Tuesday, January 20, 2015

the rich, the poor, the future (part 2)

"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 

The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. 

The rich man also died and was buried. 

Continuing on from yesterday in Luke 16, Jesus teaches us about the future of both Lazarus and the rich man after their deaths.  In doing so, Christ also confirms that there are indeed eternal locations excluded for those who will live both with and without God.  Knowing this, it is astounding to me how complacent multitudes of people behave each day unconcerned with their eternal future.  Do they not realize that once a man crosses over the threshold of death's door into the forevermore that he will no longer have the opportunity to reconcile his sinful life with God?  He will either be accepted or separated from the Holy Kingdom... a Kingdom fluent in perfect LOVE!  Really, who doesn't want LOVE?  Who doesn't want eternal life in the presence and friendship of the righteous, holy, perfect Redeemer?

Then he will say to those on his left, "Depart from me, you who are cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. For I was hungry and you gave me nothing to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me nothing to drink, I was a stranger and you did not invite me in, I needed clothes and you did not clothe me, I was sick and in prison and you did not look after me."

They also will answer, "Lord, when did we see you hungry or thirsty or a stranger or needing clothes or sick or in prison, and did not help you?"

He will reply, "Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me."

Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life. (Matthew 25:41-46)

Folks, there is no middle ground on this... no third, fourth, or fifth chance to make things right with God after our death.  You see, Jesus came to become our second chance.  He sacrificed Himself so that we could know and live in His Hope.  Really, His Way is the only way outside of death and destruction.  So, without intimately knowing and living in His Spirit, there is no entrance, no adoption, no joy for those who reject Him.  How awful!

With this in mind, let's read further into Christ's story in Luke 16...

"The rich man also died and was buried.  In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’

But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’"  (Luke 16:19-26)

Sadly, today many shy away from this uncomfortable topic. Let's face it, nobody wants to discuss eternal torment, agony, or rejection. But it is critical to understand the outcome of our choices before it is too late.  When a follower of Jesus Christ dies, their souls are immediately escorted into the joy of God's Kingdom. However, when an unbeliever dies, they are just as immediately damned into the conscious pain, suffering, and torment of hell.

In Christ's story, this was the fate of the rich man.  The tragic outcome of one nameless, selfish, godless individual whom the Lord will still use today for His good in order to teach us what not to do... how not to live.  And from his example, we must assess in all honesty... was the rich man's way of life really worth it?  Was all the hype, glamor, decadence, popularity, treasures, idols, and excuse-making through his sin worth the loss of his own soul and ultimate separation from his Creator?  Clearly not.  This story is so important because Jesus wants us to know that He came to save mankind from this horrible fate.  But mankind must accept the love that our Lord extends.  Yes, there is only one Way to know the joy of Lazarus, the hope of Abraham, the promise of our Master and King.  That Way is God's way, not man's.  Tragically, the rich man denied God's way and chose his own misguided path.  He ignored the gospel, clung to his earthy idols, and forfeited his soul forever.  Epic, epic fail!

Then he called the crowd to him along with his disciples and said: “Whoever wants to be my disciple must deny themselves and take up their cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save their life will lose it, but whoever loses their life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit their soul? Or what can anyone give in exchange for their soul? If anyone is ashamed of me and my words in this adulterous and sinful generation, the Son of Man will be ashamed of them when he comes in his Father’s glory with the holy angels.” (Mark 8:34-48)

So, what lesson will you take away mid-way through the story in Luke 16?  Will you consider how trustworthy you are currently living with whatever God has already provided you?  Will you surrender your whole self to His kingdom purposes rather than be puffed up with selfish glory and gain?  Will you seek and follow the path of the One true Redeemer?  Or will you forfeit your soul for moth and rust, idols and dust?

Whom will you choose to serve forevermore?

Until tomorrow...



© The Devoted Woman | Victoria Anderson

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