Saving Men from Hell
(week 22, 2007)
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 hell, 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 fixed, 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 father’s house, 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.‘”
Here, the Lord Jesus tells us about the experience of a certain rich man and a beggar called Lazarus.
This story is NOT A PARABLE: it is an account of real actual events that took place: Jesus said ‘A certain rich man’ So we know that it is a certain account.
There are many lessons to be learnt in this story.
Firstly, hell is a real place of eternal confinement and torment.
It is not the will of God for any man (2 Peter. 3.9, 1 Timothy 2.4) to go there: it was created for Satan and his angels:
Matthew 25:41(NKJV): 41 “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:
However, men that live in continual rebellion to God and so do not ultimately accept the Lord Jesus as their Lord and Saviour will go to hell:
Mark 16:16-17(NKJV): 16 He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned.
Why did the rich man go to hell?
Was it wrong for him to be rich and wear purple and fine linen?
No. Abraham was very rich (Genesis 13.2) as was Job (Job 1. 1-3) and these were godly men who did not go to hell. The virtuous woman was dressed in silk and purple (Proverbs. 31.22).
The rich man went to hell not because he was rich or lived well (which is the will of God for us (2 Corintians. 8.9, 3 John 2) but because he forgot and ignored God and His Word so lived a selfish, self-indulgent, self-centred life. He ignored Lazarus the beggar when he could easily have shown him kindness.
Psalms 9:17(NKJV): 17 The wicked shall be turned into hell, and all the nations that forget God.
How do we avoid going to hell?
By receiving the Lord Jesus Christ as our Lord and Saviour, so that his sufferings on the cross and in hell on our behalf will legally set us free from having to go to hell because of our sins.
When we receive Christ as Lord and Saviour our lives will no longer be self-centred but rather Christ-centred and we will love men as Christ loved them and share with them the good things God has freely given us: showing kindness and generosity as we have the opportunity to do so.
We save men from hell by praying for them, that the veil of blindness over their minds will be broken so that light of the gospel of Christ will shine into their hearts: that Christ nature, the God nature might be born in them.
2 Corintians 4:3-4(NIV): 3 And even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those who are perishing. 4 The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Galatians 4:19(NKJV): 19 My little children, for whom I labor in birth again until Christ is formed in you
It is also instructive to note that the light that comes from the Holy Spirit through the scriptures is more powerful, than that that comes from seeing physical miracles like raising the dead.
If men do not believe God’s Word: the scriptures written by Moses and the prophets and in the New Testament the Apostles illuminated by the power of the light of the Holy Spirit, then even if one is raised from the dead they will not believe.
So our emphasis should be on prayer to remove the veil of blindness and preaching of God’s Word to enlighten men’s hearts to save them from hell. Physical miracles alone without prayer and the Word will not save men.
In our article next week we will see the connection between faith and miracles.