Scripture: – “Luke 16:23-31”
“Then he died, this poor man, and was taken up by the angels to the lap of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell and in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham in the distance and Lazarus in his lap. He called out, ‘Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue. I’m in agony in this fire.’ “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. It’s not like that here. Here he’s consoled and you’re tormented. Besides, in all these matters there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us.’ “The rich man said, ‘Then let me ask you, Father: Send him to the house of my father where I have five brothers, so he can tell them the score and warn them so they won’t end up here in this place of torment.’ “Abraham answered, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them.’ “‘I know, Father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but they’re not listening. If someone came back to them from the dead, they would change their ways.’ “Abraham replied, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the Prophets, they’re not going to be convinced by someone who rises from the dead.“ – “Luke 16:23-31” The Message
In a previous message that was published on – YouTube, Facebook and the WWCM (Worldwide Christian Ministries) I made reference to the devil, and I emphasised that this being was a real entity whose sole desire is to “destroy, kill and steal” all that God desires to give to individuals. In our modern day and age mainly due to the foolish caricatures of the devil as a “hoofed individual with horns and a forked weapon” the majority outside of the Church of Jesus Christ and sadly within it see him as a “Philosophical Concept” or as a “Cartoon Character” for movies and to scare children into better behaviour.
This is a sad state of affairs because through it and the “negative connotations” related to talking about the devil – Evangelism has diluted the “True Gospel Message of Salvation” and in a great deal of places it has become a very vanilla presentation – Whereas the “Full Counsel of God Presentation” provides its efficacy with the “Gospel being the Power of God unto Salvation.”
Along with what I have said there is also the reality of the presentation of Hell being directed along the same route – both having a “devastating impact both within and without of the Church of Jesus Christ.”
I have to say right now that – the devil is a real entity and Hell is a real place – If they are not then the Bible has been a means of mis-leading millions from the time it reached the hearing and hands of those who have had it brought to them.
In this message today I want to share with you about the reality that faces mankind relating to the subject of hell.
A proper understanding of what the Bible teaches about Hell, and the terms – Sheol, Hades, and the Grave – dispels confusion over what happens to the soul at the time of physical death and guards against being led astray by those teaching the false doctrines of soul-sleep, eradication of the soul, the universal reconciliation of mankind, and the annihilation of the lost.
All of these erroneous doctrines are of the devil, and they are used of him to dishearten believers and blind the lost to the reality of the cost of spurning the Gospel of Jesus Christ.
There is no denying that our thinking, and therefore our life on a day-to-day basis, is influenced by what we believe. While some of the false doctrines I have just mentioned are diametrically opposed to each other, they still have one thing in common. They subvert the truth of the destiny of those who are saved or un-saved, saints or sinners.
I’m an “Evangelist” at heart and by ministry calling and there are some who would believe – falsely I might say – that I’m an “old fashioned hell fire preacher,” they could not be further from the truth. However, it would be true to say that I firmly believe that – Hell and the devil are both real – and that there is a confrontation and destiny relating to both of them that has to be – realised, recognised, received and faced up to” as eternal destinies are at stake.
The Bible clearly speaks of what is termed “The Lake of Fire” or “Hell” and speaks of it as a literal place of everlasting fire. It was originally created by God as a place of punishment for the devil – See “Matthew 25:41.”
In “Matthew 13:42”it is described as a place of “everlasting punishment.” Whilst Hell was created for the devil, it has to be said in declaring the realities of the truth of Scripture that the unsaved of humanity from all ages will be with them in this place of torment where the Bible declares “there will be wailing and gnashing of teeth” – “Matthew 13:42.” This as I mentioned in a previous message is the “Wages of sin and the Eternal Payday of sin” it is the “everlasting reward” of all that die without Jesus Christ as their Saviour.
There is a famous lawyer by the name of Robert Ingersoll who was also an atheist in the late nineteenth century who said in a lecture that, and I quote “Hell is the scarecrow of religion” and told his audience how unscientific it was, and how all intelligent people had decided there was no such place.
A drunk in the audience came up to him afterward and said, “Bob, I liked your lecture; I liked what you said about hell. But, Bob, I want you to be sure about it because I’m depending upon you.”
How solemn a thought that is for us today – “…I want you to be sure about it, because I’m depending upon you.”
So then let’s take a look at what the Scripture I read at the beginning tells us today.
It’s the Story of a Man in a Terrible Circumstance
What was it we read earlier? – “…and in Hell and in torment, he looked up.” – “Verse 23”
What is our natural inclination when we are faced with unpleasant circumstances? The natural inclination is to minimise or to euphemize them. People do not like to hear the words of this “Rich Man” who is spoken of in “Verse 23.”
Here’s an example for us to consider. Look back to the last funeral that you attended of someone who had not taken Jesus Christ as their Saviour. Here is someone who lived all the way through life with no regard for the things of God. As you take a look around the scene in the Crematorium, Chapel or Graveside what do you see? The flowers are all meticulously placed, in the background there is the sound of soothing music. When we take a look at the funeral director and the presiding minister there, they are all wearing their very best sad, pleasant and understanding face. The Minister is providing winsome accolades relating to the person’s accomplishments in life.
However, for the most part little or nothing is ever mentioned about life after death. Everyone is carefully avoiding the subject unless it’s the often time mentioned but misleading phrase – “…at least he’s in a better place.”
Now imagine for a moment that suddenly the funeral of that unbeliever is interrupted by the terrified voice of the deceased coming over the loudspeaker system saying: – “Please, somebody help me! I’m in agony in this flame! I’m in torment! Help me!”
I’m guessing that it would certainly change the mood, wouldn’t it? All the sombre faces would change to looks of horror. The farce of this funeral would be exposed for what it really is.
All the talk of peace and rest and “he’s in a better place” would cease as people came face to face with both reality and the truth. Of course, some would still wonder what was going on. Some would say “Was that really the deceased we heard? Was someone playing a cruel prank? There will always be those that would not be convinced even if someone returned and spoke to them from the dead.
Of course, no such a thing is likely to happen. But if it did, it would be an accurate picture of what is really going on. On a number of occasions, depending on which Bible translation you read the words “torment – agony” and “flame” are utilised. It’s inconceivable that these words will ever be heard or even mentioned at a funeral, but the reality is that according to the Bible, in the context of the deceased unbeliever, that is what is really happening.
My friends, we dare not allow ourselves to be caught in such a terrible circumstance! In the words of Scripture – “2 Peter 1:10-11” – “Set your minds, then, on endorsing by your conduct the fact that God has called and chosen you. If you go along the lines I have indicated above, there is no reason you should stumble, and if you have lived the sort of life I have recommended God will open wide to you the gates of the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ.” – J.B. Phillips Translation.
My friends today – Don’t dally around with the offer of your salvation! Don’t play games with your eternity destiny. The stakes are too high!
It’s the Story of a Man Whose Situation was Desperate.
We see secondly in this passage again the words of the “Rich Man” who is spoken of, and he declares in “Verse 24” – “Father Abraham, mercy! Have mercy!”
In the context of the story Jesus was telling it is obvious that this man was not used to asking for help. It’s unlikely that he had ever found himself throughout his life in any desperate circumstances. In fact, Abraham declares to him “…‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things…” According to Jesus, he had lived a life of splendour. The image that is presented is of a man who had expensive and fashionable clothes and shoes. He was an affluent individual whose biggest headache in a day when he got up in the morning was deciding what to wear when he opened his walk-in closet. Human need was as far away from his conscious mind as his wealth could keep it. Yet, right outside of the gate of his house there was a scene of desperation in the form of a beggar by the name of Lazarus who the rich man knew.
Now though as he is crying out for mercy in the same way that the beggar Lazarus had once done for food, he finds himself longing for just a single drop of water. It is hard to imagine a more desperate condition than the one this man was in.
It might be said “people have died horrible deaths in fire here on earth” and that is very true, but the key word to notice here is “died.” This man, the rich man of the story, wasn’t dying! All the agony was there without the ending of it!
In “Revelation 14:11” we read the words “And the smoke of their torment goes up forever and ever; and they have no rest day and night…” – In “Matthew 25:46” it says, “And these will go away into eternal punishment…” Forever and Ever and Eternal are the words utilised so is it any wonder the man is crying for mercy!
When we consider the concept of “Eternity” it’s really impossible to understand or explain. Sure, it’s longer than a lifetime or a millennium and it’s longer than the entire history of man. We can only imagine that if we lived for the entire span of the universes span of existence at the end of it, we would have not used up any of the time remaining. All hope of an end is gone.
If the punishment in Hell for the rejection of Jesus Christ as our Saviour lasted only a week, perhaps one could endure it without crying out for mercy. If it went on for year, at least he could dream of the time when it would be over. But to imagine a punishment that never ends, that is the most desperate of situations!
I know there are people who do not want to believe that Hell is eternal. I know there are those who say, “I cannot believe that a loving God could do such a thing to a person!” But the fact remains – the Bible teaches that there is a literal Hell, and that real people will go there. If we do not want to believe it, we find ourselves in contention with Jesus Himself – How so? We Say, well listen to what He tells us: – In “Matthew 10:28” Jesus says, “And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.” We can choose to say He was wrong, a liar or a charlatan but doing so and refusing to believe it does not change what this book of God the Bible says.
I’m saddened of heart as I bring this message of truth, but nevertheless it is incumbent upon me to do so for your souls very eternal destiny. We all need to better consider very carefully whatever it is we are counting on to get us through.
If we are depending on what this Evangelist tells you, then listen carefully. “On this side of death, you can obtain ten thousand gallons of the water of God’s mercy whenever you need it. On the other side, if you die outside of knowing Jesus Christ as your Saviour, there will be none – not even one drop.”
As we move forward, we see something else of importance also – We see.
It’s the Story of a Man Who Needed in His Desperation Help but Couldn’t Get It.
In “Verse 24” he declares “Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water to cool my tongue.”
Here was a man used to people waiting on him. He simply clapped his hands or pushed the butler’s bell when he wanted something, and someone came to wait on him.
His demand here is that Abraham should send someone to him! He demands that Abraham send Lazarus. “He can do it. He’s used to doing what I tell him.” Is the inference that is given.
That however was akin to a “Dog that won’t hunt” as the expression goes. There was no “butler’s or servants bell” there. He wasn’t able to go to the “Yellow Pages, Thompsons Directory” or whatever book in our country of residence might be. He couldn’t dial – 999 or some government agency to assist to assist him.
The Rich Man of our story in life commanded attention and service. His life was meticulously arranged for his convenience and comfort and the filling of his needs. I’m sure that he had the equivalent of a black chauffeured limo that took his body to the cemetery. Whilst they probably tossed Lazarus’ body into the nearest refuse tip!
However, this was now not the situation. Things are not the same in the afterlife as they are here and now. It’s so vital that we do not make the mistake of thinking that comfort here will insure comfort there. It won’t.
So, we have seen so far: –
- It’s the Story of a Man in a Terrible Circumstance
- It’s the Story of a Man Whose Situation was Desperate.
- It’s the Story of a Man Who Needed in His Desperation Help but Couldn’t Get It.
What do we now discover?
It’s the Story of a Man for Whom Nothing Could Be Done.
In the passage of “Luke 16:23-31” and in “Verse 26” we read – “there is a huge chasm set between us so that no one can go from us to you even if he wanted to, nor can anyone cross over from you to us.”
Here’s an interesting thing to consider. In the beginning all that separated these two men the Rich Man and Lazarus was the Gate at the front of his property but notice by the end of the story they are separated by a Gulf. The thing to recognise here is that anyone is able to “Step through a Gate” but “No-one can Step Across a Gulf.”
As the Children of God, as Christians, as Ambassadors of Christ how agonising it is or should be to know of the desperate cries of those who are lost and doing nothing about it.
Consider what it says in “Amos 1:1-2” – “Woe to you who think you live on easy street in Zion, who think Mount Samaria is the good life. You assume you’re at the top of the heap, voted the number-one best place to live. Well, wake up and look around. Get off your pedestal. Take a look at Calneh. Go and visit Great Hamath. Look in on Gath of the Philistines. Doesn’t that take you off your high horse? Compared to them, you’re not much, are you?” – The Message Version
It has to be said that for the one in Hell there is no remedy whatsoever. The only thing that can be done and has been done is preventative accomplished by Jesus Himself. The Rich Man of the story was informed “They have Moses and the Prophets to tell them the score. Let them listen to them.” Here was one that we justifiably believe was a Jew and would have lived and died knowing the Old Testament Scriptures and he should have listened to them and followed what they told him. But alas he didn’t. The only hope he had, the only hope his family and Children had been to do so.
We today have both the Old and New Testament Scriptures to – inform, educate, instruct, and bring about our salvation and yet so many simply ignore them.
Our Rich Man willingly chose to either ignore or be ignorant of the Scriptures perhaps he knew them but chose to disregard them – who can tell? But what we do know was that there would be no additional warning given.
This was also the case for his five brothers that are mentioned and the same is applicable for you, me, and all of those that surround us day by day. Neither would there be a special warning to his five brothers. Nor will there be any more warning to you and me or to others living today.
I have spoken to people in various Countries of the world and one common theme has become apparent amongst all the excuses to reject Christ that have been made is – “if there were really such a place as Hell and if it were really as bad as all that, God would somehow alert us in some special way so as to get our undivided attention.” He has been doing just that for the past 2000yrs since Jesus went to the Cross and was crucified.
There was a man by the name of Carl Edward Sagan who was an atheist. He was born November 9, 1934 – and died on December 20, 1996.) He was an American astronomer, planetary scientist, cosmologist, astrophysicist, astrobiologist, author, and science communicator (Wikipedia). He made some very foolish and bold statements. He for instance was fond of saying that “if God would place a burning cross in the sky, he would believe.” In addition, to this he said “I would love to believe that when I die I will live again, that some thinking, feeling, remembering part of me will continue. But as much as I want to believe that, and despite the ancient and worldwide cultural traditions that assert an afterlife, I know of nothing to suggest that it is more than wishful thinking.” (Good Reads).
He may or not have been sincere in what he said at that time but without a doubt there are two things for certain: –
- First, there would never be a burning Cross – God gave a blood washed one.
- Second, Sagan is most certainly a believer today, knowing the same fate as the Rich Man.
It is quite possible, assuming that you have read this far that you are thinking, “One of these days God will do something really big to get my attention, then I’ll change.” You might be very fortunate and that will occur but it’s unlikely.
The Rich Man had his warning and once a person gets to Hells, there is no-one and nothing anyone can do to help.
It’s the Story of a Man for Whom It Was Already Too Late.
Finally in our time together today we come again to “Verse 25” where it says – “But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that in your lifetime you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. It’s not like that here.”
During the lifetime of the Rich Man there had been extended to him by God His goodness and there was not going to be anything more forthcoming. He had it all, living a “Eat, Drink and be Merry for tomorrow we die” attitude. He could have had all of his good life and life everlasting through the work of Jesus Christ, but his problem was, he did nothing with it.
There is a Scripture that says: – “Those people are on a dark spiral downward. But if you think that leaves you on the high ground where you can point your finger at others, think again. Every time you criticise someone, you condemn yourself. It takes one to know one. Judgmental criticism of others is a well-known way of escaping detection in your own crimes and misdemeanours. But God isn’t so easily diverted. He sees right through all such smoke screens and holds you to what you’ve done. You didn’t think, did you, that just by pointing your finger at others you would distract God from seeing all your misdoings and from coming down on you hard? Or did you think that because he’s such a nice God, he’d let you off the hook? Better think this one through from the beginning. God is kind, but he’s not soft. In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change. You’re not getting by with anything. Every refusal and avoidance of God adds fuel to the fire. The day is coming when it’s going to blaze hot and high, God’s fiery and righteous judgment. Make no mistake: In the end you get what’s coming to you – Real Life for those who work on God’s side, but to those who insist on getting their own way and take the path of least resistance, Fire!” – “Romans 2:1-8” – The Message Translation
Notice the words – “In kindness he takes us firmly by the hand and leads us into a radical life-change.” In the Scripture above. God did this for the Rich Man, He perhaps is doing it for you right now and we should not fool ourselves into thinking that the good life God is letting you have today is an indicator that everything is all right.
If you like the Rich Man, Carl Sagan and Robert Ingersoll remain hard and with an unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day when you will stand before Him.
On Saturday 11th May 1996 110 people died in a fatal air crash in the Florida Everglades whilst on “Flight 592.” The crash occurred because the owners of the aircraft ValuJet Airlines to save money cut corners on their maintenance and the cargo was improperly packaged. They lived dangerously and recklessly like such a disaster could never happen to them. They squeezed every bit of profit out of business that they could, all the while ignoring warning after warning.
The folks onboard that day set out thinking all was fine, but disaster happened and even now 26yrs later there are those who still mourn the loss of friends and family. For these people there is nothing we can do. There is no way to undo what happened. In a similar vein today, there is nothing that can be done about those already in Hell.
However, preventative steps can be taken to assure that other people don’t end up there. But we cannot cut corners, we cannot live as though it could never happen to us.
Flight 952 had a “black box” which recorded the voice recording of disaster-in-progress, the words of Jesus found in “Luke 16” are like a “Little Black Box” serving to warn us all to make sure that we know Him as our Saviour and to spur us on to warn our loved ones and neighbours before it is too late.
If today you are not a Christian, don’t wait! Don’t risk an eternity of torment for the sake of a few years of pleasure. Be reconciled to God today! And for those of us who are Christians, we dare not let up on our commitment to Christ. The danger is too great, and the stakes are too high.
If your answer is yes! Then pray this prayer after me: –
“Lord Jesus I recognise my need as a sinner to take you to be my Saviour. I recognise that you are Lord and God. I believe Jesus that you were crucified, died, and was buried. I believe that on the third day you rose again. I believe that you ascended into heaven. I believe you are now seated at the right hand of the Father. I believe that you will one day come to judge the living and the dead. Jesus, please forgive me now, come into my life as my Saviour and Lord enable me to live for you – Amen.”
If you prayed that prayer, then please let us know by going either to our guest page at www.worldwidechristianministries.org or by subscribing and commenting on our YouTube Channel at www.youtube.com/c/AlbertMMartinWWCM and let us know about it so we can pray for you and help you further in this new exciting journey of faith.