Today on Renewing Your Mind, A Rich Man and a Poor Beggar and Their Eternal Destinies.
Lazarus the beggar languished at the rich man's gate, never receiving any comfort from the man. But when both men died, the tables turned drastically. We continue Dr.
R.C. 's doctoral series, The Parables of Jesus, and in this fourth part, R.C. looks at one of the most sober warnings Jesus ever gave. In our last session, we considered the parable of the rich fool and how dangerous it is to put our trust in riches and to be obsessed with our possessions.
And so I wanted to move to a lighter theme on this one. And so in this session, I thought we'd talk about a parable that deals with hell. I'm going to be reading the parable that is often called the parable of Dives and Lazarus, or sometimes simply called the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.
The reason why the word Dives is in there is that that's really not a proper meaning. It's not that you have one man named Lazarus and the other man named Dives, but Dives in certain forms in Latin just simply means a rich man. And so he really is unnamed in this parable. But let's take a moment to look at this parable that Jesus gave.
We find this in chapter 16 of Luke's Gospel, beginning at verse 19. There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.
Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. And so it was that the beggar died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom. Then he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and likewise Lazarus' evil things, but now he is comforted and you are tormented.
And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there, pass to us. Then he said, I beg you therefore, Father, that you would send him to my father's house, for I have five brothers that he may testify to them lest they also come to this place of torment. Abraham said to him, they have Moses and the prophets let them hear them. And he said, no, Father Abraham, but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.
But he said to them, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead. This is a terrifying parable. It's a parable that focuses attention on severe contrast. The characters in the parable include in the first instance the rich man called Dives and the beggar named Lazarus. The rich man is described in the most opulent terms.
He dresses like royalty in purple and fine linen, and he fares sumptuously not once a year or once a month, but his sumptuous style of living is a daily matter. But in contrast to him, there was this beggar named Lazarus who obviously had some kind of incurable chronic skin disease that left his body covered with swords. He was not even able to move himself to the gate of the rich man, but had to be carried there presumably by friends. And there he was laid at the gate desiring to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table.
He was willing to live on the scraps of garbage, the leftovers that were thrown away from the sumptuous feasts of Dives. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores. Now, let me remind you that in Israel and Palestine, the dog was not man's best friend. The dog was not a household pet. The dogs were basically feral, and they were seen as the worst of the scavengers and were hated by people.
And yet, the dogs were kinder to this beggar than Dives was. I don't know whether you realize this, but I have to take medication that involves blood thinners, and so as a result, the slightest bump on my skin, and I start to bleed, and I have blotches and spots all over my arms, and so much so that my wife, one of her endearing nicknames for me is Spot, like the dog in our first-grade primer. She, Spot, run.
Well, Vesta's concerned about that. She's always putting Band-Aids on my arms, and our German Shepherd every night comes beside me, and all she wants to do is lick my wounds, and I have to shush her away. But the dog is concerned to try to give me the kind of healing treatment that the dog would give to herself if she had a wound or an injury of sorts. And so these scavenger dogs come and give the only relief to this poor beggar that he can get by having the dogs lick his wounds. And so we were told the beggar died, and as soon as he died, he was accompanied not by friends or by relatives, but by the angels of God, so that in his dying breath, as his eyelids closed to life in this world, the first thing that Lazarus saw after he died was the refulgent glory of the heavenly host, who picked this poor sorrowful beggar up in their arms and carried him to paradise and placed Lazarus in the bosom of Abraham. There's probably no more tender portrait of the mercy of heaven that we find anywhere in the Bible than in this illustration of the death of Lazarus, who was transported to heaven personally by angels. Nothing is said of his burial.
Nothing is said of a monument to him in this world. But we read that the rich man also died, and he was buried, and where he went was not to the bosom of Abraham. He was not carried in glory by the angels of God, but was sent to be tormented in hell. And there he lifted up his eyes, and he could see into the heavens, and he could see this miserable beggar now being grasped in the arms of Abraham in glory. And he cried out. Notice, he doesn't cry out to God.
There's no cry of repentance. He cries to Abraham and asks Abraham to do something to ameliorate his condition. He says, Father Abraham, have mercy on me. Send Lazarus. You know Lazarus. He's just a beggar. He's a servant, and you're the great patriarch Abraham.
You have the authority to send servants like this wherever you want to send them. So I'm asking you, Abraham, send that servant Lazarus over here to me, and he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame. All I want is just the tip of his finger dipped in water that it might touch my tongue to give me that much relief. I had a professor once who said to me that the sinner in hell would give everything he had and do everything he could to make the number of his sins in this life one less, just to get one ounce less of torment.
That is more horrible than any of us can ever contemplate. But here's the man who fared sumptuously every day begging for a drop of water, one drop of water on his tongue. But Abraham replied, Son, do you remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and likewise Lazarus' evil things, but now he's comforted and you were tormented. The situation has reversed itself, hasn't it, Son? But Diocese, it's too late.
You should have done this while you were alive. You didn't care at all about the suffering of this man, and now you want this man to come and minister to you in the midst of your torment. It's too late. But not only that, he says, and this I think is perhaps the heaviest part of the whole parable, besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us. Don't you understand, Diocese, that between you down there and us up here in the bosom of Abraham, there is an immeasurable chasm, an unbridgeable chasm.
There's no material in the world strong enough to build a bridge over this chasm. You are where you are, and you're there forever, and there's no way that you can come here from here, or Lazarus can leave here and go to you. Don't you understand that on your side of this gulf, on your side of the chasm, there are no provisions for parole. The sentence that has been given to you is forever. There is no hope of future probation. You had your probation.
There is no hope for a court of appeals that'll get you out of there and free you for another place, and don't even entertain the idea of a second chance. But Abraham, isn't everybody entitled to a second chance? Abraham said, I don't read anywhere in Scripture that God gives such an entitlement program to anybody, but even if He did, how long ago did you use yours up? You've been living on second and third and fourth chances all your life, and you've had no repentance, no compassion, totally self-absorbed and self-centered, and you scoffed at the idea that there might be a day of accountability, and that God, this good and loving and gracious God, could be so mean and nasty as to put you in this place of torment, but has not His only begotten Son warned you again and again and again? Don't you know that Jesus taught more about hell than He did about heaven? Don't you know that the Lord Jesus Christ said that at the judgment every idle word that we've ever spoken, not every sober word, not every practice word, not just every intentional word, but those things that just roll off our tongues so easily, these idle, frivolous things that we say, every one of those words will come in to the judgment, and not one thing will escape the Father's notice, and at that judgment every tongue will be stopped.
And you will realize that any excuse that you try to give will be a waste of air because you can't argue and debate with a perfect judge who knows all things. But I'm sorry, my son, that you just can't get here from there, and Divae's understood. And now he becomes the beggar. This parable started identifying Lazarus as the beggar.
Now it's Divae. He agrees. He doesn't just ask a question. He starts to beg. He said, I beg you therefore Father, that you would send him, that is Lazarus, to my father's house. If you can't send them to me, and if there's an unbridgeable chasm between you and me, and Lazarus can't cross it, at least send them to my father's house.
I have five brothers. I don't want to meet them here. And let Lazarus testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment. Abram said, you want me to send Lazarus on a mission trip from heaven? Go to your house and give a special revelation to your brothers? I should interrupt his felicity that he enjoys here in his father's kingdom? So he can go to your house and talk to your brothers?
Are you kidding me? What do they need Lazarus for? They have Moses. But don't you have a Bible at your house?
They have the prophets? Let your brothers hear them. Divae says, no. No, that's no good. That won't do it. That's not going to convince my brothers.
Don't you know, my brothers are worldly. They're hardened in their heart. They're not tuned in to spiritual things. They think that the law of Moses and the prophecies of the prophets of the Old Testament is just so much bunk.
They're not going to pay any attention to that. But if somebody comes to them from the dead, somebody who's been there like Lazarus, then maybe they'll listen to him, and they will repent. He obviously understood that his brothers needed to repent. And if they didn't repent, they were going to end up exactly where he is. But Abraham answered him and said, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded.
They're one rise from the dead. Jesus is telling the people who are listening to this, you don't listen to Moses. You don't listen to the prophets. And when my Father raises me from the dead, you still won't listen. And the reason you won't listen is because you don't want to listen. And you don't have ears to hear. And the reason why you don't have ears to hear is because you don't want to have ears to hear. Because you don't want God in your thinking, and you certainly don't want hell in your thinking.
It scares me to death. This is one of the most sober warnings that we ever received from our Lord in this passage, warning us that now is the time for us to seal our eternity. Because once we die, it's too late, and it's too far. Let's pray. Father, help us to hear Moses and the prophets, to hear Jesus. We ask it in His name. Amen. The parable of Lazarus and the rich man has been our focus today on Renewing Your Mind.
I'm Lee Webb. Thank you for being with us. As we make our way through this series with Dr. R.C. Sproul, we're learning Jesus' purpose in telling parables and the meanings behind them.
The series covers 12 of these stories from Jesus, including the parable of the hidden treasure, the parable of the workers in the vineyard, and the parable of the unforgiving servant. We'd like to send you the full series on two DVDs. Just contact us today with your donation of any amount to Ligonier Ministries. You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343, or if you'd prefer to give your gift online, our web address is renewingyourmind.org. When you give your donation and make your request, the video lessons will be added to your learning library so you can begin watching them right away while you wait for the DVDs to arrive.
You'll have access both on your computer and on the free Ligonier app. So again, request The Parables of Jesus by Dr. R.C. Sproul.
Our web address again is renewingyourmind.org, or phone number, 800-435-4343. If you found a huge treasure, what would you do with it? Tomorrow R.C. tells us about the parable of the pearl of great price, so valuable it's worth selling everything to obtain. We'll learn more tomorrow on Renewing Your Mind. .
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