Summary: On The Sufficiency of Scripture
I suspect if I describe this picture, you’ll know what I’m talking about. Harry Truman is holding a copy of the Chicago Tribune over his head. The date is November 3rd, 1948. The headline loudly reads, “Dewey Defeats Truman.” But President Truman has the last laugh. You see, he had, in fact defeated Dewey.
So, how is then that the famous Chicago Tribune could have gotten it wrong? I mean, how often do the national media miscall a presidential election? Ok, well, why did they get this one wrong? Well, it had been a close race, but the real problem was that the replacement workers setting the type had only listened to the first few returns of the night. Early on, Dewey was in fact winning. Based on what they knew, they tried write history. And they got it wrong.
I tell you this story, because this morning, your destiny is being written daily too. But are you getting all the facts? It’s important to ask: Who do you listen to? What sources do you trust?
For the Rich Man in our text this morning, those questions are one in the same. The consequences are monumental, so you need to know your final answer. Just by way of reminder, last week, we read the story of the Rich Man and Lazarus. You’ll remember I suggested that this story was the story of all faith journeys. I gave a simple three-point outline for understanding it.
The Rich Man started out like each of us. Not seeing; not believing. I suggested that the first transition verse was 23 – The Rich Man looked up. There comes a day when, for better or for worse, we will see. And when we get to that point where we see, it will simply be the natural result of what it is we believe.
In the case of the Rich Man, he didn’t like what he saw. As we said last week, this Rich Man wasn’t intentionally evil; he was just blind. He looked at Lazarus, and even gave him his cast-offs and leftovers. He never really saw Lazarus until God’s final reality set in. He thought he had it made. Lazarus? Well, he was just a cast-off, a leftover. Surely, he thought, God must really be impressed with me.
Father Abraham tells the Rich Man – look! In the last life, you got good things. Lazarus? The Greek word really is “kaka.” Life wasn’t so kind. We all know we live in a topsy-turvy world, sometimes it’s hard to know which end is up. We said that in an upside world, he shouldn’t have been surprised at such a seeming reversal of fate.
When I think about the world that is to come, I think of 1 Corinthians 13:11. For now, we see as through a glass, darkly. But then we shall see face to face, we shall know even as we are known. For some of us, that will be a joyful time. For others, it will be the bad the hair day that never ends. But one day you can be sure of this, you can’t hide – everybody will see you for who are.
But this morning, I want to point out the second transition. Once the Rich Man saw, he understood why it was important what he believed. He didn’t want to be here. He didn’t want his family there. He had seen, and now he believed. But it was too late. “Go back,” he implores Father Abraham. “Please,” he begs, let them believe before my family has to see it personally!
As I said last week, despite what the bumper sticker may say, Your friends aren’t in Hell waiting to party. Anybody who wouldn’t you in Hell with them isn’t a friend.
Where I want to direct your attention is to an exchange that goes on between Abraham and the Rich Man. The Rich Man has finally admitted that he’s getting his due. Lazarus is comforted, the Rich Man is suffering. And so, this Rich Man begs Abraham – please at least send Lazarus back from the dead so that they’ll listen.
Circle that word in your mind. Maybe, just maybe they’ll listen.
Abraham says, “Hey! They’ve already got the Law and the Prophets.” As I said last week, that’s just a 1st Century way of saying, ‘The Bible.’ Judaism in Jesus’ day certainly knew the law and they had finally listened to what the prophets had been saying about that law for all this time. God’s Message was available for anyone who would just take the time to listen.
“You don’t just get it Abraham,” Lazarus is seeming to say. “That’s the churchy stuff. My family? Well, they’re just not up for that. But, if someone came back from the dead – now that would get their attention!”