Faithlife Sermons

A Look at the Life to Come

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I hope for the last few weeks I have given you something to think about. You have been created by God for something significant. Today, I want to conclude this series by looking at the life to come.
The last parable in these 3 chapters of Luke that we have been looking at for the last few weeks is a parable that gives us a look into the afterlife.
Jesus gives us a story about two men that come from 2 different backgrounds. One, Jesus calls Rich man. Some ancient texts call him Dives which is Latin for “rich man”. The other man Jesus gives the name Lazarus. This is not the same Lazarus that Jesus raised from the dead who was the brother of Mary and Martha. Jesus may have given the man the name Lazarus because that name means “God has helped.”
Let’s read this story found in Luke chapter 16. I want to begin reading at verse 19.
Luke 16:19–31 NIV
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ 25 “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. 26 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.’ 27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ 29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ 30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ 31 “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 story gives us a great view of our two point of views. We get a look at what life looked like for these two while they were alive and we get a look into the life of these two after they died. In each case there are two contrasting differences.
The rich man’s life was a life of luxury. He dressed in purple and fine linen. Purple was a very expensive color during Jesus’ time. Other translations use the phrase ate sumptuously. This refers to the incredible banquets and eating habits of the super-rich.
Lazarus the beggars life was a complete contrast to the rich man’s. Each morning he would be carried and laid at the rich man’s gate so that he could beg. He was also covered in sores, possibly leprosy, which would make him unclean to touch. Lazarus just wanted the crumbs from the rich man’s table. He didn’t even ask for a full meal, just the crumbs.
Luke 16:22 NIV
22 “The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried.
Now the tides had turned. The rich man found himself in Hades, the Greek word for hell. This is the place for departed spirits. It is the destiny of those who have refused to believe. We find out in verse 24 that the torment is flames. Plus he could also see what he was missing by looking into paradise.
Isn’t it ironic that the same thing that the beggar faced on earth. Seeing what he couldn’t have. Now the rich man was in eternity looking at what he couldn’t have because of the choices he made on earth.
And in contrast to the rich man, Lazarus must be a God-fearing man, despite the fact that God had not allowed him an easy or pleasant lifetime on earth.
Verse 22 says the angels carried him to Abraham’s side and the rich man also died and was buried. Lazarus had no family so there was no formal funeral for him. But the rich man had all the fanfare that went with a funeral because he was wealthy and had family and friends.
But now in hell the rich man must beg for Abraham to send Lazarus to just dip his finger in water and touch the rich man’s tongue for relief. Or to just send someone to his loved ones, but it is too late. He enjoyed his life on earth and turned away from God and received his eternal reward. Lazarus never received the finer things in life, but served the Lord and he received his eternal reward of Heaven.
When 22 tells us that the angels carried Lazarus to Abraham’s side, that is telling us that Lazarus is now an honored guest. Abraham is the head of this table. Lazarus is next to him and he is now the honored guest.
The rich man’s callused heart, self-sufficiency, and unresponsiveness to God got him delivered to the place of his own making and choosing. All of his life, he’s lived as if he didn’t need God. All of his life, he’s put God at arm-length. In effect, he has said “I don’t want you in my life. I want to be my own Lord, my own god.
So, in the afterlife, God grants his wish, just like he does with all those who choose to ignore, fend off, or push away from his invitation. If you were ever wondering the truth, let me tell you, Hell does exist. It exists so that people who choose to exclude God from their lives can have what they wish for, for all eternity.
God is everywhere and He knows everything. You can look all around and see that God exists. You can see it in His creation. You can become fascinated with all the beauty.
A couple of weeks ago we went on vacation to San Antonio, TX. If you have never been there, then I highly recommend you go. One place we went to that all of the family enjoyed was a place called Natural Bridge Caverns. They took us on a tour of these caverns. We went 180 feet in the ground. It was like it was a whole new world underground. There was water there. We went into rooms larger than this sanctuary. Some of the most beautiful scenery I have ever seen. You can look at something like that. Something natural and say there is a God. You can’t tell me that God doesn’t exist when I walk somewhere like that. It was absolutely amazing. God our creator is an amazing, unique, wonderful person. He is full of beauty and ability.
In Heaven, God is everywhere. We will get to spend eternity with him, if we accept Jesus as our Savior.
And in Hell, God is deliberately absent and far off. Why is that? Because He wants to respect the choice of those who have chosen against Him. And that is what the rich man has done.
But the rich man never really thought about the consequences of his choice. He never consciously verbalized to himself that pushing God away throughout his life on earth would mean he would spend eternity without him. He is surprised when he finds himself in this terrible place. In verse 23, Jesus tells us that he was in torment.
It is at this point in the story that the rich man wakes up. He decides that even though it is too late for him. Maybe it’s not too late for his friends and family.
He begins by asking Abraham for a cold touch of water on his tongue. He’s pleading with the father of the nation of Israel, Abraham. He’s probably thinking, we’re family, surely he can do something for me.
He might have thought, “I’m a good guy. I’m from an affluent family. I have lots of friends. I don’t cheat on my wife. I don’t shortchange the waiter. I don’t cheat on my taxes. Basically, I’m a good guy. Certainly, I’m a likable guy. God’s got to let me into Heaven.”
And Abraham explains to him about the great chasm that has been set in place so that no one can cross back and forth.
The next thing he says is, “Luke 16:27-28
Luke 16:27–28 NIV
27 “He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’
About how long do you think the rich man was in hell before asking this question?
Probably about five minutes, right?
Did you notice what He is doing? He is crying out for the salvation of the ones he loves. But it is too late.
This man is having a revival but the revival has come too late. He can no longer receive forgiveness for himself. He can no longer pray for salvation for his family. During the time that he spent on earth he had all the time to do those things, but once he slipped into eternity all of that changed. Revival was too late.
Last week I told you that you have one life to live. I asked you the question, what are you going to do with that life? Once you die, it is all too late. Your time is now. While you are still here on this planet don’t waste the life you have.
As I’m getting reading to close I want to give you three observations that I believe Jesus is pointing out to us.

1. According to Jesus, Our Location in Eternity is NOT Based on Social Standing or Lineage. It’s Based on Grace.

Look at what Paul tells us in Titus 3:5-7
Titus 3:5–7 NIV
5 he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, 6 whom he poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, 7 so that, having been justified by his grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life.
God’s grace. God’s willingness to grant forgiveness to anyone honest enough to admit that they are not God, but that they need God in their lives; that at their core, they are morally flawed and in need of a savior. That was probably a lot easier for Lazarus to do than for the rich guy because all his life Lazarus had had to depend on others. He knew what humility was. He wasn’t too proud to beg for forgiveness. And God not only granted it, which alone would be mercy, but he gave him far more than just forgiveness. He gave him grace. So instead of just getting into heaven, he gets a seat at the right hand of Abraham.

2. According to Jesus, Our Location in Eternity is Permanent. Once We’ve Crossed Over, It’s Done, Final, No Returns. Only the Living Can Ask For Grace.

2 Corinthians 6:2 NIV
2 For he says, “In the time of my favor I heard you, and in the day of salvation I helped you.” I tell you, now is the time of God’s favor, now is the day of salvation.
Why is that? Because when this life passes, we get to live forever with the consequences of our choice.
I’ve had to do a few funerals in my life where I didn’t know the person I was doing the funeral for. I didn’t know if they had made the decision to follow Jesus before they died. So, I just focus on letting the crowd know that that person has made their decision and now until we die we have to make our decision. I say this because there is nothing I can do to help that person that has passed on. Their decisions are now final. They have made their choice.

3. Five Minutes in Hell Turns a Hardened Anti-God Person Into a Raving Evangelist.

Hell is a real place and real people go there. It is a place of torment and agony. The Bible says elsewhere that it’s a place of weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Five minutes in hell, this anti-God guy starts pleading that someone go and share the truth with his brothers because he didn’t want anyone he loved to join him there. And what does Abraham tell him.
Luke 16:29 NIV
29 “Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
In other words, they have the entire Old Testament to read
Luke 16:30 NIV
30 “ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
And then Abraham replies to him.
Luke 16:31 NIV
31 “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.’ ”
I believe Jesus is foreshadowing here. It wasn’t long after this that Jesus would be crucified, die on a cross and then come back from the dead.
Jesus knows that some will still not repent, but he also knows that some will.
I’ve used this illustration before, but I want to use it again here today. Some of you haven’t seen this and some of you have. But I want you to fully grasp what I am saying to you.
(Show Rope)
Take a look at this rope.
The rich man enjoyed his time on earth. He spent it only thinking about himself. He never thought about all the other people around him. It wasn’t until he was in eternity that he began thinking about his friends and family. By then though, it was too late.

Don’t spend your life today thinking about only today. What can you do today to help you and those around you prepare for eternity?

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