WHAT HAPPENS AFTER DEATH ?
Scripture Text: Luke 16:19-31
In the scripture reading we are told of two men who died. One went to a place of rest and peace while the other was in a place of torment called Hell, or "Hades." And so it is today. When people die they go to either one of two places, either to be with the Lord Jesus Christ in Heaven or, if unsaved, they go to the place that Jesus Christ called Hell.
First of all, I want you to notice that this is not a parable. There is nothing in the entire passage or context to indicate that this is parabolic teaching. Whenever the Lord spoke in parables He made it quite clear that His teaching was parabolic. He either labeled it as a parable or the writer will tell us, as he does in so many passages - "Then spake Jesus this parable unto them --" but no such connotation is made in this passage. The language is direct, and Jesus Christ even used the proper names of Abraham and Lazarus, something which was never done in a parable.
It is significant that we're told that both the poor man and the rich man died. There is no respect of persons with God so whether we're rich or poor; old or young; Irish, Scottish or Polish; Catholic, Protestant, Jew or Muslim; the fact remains that the "wages of sin is death," and the wages of sin have never been reduced. It is also noted that the poor man on earth became the rich man in eternity, and the rich man on earth became the poor man in eternity; but even though one's financial condition or social standing do not determine their eternal destiny, these factors may be, directly or indirectly, very instrumental in doing so.
At the present time,worldwide, it is estimated that at least 100 people die every minute; 6,000 pass into eternity every hour; 144,000 souls go into the great beyond every day; and if statistics hold up, it is expected that over 52,000,000 people will die during the present year. The sad part about these statistics is the fact that of those who die, and who are responsible to God for their sins, most of them will end up in Hell and the ultimate Lake of Fire (Read Matthew 7:13,14). It is estimated that of the 6 billion people alive on the earth today, less than 40% have even heard the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, and they cannot be saved apart from knowing about Him and His sacrificial death on their behalf at Calvary's cross. (Read Acts 4:12 Romans 10:9,10,13-15)
The dreaded article called "death" is stalking each and every person alive on the earth today. It is the most unpopular subject that one could speak of, and yet we're told that "it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:" (Hebrews 9:27) The only people who are not sure of dying are the true Christians who are alive when the Lord Jesus Christ comes again. We are not looking for the undertaker but we are looking for the "Upper-Taker," the Lord Jesus Christ. (Read I Thessalonians 4:16-18)
There may be someone reading this message who doesn't believe in a literal Hell. You may say that you believe in a Heaven, but not in a Hell. Then let me ask you, "What is your authority for believing in a Heaven?" You say, "The Bible, of course." Then let me remind you Friend, that the same and only authority we have for the existence of a Heaven, is also the same and only authority we have for the existence of a Hell. Deny one and you must deny the other. Deny either one, and you are calling God a liar.
Several years ago a relative of mine, by marriage, boasted of the fact that he was an atheist and didn't believe in a literal Hell. But not long afterwards he changed his mind ... HE DIED! Everyone in Hell today believes in a literal Hell. There are no unbelievers in Hell - they all believe now, but it is too late for them to be saved. Their day of grace has ceased to exist, and they have nothing to look forward to but the vast eternity of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth.
This is unfortunate because we're told in I Timothy 2:4 that God "would have all men to be saved, and come unto the knowledge of the truth." And the Apostle Peter also confirms that fact in II Peter 3:9 where he says that the Lord "is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." It is a case of either TURN OR BURN!
Friend, if you end up in Hell you can't blame it on God because He loves you, and He has done all that He can to save your soul by sending His Son to die on the cross for your sins. You can't blame the Lord Jesus Christ either because, in love for your soul, He suffered, bled and died, the shameful and ignominious death of Calvary's cross. Neither can you blame the Holy Spirit of God because He is speaking to your soul, even now, and He is desirous of seeing you both convicted and converted before you pass out of time into a lost eternity. Finally, you can't blame me because, in love and faithfulness, I am bringing before you the Gospel of God's marvelous, matchless, sovereign and electing grace which is expressed in His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, ALONE. (Read John 3:16;5:24;10:9;14:6 and Acts 4:12)
It is noteworthy that the place called Hell is mentioned in the Bible more often than the place called Heaven. In the Bible book of Revelation, Heaven is described as a place of no tears, no sin, no sorrow, no death, no sickness and no night. It is described as having foundations of precious stones, walls of jasper, gates of pearl and street of gold, but the most important and beautiful sight for the true "born again" Christian will be the fact that the Lord Jesus Christ will be there, and we'll see Him face to face in all His glory!
The original Greek word for Hell is mentioned 12 times in the entire New Testament, and 11 of those 12 times it is mentioned by none other than the Lord Jesus Christ,Himself. This was Jesus Christ, the lowly, meek and weeping One. This is the same Jesus Christ that some would tell us will never condemn anyone because He was the Preacher of love. Friend, did you know that He used the word "Hell" 5 times in His well-known "Sermon on the Mount"? I believe there are some so-called "clergymen" who haven't mentioned "Hell" 5 times in their many years of preaching, and that's one of the big reasons why souls are dropping into Hell at a fantastic rate everyday. When was the last time your pastor mentioned "Hell" for those who reject Christ?
I would emphasize again that there is only one of two destinies to which the person who dies must go. There is a Heaven to gain and there is a Hell to shun! I ask any of you who have been deluded into believing that there is an intermediate place other than Heaven or Hell, from which you can be prayed for or paid out of, "Can you show me anywhere in the word of God where such a place is mentioned? If you can, I'll throw my Bible away and never preach Christ again!" This unscriptural doctrine never even came into existence until 1274 AD at the Council of Lyon, in France. Furthermore, have you ever heard of anyone who has prayed or paid enough to get a departed loved one out of this fictitious and man-made place of penance? Of course, not!
Perhaps you're thinking, "I don't like this kind of preaching." Well Friend, I don't like it either, but in sincere love for your soul I must, in view of the Judgment Seat of Christ, warn you of the consequences of not accepting the Lord Jesus Christ as your own and personal Saviour. However, I would a thousand times rather scare you into Heaven, than to be guilty of pampering and coddling you into Hell. In Ezekiel 33:7 God says, "warn them from Me." In the next verse, Ezekiel 33:8 God says, "if thou dost not speak to warn the wicked from his way, that wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand." Solemn thought !
The problem with many so-called "clergymen" today is the fact that they continually tell their congregations of the wonderful love of God and how He sent His Son, the Lord Jesus Christ, into the world to die on Calvary's cross for our sins, and this is true, or I'd still be lost and perishing in my sins, or perhaps already in Hell, but these preachers, priests and others fail to emphasize the fact that if we don't accept the Lord Jesus Christ as our Saviour then the alternative is an eternity in Hell and the ultimate Lake of Fire! Friend, did you know that everyone in the world is mentioned in one verse of scripture? In John 3:36 we read, "He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life; and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but THE WRATH OF GOD ABIDETH ON HIM." Friend, in which part of that verse are you?
In summarizing the Scripture text, let me emphasize several most significant facts including those already mentioned.
(1) Both the poor man named Lazarus and the rich man died.
(2) Lazarus was carried by the angels into a place of peace and rest, whereas the rich man awoke in the place that Jesus Christ called Hell.
(3) We notice that both men were conscious and had control of all their senses of seeing, hearing, talking, feeling and tasting. There is no "soul sleep" or other such diabolical supposition inferred or indicated here.
(4) The place called Hell is definitely a place of indescribable TORMENT! Four times over, in verses 23, 24, 25 and 28 we're told that the rich man was in "torment." The rich man was begging for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue, but there is no water in Hell. No, there is no mercy,no salvation, no grace, no rest, no peace, no comfort, no drugs, no tobacco, no dancing, no sports, no television, no adultery or other sexual immorality. There is only pain and never-ending suffering in Hell. Friend, where will you spend eternity? Heaven or Hell?
(5) We're also told that Hell is a place of REMEMBRANCE! Abraham said to the rich man "Son, remember ..." Those in Hell will never be able to forget the reason why they are there. Their memory will plague them when they think of how they could have escaped God's wrath, but didn't. Their memory will plague them when they think of how they were deluded into believing that they could reach Heaven by so-called "good works," reformation, or some religious ritual such as baptism, partaking of the "sacraments," or the "altar call," or trying to keep the "golden rule" or the "10 Commandments."
Some will also remember hearing the Gospel as a child in Sunday School, and learning those Gospel verses which told how they could have been saved, but how they resisted the convicting power of the Holy Spirit of God. Some will remember how they were raised in a Christian home where they had the daily "family altar," and how the Bible was read and they were prayed for by their Christian parents. Others will remember how they were under the conviction of the Holy Spirit of God and wanted to be saved but the enemy of their soul, the Devil, convinced them that they should "put it off" till later on. Yes, and some will remember how they read these words in this message with skepticism, doubt and mockery, and FRIEND, YOU"LL REMEMBER ME TELLING YOU THAT YOU WOULD REMEMBER!
(6) The next thing we notice is that Hell is a place of NO HOPE and NO RETURN! In Luke 16:26 we're told that there is "a great gulf fixed" and it was impossible to pass from one place to the other. Let me emphasize the fact that there is no "second chance" for salvation beyond the grave if a person dies unsaved. Furthermore, I believe that mankind is so constituted that if he were sure of a "second chance," he would never take the first chance; but he would live in gross sin and immorality all of his life. Friend, where will you spend eternity? Will it be in the caverns of the doomed and damned, or will it be amongst the redeemed in Heaven where we'll sing, "Unto Him Who loved us and washed us from our sins in His own blood"? (Revelation 1:5)
Many years ago I was driving along a highway when I noticed a large billboard announcing a forthcoming motion picture entitled "To Hell and Back," and I thought, "What mockery! What blasphemy!" No doubt millions of people saw that motion picture and would later experience the fact that there is no return from Hell. Other millions of people say -"Go to Hell!" or "To Hell with you!" or other such blasphemous epithet. Those who use such expressions will, in all likelihood, soon know the full meaning of the term "Hell." Unless they repent and trust the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour before they die, they will soon know the torments of the place whose name they often bandied about with little or no thought as to what they were really saying.
(7) The last thing we notice about the man who died and went to Hell is the fact that he had a MISSIONARY SPIRIT! (I believe that everyone in Hell is "missionary minded.") He knew his own doom was sealed but he didn't want his brothers to come to this terrible place called Hell, so he requested Abraham to send Lazarus to warn his brothers not to come there. Abraham then reminded the rich man that they had the scriptures which would tell them how to escape the torment, just as people today have the Bible which does the same; but people now, as then, refuse to heed it's message. The rich man then said that if a person rose from the dead and were to warn the living not to end up in Hell, that they would repent, but Abraham said that if they didn't believe the word of God then they wouldn't repent if a person did come forth from the dead. This fact is proven by what happened in John 12:10,11 where the chief priests wanted to kill again the man, also named Lazarus, whom Jesus Christ raised from the dead because so many people were following Jesus Christ since they knew that He had performed such a miracle.
Friend, you know as well as I do, that if a man stood on the busiest street corner in your locality and started to tell passersby that he had just come from the place called Hell, and that they could escape this terrible torment by accepting God's Son as their Saviour, he wouldn't be there for 15 minutes before they would put him in a straight jacket and haul him away to a mental institution. (And I also personally believe that if the Lord Jesus Christ were alive on the earth today there are those who would want him dead within 33 hours, far less the 33 years He lived while here on earth the first time He came.)
Friend, I believe that there are many more prayer meetings in Hell than there are here on earth. The poor, lost souls in Hell now know that they can't escape their eternal doom and despair, but they don't want their loved ones here on earth to join them in the place of torment. Isn't that what the rich man was saying? I wonder if there is someone down there who is now praying for you! Perhaps a relative, classmate, co-worker or friend with whom you enjoyed the pleasures of sin. Will you be joining them soon? Oh, I hope and pray that you'll consider your latter end before it is eternally too late.
I wonder if someone reading this would like to be saved and be sure of being in Heaven for all eternity, but you're afraid of what your friends, relatives, classmates, co-workers or neighbors would say if you got "saved." You're afraid that they will laugh at you. If so, then remember this, "They may laugh you into Hell, but they'll never laugh you out!"
Friend, if this were the date to be on your tombstone as the date of your death ... where would your soul be? Heaven or Hell? Destiny is determined by decision, and it makes a difference for all eternity whether you're right or wrong today! You can only go to Heaven one "Way," the LORD JESUS CHRIST, but you can go to Hell any way you please.
Friend, I plead with you, in love for your soul, and in view of the vast eternity that lies ahead, please acknowledge that you're a sinner who cannot save your own soul, for if you could, then why did Jesus die? Friend, simply believe that when Jesus Christ died on the cross He was your Substitute, He was dying in your place, for your sins. He was the Just One dying for you the unjust so that He could bring you back into a new and proper relationship with your Creator, God. If you'll believe that with all your heart, the word of God, which cannot lie, says that you'll be saved for time, and thank God, you'll be saved for all eternity - and REMEMBER, MY FRIEND, THIS IS FOR ETERNITY!
Evangelist: Minor C. Hawk