2018-06-20 / Religion

Reaping God’s justice for sin

Sunday School Lesson
Rev. James Temples

Luke 16:19-31

It is easy for the members of our lost human race to attempt to “soften” the effects of the fact of personal sin. This process often takes the form of “playing on words” to exclude personal actions from the eternal consequences of the spiritual hardness of an unrepentant heart. These puny attempts do not change the eternal destiny, if the individual does not submit to the divine plan for deliverance from eternal destruction.

Many people have read the account of the two men in the “case study” presented by Jesus of Nazareth, as recorded in Luke 16:19- 31. The eternal destiny of these men was determined by their personal acceptance or rejection of the revealed word of God, not their place in society.

In his teaching with parables, our Lord did not use personal names of the characters. This fact, alone, allows us to know that this account does not fit that particular teaching style.

The scene opens by describing the two different financial conditions. The rich man “was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day.” Luke 16:19. The contrast was clear — “And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.” Luke 16:20, 21. These scant details do not give enough information for any present day critic to pass personal judgment on their characters. This assessment is made only on the divine level.

In spite of some religious teachings that have floated down the “river of time,” there is an eternity of which mere humans do not have access. For things we do not know, personally, we must rely on the account of those “who have been there.” Since Jesus Christ of Nazareth is “the Son of God,” he was present when the worlds were spoken into existence.

The first death mentioned in this case study was that of the beggar. We know that he “was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom…” Luke 16:22a. The fact of death touched the rich man, as well. Our Lord said, “the rich also died, and was buried.” Luke 16:22b.

On the earthly level, there was most probably a great distinction made between these men. The divine account does not mention the “earthly record,” but points all hearers and readers to the eternal consequences.

Locked inside the human heart is the realization that “there is something after this life.” In one way or another, each person senses the existence of a “heaven” of some description. This built-in sense, also, realizes that there is “some place” that exists for those who do not go to their perceived eternal restingplace. In this case study, our Lord addressed both facts — “And in hell he [the rich man] lifted up his eyes, being in torments…” in contrast, “and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.” Luke 16:23. The condition of Lazarus is made clear — “he is comforted.” Luke 16:25c.

From this account, it is clearly understood that those who are in literal hell are definitely conscious of their present condition, and have distinct recollection of their past. Many readers would rather “skip over” the conversation that took place in that underworld setting. “And he [the rich man] cried (called out) and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Luke 16:24. The physical senses remain active, as the soul of each person forever resides in this place of torment.

Father Abraham answers the former rich man — “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivest thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.” Luke 16:25. Again, this fact was not directly connected to the difference in earthly financial positions, but conditions of each spiritual life. Abraham continued, “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf (chasm) fixed (established): so that they which would pass from hence (here) to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence (there).” Luke 16:26. This eternal declaration removes any validity of the false teaching of “a second chance” for redemption after this present life has passed

The rich man does not question the declaration of Abraham, but makes his own personal proposal. “Then he said, I pray thee therefore father, that thou wouldst send him [Lazarus] to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify (witness) unto them, lest they come into this place of torment.” Luke 16:27, 28.

This proposal from hell is met with an answer that continues to be heralded down the corridors of time — “Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” Luke 16:29. The once-rich man made one more desperate appeal — “Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.” Luke 16:30. The answer from eternity past stands today — “And he [Abraham] said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.” Luke 16:31.

The divine message of a call to repentance continues to be made from many areas of life. Financial positions do not cause one to listen and another to reject the divine plan for redemption of our lost race. Response is always on an individual basis. The “whosoever” of John 3:16 shows that each individual must either accept or reject the eternal provision.

From the details of this account, Lazarus had accepted the teachings of Moses and the prophets. In contrast, the rich man did not accept the revealed Word of God. Have you, personally, accepted Jesus Christ of Nazareth as your own Lord and Savior? Only two eternal options are available. Which one will you accept? Please give your heart and life to Jesus Christ, today.

Rev. James C. Temples’ Sunday School Lesson has appeared in the Early County News each week since 1967. A native of Early County, Rev. Temples taught in public schools 32 years and 10 years at Southeastern College of Assemblies of God, in Lakeland, Fla. He also served as pastor and evangelist during those years. He can be contacted at P. O. Box 1484, Swainsboro, GA 30401; 478- 299- 2068. Email: temples_ james@yahoo.com

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