Sunday, 14 October 2012
Believed but too late!
"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 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.'" Luke 16:27-31 NIV
That was a discussion between the rich man that dressed in purple and lived in luxury while he was alive and father Abraham. The man was speaking from hell while Abraham was answering him from the abode of the saints. You can read the whole story from Luke 16: 19-end.
Most likely, when the man was on earth, he had no time for spiritual things. He did not have time for God. He just carried on in life as if he would live forever here on earth. But life on earth is not permanent. We are all passers-by, strangers and sojourners who start the journey towards our death the first day we are born.
There are two major events in our lives that draw people around us, if we are privileged, without our awareness – our birth and our death. As many of us as are reading this piece right now are waiting for the next big event that will gather people around us, our death which we have no control over. For our entrance, our birth, we had no preparation for it but for our exit, our death, we have to prepare for it. When a man gets so distracted by the fashions of this world that he forgets that he is a pilgrim here and begins to live like a land owner, he is the most deceived and the most to be pitied. That was the kind of life the rich man in our passage lived.
One truth is clear from this story of Jesus: the soul of man does not die when the body dies. We continue to live even after we are buried here on earth. Whether we are rich or poor does not affect the fact that we will all be conscious after death. Notice that Lazarus’s burial or funeral was not mentioned but the rich man was buried. That is why it does not matter the “chariot of your departure”. It does not matter the way we die or whether a superb funeral is organized after we are gone. It does not matter how many priests and pastors that attend our burial. Notice also that the rich man was still full of his feelings. He was hurting, thirsty and tormented in the flames of hell. Death is not total extermination of our conscious being.
A few questions keep coming to my mind, how is it that someone who is a child of Abraham can go to hell? How is it that even in hell, he was still calling Abraham, “father Abraham” and neither Abraham nor God could rebuke him for doing so? It means that he was not lying. But why is it that he is spending his eternity in hell, lost forever? He wasted his opportunities and the privileges he had. He lived as a child of Abraham by birth and association but did not serve the God of Abraham. Hence even by his addressing Abraham as ‘father’ did not bring him out of hell. For generations to come, he will remain in hell forever in regret for missing the salvation of God.
This picture tells me that there are many in hell today who will be calling on God to save them. There are many in hell today who will be receiving Jesus as their Lord and Savior numerous times. It tells me that there are many people in hell today who are crying and praying prayer of repentance. The issue is that nobody will stop them from praying but surely no such prayers will be answered.
It’s amazing to see this man that could not give Lazarus little crumbs from his sumptuous table asking for a drop of water. He remembered all the messages preached to him by teachers of the Law and suddenly developed a heart of compassion for his equally lost brothers. He became an intercessor immediately and was asking that a preacher be sent from the dead to warn his brothers. "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' … 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.'" Luke 16:29-31 NIV. It means that if they do not listen to the Gospel that is preached all around them, they will not listen even if something spectacular happens, like the dead coming back to life to preach.
One life to live! We have the opportunity to believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and serve Him. The time to make decision for eternity is in this life and not hereafter. There is no purgatory or a go-between life and your eternal destination. It is possible that there are some in hell right now who are praying for you not to come there, probably thinking that if you go to heaven, you will help out. Many will believe in Jesus only when they have entered hell but they will have believed too late. Please as we come close to the end of this Year, make sure you take the right decision. Do not join the statistics. Do not waste your opportunities and privileges. God bless!