Friday, May 17, 2013

Luke 16:25-31

“But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’

“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’

“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’

“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

(This continues a parable from yesterday.)

The wealthy man who seemed to have the blessing of God has looked up to find himself in hell. He has benn in the Greek apollomi - destroyed or lost. Thayer's lexicon states, "The word means, at its heart, to be delivered up to eternal misery." Apart from God, he has no hope. In life the Holy Spirit convicts from love, offering a way out. Satan convicts from a standpoint of guilt. In hell there is complete guilt with no hope at all of redemption. The man does not ask for a reprieve from his punishment beyond a drop of water to ease his suffering for one moment. But even this is denied him.

Abraham responds to his descendant. In life he had received his reward. Lazarus received his in death. Riches do not prohibit someone from heaven, but the rich man had reveled in his wealth rather than turning in faith to God. Even if he wanted to send Lazarus, there was a barrier between heaven and hell.

This is a parable, an allegory to teach greater truths. People cannot speak to one another from heaven to hell or vice versa. But there is a barrier between the two. Once your eternal destiny is set, there is no chance of gaining or losing position.

The rich man realizes this. But he begs Abraham to send Lazarus so that the man's five brothers would believe and not end up with the same eternal punishment. Abraham replies that the brothers have the Law and the Prophets. If they would not believe these, they would not even believe someone resurrected. The Pharisees had twisted the Law into a set of rules and works that would bring salvation. But true salvation as described in the Old Testament required a change of heart as well as a sacrifice of blood that pointed toward the eventual sacrifice of Christ which would impute righteousness to all who would believe. Salvation came through faith alone (Hb 11). The entire Bible from Genesis to Revelation points to the gospel of Jesus - the only way to enter the kingdom of God.

Even when Jesus raised his friend Lazarus (not the same person as the man in this story) from the dead many people would not believe. The Pharisees react to this miracle by plotting the death of both Lazarus and Jesus. When Jesus is raised from the dead many still will not believe. There are those who will believe in the way to salvation laid out in scripture and those who will not. And the responsibility is on those of us who have been given this understanding to share it with others. No one will supernaturally appear from the dead to preach the gospel. It is our responsibility to study, believe, and proclaim the truth to others.

Thus says the Lord: Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, let not the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches; but let him who glories glory in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practice steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth; for in these things I delight, says the Lord. 
 - Jeremiah 9:23–24

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