““There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
Luke 16:19-23 NKJV
If one rose from the dead
There is great danger in having it all. One becomes overwhelmingly self reliant, having turned to self in meeting needs. All too often people become so accustomed to doing for self, that their belief begins to encroach on their ability to affect their eternal state.
I remember a billionaire in New York City proclaiming that his various charitable endeavors would surely get him into heaven. He had no idea, that great wealth or good works are nothing before God, in regard to justification.
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.”
Ephesians 2:8-9 NKJV
Another great danger in overt self reliance is the tendency to not have much concern for what comes after we die. We become focused on the here and now, and hold little regard for the eternal things. We fail to realize that death is pursuing us constantly, gaining on us, until it catches us, often unawares.
Reading Luke chapter sixteen, I was reminded of this as I read the familiar story of the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man had it all, for his great wealth insulated him from the concerns of life. Each day was likely peak experience, filled with the greater experiences.
But there was a beggar at his gate who knew not the greater things, who dreamed of having even the refuse of he rich man, such as the crumbs that had fallen from his table. Form the poor man, each day was filled with struggle, for he was like unto the sparrows, relating on the care of God. He could do nothing for himself.
On the spiritual level, he was the epitome of one defined by the beatitudes, bent and broken, needing a Savior.
““Blessed are the poor in spirit, For theirs is the kingdom of heaven. Blessed are those who mourn, For they shall be comforted. Blessed are the meek, For they shall inherit the earth. Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, For they shall be filled. Blessed are the merciful, For they shall obtain mercy. Blessed are the pure in heart, For they shall see God.”
Matthew 5:3-8 NKJV
In due time, when both men had died, the economy of God was on display, as he who had known glory in this life, went to hades, and he that knew nothing but struggle went to paradise.
We are living in a time when those who live in this world are conditioned to believe that salvation is of the here and now and based on ones success. This message has permeated every aspect of life on this planet, and even has crept into the church. So many preach of health, wealth and prosperity, ignoring the story of the rich man and Lazarus.
There are so many who not consider the condition of their souls. The American church in particular is filled with false professors, people who have not been saved, who are as tares sown in amongst the wheat. They do value the word of God, nor see the necessity of the Gospel.
They walk about as the rich man, seemingly alive, but actually dead.
Reading Luke chapter sixteen creates a profound sense of sadness in me, for my mind is taken to the coming White Throne Judgment, when the books are opened, and those who have had the opportunity to hear the Gospel will be judged, for they ignored every opportunity afforded by the Holy Spirit having committed the unpardonable sin.
There will be fixed gulf between those who will enter the New Earth and those destined for the lake of fire. I don’t know what that scene will look like, but I can imagine a great multitude, heads down, weighted heavily by dread and regret, pondering what next as they stand on the sea like glass mingled with fire in front of the throne of God.
I wonder if they will reflect on all the times they were given a tract, all they times that some smiling Christian approached them with the Gospel. They will remember the mocking words they had for the humble witness, and count all the tracts they ripped up and tossed in the trash can.
Brothers and sisters, let us be diligent in going out and sharing the Gospel. The rich man realized his predicament all too late, for he had ignored the prophets. The words that they shared with him told of one coming to save the world from its sins.
Sitting in Hades, he so desired to go and tell his brothers.
““Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ””
Luke 16:27-31 NKJV
The sad truth is that many today are not persuaded, those we bring the Gospel, the story of One who rose from the dead.
Lest we forget:
“Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you—unless you believed in vain. For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time.”
I Corinthians 15:1-6, 8 NKJV
Though we have not seen the risen Jesus, nor laid our hands upon Him, we bear witness as people who have been transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit through the word God. Each of us has a testimony, of lives that hav been reclaimed from addictions, lives reclaimed from sexual identities and lifestyles. Lives reclaimed from all manner of traumas.
We are people that the Lord has raised from the dead.
We are all like the poor man, beggars knowing that we needed a savior, having been rescued. Let us be the ones who go and tell, hoping that those who choose not to hear will have their hearts opened. I tell you the truth the days are short, and many things are happening in our world that affirm for us that the Lord is returning soon.
We bring the message of the Good News, that there is One who saves. It is the message the Lord needs in these increasingly perilous times.
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2 thoughts on “If one rose from the dead”
“Death is pursuing us constantly.” What a great truth that is. Thank you, Bernie.
“and the rich man is to boast in his humiliation, because like flowering grass he will pass away. For the sun rises with a scorching heat and withers the grass; and its flower falls off and the beauty of its appearance is destroyed; so too the rich man in the midst of his pursuits will fade away.”
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