Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Is Hell for Real?

There was once a rich man who wore expensive clothes and every day ate the best food. But a poor beggar named Lazarus was brought to the gate of the rich man’s house.

He was happy just to eat the scraps that fell from the rich man’s table. His body was covered with sores, and dogs kept coming up to lick them. The poor man died, and angels took him to the place of honor next to Abraham.

The rich man also died and was buried. He went to hell and was suffering terribly. When he looked up and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side, he said to Abraham, “Have pity on me! Send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch my tongue. I’m suffering terribly in this fire.”

Abraham answered, “My friend, remember that while you lived, you had everything good, and Lazarus had everything bad. Now he is happy, and you are in pain. And besides, there is a deep ditch between us, and no one from either side can cross over.”

But the rich man said, “Abraham, then please send Lazarus to my father’s home. Let him warn my five brothers, so they won’t come to this horrible place.”

Abraham answered, “Your brothers can read what Moses and the prophets[c] wrote. They should pay attention to that.”

Then the rich man said, “No, that’s not enough! If only someone from the dead would go to them, they would listen and turn to God.”

So Abraham said, “If they won’t pay attention to Moses and the prophets, they won’t listen even to someone who comes back from the dead.”         Luke 16:19-31

My pastor, who is also my husband, preached on the Rich Man and Lazarus. Parishioners will tell you, Dick rarely thinks along traditional lines--that's one of the many things I love about him! He always makes us examine our preconceived interpretations of God's Word and how we put them into practice. This week he spoke on Hell--and how to avoid it. Here are his five points from Sunday:
  1. Hell is a real place. Jesus believed in and spoke of Hell and he wasn't referring to a less-than-stellar experience here on earth or in this life.
  2. There are no second chances to believe once we die. Our choice to trust or not to trust in Jesus sacrifice for our sins is made while we are still alive.
  3. Points one and two should create an urgency within us to share the Gospel with others.
  4. What we DO doesn't send us to Hell; it is what we DON'T DO. The rich man wasn't in Hell because of his riches or what he did with them. He was in Hell because He failed to believe what God had said.
  5. Bad things can still happen to Christian people. The difference is that God is always with them. Lazarus died in his poverty, but never gave up on trusting God. In eternity Lazarus was rewarded for his faithfulness.
Several points were "Aha!" moments for me, but for some reason the realization that, although Lazarus was a believer, he was still poor and sickly, stuck with me. So many times we fall for the fallacy that true Christians are healthy, wealthy and wise. God's Word proves otherwise, which oddly comforts me. I guess because it says poverty, sickness, and bad breaks in life are not a result of a lack of faith on my part.

What fallacies about Hell have you held onto?


©2013 Pamela D. Williams