In Luke 16 Jesus tells a parable, a story of hell. This is a different topic for us. We have been praying for someone we care about to connect to God. We are reminded in scripture that God loves people more than we do. God loves us more than we can imagine. Sometimes we are asking the question what happens when we die.
This week will be full of Halloween costumes. Kids will look adorable. There’s a question of good and evil. Halloween has a Christian background. The church has celebrates All Hallows Eve, celebrating loved ones who have passed and the saints, those who walked with God. Halloween has now taken a darker side and we think about the reality of Heaven and Hell. Heaven and Hell are closely related. What happens after we die? There’s all kinds of ideas about what happens. What did Jesus say about Hell?
This parable is real and meaningful with true principles. It’s not to be taken literally in every aspect. The Sadducees were present and they did not believe in an afterlife. The Pharisees believed in an afterlife. This story is told to the Pharisees. There’s a rich man and a poor man who is paralyzed. The poor man sat at the gate every day. They both die and the poor man is in Heaven and the rich man is in Hell. There’s a conversation. This is a startling story. Many Jews believed that money was a sign of blessing from God so if you had money you’d go to Heaven. Jesus spins this whole thing around! The poor man is in Heaven. What determines where we go? What we do with Jesus determines where we go.
Hell is eternal.
“Then they will go away to eternal punishment, but the righteous to eternal life.” Matthew 25.46
Each of us will give account of our lives. This is not the only place Jesus talks about Hell. Jesus is talking about a coming future judgment. Some will go to the left and some to the right, eternity in Heaven or Hell. Usually when we think about the word eternal we think about Heaven. Jesus spoke about Hell more often than he spoke about Heaven. Hell is real and eternal. We were made for eternity. We feel this deep in our souls. There are times in life when we sense we are made for more than this lifetime. We are made for eternity. The soul will continue for all time.
Hell is a place of pain.
“for I have five brothers, let him warn them, so that they also will not come to this place of torment.” Luke 16.28
The rich man in Hell is in great pain. He is wanting Lazarus to come and touch his tongue with water. The rich man, even in Hell, thinks the poor man should serve him. The rich man is asking someone to warn his brothers. Hell is a place of torment and pain that continues. It’s critical to see that the rich man is shocked. He lived a good life and he didn’t anticipate he’d be in Hell. He believed that he was going to Heaven. One reality of what Hell is like is pain.
Hell is a place of Isolation.
“He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s house,” Luke 16.27
A few good things in hell:
Good people are in hell. “for I have five brothers, let him warn them, so that they also will not come to this place of torment.” Luke 16.28
It might surprise you that there’s a common misconception. It’s not helpful to tell a 3 year old that good and bad people are in Hell. Good people will be in Hell. This man is caring. He wants his 5 brothers that he still cares about to be warned. Good people care about others. This man is in Hell and still cares about his brothers. All of us are created in God’s image. All of us are capable of doing good things. The reason we go to Heaven of Hell is based on whether or not we cone to Jesus. Receive what Jesus did for you. All of us fall short of God’s glory. Good people will spend eternity in Hell. Our culture says what you believe is ok as long as you believe something. We live in a pluralistic society. Jesus was clearly saying what we do with Jesus is what determines where we go. The guy in Hell has 5 people he is concerned about. He wants someone to witness to them! People in Hell want us to witness! Many people are not aware of the reality of Heaven and Hell.
Good vision is in hell. “and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.” Luke 16.23
The man can see Abraham and Lazarus. He sees what he is missing. He is aware of what he cannot experience. Hell is separation from the presence of God. We all experience God’s blessings here, even if someone is not following God. Everyone can see it. We will be aware of what we are missing.
Good prayers are in hell. “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.’” Luke 16.24
There’s prayers in Hell, Father Abraham! Have mercy on me! This man is a descendant of Abraham who had money. He spent his life thinking he was going to Heaven. Yes, God loves all people. God sent Jesus. God loves us more than we can imagine. If we choose not to follow Jesus we will spend eternity in Hell. This man cries out from Hell for someone to go tell his brother about Jesus.
Good memory is in hell. “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.” Luke 16.25
This man remembers the opportunities he had. We will remember things. You can recall the smells of Thanksgiving dinner right? There’s many good things in this world. In Hell things are remembered. This man is reminded of his life and his choices. Something else you will remember for all eternity you can remember being here this morning. Today you were told that Heaven and Hell are real. If you go to Hell you will remember this as a day you chose not to follow God. Today you have this opportunity. You have read the Word of God.
Good priorities are in hell. “And he said, ‘Then, I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house.” Luke 16.27
We may not have good priorities here but we will later on. Here’s what’s interesting in this story. The rich man wants Lazarus to go back to earth. His brothers know Lazarus. Their brother is in Hell. He wants Lazarus to return from the dead to give them some kind of a sign. Jesus says Lazarus is not going to tell them. Even if someone came back from the dead they still won’t believe.
The Gospel is enough. The truth that Jesus Christ died and resurrected is enough.
A man would occasionally would attend a study I did with his wife who was a believer. His son came to Christ. This man wasn’t opposed to church. He would say that he just needed a sign, something to tell him it’s really true. Jesus says there is no further sign. There’s no other way you can be saved. Hell is not a place for you. Heaven is the place you were made for.
There is more than enough room in my Father’s home. If this were not so, would I have told you that I am going to prepare a place for you? John 14.2 (NLT)
Jesus taught us Hell is real. His design is that we spend eternity with Him. Jesus has prepared a place for you and for the person you are praying for. God gives all of us opportunity to respond. Will we go to the cross of Jesus and ask for God to please forgive us? God, please help me to follow You. If we resist Jesus we will spend eternity separated from God. God’s desire is that you’ll lay down what you’re holding on to and tell God you want to be His.
There’s an opportunity today to give your life to God. Let’s also keep praying for the people we have been praying for.
Adapted from an original message by Johnny Hunt, FBC Woodstock, GA
Sermon Notes are taken, transcribed and posted by Jeni Martin Johnson.