The Stark Testimony of a Man Surprised to be in Hell

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The Stark Testimony of a Man Surprised to be in Hell

Throughout recorded history, there have been certain things that made every generation and most people in that generation stop in their tracks and cringe in sober reflection and self-evaluation. In most cases, their bases for sober reflection and self-evaluation depended on the template that they had been given and had been told was valid/true/accurate.
The templates are almost endless and in some cases contradictory.
This life is all there is , so make the most of the hand that you were dealt.
The bottom line is life is survival of the fittest. For that reason it is essential that we work our way at a few rungs up the ladder.
Assuming this life is all that there is. some suggest some variation of eat, drink and be merry because one of these tomorrows we will die.
Life is like a Monopoly game. He who dies with the most things - property, things and dollars - wins.
All templates are more or less the same and okay, as long as we are sincere.
It doesn’t matter what you believe as long as you are sincere.
Sometimes, those whose hearts and minds are open to “truth” , learn that the life template that they adopted and sincerely based their lives on, was in the end hollow and empty. The question is are we open to evaluate truth and if what we have trusted is found wanting, what do we do?
Each of us likes to assume that our life template is true and we have not been conned. That is only human and natural. It is also only natural that those who have unknowingly been duped by the same “con” to affirm each other, the assumption being that with so many of us saying that something is true, it must be true.
In the parable before us, Jesus graphically demonstrated the falseness of the “con” that was assumed to be true by the Pharisees, religious leaders and most people. IRONICALLY AND SADLY, THE SAME CON IS PERPETUATED TODAY.
Most of us refer to this as “The Parable of the Rich Man & Lazarus”, BUT in fact it is “The Stark Testimony of a Man Surprised to wake up in Hell.”
Luke 16:19–31 ESV
“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, 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.’ But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house— for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’ ”
Some might try to explain parable by suggesting that a parable is just a story and cannot be taken too literally. To some extent that is true. We err if we attempt to attach a spiritual meaning to every parable detail. That must not be allowed callous our hearts to the extent that we fail to be moved by Christ’s somewhat anonymous earthly story with clear, unmistakable spiritual eternal truths.
Contrasts - 16:19-23 - STARK
Two complete opposites - one who was probably esteemed, the other probably avoided.
Most of those who were listening to Christ would have been not only very surprised but shocked by what He explained. The reason being, their values and life template were very temporal.
Lk 15:1-7 - Lost Sheep - would have been those whom Jesus referred to as in their own eyes, needed no repentance
Lk 15:8-10 - Lost Coin - would not have recognized the need to repent and thus could not identify with the joy before the angels over one sinner who repents
Lk 15:11-32 - Prodigal Son - hero would have been the eldest son who was angry and self righteous with no sense of his own sin and refused to rejoice with his father when the prodigal son repented and returned.
Lk 16:1-13 - Dishonest Manager - AND lest some of those who had repented were looking down their noses at those who refused to repent, Christ pointed out that sometimes the unsaved, unrepentant are more diligent with earthly things than believers are with eternal things.
AS Jesus emphasized in the parable of dishonest parable manager, in the end there is a time of accounting.
In LIFE - 16:19-21
Rich man - seemed to have everything
Purple - Tyrian purple dye - extracted from sea snails - labor intensive, very expensive - Lydia sold purple good - Acts 16:14 - wealthy, became a became a believer - Philippian church met in her house
Fine linen - Egyptian cotton - inner garments
Feasted sumptuously every day.
Like the rich man in another of Christ’s parables whose life motto was “Take your ease, eat, drink and be merry” - Lk 12:19
Lavish, extravagant, self-indulgent and a wasteful prideful demonstration that he was determined to flaunt what he with regard for only himself.
How we see people and life is not always an accurate perceptive of who they really are. C. S. Lewis observed and commented on that,
Luke 11–17: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 28: A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell (Luke 16:19–31)

the dullest and most uninteresting person you talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare.… There are no ordinary peopl.… It is immortals whom we joke with, work with, marry, snub and exploit—immortal horrors or everlasting splendours. (The Weight of Glory [New York: Macmillian, 1949], 15. Italics in original.)

At the gate - of the rich man
Lazarus - only individual in a parable that is named - therefore some suggest not just a parable.
Greek translation of common Hebrew name - Eleazor - whom God has helped - to the rich man and society around him, nameless, but known by to God.
Rich man would have been known to all but not named by Jesus.
Latin translation calls him Dives - Latin for rich
Poor - word used to describe a person in most extreme poverty
Mark 12:42–44 ESV
And a poor widow came and put in two small copper coins, which make a penny. And he called his disciples to him and said to them, “Truly, I say to you, this poor widow has put in more than all those who are contributing to the offering box. For they all contributed out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty has put in everything she had, all she had to live on.”
In Galatians translated worthless.
Galatians 4:9 ESV
But now that you have come to know God, or rather to be known by God, how can you turn back again to the weak and worthless elementary principles of the world, whose slaves you want to be once more?
Covered with sores - word used to indicate oozing open lesions.
Revelation 16:2 ESV
So the first angel went and poured out his bowl on the earth, and harmful and painful sores came upon the people who bore the mark of the beast and worshiped its image.
Revelation 16:11 ESV
and cursed the God of heaven for their pain and sores. They did not repent of their deeds.
Laid at the gate by those who were no longer able to care for him . Not a normal place for a beggar - probably with hopes that the rich man, trades persons or servants would care for him.
Dogs came and licked Lazarus’ sores - not domesticated
Desired to fed with what fell from the rich man’s table
Crumbs used of stale bread used by guests to clean their hands, then thrown on the ground for the dogs.
Matthew 15:26–27 ESV
And he answered, “It is not right to take the children’s bread and throw it to the dogs.” She said, “Yes, Lord, yet even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from their masters’ table.”
Everything about Lazarus would have made him repulsive to the Pharisees and religious leaders of that day.
C. S. Lewis also noted that as different as people might seem to be, they all converge to the same end, death that is a point of transition when who they really are will become evident
In DEATH - 16:22-23
Both died. For Lazarus it seemed inevitable. For the rich man it might have seemed that with all that he had, he was somehow above that.
Heaven and hell are real. Although many choose to deny the reality of heaven and hell, believers should be even more determined to graciously and truthfully explain the truths that have been disregarded.
What the Bible says about hell should motivate believers to warn all. Warning sinners of what awaits them is loving act of truth, sympathy and compassion.
Luke 11–17: The MacArthur New Testament Commentary Chapter 28: A Testimony of One Surprised to Be in Hell (Luke 16:19–31)

“Neither a cavalier attitude toward the lost nor a compassionate compromise are appropriate for a subject of such grave import” (Richard L. Mayhue, “Hell: Never, Forever, or Just for Awhile?” The Master’s Seminary Journal vol. 9, no. 2 [Fall 1998], 131)

Tobacco - cigarettes given to soldiers, danger of cancer denied by most, Marlborough man, cultural norms not always true/safe.
Most people who are surprised to end up in hell will be shocked by where they find themselves.
Matthew 7:22–23 ESV
On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 25:44 ESV
Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’
Luke 13:25–27 ESV
When once the master of the house has risen and shut the door, and you begin to stand outside and to knock at the door, saying, ‘Lord, open to us,’ then he will answer you, ‘I do not know where you come from.’ Then you will begin to say, ‘We ate and drank in your presence, and you taught in our streets.’ But he will say, ‘I tell you, I do not know where you come from. Depart from me, all you workers of evil!’
Most of those to whom Jesus spoke equated things with God’s blessing now and for eternity. But the sad reality was that they worshipped thing, gaining the world but losing their souls.
Luke 16:14 ESV
The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him.
Mark 8:36 ESV
For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?
Poor man/Lazarus - Abraham’s bosom/side
Died and was carried by angels to Abraham’s side
No mention of burial
No other Scriptural reference of angels carrying us to heaven when we die.
And there is no other Scriptural reference referring to it be the abode of OT saints. But there can be no question that Jesus wanted to emphasize that Lazarus was special to God - angels & same status as Abraham.
Not only heaven, but place of honour
Rich man - Hades
Honourable burial but woke up in Hades.
2. LESSONS- 16:24-31
This life is not all there is; death is not the end.
No soul sleep.
Abraham’s bosom & Hades
Many continue to suggest that there is no God and this life is all there is. But that is foolish!
Henry Ford & Ford Motors etc
The fool says in his heart that there is no God.
Psalm 14:1 ESV
The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.” They are corrupt, they do abominable deeds; there is none who does good.
For too many life is not easy. We cannot argue that. But death is not the escape and end of everything. It is instead a transition for which we need to be ready.
If we do not know where we will wake up, we are no better than the rich man, should long for God’s grace as it was extended to Lazarus.
Hades/Hell and Abraham’s side/bosom/Paradise/Heaven are real - 16:22-24
When we die, we do not all wake up with a clean slate living in some ethereal surreal existence.
There is a heaven and hell. That is only just. Who would want to spend eternity with those who enslave and abuse others. Who want t spent eternity where inequality continued to be the accepted norm. Who would want spend eternity in a realm where sin and death continue corrupt and destroy? Who would want to spend eternity with those who killed and eliminated those whom they did not want or saw as inferior. Who would want to spend eternity with those have no time for God and see themselves as their own masters and others their pawns. Were that the case, heaven would as almost a hell.
Hades/hell a place of real pain and feeling. Jesus emphasized that.
Matthew 13:41–43 ESV
The Son of Man will send his angels, and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin and all law-breakers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear.
Matthew 25:41–46 ESV
“Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ Then they also will answer, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to you?’ Then he will answer them, saying, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did not do it to one of the least of these, you did not do it to me.’ And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Revelation 21:8 ESV
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
Mercy - plea for - something that he had never acknowledged as needed in life.
Lazarus - plea - shows that view of Lazarus had not changed - at best should be at someone’s beck and call
Cool my tongue - agony of the the flame - pain of hell and punishment repeatedly underscored by Jesus - sought temporary relief - NO HOPE OF ESCAPE
Matthew 3:12 ESV
His winnowing fork is in his hand, and he will clear his threshing floor and gather his wheat into the barn, but the chaff he will burn with unquenchable fire.”
Matthew 5:22 ESV
But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire.
Matthew 7:19 ESV
Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire.
Matthew 13:40 ESV
Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age.
Matthew 13:42 ESV
and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 13:50 ESV
and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.
Matthew 18:8 ESV
And if your hand or your foot causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life crippled or lame than with two hands or two feet to be thrown into the eternal fire.
Matthew 18:9 ESV
And if your eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. It is better for you to enter life with one eye than with two eyes to be thrown into the hell of fire.
Revelation 14:10 ESV
he also will drink the wine of God’s wrath, poured full strength into the cup of his anger, and he will be tormented with fire and sulfur in the presence of the holy angels and in the presence of the Lamb.
Revelation 19:20 ESV
And the beast was captured, and with it the false prophet who in its presence had done the signs by which he deceived those who had received the mark of the beast and those who worshiped its image. These two were thrown alive into the lake of fire that burns with sulfur.
Revelation 20:10 ESV
and the devil who had deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and sulfur where the beast and the false prophet were, and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.
Revelation 20:14–15 ESV
Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.
Revelation 21:8 ESV
But as for the cowardly, the faithless, the detestable, as for murderers, the sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars, their portion will be in the lake that burns with fire and sulfur, which is the second death.”
A great gulf is fixed - 16:24-26
None can cross over - no escape - out of or from.
Mark 9:48 ESV
‘where their worm does not die and the fire is not quenched.’
Isaiah 66:24 ESV
“And they shall go out and look on the dead bodies of the men who have rebelled against me. For their worm shall not die, their fire shall not be quenched, and they shall be an abhorrence to all flesh.”
Daniel 12:2 ESV
And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.
Psalm 51:3 ESV
For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me.
No rest day or night. The wicked do not cease to exist.
No pergatory
If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone rose from the dead - 16:29-31
Even before the New Testament and the coming of Christ there was plenty of Scriptural evidence of sin and the need of repentance
Isaiah 6:3–5 ESV
And one called to another and said: “Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; the whole earth is full of his glory!” And the foundations of the thresholds shook at the voice of him who called, and the house was filled with smoke. And I said: “Woe is me! For I am lost; for I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips; for my eyes have seen the King, the Lord of hosts!”
Habakkuk 1:13 ESV
You who are of purer eyes than to see evil and cannot look at wrong, why do you idly look at traitors and remain silent when the wicked swallows up the man more righteous than he?
Ezekiel 18:4 ESV
Behold, all souls are mine; the soul of the father as well as the soul of the son is mine: the soul who sins shall die.
Need to repent
Job 42:6 ESV
therefore I despise myself, and repent in dust and ashes.”
Jonah 3:4–10 ESV
Jonah began to go into the city, going a day’s journey. And he called out, “Yet forty days, and Nineveh shall be overthrown!” And the people of Nineveh believed God. They called for a fast and put on sackcloth, from the greatest of them to the least of them. The word reached the king of Nineveh, and he arose from his throne, removed his robe, covered himself with sackcloth, and sat in ashes. And he issued a proclamation and published through Nineveh, “By the decree of the king and his nobles: Let neither man nor beast, herd nor flock, taste anything. Let them not feed or drink water, but let man and beast be covered with sackcloth, and let them call out mightily to God. Let everyone turn from his evil way and from the violence that is in his hands. Who knows? God may turn and relent and turn from his fierce anger, so that we may not perish.” When God saw what they did, how they turned from their evil way, God relented of the disaster that he had said he would do to them, and he did not do it.
Ezekiel 18:30–32 ESV
“Therefore I will judge you, O house of Israel, every one according to his ways, declares the Lord God. Repent and turn from all your transgressions, lest iniquity be your ruin. Cast away from you all the transgressions that you have committed, and make yourselves a new heart and a new spirit! Why will you die, O house of Israel? For I have no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Lord God; so turn, and live.”
Isaiah 55:7 ESV
let the wicked forsake his way, and the unrighteous man his thoughts; let him return to the Lord, that he may have compassion on him, and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
Salvation by God’s sovereign grace.
Exodus 33:19 ESV
And he said, “I will make all my goodness pass before you and will proclaim before you my name ‘The Lord.’ And I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show mercy on whom I will show mercy.
Psalm 41:4 ESV
As for me, I said, “O Lord, be gracious to me; heal me, for I have sinned against you!”
Jeremiah 31:31–34 ESV
“Behold, the days are coming, declares the Lord, when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and the house of Judah, not like the covenant that I made with their fathers on the day when I took them by the hand to bring them out of the land of Egypt, my covenant that they broke, though I was their husband, declares the Lord. For this is the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel after those days, declares the Lord: I will put my law within them, and I will write it on their hearts. And I will be their God, and they shall be my people. And no longer shall each one teach his neighbor and each his brother, saying, ‘Know the Lord,’ for they shall all know me, from the least of them to the greatest, declares the Lord. For I will forgive their iniquity, and I will remember their sin no more.”
God forgives sinners who repent.
Exodus 34:6–7 ESV
The Lord passed before him and proclaimed, “The Lord, the Lord, a God merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and abounding in steadfast love and faithfulness, keeping steadfast love for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, but who will by no means clear the guilty, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children and the children’s children, to the third and the fourth generation.”
Psalm 32:1 ESV
Blessed is the one whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered.
Psalm 103:10–12 ESV
He does not deal with us according to our sins, nor repay us according to our iniquities. For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his steadfast love toward those who fear him; as far as the east is from the west, so far does he remove our transgressions from us.
Micah 7:18–19 ESV
Who is a God like you, pardoning iniquity and passing over transgression for the remnant of his inheritance? He does not retain his anger forever, because he delights in steadfast love. He will again have compassion on us; he will tread our iniquities underfoot. You will cast all our sins into the depths of the sea.
The Pharisees seeing themselves better than they really saw little need for repentance.
Luke 18:9–11 ESV
He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and treated others with contempt: “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector.
Reflecting on Jesus’ parable/account of the unnamed rich man and Lazarus, the poor man among the applications that could be made, I would only two for today. Those two are the results of the Gospel clearly preached and lived.
1. The comfortable will be afflicted.
Those who comfortable now with what is temporal, need to be made uncomfortable/afflicted in the short term so that they will not be afflicted for eternity.
While all unbelievers are not rich, a significant segment of those who are unbelievers have become comfortable with their unbelieving life style and those with whom they share their lives. In many of those circles there is no Gospel influence.
Moral codes have shifted and what was once deemed wrong is not even questionable.
Whereas once a mother would be have been charged and found guilty for paying someone kill her children, now whether she is charged with murder will depend on the age of her children. The same children that prenatal specialists will save in other facilities will be terminated.
Those who live with much are affirmed as being prudent and successful, especially if they donate to some charities.
For many people, there is at least some attempt to set aside something for retirement. That number eclipses those who talk about where they will spend eternity rather than how to maintain a certain lifestyle.
The comfort with which some believers can become satisfied can be just as deadly. Oh, if they truly love the Lord, they are not going to wake up in hell. But as those believers pad their comfort, worshipping in a way, singing music, speaking a way that is no longer understood by unbelievers, those are their gates are going to hell.
How much of her comfort will Bethel forgo to be renewed?
6 of the 7 churches mentioned in Rev 2 & 3 were very comfortable. Only the church in Smyrna was told that their comfort was unfounded.
Church fellowship hall that was decorated and so reserved for gentle events that any activities that might be scuff the walls had to be taken off site.
What would happen if Bethel was approached by a cutting edge FEB Central church plant that was effectively reaching drug addicts, alcoholics etc with the Gospel. They not only wanted a place to worship, they were wondering about part of our educational building being used short term as a rehab ministry center for those who were open to the Gospel?
What would happen if as God began to renew Bethel and some people came to faith in Christ and in the midst of discipling one of those new believers, Steve explained that some while ago, some time before moving to St Catharines and someone reaching out to him, Steve had lived as he had been born, Stephany.
2. The afflicted will be comforted .
Those who are afflicted, in whatever way - physically, emotionally, spiritually must be told and shown the love and care of Jesus.
There are many unbelievers who long for someone who speaks their language and come to them with the Gospel. Those who come need to be able to handle their handicap. There is no question that for a while their thinking will need to re-calibrated. And they might stumble more than once. But they are crying for someone who will give them some crumbs. They are tired of being treated like dogs.
Those are also some believers who put on a good front, are well aware of their need and need someone to loving and transparently share the Gospel and point them to Christ - EXPLORING CHRISTIANITY vs comfortable men’s breakfast/ladies’ meeting/Senior’s Meeting.
There are some believers who have a passion to move beyond their Jerusalem and Judea to their Samaria and do more.
Capital Hill Baptist Church had been in a decline for many years. They had sold property to keep their heads above water. They had done their best. They had had some good pastors but the gradual downward trend continued. It did not look good, especially when those who attended when it was raining had to avoid drips from the leaky roof.
One of the leaders heard about a letter that another renewed church had used when they had called a pastor whom God had used to renew them. That church had reached beyond their comfort zone and asked a trusted pastor who was in England doing doctoral studies. The request that had prompted that letter, been a retrospective question, “What would the pastor that we need look for in us, and should we look for in a prospective pastor who with our Lord’s help is more likely to be used to renew us.
Although it was not planned that way, the letter listed 9 things.
Expositional Preaching - Does the pastor preach God’s word or his own ideas? - 2 Tim 2:15; 4:2
Biblical Theology - Does the church openly confess key biblical doctrines? - Titus 1:9-11
Biblical Understanding of Conversion - Does the church teach that a person must be born again to enter the kingdom of God ? - Acts 11:18
Biblical Understanding of Evangelism - Does the church preach the Gospel to non-Christians and encourage members to do the same?
Biblical church membership - attendance and ministry involvement
Biblical church discipline
Biblical discipleship & growth
Biblical church leadership - church lead by qualified men
CHBC asked for that letter and after praying approached the man who wrote that letter. They eventually called Mark Dever to be their pastor. CHBC was renewed and has been used by God to train leaders and renew/plant many churches.
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