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The Rich Man and Lazarus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 3, 2020 7:00 am

The Rich Man and Lazarus

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 3, 2020 7:00 am

A poor, sick man lies on the ground in front of a rich mans house, day after day, begging for food. The rich man comes and goes, ignoring him. The contrast between the two could hardly be greater. Eventually both men die. But, death is not the great leveler! The contrast between them is even greater in death than it was in life.

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A poor sick man lies on the ground in front of a rich man's house. Day after day begging for food. The rich man comes and goes ignoring him.

The contrast between the two could hardly be greater. Eventually both men died, but death is not the great leveler. The contrast between them is even greater in death than it was in life are welcome to the Bible study our radio and Internet program with Dr. James Bortz preparing you to think and act likely today we come to the fourth Dr. Boyce's messages on the parables of judgment in the end of his entire series on the parables of Jesus. This last story is one of the most vivid and poignant of all the parables and it paints a picture that's hard to forget the two main characters are the rich man whose name we don't know in a poor beggar named Lazarus and making a cameo appearance of the story is one of the most famous people in all of history father Abraham himself. The story is one of contrast one pet everything the other had nothing and if you believe popular Proverbs.

You might think. This contrast would be erased by death. You know you can't take it with you. We come into this world with nothing. We leave the same way.

Death is the great equalizer, but that's not the story Jesus tells the way Jesus tells at the contrasts only become more vivid after death lets us about together to Dr. Boyce and all the word of God. I don't believe I know a passage or story that is more starring and disturbing on the story of the rich man and Lazarus. The last stall of the parables of judgment in the last parable that we are considering in our overall survey of the parables of our Lord is certainly starring because it describes is great contrast between two man a rich man on a poor man describes them not only in their condition here upon earth, but in their condition and the life to come. As far as I know this is the only passage in the word of God that actually describes the words and thoughts and emotions of somebody who is and how I was. I said there are great contrast in the story and it's really only possible to understand it by the contrasts. Therefore, as we look at the story I want to take you through them first contrast is the obvious one contrast between the rich man and a poor man in the story begins. That way it describes the earthly condition of these two men was a rich man was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day at his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores wanting to eat what fell on the rich man's table.

Even the dogs came and licked his sores. I think it's important to recognize as we begin at this point with the earthly description of these man that there's nothing in the parable that condemns the rich man for being rich or praises poor man for being poor.

It is true that in this particular instance is were going to see the poverty and suffering of Lazarus was undoubtedly a source of blessing to him because he found Christ and salvation undoubtedly being moved by these things to seek out the way of God more perfectly and it is also true that the riches solve the rich man were in this instance occurs to him because he was satisfied with his riches and did not seek that only true satisfaction that comes through Christ, but in and of themselves, and insofar as the parable speaks, there is nothing said condemnatory of the riches in the one hand, or in praise of the poverty on the other. This is simply a description of two man this is the way things Warren. It's the way things are a rich man in hell and their rich men who have gone to heaven. There are poor man in hell and there are poor men who have gone to heaven. We look back in Scripture we find many of the saints were very well-off. Abraham was blessed abundantly. David and other people so there's nothing intrinsic in this, but you see here. You have this description and that's the starting point for the kind of contrast that our Lord goes on to develop a greater length throughout the parable this matter of poverty and suffering was undoubtedly a blessing to Lazarus and I think it's important to stress that because here was a man presumably who in his suffering was forced to draw close to God in a way rich man was not. No one is saved by poverty only way of salvation is through Christ, but presumably recognizing that he had no great earthly blessing here and sensing his need in a very acute way. Lazarus found the Lord meditating on the Scriptures, perhaps asking people about the Lord perhaps growing in his prayer life of meditation. Whatever the case, Lazarus did grow spiritually when the story goes on to show us as it doesn't do died we find Lazarus in the presence of God in heaven. So we have that contrast. I think at this point, the contrast has to be elaborated like this.

We start out with the fact that there is a rich man and a poor man but if we begin to look at it now, not from the point of view of the world, which see only that one dressed in fine linen and purple and the other beggar.

It is gate one rich, one poor, but instead of that, begin to see it from God's point of view, one without a knowledge of God and the other having found him we see that this first description was first contrast is actually misleading. In fact, entirely misrepresents the case.

We talk about a rich man and a poor man, but it would be far more correct to speak about the poor rich man, poor in spiritual things and on the other hand, the rich, poor man who is rich in the treasures of God.

Great lesson.

At that point the lesson is DOS not to look on things my outward appearances, but look on things as God looks we can see the heart that we can have the categories by which spiritual things in life itself or to be evaluated.

We have to say. At that point out all the riches in the world a lot. God is to be a popular worst of all beggars at the same time to be poor, even by the worst of the world's standards, but have Christ is to have all of his riches to have salvation. So there would be no desire on the part of Lazarus to change places with a rich man, because a rich man and his riches was actually poor, while Lazarus and his poverty was actually rich so yeah the first picture you have the picture of the rich man and the poor man in their earthly state and you see that the contrast is not merely between the rich man and the poor man, but between the rich man. It was actually poor and the poor man was actually rich so much for their earthly condition of the story goes on with the story tells us is a death game to both bad as it does to all the time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side rich man also died and was buried must been a sumptuous burial. After all, we attend the rich and their death doesn't say that Lazarus even had a burial we did. It was a Poppers burial cast into a common field but nevertheless whether they were married in Monterey are buried in poverty both died in for the first time in a certain sense, they became equal, as they became equal in their death.

Yet, you know, as we read on.

And even as we read here the account of their death, one being Barry the other being carried by the angels and Abraham's bosom were aware that even in their death. These two men were not equal. We have a saying that goes, death is the great equalizer we mean by that all are leveled out in death or perhaps we may even suggests the death somehow compensates for the sort of things we enjoy in this life is a popular view along those lines. One of the great expositors.

Perhaps the greatest expositor of this particular parable that I know was man saved in Scotland in the 19th century by the name of Brownlow North. He preached on this parable in a great revival in Ireland several years after his conversion, which was in 1854 a thousand is particular exposition as he works along the poor, particularly the indigents in his evangelistic work that he often came up against the view that said well I'm suffering now.

But that's all right because in the life to come. Everything's going to be okay going all equalize out I suffer here.

I'll be blessed that all these people were so rich and don't suffer anything now suffer then Brown's slow North was at pains to point out and point out, rightly, that is not what death is you read the story carefully. This is not what death is in the story. Death is an equalizer only in the sense that Aldine.

What we see as we explore the story that far from equalizing out the true state of the rich man as over against the true state of the poor man actually in their true state the differences that existed in this life or even intensified because his poor rich man became even poorer by his death and this rich poor man became even richer as they will.

How did the poor rich man become poor. After all, in this life. He had no God, that's true. He was without God in this life, and he was without God in the life to come. But in addition to losing laughter. Greatest of all losses, he lost his soul. That which was most dear to him. He lost all his riches. All his friends all his prestige and he lost everything that was of any value to him while he was still in this world so is true spiritual state was reflected undoubtedly in his heart many times over after death then here's Lazarus you say how did Lazarus is rich, poor man actually become richer. After all, didn't he have Christ life yes he did but he had them even more in life, and in addition without all of the suffering of this world. It was Donna not only the suffering of this world with the sin of this world clung even to his garments and ours as well. All of this was behind him now. Like faithful servants entered into the joy of his Lord. I think when we begin to reflect on that we need to stop and really pause and reflect deeply and we need to say what is the true state of my heart and soul here and now by one who was outwardly rich but inwardly poor. That's the case, by all means stop and take stock of that because your condition will not improve by death. You will be poor in the life to come. Do not have God now you will not find and then things will be worse in your loss will be even greater the other hand, if you have Christ you're rich now, in the matter what you may suffer in terms of earthly deprive nation scorn of friends or disappointments or even frustration or confusion. What sometimes happens even to believers no matter what you suffer along those lines, the riches that you have now will go on being richer, more abundance forever and ever in the presence of God was a source of all true riches and I think this is really what makes health so terrible that hell is a place of suffering, though it is, and Jesus himself says that it is by the it's a place where our loss becomes ever more acute in our pain becomes ever more real in her desperation becomes ever more evidence those who were there. See all of this is in the paragraph where we looked at the earthly condition of these men and we looked briefly at the death of these men look at 1/3 category and that is what happens to each of these men in the moments after death certain sense of Lazarus and his experience remained essentially the same.

He had found God in life and he had God in death and in the moments after death of those any difference at all with Lazarus was simply in a growing awareness and increasing appreciation and fulfillment of that which he already had. Not so with this rich man was actually poor. This man learned something. Those moments after death that T had not learned when he was in life, much to his heart and he grew in that knowledge, and I read this parable I find in verse 23 Luke 16 that in hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away as vision of heaven in a science. I don't know whether our Lord is using negative language here of such a nature that we can say beyond any question that those who are in hell can actually see those are in heaven. Those were in heaven can actually see those three and how it may be that we would be stretching the language of a parable to make that kind of a conclusion lesson if it's not a literal seeing that is a scene with the eyes, it is at least a mental saying a scene with the understanding because what our Lord is saying is that in that moment in the moment of his death, that we may not have had any thoughts for heaven whatsoever while he was on earth that man knew there was a heaven and a new that he wasn't in it. So he became richer and his knowledge in a way that he had not allowed himself to become enriched in life, I noticed something else about them not only to gain a certain knowledge of heaven which she had not been willing to think about before. He also did something that he was not willing to do before he began to pray. I don't mean by that. Of course being prosperous, well respected Jew with a heritage of the synagogue in the law that even praying a certain sense, as many Gentiles who have the benefit of the church in the knowledge of the New Testament, as well as the old, certainly pray certain sense we call it saying our prayers.

They have come to church. Is this man undoubtedly went to the synagogue and would recite certain things and think himself to be quite holy in the processes we do, was a stroke.

He was really praying there never been a genuine heart rending on this God seeking prayer from the lips of this matter all his life and now suddenly was dead in the first moments after death. This is what he does. He begins to pray sees Abraham afar off, and he begins to pray, Abraham, and he prays out of his agony and he prays that Abraham will send Lazarus, whom he had despised life but now valued to dip his finger in water and calm in touch the tip of his tongue but his thirst might be in part quench her relieved in his suffering alleviated so you say, although he wasn't religious in life. He certainly learned something about true religion and even began to practice it in the life, unfortunately, prayed wrongly and he prayed too late, but he was praying think the third thing he learns that is not only that, he learns about heaven, we learned the prayer was really what it was the third thing you learn this. What I just suggested he learned that his prayer was too late. There must've suffered what we would call the extremes of despair to finally see and find it is too late. It's hard to imagine any situation more tragic, but not to miss an opportunity is bad enough but then to know that you missed it and realize it is gone forever certainly be the kind of thing that lingers on and on in the heart. And indeed, in this particular case with on and on for year after year and age after age forever and ever. This is what Jesus says in the story.

This man realized that nothing could be done, learns that his prayers were too late.

I talked all through the story of the contrasts I thought about so many contrast I don't even know if I can recapitulate them all. But the greatest of all the contrast is the one we see now mainly now. Neither of these men is able to change his condition before our eyes before death was every opportunity to change this is a world of change and while there's light there is hope, spiritually speaking about now. Now this man learns to his dismay the day of opportunity has passed them by. That's really the way I want to conclude, but by focusing on his loss by focusing on the opportunity.

Although here.

This parable proclaims still have. I don't know if there are those in hello remember it from having heard it in their lifetimes. Probably there are those who today here.

This parable proclaims or none of them not one in the position of this rich man who prayed and prayed too late. There is still opportunity now is the time of repentance the day of salvation I was thinking as I thought about this parable of the scene from Christopher Marlowe's Dr. Faustus. Perhaps the classic treatment of the Faustus theme of the English language.

Christopher Marlowe wrote in beautiful verses. He told the story and has told it's such a winsome way that the lines low in some cases misleading or hard to forget Faustus story, you know, is one in which Faustus according to the legend, sold his soul to the devil for earthly gain knowledge and pleasure in such things is a false idea, perhaps even Christopher Marlowe knew it was false, but it was a popular theme.

It is time so we developed it is other people had the tells a story how Faustus goes through life prospering becomes the end of the time of the devil is coming and finds himself in absolute despair. There is this great final soliloquy by Dr. Faustus in which he bemoans his face one point he breaks out in the lab all lengths, a length, a clinic today mocked these aqueous means run slowly slowly horses of the night and then he explains his despair of the stars still move time runs the clock will strike the devil will, and Faustus must be Diane read those words and they*you, but those words are wrong.

While we live. It is not necessary that anyone be Diane because Christ is preached on the doors open on the way is before you. And Jesus said, he who cometh unto me I will never turn away and anyone will make up so I apply it that way you're living in. You hear my voice. There is opportunity to come determine your sin and place your faith in Jesus as it one thing more. Your destiny is not determined by your circumstances so you cannot say well I hear the invitation but I'm to rich to poor rhyme to all rhyme to young rhyme to educated rhyme to uneducated radios. Things you might throw up the circumstances of your life. It was Lazarus absolutely disadvantage so far as any human elements were concerned Lazarus life, Lazarus return for Vince in the way of salvation that God sets before us all them that way is open to anyone. So I commend that way to you that way is Jesus come to him by whatever road would come to him and incoming to him find eternal life.

Our great God and heavenly father we lay these concerns before you because these are matters of eternal destiny about which sinful, wicked, rebellious, ignorant men and women are far too little concerned, the very ones that need to think on these things and be frightened by the thought of hell and turn from sin and find Christ very ones that want to push it aside go on living for the moment, and for things and so suffer damnation. So father we lay before you and we ask that you will do through the preaching of your words.

The exposition of this parable from the mouth of our Lord at which no human being can ever do that is to move the heart to conquer the will to bring about new life and so leads those poor children of the darkness and your marvelous light of our father, we thank you for that like to let it shine through Jesus Christ, in whose name we pray. Amen. You are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding of worldview, drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by.

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