Thu, May 29th - 10:14PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"And it came to pass, as He went to Jerusalem, that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. And as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men that were lepers, and they stood far away: And they lifted up their voices, and said, Jesus, Master, have mercy on us. And when He saw them, He said to them, Go show yourselves to the priests. And it happened that as they went they were cleansed. And one of them, when he saw that he was healed from the leprosy, turned back, and with a loud voice glorified God. And fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks; and he was a Samaritan. And Jesus replied, Were there not ten cleansed? but where are the other nine? There are none found who returned to give glory to God, except this lone stranger. And He said to him, Arise, go your way: your faith has made you whole (17:11-19)."
What lessons are taught through reading this passage of Scripture? One is on how to have needs met and another is on expressing genuine gratitude. We are told that Jesus Christ continued to travel to Jerusalem by passing through Samaria and Galilee. Even though He knew what awaited Him within Jerusalem, He obediently walked to that appointed time.
As Jesus entered one of the villages ten men suffering from leprosy approached Him, and they requested that He have mercy upon them. They all were experiencing personal need. Here are some things we can discern that led to their need becoming met by God.
1. There was obvious desperation. These men were afflicted with leprosy which was the most feared disease of that time. They had no idea where Jesus was journeying to, just that He was passing through this particular village. Jesus might have been traveling to an important meeting of His disciples or looking for a place to rest from the fatigue of traveling a long distance. But they had determined in their hearts to approach Jesus no matter what. We all must recognize that to have a need met there usually is a sense of desperation. When our need becomes so important then nothing can stop us from reaching Jesus, our need/s will be met. This thought is reflected in Psalm 105, Amos 5, and in Isaiah 55.
2. There was a sense of humility as they stopped and stood quite some distance from Jesus. They obviously respected the law which demanded they stand at least six feet away from any person. Here we see that they must have much further away than six feet for they lifted up their voices. In other words, they were yelling loudly. Jesus knew that they were unclean and could not approach any closer, so He responded to their request for mercy. We must recognize that every person is unclean when they approach Jesus Christ and must therefor come in humility. We must confess unworthiness as we approach the Living God. This thought is reflected in James 4:10, Psalm 34:18, and in Isaiah 57:15. We must confess need for the cleansing touch of the Lamb of God.
3. There was a cry for mercy from these ten men. They acknowledged publicly that Jesus was Master. Here the Greek word used is epistata, meaning the Chief, the Commander, the Overseer, the One who has the power to meet needs. The need was not for instruction (Rabbi), but for healing: healing that went beyond the obvious physical affliction. The Hebrews always connected leprosy with sin, so this is what was going through the minds of these ten men. They saw Jesus as the One who could give them both healing and forgiveness of sins. Again, we can find this thought in other passages: Hebrews 4:15-16, Psalm 6:1-2, Psalm 27:7, Psalm 34:6, Psalm 85:7, and in Isaiah 55:7.
4. There was perseverance by these ten men. First they walked into the village in order to get closer to Jesus, and then they shouted loudly to get His attention. This does not mean that we are to always scream at the top of our lungs in order to get God's attention. But we must demonstrate some passion in expressing our need before God. God does not always answer our prayers immediately. Sometimes we must build up a greater sense of need before God begins to answer us. Since we can't physically approach God as these ten men did, we must resort to prayer. This action of praying fervently on a daily basis keeps us in His presence spiritually. It provides us with some of the sweetest communion and fellowship we may ever experience, and this is what God is after from each of us. This thought can be found in other Scriptures: Luke 11:9, Deuteronomy 4:29, and in Jeremiah 29:13.
5. There was believing and obeying by these ten men. Jesus did not heal the lepers immediately. There were some things that they had to do, instructions that must be obeyed. They must obey the Law, go to the priests and report that they had been cleansed. This was a simple matter of believing God's Word and obeying the Law in order to obtain the promise of cleansing. Notice that we are told that they were healed as they went. They had been told to go to the Temple to tell the priests that they had been healed, but they had not checked themselves to see if they had, in fact, been healed! They had great faith in Jesus Christ's Word. Do we?
Because leprosy was such a terrible disease in that day, God used it as a type of sin. Leprosy was disfiguring and often fatal. It robbed a person of physical feeling and of personal relationships. There were no more embraces with loved ones, no more kisses, no more holding hands, no more bouncing of children upon knees. A leper was considered completely unclean: physically and spiritually. When approaching where other people were, the leper must cry out, "Unclean, unclean!" The leper was considered to be dead and must wear a black garment to visually alert others of his/her condition. The leper was banished from society, becoming an outcast, from both earthly and heavenly perspectives. The leper must live outside of the ring of society, alone. Since the Hebrews could not find any cure for leprosy they considered God to be the only source of such a cure. The leper therefore experienced emotional and mental pain, anguish and heart-break that were incidental to the actual disease's effects upon their bodies.
The other lesson found in this passage is that about gratitude. All of the lepers were blessed and should have been thankful. We might assume that the nine who didn't stop were ungrateful. But we simply do not know from what we are told. We do know that one man stopped and thanked Jesus Christ. Perhaps what we can take away from this is that too often we become too focused upon the doing and we forget to give God the praise, honor, and glory that He so richly deserves. But we are shown through the actions of the Samaritan man how we ought to react to being completely cleansed by God. We ought to glorify God immediately, and do so loudly. That is what witnessing is all about. He worshipped Jesus Christ, falling down with his face on the ground at Jesus' feet. He humbly acknowledged Christ's power. Since he was a member of the most despised and rejected of men, we learn that no one is beyond the healing touch of God. But we can also see that we could choose to go the way of the other nine and return to our former lives after being saved. Christ Jesus expects all of us to return to Him continually to glorify and worship Him as the Source of our power and strength for life.
The most rejected of the ten men became the most grateful. It is no simple thing that the word "stranger" was used by Christ. Allogenes, used in verse 18 means that this Samaritan was a stranger from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world. Despite never knowing the promises of God he now knew God. As is seen in this passage, the grateful person will be the one truly saved spiritually. The Greek verb used here means "has saved you." Jesus had told this man that his sins were forgiven as well; he received assurance of salvation.
As I have already noted, what can we learn about the other nine men? Simply that they did not demonstrate immediate gratefulness at being healed and restored to society. The one man was given assurance of being cleansed and having forgiveness of sins. The other nine did not. It must be recognized that gratitude and praise bring about assurance to the heart. It stirs Christ to speak to our heart, giving assurance of acceptance and cleansing. Of course, upon having been cleansed we must then understand that we are not to lapse back into the lifestyle which we were to be found living prior to being cleansed by God. As it tells us in II Corinthians 5:17, we have become a new creature, the old things have passed away, all things are become new. That infers that change has taken place and that transformation will be an ongoing activity the remainder of our natural lives.
That is all for today, beloved. I pray that this has blessed you in some fashion. Grace and peace be yours!
Mon, May 19th - 6:45PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"But which of you, having a servant plowing or feeding cattle, will say to him after a while, when he is coming in from the field, Go and sit down to eat a meal? But rather will say to him, Make ready so that I may eat, and clothe yourself, and serve me, until I have eaten and drunk, and afterward you shall eat and drink? Does he thank that servant because he did the things that were commanded of him? I do not think so. So likewise, when you shall have done all those things which are commanded of you, say, We are unprofitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do(17:7-10)."
The fourth law to be found in this passage of scripture concerns obedience: to obey God is a duty not a service. The danger exists that believers will become prideful and conceited because of the gifts and power that God gives, especially if they begin to live victoriously in faith as is described in verses 5-6. Jesus made three points here to fight against this danger. 1) Each believer is a servant, and a servant is a slave who serves his/her Master. 2) Each believer is to serve and obey the commandments of God until all the work is done. He/she is to feed the cattle and plow the fields during the day, and in the evenings serve the household by feeding and waiting on table/s. The daytime duties require endurance, a sound and disciplined body. The servant labors all day and all evening, serving everyone else until they have gone to bed. The servant serves the Master every day, doing so gladly and diligently. Who among us routinely rises before everyone else in order to spend a few minutes with Christ, and remains up at the end of the day to spend a few minutes with Christ after all others have retired for the day? 3) Each believer is to be humble in his/her service for Christ. It does not matter what we do for Christ, it is our duty to do it. Remember, we are unworthy of the privilege to serve Him. No person can ever claim that they have done all they should. We all fall short, no matter how much we do or how great the work. God commands perfection; therefore, He expects humility from each of us as we realize that we can not achieve perfection on our own merit. Consider the following scriptures regarding humble service and its value: "Be perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect (Matthew 5:48)." "For I say, through the grace given to me, to every person that is among you, do not think of yourselves more highly than you ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God has dealt to every person the measure of faith (Romans 12:3)." "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, being in the form of God, did not think it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, and took the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of mankind: and being found in form as a man, He humbled Himself, and became obedient even to death, even the death of the cross (Philippians 2:5-8)." "Likewise, you younger, submit yourselves to the elder. Yes, all of you be subject to one another, and be clothed with humility: for God resists the proud, and gives grace to the humble (I Peter 5:5)."
That is all for today, beloved. Short and sweet. The challenge laid down before each of us is how completely we will obey Christ and not only do our duty to Him but also walk that extra mile with Him by serving others joyfully. Submitting ourselves to one another creates accountability, it creates trust, it creates relationships. We ask for God to walk in our midst, it is past time that we submit ourselves completely to Him and gladly follow where He leads us to go. May you choose today to follow after God, pursue Him whole-heartedly your entire life, and discover the many different ways that you can serve Him. Grace and peace be yours!
Wed, May 14th - 8:38PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"Then He said to the disciples, It is impossible but that offences will come: but woe to him, through whom they come! It were better for him that a millstone were hung about his neck, and he cast into the sea, than that he should offend one of these little ones. Take heed to yourselves: If your brother trespass against you, rebuke him; and if he repent, forgive him. And if he trespass against you seven times in a day, and seven times in a day turn again to you, saying, I repent; then you shall forgive him. And the apostles said to the Lord, Increase our faith. And the Lord said, If you had faith as a grain of mustard seed, you might say to this sycamore tree, Be plucked up by the root, and be planted in the sea; and it should obey you(17:1-6)."
We are looking at the first ten verses of chapter seventeen, beginning with these six. There will be four laws found in this passage that have the potential to revolutionize society. They have this potential for they are able to revolutionize the individual believer's life. In verses 1-2 can be found the first law: Leading another person into sin brings judgment. the second law is in verses 3-4: Forgiving others is essential. The third law is found in verses 5-6: Faith is essential: one of the most powerful forces in the entire world.
The first law is a severe warning, for leading another person into practicing sin brings heavy judgment from God. In this passage Jesus is speaking directly to His disciples. Each of them had to guard against this grave sin for they were always subject to temptation, and if they yielded to it, they were going to mislead others. This law has been repeatedly violated by church leaders over at least the last 1400 years of church history. We must be aware of the fact that sin is inevitable in our lives. Jesus said, "It is impossible but that offences will come." Sin exists throughout our world. It enters into the business world, the office, the marketplace, the sports' arenas, the health clubs, the home, and even the church. No place escapes sin, for none of us are perfect. Wherever I may happen to be, there is sin for I am not without sin.
It is a terrible thing to commit sin, but leading others to commit sin is even worse. To "offend" is to be a stumbling block; to bait, lure, and trip someone else up. Who might these be, the ones who offend? It is anyone who continues in sin, who practices sin. A stumbling block is a person who seduces others into sinning. These sins could be grumbling, complaining, criticizing, taking sides, being worldly and materialistic, coveting more and more things, being conceited, prideful, living loose and immoral lifestyles, or cursing and speaking crudely. It is anyone who makes a false profession of being a Christian, anyone who claims to be a follower of Jesus Christ, but who is not. False professions scandalize the name of Christ Jesus. It is utter hypocrisy that causes others to stay away and to detest Christ and the entire church. False professors not only shut themselves out of the kingdom of God, but they cause their own children and others into a similar false, hypocritical religion which shuts them out of the kingdom as well. They are like an infection, spreading throughout the church. People are stumbling blocks if they discourage a person from following and serving Jesus Christ by words, deeds, abuse or neglect, persecution or injury, gossip or slander, anger or hostility. Adults frequently utilize these actions in influencing children to not trust and believe in Christ. Consider these passages: " Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no person put a stumbling block or an occasion to fall in a brother's way (Romans 14:13)." "It is good neither to eat meat, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby your brother stumbles, or is offended, or is made weak (Romans 14:21).' 'He that loves his brother abides in the light, and there is no occasion of stumbling in him (I John 2:10)."
In verse two Jesus speaks about a millstone. What size of millstone is He talking about? The Greek words onikos, mulos are indicative of the sheer size of this stone. "Mulos" is the word used for the millstone that the donkey pulled around to grind the grain. The other word is used for donkey. It was a huge stone and Jesus chose it to clearly indicate how great this sin of offending others is. The tremendous weight of this millstone would trap a person to the bottom of the sea, there would be no chance for escape. Is it the most terrible sin of all? I do not know for sure, but it is one that God considers to be very bad. In verses three and four the second law is given. Jesus begins by telling His disciples to listen up! What He was to say next was of critical importance. Anyone who sins against us we are to rebuke lovingly; but if they repent, we are to forgive them. There is to be no unforgiveness found among the people of God. No matter how great a stumbling block is put across our path we are to genuinely forgive people. The word "rebuke" needs to be defined for we misuse it often in today's world. It means to charge, to be emphatic with. The believer is to confront the person who offends. We are to do what we can to correct an offending brother or sister, but the correction is not done in anger or in revenge. It is done in love and compassion and not judgmentally. The whole point of this part of the passage is forgiveness. This does not mean that the believer is weak or timid or indifferent to sin, but that the believer responds to being mistreated by being loving and compassionate. Up on that cross, having been tortured, beat up, spat upon, and ridiculed cruelly, Jesus still asked God to forgive all of them. Top simply allow sin to continue is to indulge and to give license to sin, and the last thing God wants is for sin to be indulged in and given the license to run wild on earth. Again, some more Scripture: " And have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather reprove them (Ephesians 5:11).' "Now we exhort you, brethren, warn them that are unruly, comfort the feebleminded, support the weak, be patient toward all men (I Thessalonians 5:14)." 'Preach the Word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine (II Timothy 4:2)." "The world cannot hate you; but Me it hates, because i testify of it, that the works of it are evil (John 7:7).' The command to forgive is strong. Jesus wants His disciples, and all of us today, to understand the utter importance of forgiving others. Believers do not have license to sin nor to take advantage of God's limitless forgiveness. They who abuse the grace of God face His judgment. But it is also very clear that God forgives and forgives and forgives the believer who truly repents of sin.
Verses five and six bring us to the third law, which is that faith is essential. The disciples understood at this point that their faith was weak and needed to be increased. Jesus spoke about having faith so strong that one would be free from ever causing another person to stumble into sinning and be so loving and compassionate that they could forgive someone time and time again. Obviously none of them felt down in their hearts that they could do this. They were being steadily pushed towards acceptance of the fact that they desperately needed greater faith in God, in the power and love of Christ, so that the power and love of God could infill and permeate their whole beings. What did Jesus do? Give them greater faith? No, He chose to tell them that they needed genuine faith, not greater faith. It is a matter of possessing and having faith. The smallest amount of genuine faith can do incredible things, impossible things. What else is needed? Boldness. It takes boldness to walk up to a tree and tell it to be removed from where it is rooted into the ground. Imagine, believing that the request is already done! It is simply a matter of belief, not how much belief. Now Jesus chose the puny mustard seed in His picture. It is one of the smallest seeds but it grows to be one of the largest bushes. Faith can begin very small but if it is very genuine, it can grow to become mighty in size and force.
That is all for today, beloved. Next time I will pick up with verse seven through ten and that fourth and last law that is revealed here. I pray for grace and peace to be abundant in your life! I pray for the safe return of the Nigerian girls who were kidnapped recently. I pray for people everywhere to strive to become less of a stumbling block to those all around them, putting an end to the endless conflict in our world.
Fri, May 2nd - 9:13PM
STUDY IN LUKE
"There was a certain rich man, who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and ate sumptuously every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus who was covered with sores, and was laid at his gate. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked at his sores. 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. And in hell the rich man lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom. 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. But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed so that they which would pass from here to you can't; neither can they pass to us, that would come from there. Then the rich man said, I pray to you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify to them, otherwise they also shall come to this place of torment. Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. But the rich man said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went to them from the dead, they will repent. And Abraham said to him, If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rose from the dead (16:19-31)."
Jesus spoke about the life and death of two different men. One is named while the other remains nameless. There are no parables where people involved are given names. Jesus did not announce that this was a parable, did He? Therefore we must conclude that this account is an actual experience. Yes, spiritual and eternal truths have to be described with human and earthly language. But this does not lessen the blessing nor the terror of the truth. In this passage of Scripture we can see portrayed a difference in life, in death, and in eternity.
So why would God name one man but not the other in this specific account? It could be so simple as to contrast the difference between being known and honored by God and not being known and honored by God. The rich man had not known God during his earthly life and so remained nameless before God. Lazarus knew God and was known by God, his very name means God is my Help or Helper. Lazarus had kept his eyes focused upon heaven and not earthly treasures. It can also be seen that monetarily there was a huge difference between these two men. One was wealthy and could afford to eat whatever he desired each and every day while the other was a beggar covered with sores. The rich man was whole, physically healthy while Lazarus was disabled by ulcerated sores that kept him from work and the ability to earn a living. We must assume that Lazarus was carried to the rich man's gate and set there. Lazarus was a homeless person, living out in the streets. No one else loved him enough to invite him to stay inside their home, neither family nor friends. What an indictment against people! No compassion or love for fellowman, no mercy for someone who required assistance. What we must notice here in this passage is that the charge is laid against the rich man and not society in general. Society is only an idea, men are a physical reality. The term "society" allows some people, including some social workers, to escape responsibility and to build up good salaries, healthy standards of living, and personal wealth while the needy continue to suffer out in the streets. Each person is personally responsible for the poor and needy of this earth. It is the main point of Christ's account here.
During life the rich man ate sumptuously while Lazarus never knew where his next meal might come from. In this account the beggar is outside the rich man's gate and the rich man never realizes that this man is out there. He is too involved in his satisfying his personal urges to notice that someone needing his help is so close to him. Lazarus is too weak from sickness to even scare the dogs away from licking his sores. How humiliating that must have been! Yet this poor beggar found hope and peace in God. Back in those days the wealthy used hunks of bread to wipe their hands clean and then threw the hunks away on the floor. That is what Lazarus hoped to get so that he could fill his hunger for food.
Now in the eyes of most societies the sin of this rich man would not be considered a sin. There is no record of any sort of vicious sin, no record of a vulgar, public sin. He was not cruel, he never ordered Lazarus from his gate nor refused him the crumbs from his banquet table. He was not a tyrant; not an oppressor of the poor, not a monstrous member of society. On the contrary, he appears to have been socially responsible, an upright citizen, respected and well-liked. No human court of law would think of arresting or condemning him. To society, he was to be honored and highly esteemed for he was successful and wealthy. What was his personal sin then? He was flamboyant, displaying his wealth in materialistic fashion. His gate was large indicating that he lived in a large home or even mansion. The purple and linen indicate that he had the latest fashions and the ultimate in luxury clothing. The fact that he feasted every day indicates self-indulgence, comfort, ease, luxury, and extravagant living. He spent his money upon the things and pleasures of this world. He did not bother to meet the needs of others around him, only his own wants. He neglected and ignored others.
All of this leads us to the difference in their deaths. Lazarus died and was escorted to Paradise; the rich man died and was buried. The rich man's death was short and to the point. What a frightening and disappointing legacy for a person to leave behind. The rich man most likely was buried in state in the finest clothes and within the very best grave available. The funeral most likely was very impressive as well, attended by all of the upper social class of his community. Words of praise and honor were spoken, recognition of his considerable business success and contribution to society in general, his provision for his religion. Only problem was, the rich man was not there to enjoy it nor appreciate it. He just died and was buried in the grave. What a difference in the death of Lazarus though. He died and was carried by angels into Abraham's bosom. No, he was not inside the man's chest. He was in Paradise, a place of happiness where he could sit down and feast with Abraham, free of his earthly afflictions and suffering. Abraham;s bosom was referred to for he was the father of the Jewish people and nation.
We must note three important facts here. First, Lazarus lived on despite his body being dead. His being, his spirit and soul, lived on and did not die nor cease to exist. It did not fall into a state of sleep. Second, Lazarus' soul was immediately met by angels and instantaneously they stood by his body and carried his soul into Paradise. Third, Lazarus was transported to the place where the Source of all wealth is, where all who have trusted God are. Now we can construct what hell is like. One part is Paradise while the other is a place of torment. A huge fixed gulf separates the two and none can pass over it from one side to the other. The rich man was in the place of torment while Lazarus was in Paradise. The rich man had to leave all of his wealth and possessions behind in death and went straight to the place of torment. Possessions did no good, were of no benefit, could not provide any relief, in the place of torment. But surely the rich man would not spend eternity in torment, right? "And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal (Matthew 25:46)." "And the smoke of their torment ascends up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night (Revelation 14:11)."
The rich man was not fit for Paradise. He had lived in a worldly paradise while others were hungry and starving to death, diseased and helpless, cold and unclothed, unsaved and dying. He had kept back, banked, and hoarded his material things beyond what he reasonably needed to survive. He had chosen to satisfy his wants. Justice had to be served, to be executed. His character, his soul, were unfit to live in a paradise of justice and love. He deserved to be tormented and left without material comforts as he had withheld these things from others while he lived. It is seen that the rich man could only look upon glory while Lazarus was sharing in and experiencing glory. The rich man could see Paradise, but it remained far away and out of touch. He could also see into Paradise, able to see both Abraham and Lazarus standing there. He could see all of the glory and comfort, perfection and joy that was there. He envied and regretted what he saw. "There shall be weeping and gnashing , when you shall see Abraham,and Isaac, and Jacob, and all of the prophets, in the kingdom of God, and you yourselves thrust out ((Luke 1328)." It would seem that Lazarus seemed to be totally unaware of the other side of hell. He lived only in Paradise, only in the glory and perfection of God. Even though many others undoubtedly were in the zone of torment, the rich man experienced being all alone. He stood all alone in the flame, unable to converse with anyone else. What a vast contrast to what the world believes to be the nature of hell when they die and get to go there to party and have fun forever more. The truth is that people in torment are all alone, see no one else, sense no one else, are cut off from touching anyone else, suffer from eternal thirst. The rich man had a burning sensation 24/7 while Lazarus had water and ease and comfort. The rich man now was the one begging for mercy: if he could not be freed from the flame, could he please be given just one drop of water? No. He was reminded of how he had lived his life, of how he had not given Lazarus anything to provide relief of his suffering. He had not beaten, injured, or persecuted Lazarus, but he had not helped Lazarus either. The rich man is reminded that Lazarus was not responsible for the evil things that came upon him.
So the rich man was fixed in torment while Lazarus was fixed in Paradise. The great fixed gulf is there to guarantee that the wish of the sinner, who chooses to be cut off from God and Paradise, has his/her wish. They are cut off permanently. Finally the rich man recalls his surviving family members. Five brothers still were alive and in need of being warned about this place of torment! Obviously he felt that he had set a bad example for each of them and that they were each headed for this place of torment. Finally he was admitting that what Christ Jesus had already said about this place was not worth all of the wealth of the world. He realized that his brothers needed to be warned to flee far from this place. But Abraham informs the rich man that his brothers already had Moses, the Scriptures, and all of the prophets which explained and warned them of the future. The Scriptures are a sufficient witness.
Still, the rich man begged for another chance; Lazarus was silently at peace as the Scriptures promised. If another were allowed to arise from this place to tell the living then they would believe and repent of their sins. But Abraham refuses to do so and simply informs the rich man that even if one were to rise from the dead they would not be persuaded. This can relate to both Lazarus, brother of Martha and Mary, who would be raised from the dead and to Jesus who would later rise from death from crucifixion. Jesus the Christ has already risen from the dead and returned but people still refuse to believe the message. Peoples' unbelief is not due to lack of signs; it is due to their love for this world with all of its creature comforts and recognition, indulgences and selfishness, pleasures and honors. The Scriptures and their consistent testimony of the Lord's resurrection are much greater testimony than a dead man standing before us in some ghostly, mysterious form. "Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of Me (John 5:39)." "It (righteousness) shall be imputed, if we believe on Him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification (Romans 4:24-25)."
The Greek word Hades is the same as the Hebrew word Sheol. The picture painted by Jesus for us is that of the "other world": the unseen world, the spiritual world, the spiritual dimension of being. Jesus says that Hades is the place which is divided into two huge areas or sections or compartments. They are separated by a great wide gulf that is impassable. One side is the place of great sorrow and suffering. The other side is the place of Paradise where believers in Jesus go upon death. Hades is not the final destination place of unbelievers alone. All souls go to Hades, it is just a matter of which part one ends up in. This passage reveals to us that the other world, the spiritual dimension of being does in fact exist. It reveals to us that Hades, or hell, is divided into two sections.
Jesus taught more about the place of torment than He did about heaven. He taught that it was a place of unquenchable fire. It is not a fire like what we conceive of in our minds. It is other than a physical flame that consumes its fuel source and then dies out. Earthly fire is finite. The fire found in Hades and in the Lake of Fire is spiritual and eternal in nature. It does not burn itself out. It is the result of eternal separation from God, and it is far worse than any separation we may experience here on earth. It will be far worse than any physical experience we may have here on earth. It is the point of Jesus' teaching, and that of all Scripture. People must flee from hell, flee to Christ Jesus for salvation and a place in the kingdom of heaven.
That is all for today, beloved! I look forward to the near future when my posting can resume more frequent regularity. Next time I will post about Christian disciples and the four laws. I hope that you are continuing to forbear and follow along in this study of God's Word. I know that I am learning many new things, I hope you are experiencing the same. Grace and peace be a cloak covering you at all times and in all places.
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