We wish to extend our warm welcome to all friends and family willing to attend worship with the members of the church which belongs to Jesus Christ, here in Spencer. You are our honored guests. And we pray that what you see and hear this day will challenge your curiosity to know more, and return again one day soon. For there is a reason you have been invited, being one of eternal wealth. And it goes far deeper than the wonderful fellowship we shall experience. There is a call to authority taking place, necessary for all who seek freedom in Christ, authority which calls us to obedience, proper worship and behavior.
None can judge a man’s soul into torment, or paradise.
I once had a co-worker at the factory. And he would fall asleep on the job when the boss was not around. I would have to yell at him (“wake up!”), at times shack him, less he lose his job (i.e. pay cheque, benefits, the ability to provide for the family). Not once did he ever say to me, “how dare you judge me.” More often he would thank me for saving his job. You see, we may not have the authority to fire anyone, but yet still we have the authority to warn of the coming danger and consequence. And to remind each other of the benefits if we indeed remain employed and not fall asleep.
The sermon this morning is titled: A WINDOW INTO THE AFTERLIFE
So many walking this earth wish to have insight into the afterlife, yet they go seeking instruction from the wrong sources (i.e. the entertainment industry, perhaps TV evangelists, etc). Either out of ignorance or because they simply rather believe a lie, than the truth. And therefore sadly come away with a false sense of spiritual security. A false hope in a heaven they will never see.
Text: Luke 16:19-31
The historically recorded account of a moment captured in the afterlife between two men. One man sent to torment, and the other to paradise. It can be trusted as true, and we can most certainly learn a great deal about our lives in this lesson. A lesson that will unite friends and family or divide them.
Thesis: “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for *Jesus Christ sake shall find it.” – Jesus Christ (Mt. 16:25).
Theme: “verily I say unto you, there is no man that has left house (security and material belongings), or parents, or brothers and sisters, or wife, or children, for the kingdom of God's sake, Who shall not receive manifold more in this present time, and in the world to come life everlasting.” – Jesus Christ (Luke 18:29-30).
In this recorded account delivered to us through inspired literature, the tale of two men who once lived on this earth reflected their eternal existence.
READ: LUKE 16:19-31
Luke 16:19 - A rich man who lives a comfortable life. Nothing wrong with riches, we had a sister in Christ written about in the Bible who was also wealthy, remember Lydia? (Acts 16:14). But this man in question, trusted in his riches instead of God. And that’s the problem. His riches made him disobedient, never benevolent, never humble and willing to learn.
Verse 20-21 the account of a different man than the first - Lazarus, a man in need of love and care, scrounging for scraps the rich man would accidently drop from his table. This Lazarus, was laid at the rich man’s gate (they would typically beg for alms), to add to the shame he was covered in sores, on top of that, he’s starving for nourishment, so much so he’ll eat the scraps. Even the dogs have more mercy on him than his fellow man, his neighbor, the rich man.
Verse 22 -This verse is interesting because it tells us that Lazarus, the poor man, was cared for after his moment of death. But the rich man was left in the grave. It’s interesting because on earth the rich man was the one being served and cared for, but Lazarus was neglected.
Verse 23 - And while in the grave he found himself in the land of the dead, in the area in which eternal torment is found and experienced. And to add to his agony, he could see Lazarus now living in paradise, the realm, reality and location of peace, and care. Again, a reversal of circumstance has taken place.
Verse 24 - And this rich man now soberly awakened to his eternal demise, begs for mercy from God, and refreshment from Lazarus. He describes his punishment as agony, extreme pain. - Interesting to note, that this rich man who was used to having everything he wanted from his slaves, still now thinks Lazarus should be put to service. He’s still confused on this reality. He has no authority here. Lazarus is not his servant over here. He doesn’t get to have what he wants here.
Verse 25 - and so the patriarch of God answers his request in a negative form, to teach him this new reality he finds himself living in. During his physical life he could order anyone around, he had all the money and power. Living the good life, not worried about some sick bum begging alms outside the gate. - You see, the roles have been reversed. The rich man gave up eternal wealth for momentary riches. And Lazarus was now the wealthy one, the kind of wealth which never leaves his account dry.
Verse 26 - To add to his punishment, the patriarch Abraham reveals to him the seriousness of his situation. There is a chasm/a wall designed to separate those in torment from those in paradise. Interesting how even in the afterlife we see a wall separating the good from the bad. - Interesting to note that Abraham says “between us and you.” In torment you are alone. Yet in paradise you are among friends. And it would not be paradise if we could see our loved ones in torment, would it? Lazarus needed not be reminded of the rich man’s treatment on earth, nor punishment in the afterlife.
Verse 27-28 - Now the rich man tries to find a way to reach his relatives before they continue to choose the same path which led him to everlasting torment. And interestingly enough he still wants to use Lazarus as a means to this end. He knows his family members knew the poor man at the gate.
Verse 29 - the patriarch Abraham further describes the rich man’s inability to perceive the spiritual reality he now finds himself in. - Abraham tells this rich man that his brothers have the BIBLE, if they’d simply read it, study it, believe it, and obey it, they’d have more than what they need in order to stay away from torment.
Verse 30 - The rich man knows his brothers don’t care much for the Bible, Moses and the prophets therein. And so he further gives his last attempt in saying that if Lazarus appears in-front of them, a man risen from the dead, a man his brothers would recognize as having passed away. Then surely they’d repent.
Verse31 - But Abraham, wise in all spiritual truth, says to him that if his brothers don’t care to believe the Bible (Moses and the prophets therein, which speak of Jesus), then they wouldn’t care to see a man risen from dead either. How many people during the age Jesus walked this earth, saw Him heal the sick, raise the dead, cast out demons, and yet still never believed in Him.
How many today, during the age in which we have the finished, completed, fulfilled Word of God, the BIBLE, which can be read, investigate, proven, trusted, and obeyed,... will reject the information therein, for the reason, to remain in sinful practices and false religious beliefs.
An atheist once said, “if Jesus wants me to believe in Him He’ll appear before me now.” A Christian replied, “He did, and you crucified Him. Now what?” Many fish deny the existence of water.
For some, like the rich man and his brothers, they will never get it, until it’s too late. For a few, however, they will be carried away into paradise just like Lazarus.
What’s the difference between the two in this current age? Simple, the one who “believes and is baptized shall be saved. The one who doesn’t shall be damned.” – Mark. 16:16.
The one who trust in God enough to know that as a repentant believer he can have his sins washed away by the new birth, being born again, of water and the spirit, will certainly come forward for this spiritual occasion. The un-believer will not trust that Jesus will save Him the way He said He would. So this un-believer will continue to find other ways to satisfy his rebellion. Which one are you? Lazarus, or the other guy?
READ MT. 25:31-40
The rich man should have believed and obeyed this truth. He should have read his Bible, He would have know that the prophets preached this very faith. And now that you’ve had a window into the afterlife. If you are Lazarus this day, you believe in Jesus and want to be carried away by His angels when you pass from this life unto the other, then you need to be born again (Jn. 3:3, 5), immersed in water for the forgiveness of your sins (Acts 2:38). Saved by grace through faith (Eph. 2:8).
If you wish to do that now, please come forward as we stand and sing.