Track 6 of 7 in the Spiritual Realm series
Running time: 1 hour, 06 minutes, 19 seconds.
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Speaker: Mike Nobis
Sunday School Teacher, Former Elder at Madison Park Christian Church. Mike is President of JK Creative Printers & Mailing in Quincy, IL. He is married to Pam and has three children, Tom, Tyler and Jennifer. Mike has three grandchildren: Ryne, Ivy and Alicia.
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December 11, 2005
Last week we looked at scripture and what it had to say about death and where people go after death takes place. I taught that at death, the spirit enters into a state that is temporary called Hades. Hades means unseen or hidden. Hades is the intermediate state of the dead between death and the second coming. From scripture, it seems to have two compartments, a place of comfort called Paradise and a place of torment called Tartarus. Even though Hades is a temporary state, it will end after the 2nd coming of Jesus, it is however permanent as we shall see when we look at Luke 16.
There are many misunderstandings about what happens after we die. Most of them come from wrong information by not reading the Bible and learning what it has to say about the subject. Too often we develop our perspectives on death and the afterlife from what others tell us or from what we see and hear on TV. For many of us, we were taught false doctrines on the subject by well meaning people but the information was still wrong and goes against the principles taught in the scriptures.
Jesus taught a lot about life after death. He wanted each of us to know that everlasting life was waiting for anyone who accepted the Father. In Jesus, we have life and we have it abundantly. This life Jesus offers us never ends and is a life far beyond what we can now comprehend. Physical death plays an important role and it does not end our life, in fact it is just the beginning. As a Christian, physical death is not something we should fear but something we should rejoice about because of what it causes. For the Christian, physical death ushers in next phase of our relationship in Jesus.
I taught last week that at death, everything concerning the physical life is finished. There is no going back and finishing something you didn't complete or planned on doing but didn't get done. What happened in your life is sealed up and will be the facts your judgment is based on. There are no second chances. What was done was done and each person will be held accountable for the things they did in their life. Yet for some reason, some Christians and many unbelievers seem to think that God will change his mind in the end. Somehow God will cease to be God and judge like humans when it comes to the final judgment. Somehow God will throw everything he said he would do out the door and judge differently.
What have you heard? From the people you know, how do they think God will judge? Do they think they will get a 2nd chance? In the Gospel of Luke Jesus talked about a situation that relied on the principles that exist concerning Hades and the afterlife. The details he gives in Luke 16 are not a lesson on Hades and what happens when a person dies, but it was a lesson to the Pharisees and his disciples on the punishment waiting for those who show no mercy on those who are in need. In Luke 14 Jesus was invited to eat at a rich man's house. The man was a Pharisee. The dinner was a way for the Pharisees to watch Jesus closely. At that meal was a man who was suffering from dropsy. Jesus asked them a very important question.
Of course the Pharisees didn't say a word but to prove his point, Jesus got up and healed the man immediately. After that healing, Luke records several parables Jesus taught concerning the importance God places on the lives of every human being. God was not happy with the lack of care and mercy the religious showed to those less fortunate and need of care. Luke 16:19-31 is a parable about what happens to the rich who don't help the poor. In this parable Jesus reveals some truth on the subject we are studying.
Q How many of the parables Jesus taught were a lie and not based on actual facts concerning the Kingdom of God? Just because some truths come from Parables, does it make the truths less valid? Many of the critics of what was taught by Jesus in this parable say we can't go by what Jesus said because he was speaking a parable. What Jesus taught was not real, it was just a story. But what I find most interesting, the critics of this passage of scripture are mostly Christians. Why would Christians have a hard time with what Jesus taught? I can only speculate; they have a heard time with this because they teach something totally the opposite.
Let's look at what Jesus taught.
What is interesting about this parable, it is the only one that names a person by name, Lazarus. Most scholars believe this Lazarus is not the best friend of Jesus whom he raised from the dead. I speculate Lazarus was someone the Pharisees knew and whom they could relate to. What is important to note, Jesus didn't just tell parables, every detail of his parables had purpose and meaning and everyone was based on truth and fact.
Look at the two characters, how does Jesus describe them?
It is important to get the full picture as to what was happening here. In a country where common people were fortunate to eat meat once a week, Lazarus is pictured lying outside the gates of the rich man hoping to get the crumbs from the rich man's table. If Lazarus was lying at the gate, how could he get the crumbs from a table inside? Food was eaten with the hands and in very wealthy houses; the hands were cleansed by wiping them on hunks of bread, which were then thrown away. This is what Lazarus was waiting for.
As I mentioned last week, death is the end for most of us and unless we see Jesus return before we die, death will be when judgment takes place. For the rich man and Lazarus, that is exactly what happened. At death, everything changed. What was in this world abruptly changes to the next and there Lazarus is in glory and the rich man is in torment.
What was the sin the rich man did that caused him to be in torment after death? Did he order Lazarus to be removed from his gate? Did he kick him as he passed Lazarus on the road? Was he deliberately cruel to Lazarus? What was his sin? The rich man never noticed Lazarus. It was perfectly natural for Lazarus to lie in pain and hunger while he wallowed in luxury. In essence, Lazarus was just part of the natural landscape to the rich man. Someone said, it wasn't what the rich man did that got him into hell, it was what he didn't do that got him there.
What about us? Are we like the rich man? Do we see the poor and the sick in our community? Do we even see the poor and the sick within our own church or even within our own families?
I want you to notice the state of the two men. These men died while Jesus was still on the Earth the first time. Notice they didn't go to heaven; they went to an intermediate state. Lazarus found himself in the same place next to Abraham in comfort while the rich man went to hell. Notice in your Bibles that there should be a footnote indicating that the rich man went to Hades. What is important, they didn't go the final state but their destination is final.
Verse 25-26 are the verses many Christians don't like. Jesus teaches us through Abraham a very important fact, even though Hades is temporary, it is also permanent. It might be an intermediate state of the dead but if you find yourself in torment after death, there isn't going to be any relief. These verses refute doctrine of purgatory.
We must realize that Purgatory is absolutely foreign to anything found in the Bible. Today, there are many Roma Catholic theologians who agree that the doctrine of purgatory is no where found in the Bible. It was Pope Gregory who is generally credited as being the one who introduced this idea into Romanism. He admitted he got the idea from Plato, not God and it was other pagan influences that embellished this idea that now many Catholics believe in. But it is not until 836 that the church at the The Council of Aix la Chapelle decided to make purgatory part of their dogma. Here are some of the Biblical problems:
Purgatory is one of the most commercialized schemes in the history of man. Think a minute, how much would you be willing to give or sacrifice if you could be made to believe that by paying money to Chuck or any one of our staff or elders, you could alleviate the suffering of a loved on in purgatory? What would you be willing to scrape up to get that accomplished? How low a person would you be if you allowed one of your loved ones to suffer in Hell?
As Abraham said it, there is no crossing from torments to comfort or the other way around. Even though Hades is temporary, it is also permanent.
Another very important fact we see in Luke 16 is the dead don't return to the living. The rich man realized that what happened to him will also happen to his brothers. He didn't want them to end up in the same place. He wanted Lazarus to go back and warn his family about the realities of God's Law. Notice he didn't ask to allow himself to go back. I think he knew that was impossible. He was hoping the good could return but that wasn't possible either.
are the realities about the spirits returning to tell the truth? Why won't
the living believe the testimonies of the returned dead? Don't you think
that if someone would rise from the grave and told us what it was really
like on the other side, we would listen and believe? Name someone who
did this and yet many don' believe him?