The Center Fellowship
The Center Fellowship

The Rich Man and Lazarus – Part 2

Richard: All right. Next week, we will probably finish up the parable… We will finish the parable out. Well, next week we are going to look at the…we’re going to look at the… at Lazarus. And what we learned about heaven. And then we’re also going to consider the significance of the Five Brothers that Lazarus wants to go and won. So that’s what we’ll do next week. And then we’ll meet one more week and then we’ll have rich man of the week of the 20th, or excuse me, on the 20th which is that will be the week of the 16th. So I hope you’ll find somebody to bring. I thought to dare you seek. This is the one of the future… he’s already got the message prepared. Sometimes he doesn’t prepare until the night before; sometimes he’s on the way over to the club, and seriously, one time he got half way through the message and decide to change it. So, very unique. He’s got to prepare. So I think it’s going to be really a good message. And that would be November the 20th. I’m going to go back and I’m going to read the parable, and make a few brief from Mark on what we talked about last week and then kind of lock in to this morning for lesson.

This is Luke Chapter 16, beginning in verse 19. “Now there was a rich man and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate covered with sores and then longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table. Besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. And the rich man also died and was buried. In hell, he lifted up his eyes being in torment and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham have mercy on me and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue for I am in agony in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things and likewise Lazarus bad things but now he is being comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all these between us and you, there is a great chasm fixed so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able. And that none may cross over from there to us.” And he said, “Then I beg you Father that you send him to my father’s house for I have five brothers in order that he may warn them so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” But he said, “No father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead they will repent.” But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”

Now, last week, we spent most of our time considering the issue of hell and what we can learn about hell from the Scriptures. Not only from the Scriptures but from this parable because it’s clearly, we learn it’s a place of agony, it’s a place of torment, and it’s a place that no one really will ever want to end up. And then we ended last week by considering or really asking the question if that is true, if there is everlasting torment, then, what should our lives be about particularly as we consider those in our lives who may not have a relationship with Christ? And it’s our responsibility. Now this morning, I want to focus on the Rich Man and Lazarus. Because the questions that kind of would keep coming up last week as we read this parable is, “Did the rich man go to hell because he was indifferent to the poor?” And the answer of that is no, “Did he go to hell because he was rich?” And the answer to that is no, “Or the poor man go to heaven because he was humble and poor?” And the answer is no. And we’re going to look at what we learned from this parable as far as where these men ended up.

Now, Keller said, Tim Keller says that when you ever you read a parable and I’ve gone and checked and this is pretty much true, that to really understand the meaning of a parable, you got to go and look at, who is Jesus speaking to when He gives out a parable, when He teaches a parable. And so in this particular instance we need to go back to verses 14 and 15 because what does He say? What do we learn there? In verses 14 and 15 it says, “Now the Pharisees who were lovers of money were listening to all of these things, who were scoffing at Him.” And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves in the sight of men but God knows your hearts. But that which is how are you esteemed among men is detestable in the sight of God.” And you know guys, if you read the Gospels closely and carefully, what you realize is that you can really learn a lot about the Pharisees. A lot is revealed about the Pharisees. One of the things that we note is that they were very self-righteous and you see that in Luke 18 in the parable of the Pharisee and the tax collector. We know that they loved to be honored by men. We read that last week. They loved to be recognized. And at one point, I’ve read and this is the one that really kind of gets me that I think is very revealing, is Jesus calls them white wash tombs. Why would He used that term? What is a white wash tomb?

Audience: One that looks good.

Richard: Yes, it’s painted. It looks great on the outside, but on the inside, it’s just full of bones. In other words, they look great on the outside, but inside, in their innermost being they are spiritually dead. [Inaudible sound 00:07:12.09] And here in Luke 16 we learned that the Pharisees, they love money. In fact, they were quite wealthy, they had a lot of a… they had a lot of power in this culture. Even though it was ruled by the Romans, The Romans kind of look to the religious leaders to run the show. They were in power, and therefore they were in a position to accumulate great wealth. And so here we learn, they love money but we also learn that they didn’t think much of Christ, it says they scoffed at Him. Some translation say they sneered at Him. So, if you read out the Gospels, and you did a study on the Pharisees, you will learn a lot about them. And Jesus did not hold them in very high regard. But I think one of the things that [Inaudible sound 00:08:12.24] we should recognize in this [Inaudible sound 00:08:16.20] is that as we focus in on this rich man, I think he is somewhat of a picture of what Jesus describes in Mark, Chapter 8. He really asks a question, keep your finger in Luke and turn back to Mark 8 if you would. Mark 8.

[Gap 00:08:36.18]
[Gap 00:08:46.01]

Richard: When you look at Verses 36 and 37. Hey Bishop, will you read those for us Mark 8:36 and 37?

Bishop: “What good is it for someone to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul.”

[Gap 00:09:10.10]
[Gap 00:09:13.27]

Richard: This I think describes the rich man. I think this describes a lot of men that we probably rub shoulders with. I mean, think of the people you know that are really out there trying to conquer the world or gain the world so to speak. And the thing that you have to recognize is that how many men or women are out there who have no idea that if something doesn’t change they are on the process of forfeiting their souls for all eternity, and that seems to be good, I … how do you think this is one of God’s great warnings in this parable. He’s saying, “Don’t let the pursuit of wealth burned you to judgment day issues.” Because that’s what happen. Remember Proverbs 11:04 it says, “Riches do not profit, they will not profit you in any way on the day of wrath.” And this is why, I believe Jesus says that rich people have a hard time getting in to heaven, it’s not because they’re rich, it’s because of the pursuit of wealth and the attainment of wealth burned them and they have no idea that they are forfeiting their soul. It’s like there’s this trade off. And I think it’s quite clear guys if a person gains the world and forfeits his soul, his lost is great. It’s eternal, because…and you see it in this parable that we are reading that such a choice is final. Death closes the door to God’s grace, because what we’re reading in verse 26, “Between us and you there is a great chasm that is fixed. So that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able and that none may cross over from there to us.” And so, at this point as we read it, what can a man give in exchange for his soul? Nothing. Psalm 49:8 says, “That the redemption of a man’s soul is costly and the price that one will pay will never suffice,” you have nothing that you can pay in exchange for your soul for the redemption of your soul. The only thing, there is only one thing in life that can redeem a man’s soul and that’s the blood of Christ. That’s it. And it was very costly to God. And we are the great benefit, beneficiary. “For you know the grace of our Lord, Jesus Christ, that though He was rich yet for your sake He became poor so that you through His poverty might be rich.” We learned this in First Peter in Chapter 1, verses 18 and 19. It says, “We were not redeemed with perishable things like gold and silver but with the precious blood as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ.” Let me stop here and may I have comment or a question on what I have said.

[Inaudible 00:12:45.07]
[Inaudible 00:12:59.15]

Richard: So true. Yes it is easy to kind of like gang up and beat up on this Pharisees and say, “I’m glad I am not like them,” and that what the Pharisee says in that parable. “I’m glad I’m not like other men swindlers, adulterers and even that tax gatherer over there. I tithe, I fast, I do all of this.” Anybody else? Well, before we go forward I want to stay and kind of focus on this rich man for a minute, because I think we should ask, what is the right perspective then, on money? So, I’m not blinded by. Maybe we would ask. Am I blinded? Let’s do this, let’s go back to Matthew. Let’s go back to Matthew and then we’ll go and turn to the Old Testament real briefly. Matthew Chapter 6 verses 19 and 20. Ben, how about…would you read those for us? Matthew 6, 19 to 21? These are verses we’re all familiar with.

Ben: All right. Matthew 6:19, “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”

Richard: All right. We’re all familiar with these verses, we uphold on before. But I think what is even more significant on the next two verses which when people read it, they scratch their head saying, “I don’t really know that I understand what He’s saying.” Ben how about read those too? Twenty-two and 23.

Ben: “The eye is the lamp of the body. If your eyes are good, your whole body will be full of light. But if your eyes are bad, your whole body will be full of darkness. If then the light within you is darkness, how great is that darkness.”

Richard: What is that about?

[Crosstalk 00:15:22.17]

Richard: It’s your perception of reality. It’s the lens to which you see light and Jesus is saying that it’s critical that your perspective, your perception of reality is rooted in God’s truth. Because when it is, it says your life will be full of light, you’ll see clearly, particularly as it relates to money and wealth. He said, “But if your perception of reality is rooted in falsehood then your life will be full of darkness, and you’ll stumble and you’ll fall through life.” What He makes as reference right after He talks about money and I think what we see in this parable is this is true with this rich man. He walked in the darkness, his perception of reality was rooted in falsehood. So, thus, it’s crucial that we have an accurate perception on money and wealth. And have an accurate perception on its place in our lives and its role in the eternal. So what is the right perspective? What is the perspective that’s rooted in God’s truth? Well, probably there’s a lot of teaching on these, but I think maybe the best picture of the man who got it right was David at the end of his life. Now, we’ve look at this before it’s been awhile, but we’ve look at this before but I want to ask you to turn back to the Old Testament, to First Chronicles. And while we’re doing that, there you might have a comment or question?

Audience: Before I can go on I know that you talked about in that verse the fact that it’s all … there’s a lot of perspective is that God owns everything and it works where’s your Spirit of it whenever when the spirit of the manager of someone else’s inspire us and we’ve been after that…to benefit that person. Whatever you did, whatever you said you made it to benefit that person is with God.

Richard: Yes, in fact, you’re just kind of so much fun to hear but that’s okay. But he’s right; it’s kind of like if you are a money manager and say, some elderly person who doesn’t know how to manage money. Says, here, I want you to manage this for me. That’s kind of what he… that’s kind of what a steward is. He doesn’t own it, he’s just managing it. Is there anybody in First Chronicles 29? This is, David is about to die. In fact, he dies in this chapter. And it’s at the end of his life and this is the time when Israel is kind of added seen it. It’s powerful militarily, economically, spiritually, morally. Israel was in a good place, but he’s getting ready to hand the baton off to Solomon. But he gathers the assembly together and look at what he says, verses 10 through 16. Jim… you want to read that for us? First Chronicles 29: 10 through 16. And as Jim reads ask yourself, what can we learn from David’s words about the right perspective on money and wealth. Jim.

Jim: “Therefore David blessed the Lord in the presence of all the assembly. And David said: “Blessed are you, O Lord, the God of Israel our father, forever and ever. Yours, O Lord, is the greatness and the power and the glory and the victory and the majesty, for all that is in the heavens and in the earth is yours. Yours is the kingdom, O Lord, and you are exalted as head above all. Both riches and honor come from you, and you rule over all. In your hand are power and might, and in your hand it is to make great and to give strength to all. And now we thank you, our God, and praise your glorious name. But who am I, and what is my people, that we should be able thus to offer willingly? For all things come from you, and of your own have we given you. For we are strangers before you and sojourners, as all our fathers were. Our days on the earth are like a shadow, and there is no abiding. O Lord our God, all this abundance that we have provided for building you a house for your holy name comes from your hand and is all your own.”

Richard: This is a prayer. So David is offering us a prayer to God. And what can we glean from this? As far as if you think about on the right perspective on money.

Jim: I would say in verse 10 despite me it says, the [Inaudible 00:20:52.04] will say [Inaudible 00:20:56.26] about God.

Richard: Yeah that’s great. That’s a great point. He publicly and he’s acknowledges all these …these assembly of people and what a great testimony it is as he comes to the end of his life. What else?

Audience: We don’t have anything, you’ve got it all.

Richard: That’s… that’s it; in fact, I want to come back to that because… what a…David first and foremost recognizes that everything that he has comes from the hand of God. And as we’ve said this is a key for being humble. Because if you don’t see everything as coming from the hand of God, and when anything goes your way you think I did this, look how great I am. [Inaudible sound 00:21:45.21] [Inaudible sound 00:21:48.28] Then… and I would [Inaudible 00:21:50.03] of great importance, and I ask [Inaudible 00:21:54.26] why [Inaudible 00:21:59.05]? He is…one of the part of his prayer he says, “And we give you thank.” How often do you thank God? For the weak forces that He is entrusted you with. I mean do we really give Him thanks? Do we acknowledge this comes from your hand and I am grateful? I think that’s critical guys that on a daily basis whatever you have, you should be really thankful for and acknowledge that. And then, you also… [Inaudible 00:22:34.04] [Inaudible 00:22:38.22] basically they gave the money to build the temple. [Inaudible 00:22:42.23] see your generosity [Inaudible 00:22:45.22] here and [Inaudible 00:22:48.29] is very important [Inaudible 00:22:51.15] the key, I think the key is in verse 16 when he said, right at the very end he says, you know he found out you…we talked about, “this abundance that we have provided they build you a house for your holy name it’s from your hand.” And then what did he say?

Audience: All is yours.

Richard: All is yours. [Inaudible 00:23:18.19] you [Inaudible 00:23:20.28]. Again do we see that? Do we recognize that? That all of this is ultimately His. Let me read to you from Psalm 50 verses 10-12. This is God talking, and this is what He says about everything in this life. He says for, “Every beast of the forest is mine, the cattle on a thousand hills, I know every bird of the mountains and everything that moves in the field is mine.”

Audience: Amen.

Richard: He said, “If I were hungry I would not tell you for the world is mine and all that it contain.” You know guys, what he’s saying there all of your assets are not truly yours. You know, you can lose everything you have and it can happen if God pleases or desires for it to happen; and the quickest way to separate a man from his wealth is to take you out of this life and then you’re separated from Him. You know what Jesus is inferring in that parable? That…I think it’s in Luke 12, the Rich Fool. The rich fool plans on storing up all there is he could tear on his barns and then he can say at the end of the day, then I’ll… [Inaudible 00:24:54.09] soul you can take it easy. You’re secure, you can eat, drink and be merry; and what does Jesus seem to say about it, He calls him what?

Audience: Fool.

Richard: “You fool. For this very night, your soul may be required of you and then who will own all that you possessed.” So, if in fact, all that we have ultimately is God’s. And I think it is important that we acknowledge that. Well, this is all yours, you’ve entrusted me with it. And so that it’s all His, what does that make us? As Gary said we’re steward, we’re managers. And so that is a really good question that we need to step back and ask. How well are we managing God’s resources that had been entrusted to us? In fact, in that kind of what he says back right before He shares this parable in Luke 16. In Luke 16:11 what does He say? He says, “Therefore if you have not been faithful to use of unrighteous wealth, who will entrust the true riches to you?” So this is a big issue, managing the resources that God has entrusted to us. Comments anybody?

Jim: That was another great phrase in Psalm 39:4 to 6, it says, because he’s had rather brevity and life and at the end of it he says he amasses riches and does not know who will gather in.

Richard: That was Psalm 39 is one of my favorite psalms and they remind me Solomon that he even says that in Ecclesiastes, didn’t he?

[Cross talk 00:27:06.08]

Richard: Yes one side of that who’s going nowhere. There are wise men or fools going to have it? But he said it’s all vanity. Anybody else?

Billy Graham: You know Richard I think what’s going on here is the solution that if we have enough money we can be like God and be in control. So I mean it’s there, is that is that balancing. If you think you don’t stock it up it might be fair I mean I would care that I use barn and build three more and then you truly did and you realize the solution and you’re saying, man where did I go wrong?

Richard: Amen, yes. I like what Billy Graham says about money. He says, “If a person gets his heart and attitude about money straight, it’ll help him straight up almost every other area of his life. And I think he’s right. If we get this right. That it impacts so many other areas of our life. But if we are blinded by it, it too impact all the other areas of our life in a negative way, in a destructive way. Because if you think about it and you know this; money can really be used for a lot of good things, even good things for your family. But on the other hand, the Bible doesn’t really talk as much about that as it does warn us about its corrupting influence; because if you think about it. Though money can be used to a lot of good things if money corrupts you, if it corrupts your wife, if it corrupts your kids, it’s not a blessing, it’s a curse. And so it’s important that we get this right and really apply a lot of what David had prayed in his prayer.

Anybody else? We don’t move on if we really look at the rich man and Lazarus and gain or understanding their lives why they ended up where they ended. Anybody? Well go back in Luke 16 in the parable. Go back to verse 25. Where it says, you know, during your life you receive good… we don’t focus on the rich man; you receive good things. And Keller says in a sermon that he gave on this parable, is that this is the same language the word good that the Greek philosophers used. As they debated, what is the ultimate good in life? What is the sum mum bonum, the ultimate good? And they debated this. What is the ultimate good in life? What is the thing we should be living for? And I think this is what this parable is all about. But guys it’s hard to see it if you don’t understand the term that you use to describe this to men. As I mentioned last week, though we didn’t really delve into it; is that the poor man is given a name. This is the only parable were someone is given a name; and the name that he is given is very intentional. The name Lazarus, because Lazarus, the word Lazarus literally means “God is my help.” God is my help, and so, clearly Lazarus represents the person who lives with the dependence on God, particularly for salvation. I mean, this is… we’ve been talking about this over the last few weeks. So many people depend on themselves to their salvation, for their works. But this word Lazarus literally means, “No, I depend completely on God particularly for my salvation.” And so for Lazarus though he was poor, his ultimate good, his ultimate hope, his ultimate help was God. And therefore, Lazarus built his life and his identity on God himself.

But when you consider the rich man we see something else, he’s just known as the rich man. And that is the only time you really see that term in the parable, he was the rich man. The rich fool, we just call him that, he was called fool, he wasn’t called rich, but he had great wealth because he had a prosperous business going. But this rich man completely built his life around his wealth. You see the rich man doesn’t have a name because that is all he is. He has built his life on his wealth and if his wealth is gone, his identity is gone. And I think this happens so easily to men in our culture. Because think about when a man loses his job, or maybe loses his title, or loses his business or his wealth is depleted. It can so easily destroy man, because it makes him feel that my life now I don’t have to die anymore, I don’t have any worth anymore, because they’d lost their identity. This is what Keller says. He says, “If you build your identity on anything but God and then something jeopardizes that thing or something goes wrong in that area, you’re not just unhappy, there’s no you left. That means you don’t feel viable and you don’t know what you’re living for. You don’t even know who you are because what happens in your life. There is an identity meltdown. And I don’t know about you but I’ve seen that happen particularly when we went through this last economic downturn. Then you had so much you never thought they would ever lost everything.

Any questions? Any comment? I will make one final observation on this rich man it’s very important and it’s in verse 24. And he said, he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger and water and cool off my tongue for I am in agony in the flame.” Now, while living on earth, the rich man was kind of on top and Lazarus was always on the bottom of the heat. Now that is completely reversed, but what do you notice about the rich man?

Audience: He’s still clinging to his riches?

Richard: Yes. He’s order… he’s… send Lazarus to me. He’s giving orders; he’s still clinging to his status as a rich man. There’s a guy by the name of Joe Green who is a very prominent Bible scholar and he wrote a commentary on the book of Luke and let’s see what he says about this rich man. He says, “It’s astonishing the level of denial, the level of out of touch with reality you see here in this rich man’s life. Obviously on the one hand, the man is depicted as understanding that he is in torment, he says, “I’m in agony,” but on the other hand, he’s absolutely blind to what has actually happened to him. He is completely in denial about what’s happened. He still thinks he is in-charge; he’s still holding to that all identity factor: his status, his place, his position. You see nothing’s change. And you know what else? Notice he’s not asking to get out of there. He clearly understands repentance because he says, “If you send someone from the dead, maybe my brothers will then repent.” So, he understands repentance but you don’t see in that in his life. He still has the same identity. You know I was reading the other morning in Psalm 86 and in verse 5 it says, “God is ready, He is ready to forgive, and He wants to forgive.” He goes on and say, “He wants to surround us with His loving kindness.” But he’s then and goes on and says, “But he only gives it to those who cry out to him.” And you don’t see this, in this rich man. And that’s why, I think Keller’s right, he said, “Hell is just you’re freely chosen false identity that will go on forever.” Anybody would like to comment on this?

Audience: I don’t think its coincidence with Lazarus’s, named Lazarus; they get to talk about that Lazarus rise from the dead. You know…

[Cross talk 00:37:41.07]

Richard: Amen. And that’s why one of the prayers that I pray almost daily, you know it’s quite a home what you just said this. And I encouraged you to pray this prayer. It’s Hebrews 13:5 it says, “Let your way of life, be free from the love of money, being content with what you have.” And pray and ask that God would deliver you from any love that you have of money that’s improper and if you…

Audience: [Inaudible 00:38:27.09]

Richard: It is, it is. Well, it says, in verse 25? But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your… is that what you’re talking about?

Audience: Yes. [Inaudible 00:38:40.15]

Richard: Yes, I didn’t notice that. That’s a good point. We’re going to focus on next week. We’re going to focus on Lazarus; we’ll come back to that. I’ll look into that stage. Anybody else? I want to leave us with C.S. Lewis’s word, I read these two weeks ago and I will make a couple of comments on it. Because, I think this is very appropriate as we look at this rich man. He says, “In the long run, the answer to all of those who object to the doctrine of hell is a question. What are you asking God to do? Are you asking Him to wipe out past sins? And at all cost give them a fresh start? Oh, He’s done that. This is what he did at Calvary; this is what he did at the cross. To forgive them? He says they won’t ask for forgiveness. So, to leave them alone, I’ll ask I’m afraid that is what is just what He must do. Because that’s what hell is: complete separation from God, and so that they are completely left alone. The wrath of Him and His presence. And C.S. Lewis in what I just read to you early is saying what the Apostle Paul said, in Romans 1, verse 24, where he says, “God gave them up, so they could follow their desires, He gave them up so that they could follow their desires.” In other words, All God does is give people what they want most. And he’s saying, “If you want to build your life around something else, if you want to live this life without me, I’ll let you, I’ll let you.” And that’s why Lewis asks, “What could be more fair? What could be more fair?”

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