Summary: “He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead’” Luke 16:31.
Theme: Going home
Text: Luke 16:19-31; Rev. 21:1-5
Our theme for today’s sermon is ‘going home’. A popular saying is that “a man’s home is his castle”, implying that the best place to be is home. This has led many people to have the wrong idea that their home is here. We are a spirit being who live in a body and that makes our real home a spiritual place and not a physical one. Death is the vehicle that releases the spiritual body and takes it to its real home. Our brother Johnny has left us to go home. He is reminding us that the time will also come for us to go home. Where will you call home? Where will you go when you leave this place? We can be sure of where our home is and whether we are on the right path. We can be sure because no one is going to heaven because they have lived a good life. They are going to heaven because Christ shed His blood on the cross to pay the penalty for their sin. Their relationship with Christ in this life determines where their home is and where they will spend eternity.
In our gospel reading the lives of two men are contrasted before and after death. The first man enjoyed a life of wealth and luxury. There was no place for God in his life. The evidence that his life was without God was his lack of concern and compassion for the poor. Lazarus, a poor and destitute beggar was laid each day at the rich man’s gate and the rich man had no choice but to notice him. His body was scantily covered and revealed numerous sores and ulcers. He was hungry, malnourished and sick. In contrast to the rich man he lived for God in spite of his poverty.
The rich man could easily have assisted Lazarus, instead he ignored him. He could not deny knowing about his plight because Lazarus was daily at his gate where he could not fail to see him. He thereby missed the opportunity to serve God by meeting the needs of Lazarus. His behaviour confirmed that God had very little place in his life and that he was more concerned about pleasing himself rather than pleasing God. A life without God will inevitably lead to a life of eternal separation from Him. The story is told of a minister who reported to a new church. Upon arrival some members of the congregation came to see him and asked him “Do you believe in hell”? When he replied that he did not, they asked him to resign. When he asked them for their reason their response was “If there is no Hell then we don’t need you and if there is a Hell we don’t want you to lead us astray.” Jesus tells us about what happens after death and that we decide where we spend eternity. We decide to spend it with Christ when we enter into a relationship with Him by accepting Him as our Saviour and Lord. Our relationship with Christ does not depend on what we have done but on accepting by faith what Christ has done as our Saviour.
There is life after death and our lives decide what happens after death. When Lazarus died his physical body was buried. Angels were assigned and present to carry his spiritual body to the comfort of Abraham’s bosom. When the rich man died he was also buried. But there were no angels to carry him into God’s presence. Rather he finds himself being tormented in hell.
Death takes place when the spirit leaves the body. But death is not the end; it is the beginning of a whole new existence in another world. When people die, only their bodies go into the grave. The real person departs to be either with the Lord or separated from Him. When Christ rose from the grave and ascended into heaven He brought the saints from “Abraham’s bosom” to be with Him in heaven. Since then believers’ go immediately to be with Christ, awaiting the resurrection of their bodies when He returns. The revelation of where each man ended up after death is not about wealth as it is often a sign of Gods’ favour and blessings. The rich man was not in hell because he had money but because of his rejection of the Lord and his disregard for the word of God. Lazarus did not go to heaven because he was poor. He went to heaven because he trusted God. Lazarus, means ‘God is my helper’, a description of his faith in God. The rich man went to hell because of his lack of faith in God. His riches were his god and everyday he was given the opportunity to turn to the Lord. He had a witness sent from God lying at his gate looking for a morsel of bread. How many opportunities will we let slip by as we refuse to accept Jesus Christ as Saviour and Lord. What will it take for us to trust Jesus Christ with our lives?