Summary: Message’s purpose is to help people see that Hell is a real place, with real consequences that you wouldn’t want your worst enemy to experience.
[This sermon is contributed by Hal Seed of New Song Church in Oceanside, California and of www.PastorMentor.com. Hal is the author of numerous books including The God Questions and The Bible Questions. If you are interested in The Bible Questions Church-wide Campaign, please visit and watch Hal’s video at www.PastorMentor.com.]
My dad celebrated his 75th birthday this week. It’s a pretty big milestone, wouldn’t you agree?
My children are 14 and 15 years old, so my long-range hope is that he’ll be around when they have children, which hopefully won’t happen for another 10 years or so.
But someday he’s going to enter the next life. And someday, so will I. And someday, so will you… and every person you love.
It’s one of the few things you can bank on in this life.
We don’t like to think about it much because it’s sad and mysterious and somewhat spooky. But in this final installment of our series “Created for Significance,” I want to give you one final incentive to join the core of this church on the mission we’re on by talking to you today about the life to come.
For the past four weeks, we’ve been walking through a section of Scripture that imprinted this church before we ever opened our doors.
It started for me on a surprise morning in Nov., 1989 when I opened the Bible to Luke 14 and saw what Jesus did that day and heard the story He told.
So as we finish up this series this morning, I want to show you what I saw 12 years ago, in hopes that it will influence the course of your life as much as it has mine. By the time I finished Luke 16, I felt there was compelling reason for me to invest my life in helping others reach the safe side of eternity. So I want to take the next 1/2 hour to finish this series by walking through the later half of Luke16 with you.
If you’re a seeker here today, and you’ve just come to investigate what God and the afterlife are all about, you’ve come on a great day. And if you’re a believer, and you’ve wondered what motives God to do what He’s done, this is a good day for you too.
So, you got your swimsuit on? Because we’re going to dive right in.
With Luke 16, Jesus finishes up what for Him must have been a long day of teaching because it covers three full chapters, which is the same number of chapters taken up by His famous Sermon on the Mount. The three-chapter teaching of the Sermon on the Mount came within weeks of the beginning of His ministry, while the three-chapter teacher here in Luke takes places within weeks of His death and resurrection. We know from the intensity of the teaching, that what Jesus said that day was very important to Him. Personally, I think the last story in this teaching sequence, the one we’re about to walk through, reveals as much about what motivated Jesus as any story He ever told. In Luke 16 He tells the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
It’s a short story, told in two brief scenes.
SCENE 1 = ON EARTH
SCENE 2 = IN THE AFTERLIFE
In scene one, we meet two of the four main characters of the story. We meet THE RICH MAN, and we meet Lazarus.
We know that the story is primarily about the Rich Man, because Jesus tells us so in the opening verse. He starts by saying, “There was a rich man…” – Luke 16:19
Then he tells us how lavishly this rich guy dressed and ate and lived every day.
Unlike the rich man in the last two stories we read about, this rich man is not a hero in the story. Nor is he a nice guy. He’s a callused old guy who thinks about very few people besides himself.
We know this because of the way he treats the second character in the story. A guy who is dropped off at his front gate every day named Lazarus. In Hebrew, the name Lazarus means, “he whom God helps.”
Lazarus is absolutely dependent upon God, and he knows it. He’s in bad physical condition, there are sores all over his legs, so he probably has some sort of disease.
Day after day after day Lazarus is left at the rich guy’s front gate, and day after day after day, he’s ignored and allowed to suffer without so much as a prayer or a crumb of bread.
In the story, Jesus says, Lazarus was …longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. – Luke 16:21