R.C Sproul … and my 44-year-old neighbor died in December. Death is always near and clears out the woods for the new trees. Anyway, that introduces our next blog.
Today I read a Greek view of life after death (dated 7000 bc). It was convoluted and hard to track but it made a stab at defining Heaven and Hades. These writings are made even before the Jewish emergence from Egypt. The thing that struck me is that people even in those days realized that when they died, only the body died and the Soul lives on. And they ask what happens? This is a major theme through all religions and civilizations and time. They all try to develop a theory on the life after death. But we as Christians have Jesus, who was an eyewitness to Heaven and Hell. That is what this blog is about.
I have recently read the book on Heaven by David Jeremiah. This blog is a lot of his teaching restated in my words. Yes, I am a plagiarist.
My plan for this year is I will spend the next six months exploring the teaching of Jesus.
Thanks for being there.
PS: “Seek to embrace the coming year under the rubric of His Sovereignty and your acknowledgment of your creatureliness as annunciated by the Apostle Paul on Mars Hill centuries ago:
Jer 10:23..O Jehovah, I know that the way of man does not belong to man; it is not in man who walks to direct his steps.
Prov. 16:1.The ordering of the heart in man, and the answer of the tongue, is from Jehovah.
Pro 20:24 Man’s steps are of Jehovah; how can a man then understand his own way?
Act 17:28 For in Him we live and move and have our being, as also certain of your own poets have said, “For we are also His offspring.”
This from my friend and mentor, Bob Lewis, to start the New Year: Let us stretch our thinking and our relationship to God and Jesus this year.
Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, who was laid at his gate, full of sores
16:21 and desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. But even the dogs came and licked his sores.
16:22 And it happened that the beggar died and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom. The rich one also died and was buried.
16:23 And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.
16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things. But now he is comforted and you are tormented.
16:26 And besides all this, there is a great chasm fixed between you and us; so that they desiring to pass from here to you cannot, nor can they pass over to us from there.
16:27 And he said, I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house,
16:28 for I have five brothers, so that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
16:29 Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the Prophets, let them hear them.
16:30 And he said, No, father Abraham, but if one should go to them from the dead, they would repent.
16:31 And he said to him, if they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead.
This is not the Lazarus mentioned in the book of John.
One question that is always brought up about this scripture is whether this a parable or an actual true story? The commentaries I reviewed all said that they saw it as a true story Jesus had observed in the supernatural, but historical commentaries lean toward this being a parable.
As you read below, the dictionary defines a parable as allegorical. I believe this is a story because I can’t see an allegory in theses verses.
- A short allegorical story designed to illustrate or teach some truth, religious principle, or moral lesson.
- A statement or comment that conveys a meaning indirectly by the use of comparison, analogy, or the like.
Why did Jesus use parables?
Matt 13:10 And the disciples came, and said unto him, “Why speak thou unto them in parables?”
Matt 13:11 He answered and said unto them, Because it is given unto you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it is not given.
I don’t see anything in the story that would be hard to understand. I think it was an event Jesus had seen.
Nine lessons from the story I want you to see.
- When we die, if we are believers in Christ, angel(s) will come and get us and take us to paradise. We will be taken by angels (plural). If my theology is correct, paradise is in the 3rd heaven now with God and Jesus. And we will have an abode built by Jesus just for us.
- Luke 16:31 And he said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded, even though one rose from the dead”. The Word of God, our bibles and our life are enough for a person to see their need for God. No other miracle is required.
- Being in paradise, we can’t see them in hades but apparently, they can see us.
- “Lazarus was in the bosom of Abraham”. This expression was used in the Talmud as a figure of heaven. The idea was Lazarus was given a place of high honor, reclining next to Abraham at the heavenly banquet. (Quote from John MacArthur’s study Bible.)
- We can’t go back and forth across the chasm. “There is a great gulf fixed between you and us; so that they desiring to pass from here to you cannot, nor can they pass over to us from there”.
- As my friend, Ron Dunn showed me, the rich ruler ended up with memories, the rich man seems to still have his mind. He remembered his past and his brothers.
3 M’s of the rich ruler:
- This does not teach that to be saved you must be a pauper or you go to hell because of prosperity.
Lesson on interpretation:
- Doctrine is not taught by an example. It is taught by direct statements of the truth. We know one is saved by belief in Jesus and His work on the cross.
- Scripture best explains scripture.
- Observe: The rich person in Hades said, “Send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” The rich man saw the beggar still as his servant in the afterlife.
- Note there is fire in hades. The rich man said, “I am tormented in this flame.” Even in the holding pen before the Great White Throne judgment there is fire applied to the citizens of hades.
I had a neighbor drop dead 4 weekends ago. He was 44 years old. When I was that age, I thought I was invincible. For as much as I can trace his life, my neighbor knew Jesus and should be on the heaven side of the gulf. On the other hand, a friend of mine had totally resisted Jesus’ offer before his death and so is meeting the rich man now. This is our choice.
Further study questions:
- Why did Jesus review this story with his men (disciples)? And at this specific time of his preparation of the men?
- Is this the hope Paul notes in Hebrew 6:11?
“Heb 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same eagerness to the full assurance of hope to the end.
- Should you teach this to your children?
- Encourage someone today to know God and Jesus.
- Think through your schedule and be sure at least one effort today will get you rewards etc. in heaven.
- Focus your life on this truth: We all end up at the judgment seat. God is a God of love, but also justice.
- Learn the word and especially its teaching on the end of life and share it now.
- Stretch your thinking of who God as we read and study the Bible.