make us righteous before him is the Bible, which is God’s revealed will to man (Rom. 1:16-17).
No Opportunity After Death
Also gleaned from this passage is the fact that, after death, there is no changing from one side of Hades to the other. There is a great gulf fixed and no one can cross over (Lk. 16:26). There is no such thing as parole from hell. Our chance to serve God is in this life and that is the end of the matter (Matt. 7:22-23). Let’s use our opportunity while we are here and able.
No Help From The Dead
The rich man asked if Lazarus might return from the dead to warn his brothers who were alive on the earth (Lk. 16:2728). That request was denied and it was pointed out to the rich man that, if they would not hear Moses and the prophets, they would not hear one from the dead (16:31). The rich man’s brothers could do nothing to change the fate of their dead brother. They could take all his money he had left behind and give it to the poor, but the rich man would still be in torment. Our talents and money that the Lord has blessed us with need to be used while we are on this earth.
Must Bear The Word Of God
We must hear it, that means receive it, get busy and obey it. “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them” (16:31). They did not have Moses and the prophets in the flesh. Moses had been dead over 1500 years, but they had the writings of Moses and the writings of the prophets. We have the word of God and we can hear the word of God, believe it, and obey it. If we are not impressed by what the word of God says, we would not believe it if a person came back from the dead. We have got to hear the word of God.
The choice is yours! Obey the commands of God or follow our own wisdom or some other man’s wisdom. What shall it be? God has done everything for you, except force you to obey. The decision is yours. Surrender to God’s will – give him your heart – obey his commands.
Guardian of Truth XXXIV: 12, pp. 373-374
June 21, 1990