|Volume 21 Number 2 February 2019||
What Can We Learn
from a Man In Torment?
When Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, He wanted to drive home some important points about eternity (Luke 16:19-31). Sometimes the question is asked whether Jesus was telling a parable. Since Jesus never used parables to teach something false, it does not matter if the account of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. The information contained therein is truth. Jesus records no words from Lazarus, but there is an exchange between the rich man who was in torment and Abraham, the great patriarch. Notice the lessons we can learn from a man who was suffering in torment.
Some Pleasure Is Temporary
The rich man begged for relief as he was tormented in the flame, but Abraham assured him that he had good things in his lifetime (Luke 16:24-25). Moses was wise enough to know that the pleasures of sin only last for a season (Hebrews 11:25). Most people are getting their reward in this life, and they will be disappointed in eternity (Matthew 6:2, 5, 16). If we gain the entire world and lose our souls, we have made a horrible exchange. The man in torment teaches us that pleasure is not a bad thing, but we should seek the lasting pleasures that continue in eternity.
Death Seals Our Fate
While in torment, the rich man could not pass from torment to paradise to have his tongue cooled (Luke 16:26). There is no such thing as purgatory, baptism on behalf of the dead or any other post-death plan of salvation. Once a man or a woman dies, he or she enters the Hadean realm and awaits the Judgment (Hebrews 9:27). We will be judged for what we have done in our bodies, and we will rise in the same spiritual state in which we died (John 5:28-29; 2 Corinthians 5:10-11). We cannot die in an unsaved state and expect to have our eternal dwelling place reversed. The man in torment wanted relief, yet once he died, it was too late.
Evangelism from Hades is Impossible
The rich man in torment knew his fate could not be reversed, but he wanted his brethren to be warned (Luke 16:27-28). The man in torment knew the seriousness of warning people on earth about what awaits the impenitent (2 Corinthians 5:11). Those of us who are in the kingdom of God would do well to learn from a man in torment about the importance of caring for the souls of others (Psalm 142:4). Jesus told us to take the Gospel into the entire world (Mark 16:15-16; Acts 8:4). May we not be outdone in our evangelistic zeal by those in torment.
Understanding that design demands a designer and that law demands a lawgiver are great, but the question is why should we recognize the God of the Bible as that Designer or Lawgiver? Apologetics are valuable, but they have their limitations: arguments from design point to a designer but cannot lead directly to Yahweh. To establish Yahweh as Designer, Lawgiver, Supreme, King, etc., we must examine the only book that reveals Him: the Bible. The Bible unequivocally declares Yahweh as Sovereign, but is there evidence to corroborate that?
Put the Bible on trial and you will quickly begin to see all the different evidences that point to it being divinely inspired. For instance, it was written over a period of 1500+ years by numerous authors in three languages, and yet, there is not one legitimate contradiction. The Bible contains numerous examples of scientific foreknowledge and prophecy, which point to Yahweh’s ability to tell the end from the beginning. Finally, the Bible has yet to be found historically inaccurate. Everywhere that it has been challenged or tested, the Bible’s accuracy has prevailed. The Bible has also been used by archaeologists to discover certain sites. Knowing things like these helps us understand why we should be serious about what the Bible says. This is especially true since it is the only book that can prepare us for eternity.