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Tuesday, December 26, 2006


"And being in torments in hell, he lifted up his eyes...Then he cried out and said, "Father Abraham, have mercy on me...for I am tormented in this flame." (Luke 16: 23 & 24)

This is a contrast between “Kind dogs and Mean men,” or those who GOD has helped (Lazarus = “GOD is my help“) and those who helped themselves. (The anonymous rich man) There is a contrast of “Existence” between the two men. There is a contrast of “Endings” and a contrast of “Eternity’s.” We need to focus on these differences. And if this story is not true (nothing in the text says that it is a parable or just an illustration) then we have nothing to fear by continuing with a greed driven, "help myself to all I can" life style. On the other hand, if it is a true story, (and it is) we need to contrast our life with GOD'S Word to see how our actions, attitudes and way of life stack up spiritually. Jesus described this as a real account, of a real man sent to a real place, and He used it as a warning about the dangers of covetousness, greed and unbelief.

There are several SPIRITUAL lessons from this “sermon” by Jesus that we need to look at today. The first lesson is, "Hell is a real place of flame and torment!" There is a lot of talk going around churches today that, "GOD is love" therefore He really wouldn't send anybody to such a bad place. Therefore Hell must not exist. This is the foolish reasoning’s of a depraved society who has been taught to believe that they came from monkeys. Because they believe this lie about where they came from, they think they can act like animals and there will be no reprisals for their actions. There is a Holy GOD, and there will be a judgment day for everyone. Jesus teaches here that there is a place called HELL and that people will be aware of the sinful and selfish lives they lived. All the time that this man lived, he never thought anything was important except "what made him happy". HELL will be a place of unhappiness and a FIRE that will burn forever. If that is a lie, then Jesus told it and you really don't have anything to worry about, because everything else he said is in question as well. Did He lie, or is this the truth? Is there really a place like Jesus described here? If it's the truth, just how much trouble are we in?
The second lesson is, "Their prayers will not be answered there!" This
man had everything he wanted in this life, simply because he wanted it. Some of you think that if you could just have more money, another car, another house or another mate, that you would be happy. You also believe that because you want it, that you should have it. That's a very selfish way of thinking about this life. That was the problem with this man. That's why the contrast here that "EVEN THE DOGS WERE MORE KIND TO LAZARUS THAN HE WAS." In our world today, it is just as it has always been in this world, there are "GIVERS, TAKERS AND WASTERS". Everyone falls somewhere in one of those categories. This man was a "taker." We see nothing in the scriptures that tell us he ever did anything but take. We never read where Lazarus received those "crumbs" from the rich man's table. All that is recorded is that the dogs were kind and brought a measure of comfort to Lazarus. Much of the church is what the world calls "consumers". That is just another name for takers and wasters. Some are not just takers but are wasters as well. I have started churches in Ukraine and the entire church could "thrive" for a year on what most families waste in a couple of months on things that they would most likely be better off without anyway. So many people today never give anything back. They take and the only thing they leave behind is what is flowing in the sewers.

The third lesson is, "That once you are there, there will be no way out, you will know the truth that you have known all along.” But once you’re there, knowing the truth will NOT set you free. This is not a story of "good works" bringing about salvation. This is a story about "salvation" bringing about good works. As a matter of fact, one of the most horrible truths we have to face is that when Jesus used the phrase, “where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.” (Mark 9:44) He was telling us that people will remember every opportunity they had to receive and serve Christ. The phrase “their worm dieth not,” refers to their memory. They die, but their memory lives on in the next life. You will, for all eternity, remember the times you, knowingly ignored the voice of the Holy Spirit of GOD from something a preacher/teacher said, something you read in the scriptures or even what a friend shared with you. Truth “THERE” will do you no good.
The truth that you know "HERE" will not do you any good, "UNTIL YOU ACT ON IT AND LET IT CHANGE YOU". It's not that you don't KNOW that Jesus is the Son of GOD, and that He is the only way to the Father, you've just never let that information move on you and change you. One day, when it's too late, it's going to be "too late" forever. You will not have a way out and you will have to remember that you blew it.

The last spiritual lesson I want you to see is, "Your attitudes will be the same there for eternity that they were here on earth.” This man still thought that Lazarus existed to serve and wait on him. He still though of himself as better than Lazarus. The most freighting thing I can tell some of you is, "What you are growing into in this life, and what you are now, "IS WHAT YOU ARE GOING TO BE FOR ALL ETERNITY!" The rich man not only had to be tormented in flames for all eternity, but he also had to live with what he had become in this life. For some people, no punishment could surpass having to live with what they are right now, forever. Some of you keep promising your family, your friends and yourself that one day you are going to change. But you are only deceiving yourself. You're not going to change anything, you're going to keep putting it off, just like this man did, until it will be eternally too late. The truth is, YOU CAN'T CHANGE YOURSELF! You need supernatural help from Jesus. Until you act on those two pieces of knowledge, until you submit yourself to the LORD Jesus as your LORD, Master, Owner and SAVIOR, you will be just like you are now, forever. And that would be a shame, because now, in this life, you KNOW BETTER!


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