Summary: If I’m not saved by works (Ephesians 2:8-9), why is it that the Rich man in Luke 16 and the Goats in Matthew 25:31-46 went to hell because the DIDN’T DO good works? That doesn’t make any sense... or does it?
A Sunday School teacher had spent a great deal of teaching her young class about the fact that doing “good works” could not buy them a place in heaven. To drive home her point she asked her class, "If I sold my house and my car, had a big garage sale and gave all my money to the church, would I get into Heaven?"
"NO"! the children all answered.
"If I cleaned the church every day, mowed the yard, and kept everything neat and tidy, would I get into Heaven"?
Again, the answer was "NO"!
"Well," she continued, "then how can I get to Heaven?"
In the back of the room, a 5 yr. old boy shouted out,
"You gotta be dead"!
(from a true story related by a young woman named Tina Miller)
APPLY: In this morning’s sermon we’re talking about two people who died.
One man went to Hell… and
One man went to Paradise or Abraham’s bosom.
One preacher I read said he could only find one time that Jesus ever spoke about Heaven. “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.” John 14:2
But by contrast that same preacher counted at least 11 times Jesus spoke about Hell.
(Stephen Cook – sermoncentral.com)
Now if I’d have been Jesus, I think that teaching about Heaven would be MORE important. After all, why wouldn’t my audience want to hear about what awaited them in heaven and what it would be like. But Jesus apparently believed we needed to know more about Hell than even heaven.
Here in Luke 16 we have Jesus telling us the parable of the Rich man and Lazarus. It’s the ONLY parable Jesus ever told about afterlife. He was explaining to His disciples what life would be like… after we die.
And once again, there seems to be a heavy emphasis on Hell.
We’re told in detail that
· It’s a place of torment “In hell, where he was in torment…” Luke 16:23
· It’s a place of thirst and agony and fire “… 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.’ Luke 16:24
· It’s a place where there is no hope, and from which there is no escape “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.’ Luke16:26
· Or as Mark 9:48 describes it. It’s a place "where their worm does not die, and the fire is not quenched.”
As I was preparing for this sermon a question came to my mind:
Why did Jesus tell this parable?
Now, it helps to realize that I meet with several preachers to plan and work on our sermons together. For the month of October we decided to do a series on Heaven and Hell. But as put the ideas on paper we occasionally came up with titles and ideas without having specific Scripture in mind to base the sermons on.
So the title of this morning’s sermon was “Why should I care?” and as I began looking through the various passages I could use, I happened upon this one in Luke 16, and was struck by the clarity of Jesus answer to that question "Why should I care?”
Jesus’ answer to that question was basically this:
You better care!
You better care, because you and I are going to spend eternity in one place or the other.
You and I are either going to spend eternity in heaven… or in hell.
And Jesus is telling us - Hell is real – and you don’t want to go there.
Now, all that leads up the hard part of the sermon for me.
As I was examining this text I was struck by something made me uncomfortable.
There was a teaching here that seemed to contradict everything I’d ever believed about the coming judgment and the afterlife.
To introduce you to this conflict I had, I’m going to give you a quiz.
Question #1: Why did the rich man go to hell?
(wait for a reply)
The parable basically implies the rich man went to hell because he didn’t help Lazarus.
Now for question #2 - which goes back to last Sunday’s sermon where we read about the last judgment where Jesus separated the sheep from the goats in Matthew 25.
Do you remember why Jesus sent the “Goats” (those on His left) away into eternal punishment?
Jesus explains in Matthew 25.
"Then (the Son of Man) will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.