Luke 16:19-31 [NLT]
Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to be with Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and his soul went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’
29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’
31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even if someone rises from the dead.’” [emphasis added]
I'm not usually a 'hellfire and brimstone" kinda girl. But.... God brought me to this passage early Monday morning from the KJV. It's what triggered the first part of this post series in Part one. Yesterday, I read it in every different version, The Message, NIV and the NLT [printed here]. But no matter what translation or paraphrase I read - it said the same thing:
AFTER DEATH occurs IT'S TOO LATE for the LOST!
**********************************As the passage climbs to its end we see the truth. The rich man asked Abraham to send someone back from the dead to tell his five brothers about Christ and the truth of that place of torment. But Abraham's answer basically [in my paraphrase] says: "If they didn't listen to the living Word and the prophets who spoke it, they aren't gonna listen to a dead guy."
Someone in my Bible study group this week asked me if there was any hope for those who are already dead. Any second chance? God had already given me this passage the same day she asked that question. It was a hard answer to give her, but it was, "no there isn't... it's too late by then." I thought about it later.....
How many chances does God give?
How many are missed or rejected?
How many times does it take to get through to people - that without Christ they are going to hell - all alone in torture and flames?
God is merciful and forgiving and slow to anger. But He is also a God of Justice and He cannot look upon sin . Only the blood of the Lamb - shed on a Cross can pay for your sin and mine. But we must come to that place of believing and receiving it. It's a free gift - but if it's never opened - it can never be applied to the one given to.
The scripture is clear - there is a great chasm [gulf, separation] where there is no crossing over. That separation is between God and man. Christ is the BRIDGE - but only on THIS SIDE of ETERNITY!
Those flames are too hot for anyone!
In the end - we're all on level ground before Christ! Only His applied blood covers us!
[JESUS - For His Name's Sake]