July 29, 2016
Luke 16:22-24 (English Standard Version)
(All scripture is from the New King James Version unless otherwise indicated.)
In the last two blogs I told about my friend and his involvement in Unity, a cult that denies the need of Jesus Christ shedding His blood on the cross in order to pay for our sins. Unity’s basic premise is that you simply have to realize and develop the God already abiding within you. According to their teaching, Jesus is more the ‘way-shower’ than the unique Savior! My friend was Playing With Fire according to Hebrews 6:4 through 6 because he “unaccepted ” Jesus as his Savior! But God, in His graciousness, forgave his rash statement! He truly saved my friend, and later he and his wife trained for the Christian ministry!
But I was still meditating on this idea of Playing With Fire, and the passage from Luke 16:22 through 24 (English Standard Version) came to my mind. This is from the parable of the rich man and Lazarus recorded in Luke 16:19 through 31. Here are verses 22 through 24:
The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in tor-
ment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at
his side. And he called out, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me,
and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my
tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.”
Now, most scholars recognize this as a parable – an illustration or story “…from which the listener can draw out for himself moral and religious truth.” (Eerdman’s New Bible Dictionary). But if it is indeed a parable, it is the only parable in which a person is identified by his proper name – in this case, the beggar Lazarus! Because of this, some think that this was an actual happening that the Lord (being deity) knew about!
The other character presented in this ‘parable’ is the rich man, known through tradition as ‘Dives.’ It is this man upon whom we will focus!
“…a certain rich man…was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.” (Luke 17:19). Purple dye in Jesus’ time was outrageously expensive! And his food was ‘top-of-the-line’ every day! He was very rich, and he lived his life extravagantly! But when he closed his eyes in death on this mortal side of life, he opened them in Hades (Luke 16:23)!
Hades is a place of torment (Luke 16:23), for he was “…in anguish in this flame.” (Luke 16:24). Obviously, he was fully conscious, could feel the pain of the burning flames, and had immediate burning thirst! According to what the Bible reveals, he was facing torment in flames for eternity with no hope of ever escaping! (See Matthew 25:41, 46; Mark 3:29; 9:48; II Thessalonians 1:9; Revelation 14:11; 20:10).
Now the rich man was not in hell! He was in Hades! Hades may be described as the waiting place of the unrighteous dead! Emery Bancroft, in his book, Elemental Theology describes it this way:
…Hades…is the abode of the souls of the wicked. This is the temporary prison
where the criminals of the universe are held in confinement awaiting the Judg-
ment of the Great White Throne.
Criminals of the universe? Yes, because the worst crime one can commit is rejecting the salvation that Jesus Christ purchased with His own blood on the cross! Every other sin is forgivable, but this one is not! As Jesus Himself said in John 14:5, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” If you reject that one way, there is no other!
Some say hell is not even created yet, because it is not needed – yet! It is after The Great White Throne Judgement (described in Revelation 20:11 through 15) that unrepentant sinners are cast into hell – “…the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death.” (Revelation 21:8). In the meantime, they are held in Hades – also known as Sheol (Hebrew for the Greek word Hades.) Also in the meantime, Satan and his demons are alive and active on this earth. Someday, they too will be cast into hell! (See Revelation 20:10). As a matter of fact, and according to Matthew 25:41, hell is created – or “…prepared for the devil and his angels.”
So hell is not a desirable destination, nor is Hades before it! I was once burned on my back and arm with first, second, and third degree burns. It hurt! And it took a long time to recover! I can’t imagine eternal (forever) fires that burn you, and hurt you, but never consume you! Don’t get caught Playing With Fire, especially eternal fire! Accept Jesus Christ as your Savior, and then follow Him as your Lord!