A Glimpse Into Eternity

19 05 2014

The Lord Jesus told many stories. These stories are called parables. They are make believe stories intended to relate a spiritual or heavenly truth. I see many in the modern church teach that the story of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable equal to all of the other parables. I take serious issue with this and want to share my thoughts on the subject. There are several different reasons that I want to outline as to why I do not believe it was a parable but an actual event which took place.

1. The Scriptures don’t call it a parable.

I think we need to be silent where Scripture is silent and believe what Scripture says. The Bible never calls this story a parable and Jesus starts by saying, “There was a certain rich man.” John Wesley said that if Jesus said there was a certain rich man who was he to say there wasn’t a certain rich man. So often we hear some theologian or scholar teach us that this was just a parable when Jesus said “there was.” I don’t need men telling me why Jesus was mistaken or that the Bible misspoke to not call it a parable.

2. Proper names and places are used.

This is not a practice of parables. Parables often us titles like “a sower.” In this story we see the name of the beggar named Lazarus. We also find that the rich man spoken of is in hell. It was not a practice of our Lord to use proper names in His parables.

So if it’s not a parable then what was the point. The spiritual lesson in the story concerns the wickedness in the hearts of the Jewish people. The rich man represents the Jews who were rich and sat in a place of blessing and honor. Lazarus represents the Gentiles who were seen as outcasts by the Jewish people. In eternity we see Gentiles dwelling in closeness to Abraham. This is why he goes to a place called Abraham’s Bosom. The Jews who prided themselves on being Abraham’s children cast away into hell. Those who preceded the Jews now living urge someone to go tell their loved ones but they are told that they have Moses and the prophets which Jesus pointed out as well. In John 5 Jesus pointed out that if they believed Moses they would believe Him. Abraham also points out that they wouldn’t be convinced even if one went unto them from the dead and they were not convinced when Jesus came back from the dead.

While we must understand and believe the spiritual application we must take into account the literal details as well. We learn a lot about eternity in this passage. Lazarus was carried by the angels into paradise. Those who died prior to the Lord’s resurrection did not go straight to Heaven because their sins were not yet paid for.

“Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God.” (Romans 3:24-25)

Jesus went to this place after His death on the cross.

“And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise.” (Luke 23:43)

Jesus took these to Heaven after His resurrection and vacated what was once Paradise.

“And the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints which slept arose, And came out of the graves after his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and appeared unto many.” (Matthew 27:52-53)

We understand that the righteous dead are not only in a state of eternal bliss but they are alert and conscious. The rich man as far as we can tell was not carried nor was he aware of the trip he took. When he opened his eyes on the other side of death he awoke in hell.

In hell he was conscious and aware. He could speak, think, and feel. He could remember his life and his family. He reported to us that there is fire in hell. He said he was tormented in the flame. He sought relief and such is the case of all in hell today. He knew there was no way out which is seen in that he didn’t even ask about it. He was concerned about his family members still alive. The greatest prayer meeting going on is in hell today.

Whether you take the approach that this is a parable or not there is a lot we can learn what comes next. Don’t ignore the warnings given in this passage. Turn to Christ today before it’s too late. Someone in hell is probably praying for you right now.

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