This Week's Gospel Sermons

Legalist  - Dave Brewer

Proper Attitudes In Evangelism  - Dave Brewer

Psalms 73  - Dave Brewer

Spiritual Knowledge  - Dave Brewer

The Divine Nature  - Dave Brewer

Death  - Dave Brewer

Faith - Hebrews 11  - Dave Brewer

Claims Of Deity  - Dave Brewer



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Worship       5:00

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Tim Hamilton

Jackson Drive


July 20, 2014


The Rich Man and Lazarus

In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus tells the story of the rich man and Lazarus. It would be good to read these verses carefully. The account is not identified by Christ as a parable. It tells the story of two men, of how they lived on earth, and of how they fared after death as a result of their earthly conduct.

This passage condemns certain PRACTICES.

“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.” The marginal reading is “living in mirth and splendor every day.” It is evident that God intended for people to be happy here on earth because in the beginning he gave to man a paradise in which to live. Jesus said to his disciples, “These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full” (John 15:11). Paul wrote to Christians, “Rejoice in the Lord always: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians. 4:4). True joy comes in serving Christ and not in “the pleasures of sin for a season.”

The rich man in this passage was condemned not necessarily because he was rich, but because he used his riches selfishly in living in mirth and splendor. Warnings are given to the rich. “But woe unto you that are rich! for ye have received your consolation.” (Luke 6:24). “How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God!” (Luke 18:24). “But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1Timothy 6:9,10).

This passage then condemns a lack of concern about the physical well-being of others. If the poor man received any help from the rich man, it was only the unwanted crumbs which fell from his table. Yet, the rich man lived under the law of Moses which said, “If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: But thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth” (Deuteronomy 15:7,8). The rich man failed to obey this law.

In the New Testament Paul shows that one has the responsibility of working to support himself—”if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2Thessalonians 3:10). When one is not able to do this, others have a responsibility toward him. “But whoso hath this world’s goods, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?” (1John 3:17).

This passage also condemns waiting too long to be concerned about the spiritual well-being of others. In the place of torment the rich man became concerned about the destiny of his five brothers and begged Abraham to send Lazarus that he might testify to his brothers, lest they also come to that dreadful place of torment. He had waited too long. He failed to meet his responsibility toward his brothers in the days when he had opportunity. How many now are letting days of golden opportunity pass by without trying to save others from an eternal torment?

Further, this passage also condemns waiting too long to be concerned about our own spiritual welfare. After the rich man had fared sumptuously every day, after he had lived in mirth and splendor without concern for doing God’s will, he now begs for relief from his dreadful suffering, begs for even a drop of water. He had waited too long to become concerned. “It is appointed unto man once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). Many may have in mind, “Lord, I will obey thee, but not yet, not today.” That “not today” becomes not tomorrow, and not the next day, until death comes when there is no day of grace left.

This passage condemns certain DOCTRINES.

It repudiates the Christian Science doctrine which denies the existence of pain and suffering. The sores of Lazarus must have been real, for the dogs came and licked them. The suffering of the rich man must have been real, for he cried, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.”

It repudiates the doctrine of Spiritualism which proposes communication between the living and the dead. The rich man proposed that Lazarus be sent back to his father’s house that he might testify to his five brothers to help prevent their coming to that place of torment. Abraham said that if they were not willing to hear God’s word, Moses’ and the prophets’ communication from the dead would be of no benefit to them.

It repudiates the Jehovah’s Witness doctrine of soul-sleeping. Both the rich man and Lazarus died, and neither was in a state of sleep after death. The rich man lifted up his eyes; he felt; he saw; he spoke, he remembered. All of this he could hardly do while asleep. If it is said that this passage is only a parable, and that it, therefore, represents something else. This argument is without the support of the passage itself. The passage does not refer to the story as a parable. A parable makes use of well-known facts to teach spiritual lessons. In the story of the rich man and Lazarus Jesus is revealing unknown facts of conditions after death. If this passage is a parable, and Christ is making use of these unfamiliar facts to teach a spiritual lesson, what lesson is he teaching? The true lesson is to be found in the factual revelation of conditions after death and not in some parabolic projection of these conditions.

It repudiates the doctrine of Universalism—that all will be saved. Even if one person should be lost, this doctrine falls, for it declares that all will be saved. Certainly the rich man was not saved. Further, Jesus said, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13,14). In the great judgment Jesus will say to those on the left hand, “Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels” (Matthew 25:41).

It repudiates the doctrine of Purgatory. The rich man could not do anything for his brothers; nor could his brothers do anything to relieve him from his endless suffering.

It repudiates ancestor or family worship. Sometimes people now say, “If I obeyed the gospel, I would be condemning my father” (or my mother, or my husband, as the case may be). A woman said, “If my father is lost, I want to be lost.” The rich man had an entirely different idea. He wanted his brothers to do God’s will in order that they might not come to that terrible place of suffering.

It repudiates the doctrine of the second chance. He prayed. He begged for relief, and no relief was given or promised. One who rebels against God in this life, and expects another chance after death, will find that he has made an unalterable mistake, for “it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment.” (Hebrews 9:27).

— Billy Norris

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