In the span of two weeks, the same passage in God’s Word was preached to me and my fellow church members. At the same church. By two different preachers that were not in correspondence with each other. Each preacher gave the message according to their particular style of preaching, but the message was the same. The verse they both preached on was Luke 16:19-31.
That’s not a coincidence. That’s God. He wants to reach everyone that He can, to show the way to eternal life with Him. We, that believe, are His church. His church is not a building made of brick and mortar, but of PEOPLE who HEAR His message and can share it with others in the hopes of bringing another soul to heaven.
Luke 16:19-31 talks about the Rich man and Lazarus, the beggar. The rich man lived in extravagance every day. Food, clothing, shelter, wine – you name it, and he had it. He ate good food, he wore fine linen clothes, he was warm, dry, and comfortable. Lazarus, the beggar, who the bible tells us was full of sores, laid at the rich man’s gate every day hoping for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table.
The bible says, it came to pass that Lazarus died and so did the rich man. Lazarus was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom (this was not heaven but was a place where souls that believed in God went before Jesus died to give us a way into heaven); and that the rich man also died and was buried.
The rich man, the bible tells us, entered hell and was in torments. He lifted his eyes and saw that Lazarus was in Abraham’s bosom. He cried out to Abraham and asked for mercy. He asked that Lazarus be sent down with just a drop of water to cool his tongue for he was in torment in the flames. Abraham tells him that he can’t send Lazarus because there is a great gulf between them that is fixed so that those that are in Abraham’s bosom cannot pass into hell and those that are in hell cannot pass into Abraham’s bosom.
The rich man then pleads for Abraham to send Lazarus to the house of the rich man’s father where he has brethren so that Lazarus could testify to them so that THEY did not end up in hell – the place of torment that he was now in. Abraham tells him no; they have Moses and the prophets that they should listen to. The rich man responds with, “No father Abraham, but if you were to send them one from the dead, they will repent.” And Abraham says, “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead”. (Interesting choice of words back then – before Jesus. Jesus hadn’t come yet, but he was coming, and he did rise from the dead and he has testified – and how many people to this day, still won’t HEAR?)
The rich man was not sent to hell because he was rich. He was sent because although he had heard the Word of God through Moses and the prophets, he believed them not. This isn’t a message about being rich or being poor. It’s about belief and non-belief. It’s God trying to bring us back to HIM because He loves us. It’s God giving you free will to make a choice but he’s letting you know what’s behind each choice in the hope that you will choose eternal life with Him. When we die, our bodies are what give out. Our physical heart stops. But our soul and our spirit continue on. Where we continue on to is the question. There are only two places. Heaven and Hell. This world is already condemned to hell. We chose that when Eve listened to Satan in the Garden of Eden. That’s when humans fell from God. And HE has been trying to reach us ever since and give us a way to get back to him. To do that, HE sent Jesus, his only begotten son, to be the Way, the Truth and the Life.
Do you believe in Heaven? Do you believe in Hell? Does your unbelief make either of them not real?
Does my belief make either of them real?
They are real because God says so, in HIS Word – The Bible. I have no doubt that if you don’t believe there is a hell, you WILL believe after a few mere seconds there. The sad part is it will be too late to do anything about it at that point.
Do you know what NO mercy looks like? I don’t because God grants me mercy every day. Mercy is God not giving us what we deserve. The punishment that we deserve for our sins. The punishment that Jesus took upon himself on the cross. I don’t want to even imagine what it would be like with no mercy.
Luke 16:24 says the rich man cried out and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
But it was too late for mercy.
In Hell God isn’t there. There is no God there to grant you mercy. Your friends and family that have gone before you, that didn’t believe in Jesus, . . . they’re there, but they aren’t just waiting for you to get there so you can have a party with a keg of beer. No, they’re like the rich man . . . in torment and wishing for a drop of water . . . and mercy. If they could send someone to you, to tell you to repent and to believe . . . they would.
But THEY don’t have to because GOD already did. God sent his only begotten son so that WE might have eternal life in heaven with HIM. He sent Jesus to die on that cross for you, and for me. Can you imagine, even for a second, giving up one of your children to die on the cross for your neighbor? For the man that stands on the corner begging for change? I couldn’t.
God did. That’s Grace.
The tomb where Jesus was laid stands empty to this day because Jesus rose and defeated death for you and for me. Jesus lives. Jesus saves. And Jesus loves every single one of us.
Do you have family members or friends who are lost, like the rich man? Have you heard the Word of God through someone in your family or a friend, but choose to not believe?
Where you spend your eternal life IS important. We don’t have the luxury of saying “I have my whole life ahead of me to make that decision”, because we don’t. Eternity is one last breath away. One last heartbeat away. Eternity is an inch away from your nose as you drive down the highway to work each day. The choice of where you’ll spend eternity needs to be made here, and now, because once this body dies, if you haven’t repented and accepted Jesus as your savior – it’s too late.
Don’t be like the rich man, who lives on even today in hell wishing for one drop of water. Seek God – Choose Heaven over hell.