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Gospel of Luke Chapter 16
THEME: Parable of the unjust steward; Jesus answers the covetous Pharisees; Jesus speaks on divorce; Jesus describes the incident of the rich man and Lazarus
Parable of the Unjust Steward (Luke 16:1-13)
This parable has been greatly misunderstood, and one of the reasons is because it looks as though our Lord is praising a crook. This steward is an absolute and shameless crook. Do not think that just because the Lord Jesus mentioned him in a parable, that he is a hero and an example of the noblest character. If that is what you think, you will have trouble with this parable. The steward is a greedy crook.
We must remember that Luke gives parables by contrast. He is the only Gospel writer that does this. Most parables are parables by comparison.
In this parable the Lord uses as an example a man who followed the values of the world. We are told in the Bible that the world loves its own but hates those who belong to God. John 15:18-19 If the world hate you, ye know that it hated me before it hated you. 19 If ye were of the world, the world would love his own: but because ye are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you. (KJV)
A TRUE child of God does NOT belong to this world and does NOT live by the doctrines of this world. Gal. 1:3-4 Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: (KJV) Romans 12:2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. (KJV) 1 John 2:15 Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him. (KJV)
The first commandment of the world is "self-preservation." Shady business deals are common, even in our government! Questionable practices are tolerated, and a cunning crook is praised by the world. The law is on the side of the crook and the criminal many times gets off Scott free, simply because many judges can be bribed. Every man, according to the world's law, is considered innocent until he is proven guilty. The Bible takes the opposite method. God says that man is guilty until he is proven innocent. He says, "For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God" (Rom.3:23). NO man, on his own, can EVER be innocent before Almighty God, BUT . . . he certainly can become justified before Him. Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: (KJV) Romans 8:1 There is therefore now no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus, who walk not after the flesh, but after the Spirit. (KJV) . . . When a person trusts Christ Jesus as his Saviour, he is justified by faith. This is the only way a man can be justified.
Luke 16:1 And he said also unto his disciples, There was a certain rich man, which had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods. (KJV)
And he said also unto his disciples . . . the word disciples, here is not to be restricted to the twelve apostles or to the seventy. The parable appears to have been addressed to all the professed followers of the Saviour who were present when it was delivered. It is connected with that in the preceding chapter. Jesus had there been speaking with the scribes and Pharisees, and vindicating His conduct in His kindly receiving publicans and sinners. Among them there might have been some who were wealthy. The publicans were engaged in receiving taxes, in collecting money, and their chief danger arose from that quarter-from covetousness or dishonesty. Jesus always adjusted his instructions to the circumstances of his hearers, and it was proper, therefore, that He should give these disciples instructions about their peculiar duties and dangers. He related this parable, therefore, to show them the danger of the love of money; the guilt it would lead to.
There was a certain rich man, which had a steward. . . which had a steward, for although all men are in a sense, stewards under God, and are entrusted with the good things from Him, all men cannot be meant, because some are set apart from this steward, (Lk.16:5,8), nor are the disciples intended, even though the parable is directed to them; and they were stewards of the mysteries and manifold grace of God; and one among them was an unfaithful one. The character of an unjust man does not suit them: and too, this steward was of the children of this world, (verse 8). The Pharisees are meant here, for these are irritated at this parable (verses 14 & 15), and it is to these that agrees with the character of the men of this world, who were worldly wise men, and also that of a steward. These are the tutors and governors mentioned in (Gal.4:2), who took care of the house of Israel, the family of God, under the legal dispensation; and to whom were committed the oracles of God, the writings of Moses, and the prophets; and whose business it was to open and explain them to the people. The rich man, without doubt means God.
And the same was accused unto him that he had wasted his goods . . . falsely interpreted the Scriptures; fed the family with bad and unwholesome food, the traditions of the elders, called the leaven of the Pharisees (Mat.6:6,11-12), bringing havoc to the souls of men; made the hearts of the righteous sad and hardened sinners in their wicked ways. They fed themselves, and not the flock (Eze.34:2,3,8). They robbed people of their temporal substance (Lev.19:13); of all which they were accused by Moses, in whom they trusted. It was his law they violated; and their own consciences that witnessed against them; and by the cries of those whom they abused, which came into the ears of the Lord of Sabbath (Mat.12:8; Mk.2:28; Lk.6:5).
Luke 16:2 And he called him, and said unto him, How is it that I hear this of thee? give an account of thy stewardship; for thou mayest be no longer steward. (KJV)
And he called him . . . by the prophets, sent one after another; by John the Baptist, by Christ himself, and by his apostles.
And said unto him, how is it that I hear this of thee? . . . of him corrupting the Word; of his greed, plunder and theft; of his adultery and idolatry, and pathetic violation of the law (Rom.2:21-23).
Give an account of thy stewardship . . . to show what improvement was made of the gifts given him; what care has been taken of my vineyard, (the Jews); and where are the fruits that might be expected?
For thou mayest be no longer steward . . . this was foretold by the prophets, that God would write a "Loammi" (Hos.1:9) upon the people of the Jews; that he would cut off three shepherds in one month, and particularly lay aside the idol shepherd, by whom the Pharisees may be meant (Zec.11:8,17), and by John the Baptist, who declared the axe was laid to the root of the tree, and it was just ready to be cut down (Mat.3:10,12), and by Christ Jesus, that the kingdom of God should be taken from them (Mat.21:43), and by the apostles, who turned from them to the Gentiles (Acts 13:46).
Luke 16:3 Then the steward said within himself, What shall I do? for my lord taketh away from me the stewardship: I cannot dig; to beg I am ashamed. (KJV)
Then the steward said within himself. . . said within himself, thought or considered. As the Scribes and Pharisees were accustomed to doing (Mat.3:9; 9:3; Lk.7:39,49).
What shall I do? . . . he does not say, what will become of me? I am undone, and what shall I do to be saved? or what shall I do for my Lord and Master whom I have injured so much? or what shall I do to make up with him? or what account shall I give? BUT instead . . . what shall I do now? how shall I live? Of this company were the Pharisees, men pleasers, and self-seekers!
For my lord taketh away from me the stewardship . . . the priesthood was changed, and there was a change also of the law; the ceremonial law was revoked, and the ordinances of the former dispensation were shaken and removed. These men were turned out of their places and offices.
I cannot dig . . . or "plow", as one version reads, and may mean that his job had been such that he could not work in farming, in agriculture, not having been familiar with the business, or that he was unwilling to stoop to so low an employment as to work daily for his support. To dig, here, is the same as to till the earth, to work at daily labor.
To beg I am ashamed . . . nothing could be more disagreeable, to one who had lived so well in his master's house, and in so much fullness and luxury, as the Scribes and Pharisees did. The Jews have a saying, that want of necessaries, "is better than begging". One saying: I have tasted the bitterness of all things, and I have not found anything more bitter "than begging:" and which was literally true of the Jews, after the destruction of Jerusalem. Multitudes of them were condemned to work in mines; and vast numbers were scattered about everywhere as vagrants, begging their bread; both which was very irritating to those people. Read the Pharisee's prayer in Luke 18:11-12, and you will not find one petition in it. To ask anything at the throne of grace (Rom.5:1-2; Heb.4:16), in a way of mere grace and favor, and not merit; or to beg anything at the hands of Christ Jesus, such as life, righteousness, pardon, cleansing, healing, food . . . they were ashamed of, and would not do.
To beg. These were the only two ways to make a living; either to work for it, or to beg. I am ashamed. The steward was too proud for that. And besides, he was in good health and strength, and there was no good reason why he should beg; it is proper for the sick, the lame, and the feeble to beg; but it is NOT proper for the able-bodied to beg . . . as millions in today’s world do. 2 Thes. 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. (KJV) . . . The government should NOT aid an able-bodied man or woman in any way. Lazy slobs should get off their behinds and go to work to support themselves! It is a sin for an able-bodied person to beg!
Luke 16:4 I am resolved what to do, that, when I am put out of the stewardship, they may receive me into their houses. (KJV)
I am resolved what to do . . . OR, I know what to do, which will provide for me, and secure me in my lifestyle.
That when I am put out of the stewardship . . . driven from Jerusalem, and from the temple and the synagogues,
They may receive me into their houses . . . either Jews or Gentiles, after their dispersion. This man did NOT repent; he had NO regret or remorse for his actions. This man was a crook! He was clever by the world's standards. He had no training for other work, and his age was probably against him. He was too proud to beg, but dishonesty would not stop him.
Luke 16:5 So he called every one of his lord's debtors unto him, and said unto the first, How much owest thou unto my lord? (KJV)
So he called every one of his Lord's debtors . . . either the Gentiles, who were greatly indebted to God, having sinned against Him, and the law, and light of nature (Rom.1:21-22), at a great rate; into whose affections, houses and palaces, the Jews found ways and means to introduce themselves; and, in the process of time, got permission to have synagogues built, and their worship set up again: or else the Jews, their countrymen; since these were under those stewards, tutors, and governors, and were debtors to do the whole law; and had, by breaking the law, contracted large debts against the Master; and against whom the ceremonial law stood as handwriting (Col.2:14), these the steward called
Unto him, and said unto the first, how much owest thou unto my Lord? . . . it is clear, that the debts of these men, of the first, lay in oil, and of the other in wheat; things much used in the ceremonial law, in the observance of which they had been, greatly deficient. (Ex.29:40-41; Num.15:4-12; Eze.45:13-14).
Luke 16:6 And he said, An hundred measures of oil. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and sit down quickly, and write fifty. (KJV)
And he said, An hundred measures of oil . . . or "baths of oil", the same quantity as in (Ezra 7:22), they were "to mingle with the meal, or flour offerings"; the bath was the measure of oil, as the ephah was of wheat; and they were both of the same quantity (Eze.45:11).
Take thy bill . . . or "writing" which showed the bargain made for so many measures; and which acknowledged the receipt of them, and promised payment.
And sit down quickly . . . for his case required haste,
And write fifty . . . just half; that it might appear he had bought but fifty, and was accountable for no more.
Luke 16:7 Then said he to another, And how much owest thou? And he said, An hundred measures of wheat. And he said unto him, Take thy bill, and write fourscore. (KJV)
Then said he to another, and how much owest thou? . . . to my Lord, as before,
And he said, an hundred measures of wheat . . . or "cors of wheat"; the same with "homers" (Eze.45:11), the same quantity as in (Ezra 7:22) where, as here, they are called an hundred measures of wheat.
And he said unto him, take thy bill and write fourscore . . . since oil and wheat were things used in the observance of the ceremonial law, and these men's debts lay in them, it may show the deficiency of the Jews in those things: wherefore by "the bill" may be meant the law; and which is sometimes called by the same name as here, the "writing", or "letter" (2 Cor.3:6; Rom.2:29; 7:6), and is so called, not merely because it was written in letters; but because it is a mere letter, showing only what is to be done and avoided, without giving strength to perform, or pointing where it is to be had. The steward, the Scribes and Pharisees, ordered the debtors to write a lesser amount; this may mean the lessening, and even laying aside of many things in the law, after the destruction of the temple; as especially the daily sacrifice, and other things. (Hos.3:4). The doctrine of the Pharisees was always a limiting of the law, and making less of it than it was; as appears from the false interpretation they put upon it, refuted by our Lord in (Mat.5:1-48). They compounded the matter with the people, as some men do today, and taught them, that an imperfect righteousness would do in the place of a perfect one. This doctrine is very pleasing to men, and never fails to gain access into the hearts and minds of carnal men. This is very distressing to God, and to His divine perfections, especially his justice and holiness. Just as the methods this steward took were unfair to his Lord, although very agreeable to his debtors, and were well calculated to bring the result he desired . . . a continued provision for himself.
Luke 16:8 And the lord commended the unjust steward, because he had done wisely: for the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light. (KJV)
And the Lord commended the unjust steward . . . NOT the Lord Jesus Christ, who delivered this parable, as one version seems to suggest; but instead the Lord of the steward, (God), NOT that God commended (praised) him for what he did, or the injustice of it, because this totally opposes His nature and perfections; but for his craft and cunning in providing himself a maintenance for the time to come: for he is on that account branded as an "unjust steward", as he was, in wasting his Lord's goods; falsely interpreting the Scriptures; doing damage both to the souls and worldly estates of men, and in neglecting and despising lawful and honest ways of living, and breaking the least of the commandments, and teaching men so to do; and in corrupting others, making proselytes twofold more the children of Hell than himself; and in being liberal with another's property, to wrong objects for a wrong end. It was not therefore because he had done justly to his Lord, or right to others, that he is commended; but
Because he had done wisely . . . for himself, and not for the goodness of mankind is he commended.
For the children of this world are in their generation wiser than the children of light . . . the children of this world may mean the Israelites, who belonged to the Jewish nation and church, called the "world", and "this world", (1 Cor.10:11; 2:6,8), especially the princes of it, the religious doctors and rulers. As the children of the world are sometimes distinguished from "the children of light", by whom are meant the children of the Gospel dispensation; or persons enlightened by the Spirit and grace of God. The children of light see the wickedness of sin, and see their wretched state. They see their own righteousness to justify them before God is not sufficient. They see the way of eternal life, righteousness and salvation is by Christ Jesus alone! They see the different parts of salvation, and the whole of it, come from the grace of God! (Ep.2:8-9). These children have light into the Scriptures, and doctrines of the Gospel; and they have some foretaste of Heaven and the unseen glories of another world.
The way we use money is a good test of the lordship of Christ. #1. Money, along with everything else we have, belongs to God, not to us. He could reach down and squash us like a bug IF He so desired, any time He wanted to! Let us honor God and use our resources wisely. #2. Money can be used for good or evil; let us use ours for good. #3. Money has great power, let us use it carefully with much thought. We must use our material goods in a way that will nurture our faith and obedience. (Mat.6:20-21; Lk.12:33-34).
Luke 16:9 And I say unto you, Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness; that, when ye fail, they may receive you into everlasting habitations. (KJV)
And I say unto you . . . these words of Christ, go along with the last part of the preceding verse, as He applied the parable to His disciples, for their instruction.
Make to yourselves friends of the mammon of unrighteousness . . . mammon means riches, wealth and material substance (Mat.6:24), and is called "mammon of unrighteousness" because such wealth is very often wickedly obtained, and is not made use of to right and good purposes, by the owners of it. Most often, it is possessed by unrighteous men; and for the most part, used in an unrighteous manner; luxury, pride and self-indulgence, and is the root, the instrument, and means of such unrighteousness.
Worldly riches are temporary, empty and misleading; so deceitfulness is credited to them. They are uncertain riches, and are not to be depended upon. (Mat.13:33; 1 Tim.6:17). Jesus now speaks to the publicans and sinners, who had lately become His followers, and whom He advises, with the highest possible wisdom and caution.
That when ye fail . . . or "that fails", or rather, when ye leave or when ye die; as in (Jer.42:21-22), "know certainly that ye shall die"; "ye shall fall by the sword".
They may receive you into everlasting habitations . . . the mansions of glory, which are many, and of an eternal duration; this is to be understood of the righteous being received there. We are to make wise use of the financial opportunities we have, NOT to earn Heaven, because we CANNOT earn it, but instead to help people find Christ and the redemption He offers. If we use our money to help those in need or to help others find Jesus, our temporary earthly investment will bring us eternal benefit. When we obey God, the unselfish use of possessions will follow.
Our earthly and perishable tabernacles of the body (2 Cor.5:1; 2 Pet.1:13-14).
Luke 16:10 He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much. (KJV)
He that is faithful in that which is least . . . our honesty and truthfulness is often put on the line in money matters. God wants us to be honest even in tiniest details, that could be easily ignored. Heaven's riches are far more valuable than earthly wealth. If we are NOT trustworthy with our money (no matter how much or how little we have), we will NOT be fit to handle the vast riches of God's Kingdom. We must maintain our integrity in all things, be they big or small.
Is faithful also in much . . . IF a person is faithful and honest in small matters, he will be faithful in greater concerns and importance. The meaning of the proverb is, a person that is faithful in a small trust committed to him, shall do likewise in a much larger trust; being tried, and found faithful in things of less matters, he is entrusted with things of greater importance. This is not always the case, because sometimes a man may behave with great honesty in lesser matters, on purpose, so that he might gain confidence, then, when he has obtained it, he abuses it in the most despicable way.
And he that is unjust in the least, is unjust also in much . . . the man that acts the unfaithful part in a small matter, and of little worth, usually does the same, if a greater trust is committed to him.
Luke 16:11 If therefore ye have not been faithful in the unrighteous mammon, who will commit to your trust the true riches? (KJV)
If therefore ye have not been faithful . . . this is the application of the above proverbial expressions, and seems to be directed to the disciples of Christ, although not without a view to the covetous Scribes and Pharisees, who were in hearing of it, and were disturbed by it, (verse 14), and the meaning is, that whereas some of them might have been unfaithful, and have acted the unjust part of gathering of riches, such as Matthew, and other publicans, that were now become the followers of Christ.
In the unrighteous mammon . . . in the disposing of it to improper uses, which was either wickedly acquired, and therefore called, as it sometimes was, "mammon of ungodliness", or "ungodly mammon".
Who will commit to your trust the true riches . . . true riches, the graces of the Gospel; the influences of the Spirit; forgiveness and eternal life. The riches of this world are false, deceitful and not to be trusted (Luke 16:9); the treasures of Heaven are true, faithful and never-failing. (Mat.6:19,20).
Luke 16:12 And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's, who shall give you that which is your own? (KJV)
And if ye have not been faithful in that which is another man's . . . another man's, IF you have been unfaithful managers for another, no doubt this refers to God. The wealth of the world is HIS. It is committed to us as his stewards. Worldly riches are uncertain and deceitful, and can at any moment be taken away from us. It is still his; and IF when entrusted with this, we are unfaithful, we cannot expect that He will bless us with the rewards of Heaven (Mat.16:27).
Who shall give you that which is your own? . . . that which is your own, meaning the riches of Heaven. Once given to us, Heaven and all its riches may be considered as OURS! They shall be permanent and fixed, and will NOT be taken away for any reason. We can rely on this, and we can look forward to it with the great assurance that it will continue to be ours forever, and will NOT be taken away like the riches of this world can be removed from us. The meaning of the whole parable is: IF we do not use the things of this world as we should, with honesty, truth, wisdom and integrity, we do not have evidence of being righteous in God’s eyes, and shall not be received into Heaven. But, IF we are true and obedient to God in that which is least, it is a proof that we are the children of God, and He will commit to our trust that which is of infinite importance, that being the eternal riches and glory of Heaven.
Luke 16:13 No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. (KJV)
No servant can serve two masters . . . see Mat.6:24. http://www.godcannotlie.org/matthew_ch6.html
Money can very easily take God's place in your life. It can become your master. Are you a slave to money? #1. Do you think and worry about it often? #2. Do you give up doing what you should do to make more money? #3. Do you spend much time caring for my possessions? #4. Is it hard for you to give money away? #4. Are you deep in debt?
Money is a hard and deceptive master. Wealth promises power and control, but most often it cannot deliver. Great fortunes can be made . . . and lost . . . overnight, and my friend, NO amount of money can give you good health, happiness, love or eternal life. If money is your master, you would be so much better if you allow God be your Master, because only His servants have peace of mind and security, both now and forever.
Jesus Answers the Covetous Pharisees (Luke 16:14-17)
Luke 16:14 And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. (KJV)
And the Pharisees also who were covetous . . . covetous is GREEDY, lovers of money, the love of which is the root of all evil (1 Tim.6:10); and that they were, is very clear from their devouring widows' houses, under a presence of making long prayers for them (Mat.23:14).
Heard all these things . . . the Pharisees as well as the disciples, heard all Jesus said, being in company with them (Lk.15:2), including the parable concerning the unjust steward, and the application of it. They had heard the directions about how to use the things of this world, and the distributing of them to the poor.
And they derided him . . . ridiculed Him, scoffed at Him in a sneering way. They rejected and loathed what He said about their injustice, in their stewardship; and that they would be called to account for it, and the turning of them out of Heaven. They looked with contempt on Jesus’ idea of the correct use of worldly riches, and they looked upon themselves as safe and secure, and in the good opinion of the people, and were happy as they enjoyed worldly things; and looked upon Jesus as a weak man, to talk the way that He did.
Because the Pharisees loved money, they took exception to Jesus' teaching. We live today, in an age that measures people's worth by how much money they make. Do you scoff at Jesus' warnings against serving money? Do you try to make excuses? Do you apply them to someone else, but not to yourself? Unless we take Jesus' statements very seriously, we may be acting just like Pharisees ourselves.
Luke 16:15 And he said unto them, Ye are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knoweth your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God. (KJV)
And he said unto them . . . Jesus said unto them. The Pharisees tried to justify themselves before men, from the sins of injustice, unfaithfulness and covetousness. They would be thought, and appear to be righteous; but it was only in the sight of men, who can only see the outside, but NOT the heart!
But God knoweth your hearts . . . He sees what is in them, the deceitfulness, hypocrisy, covetousness and cruelty . . . which are hidden from the eyes of mankind.
For that which is highly esteemed among men . . . meaning the outward appearance of these men for morality, religion and holiness, and their zeal for the ceremonies of the law, and the traditions of the elders.
Is abomination in the sight of God . . . He knew full well from what values, and with what views they acted . . . to gain popular applause, and stockpile riches to themselves, without any concern for the glory of God, and the good of men. Isaiah 65:5 Which say, Stand by thyself, come not near to me; for I am holier than thou. These are a smoke in my nose, a fire that burneth all the day. (KJV)
The Pharisees acted godly to get praise from others, but God knew exactly what was in their hearts. They considered wealth to be a sign of God's approval, but God hated their wealth, for it caused them to abandon TRUE holiness. Although prosperity may earn people's praise, it must never substitute for devotion and service to God.
Jesus Speaks on Divorce (Luke 16:18)
Luke 16:16 The law and the prophets were until John: since that time the kingdom of God is preached, and every man presseth into it. (KJV)
The law and the prophets were until John . . . until the time that John the Baptist began his ministry, the law and the prophets, were the only writings the Jews had; and which contained the whole of God’s revelation to them. John the Baptist's ministry was the dividing line between the Old and New Testaments (John 1:15-18). Jesus was the realization of all the prophets' hopes. Jesus stressed that His Kingdom fulfilled the law (the Old Testament); it did not cancel it (Mat.5:17). His system (the dispensation of Grace, Rom.6:14) was not a new system but the conclusion of the old. The same God who worked through Moses was working through Jesus.
Since that time, the kingdom of God is preached . . . the Gospel, and the mysteries relating to the Kingdom of the Messiah, His Person, His office and His grace; and to the Kingdom of Grace, which lies not outward, but inward, and to the Kingdom of Heaven, or glory in the hereafter; and which is a far superior dispensation to that of the law and the prophets (Rom.6:14), and sets things in a clearer, plainer and better light.
And every man presseth into it . . . the Gospel dispensation, the Kingdom of the Messiah. The Scribes and Pharisees did all they could to hinder it (Mat.23:13). Large multitudes crowded the ministry of John the Baptist and of Christ and of His apostles. People flocked in great numbers to hear the Word, and seemed willing to embrace the doctrines of the Gospel, and the ordinances of it. Every man, many men, multitudes, could mean that it occupies general attention. Matthew 11:12-13 And from the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven suffereth violence, and the violent take it by force. 13 For all the prophets and the law prophesied until John. (KJV)
Luke 16:17 And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass, than one tittle of the law to fail. (KJV)
And it is easier for heaven and earth to pass . . . this is said by Jesus, in case it should be thought by His saying, that the law and the prophets were only until John, that they were no longer, nor of any more use; but were now revoked and laid aside; whereas Heaven and Earth might sooner pass away, and the whole frame of nature be dissolved.
Than one tittle of the law to fail . . . the law and the prophets, in all the precepts, promises, types, figures and prophecies therein, had their FULL accomplishment in the Person, miracles, obedience, sufferings, and death of Christ Jesus. (Mat.5:18).
John the Baptist's ministry separated the Old and New Testaments (Jn. 1:15-18). Jesus’ arrival brought the fulfillment of all the prophets' hopes. Jesus stressed that His Kingdom fulfilled the law (the Old Testament); it did NOT cancel it (Mat.5:17). The dispensation of Grace was not a new system but the conclusion of the old. The same God who worked through Moses was then working through Jesus.
These verses occur in Matthew in a different order, and it is not unlikely that they were spoken by the Saviour at different times. This seems to be to rebuke the Pharisees for not observing the law of Moses, apart from their great pretenses to external righteousness, and to show them that they had really departed from the law. (Mat.5:31-32; 1 Cor.7:10-11).
Luke 16:18 Whosoever putteth away his wife, and marrieth another, committeth adultery: and whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery. (KJV)
Whosoever putteth away his wife . . . for any other cause than for adultery, as the Jews used to do upon every slight occasion, and for every little hatred: by which instance our Lord shows, how the Jews abused and corrupted the law, and how He, on the other hand, was far from destroying and making it of no effect, that He maintained the purity and holiness of it; putting them in mind of what he had formerly said, and of many other things of the like kind along with it; how that if a man divorces his wife, for anything else but the defiling his bed,
And marrieth another, committeth adultery . . . with her that he marries: because his marriage with the former wife still continues, and cannot be made void by, such a divorce.
And whosoever marrieth her that is put away from her husband committeth adultery . . . with her that he marries, because apart her husband's divorce of her, and his after marriage with her, she still remains his lawful and proper wife. (Mat.5:31-32; 19:9; Mk.10:11-12)
Most religious leaders of Jesus' day allowed a man to divorce his wife for nearly any reason. Jesus' teaching about divorce went far beyond Moses' (Deut.24:1-4). Jesus’ teaching about divorce was far stricter than any of the then-current schools of thought, and Jesus' teachings shocked His hearers (Mat.19:10), just as they shock today's readers. How many people today divorce solely on what Jesus says? Very few! Most people today marry with the thought in their mind: “If it doesn’t work, get a divorce.” They never give marriage a chance!
Jesus says in no uncertain terms that marriage is a lifetime commitment. To leave your spouse for another person may be legal, but it is adultery in God's eyes. As you think about marriage, remember that God intends it to be a permanent commitment.
Matthew 5:31-32 It hath been said, Whosoever shall put away his wife, let him give her a writing of divorcement: 32 But I say unto you, That whosoever shall put away his wife, saving for the cause of fornication, causeth her to commit adultery: and whosoever shall marry her that is divorced committeth adultery. (KJV)
Matthew 19:9 And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. (KJV)
Mark 10:11-12 And he saith unto them, Whosoever shall put away his wife, and marry another, committeth adultery against her. 12 And if a woman shall put away her husband, and be married to another, she committeth adultery. (KJV)
To this parable our Lord added a solemn warning. You CANNOT serve God and the world, because the two are totally opposed, and are two entirely different interests. When the Lord Jesus spoke these words, the covetous Pharisees treated His all-wise instructions with contempt. But He warned them, that what they considered as the law, was a twisting of its TRUE meaning . . . this the Lord Jesus showed in a case regarding divorce. There are many greedy nitpickers and faultfinders for the forms of godliness (2 Tim.3:5), who are Jesus’ bitterest enemies, and try to set others against the Truth of God’s Holy Word. BEWARE!!!
The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
The Pharisees considered wealth to be a proof of a person's righteousness. Jesus shocked them with this story in which a diseased beggar is rewarded with Heaven and a rich man is punished with the agony of Hell. The rich man did not go to Hell because he was rich, but because he was selfish, refusing to feed Lazarus or care for him. The rich man was hardhearted and merciless toward Lazarus in spite of all his great blessings. The amount of money we have in this world is not as important as the way in which we use it. Our attitude toward money and possessions in this life, is a preview of what is to come in the hereafter, according to this parable. BEWARE!!
Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: (KJV)
There was a certain rich man . . . some have thought that the Lord Jesus here refers to something in real history. I am one of these. I think that Lazarus was a person living at that time. In no other parable, does Jesus give names in His parables. To keep things simple, let us consider this story is just a parable, and not to any particular case which had actually happened, but teaching that such cases might happen. This rich man lived in complete luxury. Jesus speaks of no great fault in the rich man: no external, degrading vice, no breach of the law; and leaves us to understand that just the possession of wealth may be dangerous to the soul, and that a man surrounded with every temporal blessing may perish forever. Jesus gives no name to this rich man. It could be any rich, self-indulgent, greedy man.
Which was clothed in purple and fine linen . . . clothed in purple, a purple robe or garment. The color of purple was expensive and was mainly worn by princes, nobles and those who were very wealthy. (Mat.27:28). Fine linen, this linen was primarily produced of the flax that grew on the banks of the Nile, in Egypt (Pro.7:16; Eze.27:7). It was very soft and white, and was much sought after as an article of luxury, and was so expensive that it could be worn only by princes, by priests, or by those who were very rich (Gen.41:42; Ex.28:5; 1 Chron.15:27),
And fared sumptuously every day . . . . feasted or lived in a splendid manner. Every day, not just occasionally, but continually. This was a mark of great wealth, and in the view of the world, it was/is evidence of great happiness. It is worthy of comment, that Jesus did not charge him of any crime. He did not say that he had acquired this property by dishonesty, nor even that he was unkind or uncharitable; but simply that he was a rich man, and that his riches did not secure him from death and perdition. Revelation 3:17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked: (KJV)
The Lazarus is the character in this parable and should not be confused with the Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead in John 11.
Luke 16:20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, (KJV)
And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus . . . the original word does not mean beggar, it simply means that he was poor. Named Lazarus, Lazarus is Hebrew, and means a man in great need of help, a needy, poor man. It is a name given, to show his needy condition.
Which was laid at his gate . . . laid at his gate, at the door of the rich man, so that he might obtain aid. He had to be carried and put down.
Full of sores . . . covered with ulcers; he was afflicted not only with poverty, but with hateful and offensive ulcers, which often accompany poverty and want. These circumstances are meant to show how different his condition was from that of the rich man. The rich man was clothed in purple; the poor man was covered with sores, open and running (Isa.1:6).
Luke 16:21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. (KJV)
And desiring to be fed with the crumbs . . . desiring to be fed, but was not. Crumbs are pieces of broken bread, bits of meat . . . the food that falls from the knife or plate, when eating, and from there onto the ground.
Which fell from the rich man's table . . . The rich man fared sumptuously; the poor man depended on the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.
Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores . . . the dogs came, such was his miserable condition that even the dogs, as if moved by pity, came and licked his sores in kindness to him. These circumstances of the poor man’s misery are very touching, and his condition, contrasted with that of the rich man, is very striking. Dogs . . . . licked his sores, a touching act of brute pity, in the absence of any human relief. It is a case of heartless indifference, in the midst of luxuries of every kind, to one of God's poorest and most afflicted ones presented daily before the eyes of the world. The dogs here do not mean the Jews, nor the Gentiles. Dogs here mean a four legged animal.
It is not confirmed that the rich man was unkind to him, or drove him away, or refused to aid him. I think that the story is intended simply to show that the possession of wealth, and all the worldly blessings of this life, would NOT exempt a person from eternal death and misery, and that the lowest condition among humans may be connected with life and happiness beyond the grave. There was no provision made for the helpless poor in those days, and therefore they were often laid at the gates of the rich, and in places of public travel, for charity (Acts 3:2). The Gospel has been the means of all the public charity now made for the needy, as it has provided hospitals for those who are sick and afflicted. No pagan nation ever had a hospital or an alms house for the needy, the aged, the blind and the insane. Many heathen nations, destroyed their old people; and they all left their poor to the miseries of public begging, and their sick to the care of their friends or to private charity.
Luke 16:22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; (KJV)
And it came to pass that the beggar died. . . died, his burial was so unimportant, it required no mention.
And was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom . . . Abraham's bosom means Heaven, a phrase well known to the Jews, by which they commonly expressed the happiness of the future state. Carried by the angels, the Jews believed that the spirits of the righteous were carried by angels to Heaven at their death. The Lord Jesus speaks in agreement with this opinion; and since He clearly upholds the fact, it seems only proper that it should be taken literally, just as literal as when it is said the rich man died and was buried. Angels are ministering spirits sent by God to minister to those who are heirs of salvation (Heb.1:14), and there is no more doubtfulness in the belief that they attend departing spirits to Heaven, than that they attend them while on earth. Ecc.12:7 Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it. (KJV)
The rich man also died, and was buried . . . died, and was buried, the rich man' body was carried in spectacular splendor to its earthly resting place. For more on Abraham’s Bosom, see:
Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. (KJV)
And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments . . . which means the place of torment, the Lake of Fire, and the miserable state the Scribes and Pharisees, and all wicked men, enter immediately into upon death (Ps.9:17; Isa.5:14), who in their lifetime were blind, and are called blind guides, blind watchmen, blind leaders of the blind, and who were given up to spiritual blindness and hardness of heart; BUT . . . in Hell their eyes shall be opened, and they shall clearly see their mistakes about the Messiah, and find themselves in inescapable torments, under horrible gnawing and gnashing of teeth. The sorrow of conscience will never end, plus having a terrible feeling of God’s wrath, their worm never dies, and their fire is never quenched.
And seeth Abraham afar off . . . this rich Jew, descended from Abraham of which the Jews boast, is now of no use to him. His outward circumcism is no help. God wants inward circumcism (Rom.2:28-29; Phil.3:3). Seeth Abraham, His cry, "Father Abraham" is a claim of natural descent (Lk.3:8; Jn.8:37). In his [Abraham's] bosom . . . it is as if the rich man sees Lazarus reclining next to Abraham at the heavenly feast (Mat.8:11).
And Lazarus in his bosom . . . hades is not the final place of the lost, hades is just a holding place until Judgment day. See Hades: . . . . . http://www.hisservants.org/hell_hades.htm
The object here is, without doubt, to portray the terrible torment of Hell, and the perfect bliss of Heaven. The contrast is between the two men AND their eternal destinies.
In the Jew’s way of thinking, "plenty" was a sign of God's favor and "poverty" was a sign of God's judgment. All the wicked men shall see the righteous in complete contentment and joy, and they shall feel themselves in terrible and total torment; by which their case shall be all the more worsened. There is a Jewish saying: “The gates of Paradise are fixed over against the gates of Hell, so that they can see the righteous in rest, and themselves in distress.''
For more on Hell: http://www.hisservants.org/hell_h_s.htm
Luke 16:24 And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. (KJV)
And he cried and said, father Abraham . . . the Jews used to call Abraham their father, and were proud because they were descended from him (Mat.3:9; Jn.8:33,39), and so persons are after death symbolized by them, as speaking to, and discoursing with him; as in the Passage cited here. And here the Jews (symbolized by the rich man) in their distress, are implied as applying to Abraham, saying,
Have mercy on me, and send Lazarus . . . the Jews considered it a high honor that Abraham was their father, that they were descended from him. Although the rich man man was now in misery, he seems not to have abandoned the idea of his relation to the father of the faithful. The Jews supposed that departed spirits might know and speak with each other. The Lord Jesus seems to speak in agreement with that prevailing opinion; and as it was not easy to convey ideas about the spiritual world without some such representation, He therefore speaks in the language which was usual in His time. Are we to suppose that this was literally true? Or was it intended only to represent more clearly the sufferings of the rich man in Hell? I would want to say, the latter.
Have mercy on me . . . have pity on me. The rich man is not said to call upon God. The mercy of God comes to an end when the soul is lost. Nor did the rich man ask to be released from that place. Lost souls in Hell know that their sufferings will have no end, and that it would be hopeless and in vain to ask to escape that horrible place of torment. Nor does the rich man ask to be admitted where Lazarus was. I am certain that he had great desire to be in that holy place, but he knew full well that there was NO restoration to those who once sink down to Hell.
Send Lazarus . . . do you see just how low this rich man has been reduced? Do you see how the circumstances of mankind changes when they die? Before death, righteous Lazarus was laid at the rich man’s gate, full of sores. NOW, after death, he is happy in Heaven. Before death, Lazarus had nothing to give, and the rich man could expect to receive no benefit from him. NOW, after death, the rich man asks, as a huge favor, that Lazarus might come and bring some relief to him. My friend, please consider this. The poorest man on Earth, IF he is a friend of God, will have abundant mercies, which the rich man, IF he is not prepared to die, can NEVER obtain. The rich will no longer hate those they consider to be beneath them. These rich ones, the ones NOT faithful to God, NOT obedient to His wishes and His will, these would then be glad of their friendship, and would beg for the smallest favor at their hands.
That he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue . . . dip the tip, how much water would be transferred on the tip of his finger? Not much! The rich man was in agony. Cool my tongue . . . the result of great heat on the body (the fires of Hell) will produce almost unbearable thirst. Those who travel in burning deserts thus suffer deeply when they are deprived of water. So too, pain of any kind produces thirst. The sufferings of the rich man are therefore represented as producing a burning thirst, so much that even a drop of water would be refreshing to his tongue. We can hardly form an idea of more distress and misery than where this is continued from one day to another without any relief. Some denominations say: “A loving God wouldn’t send me to Hell.” We have a booklet by that name. This is what my poor departed mother believed, along with many Jehovah’s Witnesses in my family. Read the book.
For I am tormented in this flame . . . I am tormented, I am in anguish, in unbearable distress. In this flame . . . the lost are often represented as suffering in flames, because fire is an image of the most severe pain that we know. It is not certain, however, that the wicked will be doomed to suffer in physical fire. I think fire is a symbol of Hell (Isa.66:24; Mk.9:44), just as is darkness a symbol of Hell (Mat.8:12; 22:13; 25:30; 2 Thes.1:8-9; 2 Pet.2:4,17; Jude 1:6,13).
2 Thes.1:8-9 In flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ: 9 Who shall be punished with everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord, and from the glory of his power; (KJV) . . . In my humble opinion, this to me, represents what Hell is like. Fire is a symbol of God’s judgment, and IF a person wants no part of God, or if they disobey the Gospel of Jesus Christ, it brings down on them the fiery wrath of God. Hell is of their choosing! If they want no part of God in this life, they shall have no part of Him and His goodness in the hereafter, in Hell. I think Hell is being shut away from all God’s goodness and glory forever!
BEWARE dear ones. We are given this life on Earth to make a decision as to our eternal home. There are only two destinations! Heaven and Hell. There are two roads leading to eternity . . . the small one of Jesus, and the broad one of Satan. Which one are you on?
Luke 16:25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. (KJV)
But Abraham said, son . . . Abraham calls the rich man "son", not in a spiritual sense; he was NOT one of Abraham's spiritual seed, that walked in the steps of his faith (Gal.3:7-9); but because he only a son (descendant) according to the flesh. Good men do NOT always have good children, nor should any trust be put in birth and parentage. Aaron’s evil sons: (Num.3:4; 26:61) Samuel’s evil sons: (1 Sam.8:1-3).
Remember, that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things . . . temporal good things; a land flowing with milk and honey; all the outward blessings of life that could be wished for, the Jews had while they were in their own land; and also religious good things, as the adoption, the glory, the covenants, the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises, the fathers, and the Messiah according to the flesh, even all external privileges and ordinances, (Rom.9:4-5). Thy good things, meaning property, splendor and honor.
And likewise Lazarus evil things . . . on the other hand, Lazarus had the opposite! He had evil things, meaning poverty, disrespect and disease. But . . . after death, things change! Now, so much better was that which Lazarus had, better than that of the rich man! It is very possible that Lazarus had the more true happiness of the two men, in the land of the living, because riches without the love of God can NEVER bring happiness and joy like the favor of God.
But now he is comforted, and thou art tormented . . . after death, the comforts of the rich man shall be gone forever, but the joys of righteous Lazarus have just begun! One (Lazarus) shall be greatly comforted, and the other (rich man) shall be tormented for all eternity. (Job.21:13; Ps.73:12-19; Lk.6:24). See: Ps.16:9-11; Acts 2:25-28.
Life on Earth brief: (Job 7:6-10,17; 8:9; 9:25-26; 10:9,20-21; 13:12,25,28; 14:1-2; 17:1; Ps.22:29; 39:11; 78:39; 89:47-48; 90:3-10; 102:11; 103:14-16; 144:3-4; 146:4; Pro.27:1; Ecc.1:4; 6:12; Isa.2:22; 38:12; 40:6-7;,24; 50:9; 51:8,12; 64:6; Jam.1:10-11; 4:13; 1 Pet,1:24).
The parable of Lazarus and the rich man compares this life on earth and eternity for two totally different people. . . . ETERNITY. This is something that the vast majority of people NEVER consider! This life on Earth is SO brief when you consider ETERNITY! People just do not realize that they are much better off being poor and being a friend of God, than having riches, and being an enemy of God. So, you say, how can I be an enemy of God? To be God’s enemy you: #1. Refuse to believe Him (1 Jn.5:10-13). #2. Reject His Provision (Jesus), for salvation (Jn.3:15-18,36; 14:6; Acts 4:12). #3. Be disobedient to God (Ps.119:53, 139; Mat. 22:36-40).
How utterly stupid, thoughtless and unwise it is to seek only chief pleasures in this life! If the parable of Lazarus and the rich man does not make you sit back and consider eternity, I don’t know what else would.
Christ was surrounded with the infirmities of human nature. His life was filled with extensive outward meanness and poverty. He was daily burdened with insults, offenses and reproaches. Through the wrath, hatred, and persecution of men; He suffered many evil things, such as beatings, scourging, spitting, and cruel mocking, and finally death itself. He waas/is on the side of ALL the righteous ones, and against ALL the wicked. BEWARE!!!
Luke 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. (KJV)
And besides all this. . . the different circumstances of Lazarus and the rich man, both past and present, which should be observed and considered:
Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed . . . this is still Abraham speaking to the rich man. Gulf means chasm, or broad canyon, a deep space between two elevated objects. Here it means that there is NO way of passing from one to the other. Fixed, firm or immovable. It is so established that it will NEVER be movable or passable. It will forever divide Heaven and Hell. Those in Hell will never be able to cross over into Heaven! The abominable teaching of purgatory is utterly despicable! It gives a glimmer hope to those to whom NO hope is available. This gulf is NOT a natural space, but instead is the certain and undisputable decree of God. This gulf is the irreversible, permanent, fixed state that separates the damned, from the blessed.
So that they which would pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass to us that would come from thence . . . not that any in Heaven would desire to go to Hell; although those in Hell, without doubt wish they could be in Heaven. Neither can they pass to us, all such wishes will be vain.
How, in the face of the serious statement of Jesus the Saviour here, can men believe that there will be a restoration of all the wicked to heaven? The doctrine of Universalism is FALSE!
Matthew 7:13-14 Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate, and broad is the way, that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat: 14 Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it. (KJV)
Jesus solemnly assures us that there can be absolutely NO passage from that world of woe (Hell) to the dwellings of the blessed. BUT . . . Universalists teach that Hell will be vacated of its guilty millions, and that all its miserable inhabitants will be received to Heaven! Should you believe this hog wash? ABSOLUTELY NOT! WHO is it that shall conduct them across this gulf, when Christ Jesus says it CANNOT be passed? WHO shall build a bridge over that deep chasm which JESUS says is "fixed?" My dear friend, IF there is anything certain from this Scripture, it is that they who enter Hell, shall return NO more; they who enter Hell’s gates, shall be there forever. It seems to me, that there could be several “gates” into Hell . . . BUT, NOT even one gate out of it! BEWARE!!! . . . WHO do you believe? Jesus? Or false teachers?
Luke 16:27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: (KJV)
Then he said, I pray thee therefore father . . . the poor rich man is desperate now. Since he can find no relief for himself, maybe he can stop his brothers from coming there.
That thou wouldst send him to my father's house . . . see his concern for his living brothers. He wanted them to repent, change their minds before it was too late. IF the lost in Hell could come back, they would preach the Gospel to us.
Luke 16:28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. (KJV)
For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment . . . the rich man did not want his brothers to come where he was. Although proud and arrogant souls in this life mock and ridicule Hell and the wrath of God to be revealed after this life, and they despise the poor servants of God, who try to live a holy life, and who would teach them better things IF they would only listen . . . they simply do not find the fires of Hell so hot, nor the wrath of God so terrible and unbearable. They cannot seem to imagine that their souls might one day be under those miseries of Hell, and that God would have no more mercy left for them. BUT, this is the case! The Truth! One moment after a person enters Hell, they shall realize that they should have lived differently. They would beg that some of those faithful ministers, or godly people, whom they have rejected, despised and abused, might be sent to every friend they have, to warn them from doing as they have done, and run the danger of entering into those torments they now feel. Lest they also come into this place of torment . . . Hell IS a place of eternal torments! BEWARE!!!
Luke 16:29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. (KJV)
Abraham said unto him, They have Moses and the prophets . . . if they refuse to hear the Word of Almighty God, they would refuse to repent at the bidding of a ghost. The Word of God, read and/or heard, is the ordinary way of bringing men to faith and repentance. The Gospel of Jesus Christ has within it ALL that is needed for salvation of a person’s soul and eternal life in Heaven, IF it is applied to a person’s heart and life.
Let them hear them . . . millions hear, but most will not be persuaded! This was demonstrated in the case of Jesus Himself. The Jews refused to accept Christ, although Moses and the prophets testified of Him. They asked for a sign, and “the sign of the prophet Jonah,” His resurrection from the dead, was given to them by Jesus. Still they refused to repent. Unbelief is due, NOT to a lack of evidence, but to a stubborn, rebellious heart. The base of doubt is found in the moral nature of mankind.
Luke 16:30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. (KJV)
And he said, nay, father Abraham . . . the rich man contradicts his father Abraham, or at least desperately desires it might not be so. He suggests that Abraham’s advice would not succeed, because he knew his brothers were a rebellious, stiff-necked people, and would not hear Moses and the prophets, even with all their outward boasting of the law, and pretenses of honoring them.
But if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent . . . the rich man thought that his five brothers would surely believe a messenger who had been raised from the dead. But Jesus said that if they did not believe Moses and the prophets, who spoke constantly of caring for the poor, not even a resurrection from the dead would convince them. Notice the sarcasm in Jesus' statement; for He was on His way to Jerusalem to die. He was fully aware that even when He had risen from the dead, most of the religious leaders would NOT accept Him. They were stubbornly set in their ways, and neither Scripture nor God's Son Himself would change their minds. Their eyes were shut, their ears were stopped, and their hearts were hardened; and although Christ came in Person to them, and preached, as no man ever did, with power and authority, and confirmed His doctrine with miracles, yet they repented not, nor did they when He arose from the dead.
Luke 16:31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. (KJV)
And he said unto him . . . Abraham said unto him,
If they hear not Moses and the prophets . . . they did not hear Moses and the prophets, nor did they regard what Christ Jesus said, but disbelieved both him and them.
Neither will they be persuaded . . . or brought to repent and believe,
Though one rose from the dead . . . as Christ did; whose resurrection, and the Truth of it they tried to confuse, stifle and suppress. This was the sign Christ gave them, of the Truth of His Messiahship; and yet they repented not, nor of what they had done to Him, that they might believe in Him; but remained still in their impenitence and unfaithfulness.
Many people believe that multitudes would repent if someone returned from the dead to tell them what Hell was like. Someone HAS come back from the dead. His name is Jesus Christ. They did not believe Him any more than they believed Moses and the prophets. Friend, do not delay in making your choice. There will be NO more opportunity after death.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ
The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that the grave is NOT the end of life. We cannot study the life of Jesus without seeing that His views of Earth were NOT the views of men in general. To most people, this world is everything; and to possess it, even in some tiny little bit, is their supreme ambition. Even in their more clear moments when they catch a glimpses of worlds other than their own, yet to their far off vision Heaven seems to be in the haze of unreality.
To Jesus, Earth was just a very small piece in a huge Universe, a small piece which is just the stopping off place for humans to decide where they shall spend eternity.
Jesus was perfectly acquainted with Heaven, which was the dwelling place of His Father and immeasurable hosts of angels, with Whom He was in close and constant contact, with consistent prayer, and repeated words telling us how near and how very real the heavenly places were to Him. In the Mind of Jesus this marvelous place of happiness and light had its opposites, that of woe and darkness, a harsh realm of dreadful reality, which He called the fires of Hell (Mat.5:22; 10:28; 25:41; Mk.9:47; Lk.12:5). Jesus is so very clear that there are TWO invisible realms, far away from Earth, yet closely touching it from totally opposite directions, and to one OR the other of which ALL the paths of human life are headed, to reach their goal and their self-chosen destiny.
To Jesus, the change from the Seen to the Unseen was NOT an abrupt and total change that it seems to be with mankind. To believers it seems to be a relocation to some new and strange world, where we shall begin life anew. But, to Jesus the line was narrow, like one of the unseen roads of Earth (Mat.7:13-14). Jesus did not often speak of "death". He preferred the softer names for death such as "sleep" or "departing," which makes death the beginning of life, comparing it to a victory march from bondage to liberty. "The Valley of the Shadow" to Jesus, was NOT a strange, unfamiliar place. He knew all its secrets, all its mysteries. It was His own territory, where His will is supreme. "He is not the God of the dead, but of the living," and as we see Moses and Elijah coming to the Mount of Transfiguration, we see that the departed have NOT departed totally. How clearly this is seen in the resurrection life of Jesus, with which this Gospel closes! Death and the Grave have done their worst to Jesus. So minor is the blank it makes in His Divine Life! So too, the grave is NOT our goal. Conditions will change, as the mortal puts on immortality, incorruption (1 Cor.15:53-54).
The Gospel of Jesus Christ shows us in what respects the conditions of the after-life will be changed. In Luke 20:27, we read how that the Sadducees came to Jesus, tempting Him. This religious group denied the existence of spirits and the resurrection. They put before Him an extreme, though not impossible case, of a woman who had been the wife, successively, of seven brethren; and they ask, "In the resurrection therefore whose wife of them shall she be?" Luke 20:34-38 And Jesus answering said unto them, The children of this world marry, and are given in marriage: 35 But they which shall be accounted worthy to obtain that world, and the resurrection from the dead, neither marry, nor are given in marriage: 36 Neither can they die any more: for they are equal unto the angels; and are the children of God, being the children of the resurrection. 37 Now that the dead are raised, even Moses shewed at the bush, when he calleth the Lord the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. 38 For he is not a God of the dead, but of the living: for all live unto him. (KJV)
Consider how Jesus plays with the word around which the Sadducees’ mind revolves. To them marriage was the key-word which locked the gates of an after-life, and hurled the resurrection among the impossibilities and absurdities. But Jesus unlocks and opens the inner soul of these men, showing how, in spite of their intelligence, their thoughts were wrong. Marriage has its place in the life whose boundaries are birth and death, here on Earth. Marriage exists mainly for the perpetuation and increase of the human race. It has to do with the lower nature of man, the physical, the earthly; but in the world to come birth, marriage and death will be gone.
The same truth is taught by the three following appearances recorded in this Gospel. When they appeared upon the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah had been residents of the other world, the one for nine centuries, the other for fourteen centuries. While possessing the form and features of the old body of Earth, the glorious body they now have is under conditions and laws completely different. How easy and free are its movements! Although their bodies possess no wings, it has the lightness and buoyancy of a bird, moving through the air swiftly and silently as the light pulses through the atmosphere. And too, consider the Body of Christ’s resurrection life. It has not yet become the glorified Body of the heavenly life; it is in its transition state, between the two: yet how changed it is! Lifted above the needs and laws of our earth-bound nature, the risen Christ no longer lives among His own; He dwells apart . . . WHERE? . . . we know not! When He does appear He comes in upon them suddenly, with no warning of His approach; and then, after the bright but brief appearance, He vanishes just as mysteriously as He came, and finally passing on the clouds to Heaven (Acts 1:9).
I am sure that there is some kind of communication between the old body and the new body, although how far the likeness extends we do not know. We can only go back to the apostle Paul’s words: 1 Cor.15:44 It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body. (KJV) . . . It is no longer the "natural body," but is now a supernatural one, with a spiritual instead of a material form, and under spiritual laws.
The Gospel of Jesus Christ teaches that our character determines our destiny. Luke 12:15 And he said unto them, Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abundance of the things which he possesseth. (KJV) . . . A man’s life does NOT consist in the large amount of worldly things he possesses. Earthly wealth should NOT be our goal in this life, and it certainly is NOT the correct wealth according to Jesus! ALL worldly wealth shall be left behind when the body reaches the grave, IF not before. A person’s possessions do NOT make the true life, nor do they make the true self! It is NOT what a man HAS, but what a man IS, and a man IS exactly what his heart makes him. The outer life is simply the revealing of the inner soul, and what is called character. Character is the elusive and silent influence, a tiny trace which the soul instinctively gives off . . . this scent can be either a good smell or it can be a rotten, putrid odor.
People do not always reach their goal in worldly things, but in the moral world each person goes to his "own place," the place being what he himself has chosen and sought. Man decides his own destiny. What is a law of Earth, is also the law of the Kingdom of Heaven, just as Jesus was constantly confirming. Our destiny will be the harvest of our earthly behavior. The hereafter will be the after-here (this life on Earth). Jesus clearly shows us how while we are on Earth, we may lay up "treasures in the heavens" (Mat.6:20; 19:21; Lk.12:33; 18:22). He draws us a vivid picture of "a certain rich man," whose one goal of life was "the abundance of the things which he possessed," the size and affluence of his barns, and whose soul was required of him just when he was congratulating himself for the years of plenty, saying: "Take thine ease, eat, drink, and be merry" (Lk.12:16-22). Jesus does not give us the destiny of such a soul. He does this in another parable . . . but He does picture it as suddenly torn away, and eternally separated, from all he had possessed, leaving it, possibly, to be squandered or consumed by the fires of lust. In the eyes of this world, such a man would be thought to be wise and happy, but to Heaven, he is the "foolish one," committing the great and eternal folly.
The same lesson is taught in the parables of the House-builders (Lk.6:47), and of the Talents (Lk.19:12). In each, there comes the inevitable test, the calculation of the Lord Jesus, a test which leaves the obedient ones secure and happy, the faithful promoted to honor and rewards, BUT as for the disobedient . . . they have nothing but false hopes, with NO shelter from the challenging storm, and with the unfaithful and slothful servant stripped of even the little he had, and condemned to eternal dishonor and shame.
In the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man (Lk.16:19-31), we have a bright light thrown upon the subject. In a few striking words Jesus paints for us the picture of very strange contrasts. The one is very rich, living in a palace, whose impressive entrance looked down upon the bad-mannered crowd. This man was clothed in garments of purple which only great wealth could obtain, and fared extravagantly every day. With his unending banquets, the rich man lived his selfish, carnal life. His thoughts were centered on himself alone . . . me, me, me! He had no thoughts, no mercy or no kindness for anyone outside his own little world. He certainly did not think about the poor beggar who is cast daily at his gate, in hopes that some of the crumbs of the banquet may fall within his reach. Such is the contrast . . . extreme wealth, and extreme poverty. One with hordes of friends, the other friendless . . . for the verb shows that the hands which laid him down by the rich man’s gate were not the gentle hands of affection, but the rough hands of duty or of a cold charity. The one was clothed in splendid attire, the other not possessing enough even to cover his sores; the one gorged to near bursting, the other shrunken and starved. Such were the two characters Jesus portrayed in the parable . . . and then, Jesus lifted up the veil and shows us the contrast as it appears in the other world, but completely reversed!
In the world to come, the poor man is now blessed! What happens to the rich man? He ends up in utter sorrow and suffering! The one is embraced in Abraham’s bosom, the other in torment, surrounded by flames. The one has all the abundant delights of Paradise, while the other one is begging for just a drop of water with which to cool the parched tongue.
So many say people say that this is just a parable, and we must not be taken literally. I strongly disagree! The parables of Jesus were NOT simply word-pictures; every single parable brought forth an crucial Truth, and that Truth is: our character determines our destiny! Our eternal future, dear one, is the shadow of our present selves . . . the good shall be blessed, and the evil shall be accursed or cursed. Heaven and Hell are tremendous realities, and their pleasures and agonies lie deep beyond the sound of our weak words. Words cannot express the bliss of Heaven, nor the agony of Hell!
The rich man forgot his duty to humanity; he banished God from his mansion and forbid mercy from entering his thoughts. When he left God’s child to be comforted by the dogs, he passed sentence on himself. Somewhere out there in the outer darkness, the wicked ones themselves have helped make a place for themselves. Evil can NEVER compromise or blend in with the good. The pure shall NEVER be in the same eternal place with the abominable wicked. We do not know exactly where Heaven is, but we do know it is out there somewhere, and NO one is an outcast except the one who casts himself out.
Is there not be an after test, so that character itself could be transformed? Isn’t it possible that the "great gulf" will one day disappear, or at least be bridged over? Isn’t there some way for the then repentant to pass out of its purifying fires? Isn’t there a purgatory like some religions teach, so that Hell need not be permanent? My dear friend, this is the belief and/or hope of millions! BUT . . . as far as the Gospel of Jesus Christ is concerned, purgatory it is NOTHING but a deceptive dream! Jesus Himself was/is the "Resurrection and the Life," and ONLY He holds in His own Hands, the keys of death and of hades, and He NEVER ever gives any hint of such a thing as this happening. The Bible speaks again and again of Judgment Day when all actions shall be weighed and all characters examined, and when men will be judged according to their works. According to works: (Ps.62:12; Pro.24:12,29; Isa.59:18; Jer.21:14; 25:14; 32:19; Lam.3:64; Eze.7:8-9; 18:30; Hos.12:2; Zec.1:6; Mat.16:27; Rom.2:6; 2 Tim.4:14; Rev.2:23; 18:6; 20:12-13; 22:12). BELIEVE IT!
The "Coming" of the Son of Man, in the glory of His Father, and with an entourage of "holy angels" shall be the returning of the Lord, and His evaluation of His servants; while again it is at the end of the age, as the angel-reapers separate the wheat from the tares; or as He Himself, the Great Judge, with His "Come ye," passes on the faithful to the heavenly kingdom, and at the same time, with His "Depart ye," drives from His presence the unfaithful and unforgiven into the outer darkness. JESUS DOES NOT SAY ONE WORD TO SUGGEST THAT THE JUDGMENT IS NOT FINAL. The unfaithful servant is "cut asunder" (Mat. 25:51), the enemies who would not have their Lord to reign over them are slain (Lk.19:27), and when once the door is shut, it is all in vain that those outside cry, "Lord, open to us (Mat.25:11)!" They HAD an open door, but they slighted and scorned it, and now they must abide by their choice, OUTSIDE the door, OUTSIDE the Kingdom, with the "workers of iniquity," where "there is weeping and gnashing of teeth" (Lk.13:28).
Do you see any larger hope in the parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man? Do you see the "pains of Hell" being lessened? Or, in due course escaped altogether? NO! NO! NO! People listen in vain for one tiny bit of hope. In vain the rich man makes his appeal to "father Abraham"; in vain he pleads for a brief lessening of his pain, in vain he pleads for the benefit of one drop of water! Between him and any help or hope, is a "great gulf fixed that none may cross," (Lk.16:26) . . . that NONE may cross! These are the words of Jesus, although here put in the mouth of Abraham. My friend, IF this is not final, what is?
We do not know what the judgment may be, that is passed upon those who, although erring, are ignorant. We do not know, although Jesus clearly indicates that the number of the stripes will vary; according if they knew, or if they did not know, the Lord’s will. BUT, for ALL those who had the light, and turned away from it, who saw what was right, but did not do it, who heard the Gospel of love, with its great salvation message, and rejected it . . . for these there is only an "outer darkness" of eternal hopelessness according to the Holy Word of Almighty God! And what is that outer darkness, but the darkness of their own inner blindness, a blindness which was willful and persistent in their stubborn hearts and minds!
The Gospel of Jesus Christ therefore teaches that death does NOT alter our character, but that our character defines our destiny, and that our destiny once determined is unchangeable and eternal. Revelation 22:11 He that is unjust, let him be unjust still: and he which is filthy, let him be filthy still: and he that is righteous, let him be righteous still: and he that is holy, let him be holy still. (KJV)
Here the spiritual things are represented, in a description of the different state of good and bad, in this world and in the other. We are not told that the rich man got his estate by fraud, or oppression; but Christ shows, that a man may have a much of the wealth, pomp and pleasure of this world, yet perish forever under God's wrath and curse. The sin of this rich man was his providing for himself only.
Consider a godly man like Lazarus, and one that will hereafter be happy forever, in the depth of adversity and distress. It is often the lot of some of the dearest of God's saints and servants to be greatly afflicted in this world. We are not told that the rich man did Lazarus any harm, but we do not find that he did him any good. In this parable, we see the different conditions of this godly poor man, and this wicked rich man, at and after death. The rich man in Hell lifted up his eyes, being in torment. It is NOT likely that there really are discourses between glorified saints and damned sinners, but this dialogue shows us the hopeless misery and fruitless desires, to which condemned spirits are brought. There is a day coming, when those who now hate and despise the people of God, would gladly receive kindness from them. But the damned in Hell shall not have the least reduction of their torment. As wicked people have good things only in this life, and at death are forever separated from all good, so too, godly people have evil things only in this life, and at death all evil is forever put away from them. In this world, blessed be God, for there is NO gulf between a state of nature and grace, we may pass from sin to God; but IF we die in our sins, there is NO coming out. The rich man had five brothers, and wanted to have them stop their sinful life; and did not want them coming to that place of torment. A messenger from the dead could say no more than what is already said in the Scriptures. Circumstances in every age show that no terrors or arguments, can bring true repentance without the special grace of God renewing the sinner's heart.
Gospel of Luke
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