Summary: Jesus wants us to know, so in these verses He shows us: 1. The reality of hell (vs. 22-26) 2. The way to be rescued by God (vs. 20-22 & 27-31) 3. The road to hell (vs. 27-31) 4. Our responsibility to help people avoid hell (vs. 27-28)

What Happens When an Unsaved Person Dies?

Series: The Other Side of Death

Luke 16:19-31

Sermon by Rick Crandall

McClendon Baptist Church - Feb. 28, 2010

*Updated Oct. 16, 2011 for Grayson Baptist Church


*Red Adair was the oil field firefighter made famous by a 1968 John Wayne movie called “Hellfighters.” After the first Gulf War, Red Adair led the effort to stop the terrible oil fires set by Saddam Hussein’s retreating army.

*Adair was brash and fearless. In 1991, he joked that it would be no different after he died. He said, “I’ve made a deal with the devil. -- The devil is going to give me an air-conditioned place when I go down there, if I go there, so I won’t put all the fires out.” (1)

*Red Adair died at the age of 89, and unless he trusted in the Lord, he has found out first-hand that no one can put out the fires of hell. Hell is no joke. What happens when an unsaved person dies?

1. Jesus wants us to know, so in these verses He shows us the REALITY of Hell. (vs. 22-26)

*We can see the reality of hell starting in vs. 22, where Jesus said:

22. “So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried.

23. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

*Don’t be confused by the word “Hades” in the NKJ and other modern translations. Verse 23 in the KJV says that the rich man was in hell, and he surely was. But in the original language, “Hades” in general was the unseen place of the dead. And Bible-believing Christians have different views about what Hades contained before the crucifixion, resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ.

*Here is my Biblical understanding of Hades: Before Jesus went back to Heaven, Hades included a temporary place of rest for Old Testament believers. This place was called “Paradise” or in this passage, “Abraham’s Bosom.” And this is where the Lord’s soul went during the 3 days His body lay in the grave.

*Listen to what Jesus told the unbelieving Jews when they asked for a sign in Matt 12:

39. He answered and said to them, "An evil and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.

40. For as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of the great fish, so will the Son of Man be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth.

*At that time, Paradise or Abraham’s bosom was in Hades. In Acts 2, Peter was preaching on the Day of Pentecost, and speaking about Jesus, Peter said:

23. Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;

24. Whom God raised up, having loosed the pains of death, because it was not possible that He should be held by it.

25. For David says concerning Him: ’I foresaw the Lord always before My face, for He is at My right hand, that I may not be shaken.

26. Therefore My heart rejoiced, and My tongue was glad; moreover My flesh also will rest in hope.

27. For You will not leave My soul in Hades (the KJ says “hell”), nor will you allow Your Holy One to see corruption.

*The Holy Spirit spoke that prophecy about Jesus a thousand years before the cross. As Peter explained in Acts 2:31, “He (i.e. David), foreseeing this, spoke concerning the resurrection of the Christ, that His soul was not left in Hades, nor did His flesh see corruption.

*When Jesus went back to Heaven, He took all of those Old Testament saints with Him. Listen to how Paul put it in Eph 4:7-9 (from the NASV):

7. But to each one of us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift.

8. Therefore it (i.e. Psalm 68:18) says, “When He ascended on high, He led captive a host of captives, and He gave gifts to men.”

9. (Now this expression, “He ascended,” what does it mean except that He also had descended into the lower parts of the earth?

*When Jesus died on the cross, Hades had two compartments: One was Abraham’s Bosom. Then, across a great gulf in Hades was the place we usually think of as “hell.” Sometimes in the original language it was called “Gehenna.” THAT was the place of suffering fire for the lost. And that is where the lost rich man was sent.

*It was a real place. It is a real place. The Bible does not teach that Hell is a mythical or symbolic place. Abraham was a real person in this story. So was Lazarus. So was the rich man, even if we don’t know his name.

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