08 October 2017

BLESSED TO CHOSEN BY GOD PART 1


Eph 1:1-14

We are so blessed with spiritual blessing in heavenly places and it’s all because of Jesus Christ. We cannot fathom how blessed we truly are until we see the beauty of the gospel that saved our own wretched lives. Until we can see the glorious Christ who died in our place. Until we can taste the grace of His mercy, the One who called us out of darkness. Because our life apart from Christ was a life of darkness and for many years I enjoyed that dark night. Jesus said this “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” John 3:19. This was my life until one day He illuminated the truth into my heart and I saw my sin for what it was…….”Evil” This is the power of God unto salvation, not my ability to get myself right with a holy God who has every right to destroy Mike Andrews.

This is the beauty of God’s calling! We have been chosen in Him! Now put your earthly reasoning aside and let faith listen to the revelation of this letter as we see the mercy and love that God has for sinners, who embrace the truth of the gospel. If you are a child of God, He chose you! Let that soak in for a moment. This is the nature of Election! Which we need to admit this is a great mystery…But God is God and we are not.
The focus of the opening chapter is not on what we must do, but rather on what God has done for us. In the first two chapters the new life of this “spiritual blessing” that we have in Christ is explained with power and beauty. 

We are going to look at this doctrine of Election that has caused commotion and fighting in the church for centuries. I’m here to tell you this morning that this is a beautiful expression of God’s love for sinners like you and me.

In the opening remarks of this chapter we see God is….

Perfectly loving (v4-v5)
Eternally sovereign (v5)
Gloriously gracious (v6-v8)

See we need to humble ourselves under this truth this morning. God can do whatever He pleases and whatever He does is always consistent with who He is. “Our God is in the heavens; he does all that he pleases.” Ps 115:3. The doctrine of “Election”  is beautiful doctrine and its found in (v4) “chose us in Him” This word indicates that God not only chose/elects by Himself, but for Himself to the praise of His glory.

Election is an expression of God’s love for His children.

God is sovereign and choosing is simply an expression of His eternal control over things. 
God is gracious in choosing is an expression of His grace for sinners. 
God’s wisdom in choosing is an expression of His infinite wisdom.

(READ EPH 1:1-14) I don’t want you to think that is some new word created by John Calvin one night in his study. Or this doctrine should be denounced because it stirs up conversations in the church. This doctrine is to remind us of the grace of God in salvation and where our worship is directed to. Encountering this doctrine should cue us the church to start worshipping. This word has been the foundation of God’s redeeming grace throughout the scriptures.

Election goes back to Abraham. “Now the LORD said to Abram, "Go from your country and your kindred and your father's house to the land that I will show you. And I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and him who dishonors you I will curse, and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed." Gen 12:1-13
  
God chose to make a nation of that patriarch’s descendants. He chose Israel to be His people. He worked his purposes out through that one nation and in due course sent His Messiah as a Jew. God continued to choose, or elect, people in accordance with his purpose (Rom. 9:11), grace (Rom. 11:5), love (1 Thess. 1:4), and foreknowledge (1 Pet. 1:2). The “elect” can rely on God’s concern for them (Luke 18:7) and on their sure salvation (Rom. 8:33). “Who shall bring any charge against God's elect? It is God who justifies.” Rom 8:33

Don’t scare away from this doctrine as some taboo thing that has hurt the church for centuries. Look at this doctrine with the eyes of Christ as receive it as a blessing from God, because that’s what it is 
“A blessing from God”.

 “For you are a people holy to the LORD your God. The LORD your God has chosen you to be a people for his treasured possession, out of all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.” Deut 7:6

“For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I name you, though you do not know me.” Isa 45:4

“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:44

“And when the Gentiles heard this, they began rejoicing and glorifying the word of the Lord, and as many as were appointed to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48


It is said that Lydia was saved when…..”…the Lord opened her heart to respond to the things spoken by Paul. “Acts 16:14
  
“For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” Rom 8:29-30
“though they were not yet born and had done nothing either good or bad—in order that God's purpose of election might continue, not because of works but because of him who calls.” Rom 9:11
  
“For we know, brothers loved by God, that he has chosen you, because our gospel came to you not only in word, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction.” 1 Thess 1:4-5 

“Remember Jesus Christ, risen from the dead, the offspring of David, as preached in my gospel, for which I am suffering, bound with chains as a criminal. But the word of God is not bound! Therefore I endure everything for the sake of the elect, that they also may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus with eternal glory.” 2 Tim 2:8-10
So don’t shy away or tune out this word as some form of evil,

but embrace this doctrinal truth into your hearts and see the beauty of God’s grace. It’s a beautiful day when a child is adopted from an orphanage into a loving a family who’s desire is to care for them as long as they can. It’s just as beautiful to know of a loving God who chose to save a sinner who was once rebellious, a hater and oppressor of the truth. 

“but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God. For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life. More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Rom 5:8-11
  
So, let me explain this process of God’s divine election as it pertains to you and me in the opening remarks of Paul’s letter.


THE TIME OF OUR ELECTION

“He chose us in Him before the creation of the world.” (v4)

We go back to eternity past and we see that God was thinking about you and me. Not only thinking of us, but also loving us and planning to bless us long before we were born. What this means is that God’s redemption was no small thing. Redemption was no afterthought, no hasty provision to remedy the catastrophe of the fall. This reveals to us the heart of a loving God with an eternal great concern. A concern that Jeremiah said “I have loved you with an everlasting love; therefore I have continued my faithfulness to you.” Jer 31:3. Think about this statement! Eternal in its beginning and in its duration God has never stop loving, thinking about you with the redemption to adopt you into His family. If you cannot see that as a blessing then there something wrong and it’s not with God, it’s with us.

Do you see what Paul is saying to us? God chose us and purposed to save and bless us before He ever made us. Therefore God must have made us on purpose that He might save us. We were created for more than just this life/world. See election is the gracious purpose of God. According to the Scriptures…..He regenerates, justifies, sanctifies and glorifies sinners. This is consistent with the free agency of man, and this is the glorious display of God’s sovereign goodness, and is infinitely wise, holy and unchangeable attributes. By this great act of God….it excludes boasting and produces humility. Again we must admit there is a mystery here but He is God and we are not! He purposed you and me and everyone that walks this earth before the foundations of the world. And He knew/knows who are His and who are not… before the foundation of the world. John penned these words “The beast that you saw was, and is not, and will ascend out of the bottomless pit and go to perdition. And those who dwell on the earth will marvel, whose names are not written in the Book of Life from the foundation of the world, when they see the beast that was, and is not, and yet is.” Rev 17:8

Anyone whose name was not written in the Lambs Book of Life was cast into the Lake of Fire for all eternity. A gentle warning to us! If you are unhappy with what God says about election, it indicates that there needs to be an adjustment made to your submission to Him and to His purposes. He is the Potter and we are the clay. “For the Scripture says to the Pharaoh, "FOR THIS VERY PURPOSE I HAVE RAISED YOU UP, THAT I MAY SHOW MY POWER IN YOU, AND THAT MY NAME MAY BE DECLARED IN ALL THE EARTH." Therefore He has mercy on whom He wills, and whom He wills He hardens. You will say to me then, "Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?" But indeed, O man, who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, "Why have you made me like this?" Does not the potter have power over the clay, from the same lump to make one vessel for honor and another for dishonor?” Rom 9:17-21
  
This portion of Paul’s letter makes my heart melt that He called me out of darkness. Because if He didn’t….. my name would not be in that book before the foundation of the world. It is an awesome concept when one considers that those whose names are the Book of Life were put there before the foundations of the world. That is a blessing we have in heavenly places. One might ask the question! Is it fair that God chooses some for salvation and does not chose others? We need to understand that God is dealing with sinful human beings and He is not obligated to save anyone.

This leads people to ask! Why does God save some and not all? The question we need ask ourselves is “Why does God save any at all?” All God is obligated to do is to be just! We are the ones who were sinners and rebellious against God. We are the ones who turned our backs on God through the fall in the garden. God is not obligated to save any of us! And soon as its been pointed out that God saves some, someone cries “Not fair”

Was it fair for Judas Iscariot? The Old Testament says “Even my own familiar friend in whom I trusted, Who ate my bread, Has lifted up his heel against me.” Ps 41:9 The scripture even says that when Jesus chose Judas, he knew Judas would be the one to fulfil the prophecies of betrayal. Matt 27:9-10. God knowing chose him to fulfill the plan. And yet Judas was never coerced nor had some invisible hand forcing him to do anything. 

“For it is not an enemy who taunts me— then I could bear it; it is not an adversary who deals insolently with me— then I could hide from him. But it is you, a man, my equal, my companion, my familiar friend. We used to take sweet counsel together; within God's house we walked in the throng.” Ps 5512-14

Judas had every opportunity as the rest of the disciples and us to find forgiveness and grace. He heard the sermons and illustrations and parables about the unjust steward, the message of the wedding garments, the preaching against the love of money.

Judas listened to all of these lessons yet never applied one of them to his life. As John MacArthur said “He kept up his deceit.” He had every opportunity, even the opportunity when he pointed out Jesus in the garden. “Now the betrayer had given them a sign, saying, "The one I will kiss is the man; seize him." And he came up to Jesus at once and said, "Greetings, Rabbi!" And he kissed him.” Matt 26:48-49. Luke penned these words! “Jesus said to him, “Judas, would you betray the Son of Man with a kiss?” Luke 22:48. He acted freely on his own and he was completely responsible for his own actions. Don’t let this truth bog you down to miss the blessings of what Paul is telling us this morning. We have been chosen though the blessings of the gospel to taste and savor this truth for all eternity. And it’s all because of Christ and God’s perfect plan before the foundation of the world. He took on flesh and blood (humanity) becoming like one of us and taking our place in dying on the Cross for our sins is the only way that God could save us. And this was His plan before the foundations of the world. Someone might say “Can God be just in sending one to hell?” To which one theologian responded “Can God be just in sending people to Heaven?” Rightfully, sinful people should go to hell. That is the penalty for their sin. However, since all are sinners, how is God going to be just in taking anyone to Heaven? The answer to that question is that salvation is provided by grace through Christ alone! He has chosen us in Christ

THE CHRISTO-CENTRIC STANDPOINT OF OUR ELECTION

“He chose us in Him” this blessing towards us is related to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Sola Christus” in Christ alone. He has been from all eternity the central object of the Father’s thought, purpose and plans. His Son would come to this earth live amoung us, be rejected by many so that we could taste the blessings of electing grace. As Jesus said “You did not choose me, but I chose you.” John 15:16. This is God’s purpose for redemption and restoration. This shouldn’t make us mad because we scream “free will” My free will was leading me to destruction. NOW! I can’t speak for you, but I’m pretty sure it was leading you there as well. Getting back to Judas, he saw Jesus as a means to an end to lining his pockets with the world riches. He had every opportunity to repent and believe just as you and me did. He would have seen and heard numerous appeals from Jesus for people to find rest in the Savior. And he would never embrace the grace that was offered to him daily leading up to His death. Only God knows the heart and that’s why God knows who are His before the foundation of the world. 

This passage does not negate the fact that since we are chosen we can sit passively by. Election and faith belong in the same sentence. I say that because (v13) we see man’s responsibility to this scandalous grace of the gospel. “In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in Him,” Eph 1:13. You may not understand this fully when it comes to God’s divine election and our free will. But we should fully embrace this none the less as we do with deity and humanity of Christ or the divine human authorship of the Scriptures. Someone once asked Spurgeon how he reconciled God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility to which he responded “I never reconcile two friends.” Another pastor was asked the same question said “That’s not my problem. That’s God’s problem. And for God, it’s not a problem.” What we are to do is just believe both truths and let God harmonize them. Election does not lessen the need to tell people about Jesus. We do not know who the elect are and according to the scripture we are to go into the world proclaiming the good news of the gospel. God is sovereign, we should assume that God has placed us where we are for the purpose of seeing others come to Christ though our faithful evangelism.

Our invitation should be “Come to Jesus! When you come, thank Him for drawing you to His Son and His amazing grace.”


01 October 2017

BLESSED TO BE CHOSEN IN HIM (INTRO)


Book Of Ephesians

The keynote of this epistle is expressed in the opening of Paul’s letter. “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (v3) It’s the reminder we see in the old hymn song…..“Count your blessings, name them one by one,” an old gospel song urges us to, “count your blessings, see what God hath done.” The Apostle Paul takes stock in this letter of all that God has done for us through Christ. He begins by focusing on the nature of God rather than by listing each individual blessing. He begins by noting that God is worthy of being “Praised.”

“Blessing be to God” The word “blessing” is where we get the word “eulogy” and it means “to speak well of, a message of praise and commendation.” It declares a person’s goodness as a person shares at a funeral, a graduation or promotion at work. But! Our supreme eulogy, our supreme praise is for Him alone. "Why do you ask me about what is good? There is only One who is good. If you would enter life, keep the commandments." Matt 19:17. When reading scripture we always need to remind ourselves that the gospel begins with God, not with us.

From cover to cover, the Bible is a book that reveals to us who God is. It begins in Gen. 1:1 “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” It ends with the Revelation of Jesus Christ, the supreme manifestation of God to us. Everything begins and ends with the Triune God, who oversees everything for His glory. If we are to know Him, He must reveal Himself to us, which He has done in Christ through the gospel. And because of the gospel we are have and are being radically transformed by God’s plan and purpose though the redemptive and sanctifying work of Christ.

Think about this as we go through this letter! God’s Spirit has been given to God’s people so that through God’s word, God’s world might be brought to God’s Son.” This is the blessing of God’s Word. And it’s all because of Christ, that we are able to taste and savor this truth as God’s children. Why do I say this? It is the very element of our new life, and in it we have been brought into the enjoyment of unspeakable blessings which are here called “spiritual blessing”See this blessing should melt our hearts this morning! Goodness is God’s nature; this letter helps us to recognize the surpassing and humanly unattainable goodness of God. And nothing is more appropriate for God’s people then to bless His holy name because of His goodness. “And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, "To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!" Rev 5:13

This is why we are blessed with “spiritual blessing” We know according to the Scriptures these spiritual blessings come from God which is consistent with His perfection and worthy of our adoration and praise. “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights with whom there is no variation or shadow due to change. Of his own will he brought us forth by the word of truth, that we should be a kind of firstfruits of his creatures.” James 1:17-18. We are blessed with spiritual blessing because God is the source of all blessings. Goodness can only come from God because there is no source of goodness outside of God. This letter shows that we must be radically God-centered.

See, before this blessing came into our lives we were……

Dead in our sins, separated from God.
Foreigners who were lost.
We were darkened in understanding.
We were living in darkness.

But now though the gospel of Christ we have been brought into the blessing of His grace “spiritual blessing”.

We are alive with Him
We have been brought near
We are fellow citizens
We have learned about the truth of the gospel and we’ve put off the “old self” and put on the “new self”. Now we are “light in the Lord.” “for at one time you were darkness, but now you are light in the Lord. Walk as children of light.” Eph 5:8

This letter has impacted many people, which demonstrates to us the power of God’s word. A man named John Mackay, who later became the president of Princeton Theological Seminary, when he was a fourteen-year-old boy in 1903, wandered out into the hills of the highlands of Scotland with his Bible in his hand, and read through the Book of Ephesians. According to his testimony it was a life-changing experience for him. He was gripped by the truth that he found in this book. Here is a message to you Young people! This reminds us that now is the time for you to do business with God. You don't wait until you go off to college, or wait until you get married and settle down and have children. Now is the time to do business with God. Now is the time to know Christ. Now is the time to know the living God, through Jesus Christ and the precious gospel. This is the power of God’s Word! What in the world did John McKay see in the Book of Ephesians? Well, he tells us. He says, “I saw a new world. Everything was new. I had a new outlook, new experiences, new attitudes towards other people. I loved God. Jesus Christ became the center of everything. I had been quickened. I was really alive.” This small letter of six chapters is filled with the riches of doctrinal truth and filled with the blessing to apply these truths into our lives! All because of the blessings we have in Heavenly places through the power of God’s word. It’s all because of Jesus! When we trust in Him as Lord and Savior we are placed in a marvelous union with Jesus Christ. As Paul says “May the God of endurance and encouragement grant you to live in such harmony with one another, in accord with Christ Jesus, that together you may with one voice glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore welcome one another as Christ has welcomed you, for the glory of God. Rom 15:5-7. The unity the true church has is so much more than common agreement! It’s a unity of common life for the glory of God through Christ and the gospel.

Think about this as we begin this journey going through this letter to the church of Ephesus. And remind yourself what your “spiritual blessings” are and what they signify of your Christian life by being accepted into the Beloved. All the Lord has, those in Christ have. The Spirit Himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” Rom 8:16-17

Christ’s riches are our riches.
His resources are our resources.
His righteousness is our righteousness.
His power is our power.
His position is our position.
Where He is, we are.
His privilege is our privilege
His practice is our practice.
What He does, we do.

We are those things, and have those things, and do those things by the grace of God, which never fails to work His will in those who trust Him. “But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them, though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me.” 1 Cor 15:10

A story to close! A rich man was in the habit of giving his wife an expensive piece of jewelry every year on her birthday. Every year he would phone the jeweler and say, “Send me your finest pearl necklace, along with your bill.” Or, “Send me your finest diamond pendant, along with your bill.” But every year the rich man would play a game with the jeweler. He would send the messenger back to the jeweler along with the original box, a note, and a check. The check was always written in the amount of several thousand dollars less than the price on the jeweler’s bill. The note would say, “Sir, I like the jewelry piece, but I do not like the price. If you will accept the enclosed check for a reduced amount, then please return the jewelry box with the seal unbroken.” For years the jeweler put up with the rich man’s game, accepting the reduced check, and returning the box with the seal unbroken. He still made a profit on the jewelry, even if it was a lower profit than he liked—and at least he was able to keep the rich man’s trade year after year. In time, however, the jeweler began to tire of this charade.

Finally the day came when the rich man placed an order for a lavish diamond necklace, and the jeweler decided he would not get clipped again. As usual, the jeweler sent the necklace in a box, along with his bill. Again, as usual, the box was returned with a reduced check for payment and a note. Enough was enough! The jeweler refused the check, kept the box, and sent the messenger away in disgust. When he opened the box to reclaim the necklace, he found that the necklace had been removed. In its place was a check for the entire amount of the jeweler’s bill. For years, the rich man had been sending the entire asking price of each jewelry piece—hidden inside the sealed jewelry box. In all that time, the jeweler had accepted thousands of dollars less than he could have received—because he didn’t open the box and look inside.

What is the point of this story? The hidden riches of Christ are available to you and me, but to find them, we have to open the Bible and especially the letter of Ephesians. It is here, in this letter, that we find the description of the riches we have in Jesus Christ. Remember “Count your blessings, name them one by one,” an old gospel song urges us to, “count your blessings, see what God hath done.” Why? “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places,” (v3) These are the blessing that we will taste and savor as we go through a letter that changed the heart of a 14 year old boy on the hills of Scotland. A letter that reminds us of God’s goodness towards us when He changed our hearts though His gospel and grace through Christ alone.




CORRECTION FOR AUDIO SERMON! By grace alone is Sola Gratia - NOT Sola Fide as I said in my message. Sorry about that. God bless Pastor Mike

17 September 2017

THE TALE OF TWO MEN


Luke 16:19-31

Does everyone go to Heaven? It’s an honest question that preachers hear often, and sadly affirmed by many good intentional preachers heard at funerals. But is it good intentions or is it fear to tell the truth? See, I wish I could answer that question with a joyful Yes! “That all people go to Heaven.” I know our Lord desires this……. “This is good, and it is pleasing in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Tim 2:3-4. But the simple truth and reality is; that this is never going to happen, though we plead for this to happen. Why? Man love darkness rather than light and men love their sin too much to give it up. Again Jesus said these words “Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.” Matt 7:13-14. Heaven and Hell are both real, literal places. Sadly, many preachers shy away from uncomfortable topics such as hell. Some even teach “universalism” the belief that everyone goes to heaven. Yet Christ spoke about hell a great deal, as did Paul, Peter, John, Jude, and the writer of Hebrews. The Bible is clear that every person who has ever lived will spend eternity in either heaven or hell.

This brings me to my next question!

Is Hell real?

Do Christians really believe in it?

59 percent of people say Hell is not a real place! For this reason……Hell is not an easy belief to accept. C.S. Lewis said "There is no doctrine which I would more willingly remove from Christianity than this, if it lay in my power. But it has the full support of Scripture and, specially, of Our Lord's own words; it has always been held by Christendom; and it has the support of reason." We don’t want to talk about Hell because we don’t want to associate this wicked place with a loving God who is good, pure and holy.

So we rationalize! Why would a loving God send people to hell forever? These and other questions about the doctrine of hell may not be pleasant to address, but they often come up as objections to Christianity, even puzzling Christians at times. But my question to you is this! What makes you think you and I don’t deserve the flaming wrath of God in Hell? Especially what you might have said and did this past week. Hell is the eternal justice of God, reserved for the haters and rebellious.
  
Hell according to the scriptures is described as a place…..

Of everlasting punishment “And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life." Matt 25:46

Of intense suffering and pain “and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” Matt 13:42

Of outer darkness “while the sons of the kingdom will be thrown into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth." Matt 8:12

Prepared for the Devil and His fallen angels and haters of the truth of the gospel. “Then he will say to those on his left, 'Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.” Matt 25:41

The Hell that Jesus describes is not a “Hell on earth” that accompanies our bad decisions during this life. It certainly isn’t a party as AC DC describes it in their song. Hell is a place of punishment at the end of the age for “law breakers” who deny and refuse to submit to Jesus and the precious gospel. Do you know that Jesus spent more time talking about Hell then He did Heaven? R C Sproul quoted this statement on His Facebook page and one person’s comment was “I wonder why churches today do not.” And one person’s response to that comment was “Pastors are afraid off offending people. More concerned with making money selling Jesus than being truthful.” No Bible presenter places more stress on Hell as the final consequence of God’s judgment of condemnation than Jesus did. God’s Son, Jesus Christ was the great theologian of hell. And today we get front row seats to a testimony of an unconverted man who is in Hell. This passage is about a rich man who played the ultimate fool by indulging in his wealth, ignoring true faith in God and service to humanity, until he found himself in hell for his godless selfishness. This passage expresses the urgency we must have when we are faced with the truth of Heaven and Hell. This passage reminds us that the only way to escape such a place is the precious gospel truth of salvation only found in Christ alone. So lets us dive into this account of two men penned by Luke. And learn what Jesus wants us to learn from this encounter. Because! This passage seems much like a parable, but it is not specifically called that. Reason being this encounter has a name, where Jesus’ parables don’t. And because like all parables taught by Jesus there is a lesson to be learned.

First…..

We see two types of people (v19-v21)

A rich man who had everything and more so. He is dressed in fine apparel…colored in purple which is most esteemed colour to wear. It was the colour of kings and we are told he feasted “sumptuously every day”(v19). So the picture that Jesus paints is one of a man who extremely wealthy. Then we see A poor man who has a name “Lazarus” who had nothing, but his name means “God has helped”. But let’s not mistake this is not the Lazarus who died and came back in John 11. He was man with opens sores that oozed continually. Possibly because of malnutrition which resulted in weeping ulcers. He was a man who had no job and was reduced to begging for food and money and had to be “cast down or laid at the gate” of the rich man. And every day he would lay at the gate of this rich man’s house hoping for one thing “..to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table.” (v21) . And the only thing he received was the man’s dogs coming over to lick his oozing sores. It would seem the unclean dogs had more compassion for him, than from the rich man.

What do we learn about these two people? First! The rich man was self-focused that never acknowledges once this beggar who lay at his gate to his home. And what makes it even worse he knew him, despite never helping him. Why do I say that (v24) “…send Lazarus” This rich man was phony or a fake “so called man of God” Mike your saying “He professes to believe in God?” Yes, he makes that assumption! (v24) “Father Abraham have mercy on me” By saying that he seems to consider himself a son of Abraham and a blessed member of God’s people. If that was so which we know it isn’t!

How could someone who loves God be so heartless to those less unfortunate? This man wasn’t claiming Atheist status, or claimed to be a Sadducee. This was a man who would have affirmed the “Torah” and understood that after death came judgement. Jesus told this story to help the Pharisees to see who they have become, to see themselves more clearly. Why? (v14-v15) “The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. And he said to them, "You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.”

What is the lesson we learn from this portion of this letter? The self-righteous man or woman have no place in Heaven, but have placed reserved in Hell. It doesn’t matter how religious or how much wealth one has when it comes to entering the Kingdom. To show mercy and compassion is far more important than legalistic performance. Understand this! We can never please God without a merciful spirit. These are factors that contribute, but this isn’t what keeps this man from entering that rest in Heaven. What keeps a man or woman out of Heaven is disregarding God’s word and his or her rejection of the Lord and the gospel of our salvation.
  
We see two types of locations and states of mind (v22-v26)

It says the when the beggar died the angels carried him to “Abraham’s bosom” The phrase “the bosom of Abraham was common to the Jews. It was a metaphor for Heaven, because Abraham was the father of the faithful and the one whom God made an everlasting covenant with. To be close and nested to Abraham was to be in the very presence of Heaven.  Jesus said I tell you, many will come from east and west and recline at table with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven,” Matt 8:11. We need to understand! Lazarus was not justified by poverty! Meaning having no money doesn’t mean you have a ticket to Heaven. No he was a man who accepted his suffering without bitterness, complaint or hostility. He was a godly man who had been faithful in the little things and trusted in God’s goodness. Like the parable of the 10 minas “And he said to him, 'Well done, good servant! Because you have been faithful in a very little, you shall have authority over ten cities.'” Luke 19:17. The rich man resides in “Hades” a terrible place, so terrible he begs Abraham to send Lazarus to his family. The word “Hades” means or can be translated “Hell” literally a dark, obscure place; the place where departed spirits go, but especially the place where “wicked” spirits go. In this place of torment he could see Abraham and he could also see the man who he never looked upon or helped as he came and went every day from his palace. The rich man claimed he was in deep anguish and pain. (v24)

R C Sproul said in his commentary “Talk about wretchedness! This wealthy man was not asking to have restored to him his palace and power. He was asking only that the miserable beggar, Lazarus would dip his finger in water, and just touch the tip of his tongue. He was in such torment that he would have given everything or done anything he could, just to be at the gates of his own house, having dogs lick his wounds.”

What I find amazing is the response of Abraham. He answers the rich man request with such gentleness and truth that has eternal implications. (v25-v26) Abraham calls his “Child or son” This reveals the heart of God that He takes no pleasure in the perishing of the wicked. “Have I any pleasure in the death of the wicked, declares the Lord GOD, and not rather that he should turn from his way and live?” Eze 18:23. It’s like watching your son or daughter on drugs who will never respond to help before they died…… And then it’s too late. Abraham says…..Do you remember when you received your good things while Lazarus received bad things? Do you recall hearing a very important person say “But woe to you who are rich, for you have received your consolation. "Woe to you who are full now, for you shall be hungry. "Woe to you who laugh now, for you shall mourn and weep. "Woe to you, when all people speak well of you, for so their fathers did to the false prophets.” Luke 6:24-26 

Have you forgotten you had many opportunities to seek the need of Lazarus and refused to even give him the time of day? Have you forgotten that you bought the number one bestselling so called Christian book and you’ve already had your best life nowHave you forgotten you loved the world so much you married it and dressed yourself for her in fine linen that was draped in purple? Have you forgotten your rebellious heart to the God who gave you air so you could breathe? Your time is up and you know will face your sin for all eternity under the torment of God’s perfect and holy wrath. Lazarus is in a place of rest and eternal joy found in God’s grace and the same is for us who have been transformed by the gospel.

The warning goes to us as well! The rich man is forever in torment and is face to face with his sin for all eternity and he will wish for mountains to crush him all because of his rebellion and disobedience to the gospel. (Rev 6:16). The rich man realizing there is no hope for him and he begins to fear and feel the pressure of others who are just like him. Here is where things get really serious.
  
There is only one great concern (v27)

The ruling is final and devastating for those who reside in this place. This is not a place for the living to come to, and it sure is not a place where I want my family to be. Why? This man is begging for someone to go tell his family who still walk the earth with the breath that God gives them. What is the answer given to this request? (v29-v31). They had the prophets to show them the truth of eternal life, because even the Jews (many Jews) believed in Hell. Daniel wrote these words “And many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.” Dan 12:2. This story that Jesus told removes all ideas, theories and claims of a “purgatory” This is it for this rich man, and his pain is only beginning for all eternity. There is no soul sleep our hopes of getting out when you’re dead by the prayers and indulgences of others. One man went straight into Abraham’s bosom and the other man went straight in to Hades to wait final judgement and the lake of fire. Remember the men who hung with Jesus “One of the criminals who were hanged railed at him, saying, "Are you not the Christ? Save yourself and us!" But the other rebuked him, saying, "Do you not fear God, since you are under the same sentence of condemnation? And we indeed justly, for we are receiving the due reward of our deeds; but this man has done nothing wrong." And he said, "Jesus, remember me when you come into your kingdom." And he said to him, "Truly, I say to you, today you will be with me in Paradise." Luke 23:39-43

The only reasonable conclusion is that our Lord related this incident to bring clearly before us the importance of being right with God in this world in order that we might enjoy His favor in the world to come. This is why the gospel is so crucial in our homes, churches and in our own individual lives. These two places are real and sadly apart from the gospel and the work of the Spirit we are fighting an uphill battle for the Kingdom of God. Not because you’re not eloquent enough or a great theologian, but because men love darkness rather than light.

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil. For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his works should be exposed.” John 3:16-20

Eternal life is only found in Christ. “God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” (1 John 5:11-12). The truth is, if we wish to live apart from God during our time on earth, He will grant us our wish for eternity as well. As one pastor appropriately said, “If you board the train of unbelief, you will have to take it all the way to its destination.” This was the train the rich man was on and for him it cost him everything.


What train are you on?