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The Billionaire and the Beggar, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 13, 2024 12:00 am

The Billionaire and the Beggar, Part 1

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 13, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here: https://wfth.me/pap.  Our world finds hell too disturbing, too painful, too seemingly cruel, too convicting to talk about. Some pastors and teachers have watered down the orthodox teaching of hell, saying instead that hell is not painful, or not permanent, or not real. But Jesus' teachings on hell are clear, and so are the lessons we need to learn from it. For the believer, if the reality of hell isn’t spurring on your evangelism, you don't understand it well enough. And for the unbeliever, if the reality of hell isn’t causing you to turn to God for mercy, you haven't yet realized the eternal judgment that right now awaits you--but can be avoided.

 

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His only hope for survival is described here in verse 20. Lazarus was covered with sores who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table.

Your translation may read crumbs, pieces of bread. Now if you don't feel sorry for his hopeless state here given described by the Lord, the Lord adds one more description in verse 21. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. Our world finds hell too disturbing, too painful, too seemingly cruel, and too convicting to talk about. In fact, some pastors and teachers have watered down the orthodox teaching of hell. They teach instead that hell is not painful, and it's not permanent, and it's not real.

But Jesus' teachings on hell are clear, and so are the lessons we need to learn from it. I'm glad you've joined us today here on Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey has a lesson for you today that's not fun or pleasant to think about, but it's the truth, and you need to understand and believe it. The former director of the CIA told this story, a true story, humorous story. He was speaking at a conference on global organized crime, and FBI agents had been conducting an investigation in a San Diego psychiatric hospital looking for evidence related to rampant medical insurance fraud. They knew it was there.

After a long day without really having stopped so much as to eat a meal, they had reviewed thousands of records that day. One of the agents looked out the window and noticed there was a pizza parlor across the street. So they pulled their money together, and this agent called over to order a delivery. The telephone conversation was recorded by the FBI.

They'd been in the process of taping all incoming and outgoing phone calls. So a pizza parlor employee, a young man, answers the phone. The agent says hello. I'd like to order 19 pepperoni pizzas and 67 cans of Coke. The pizza guy says, okay, that'll take about an hour. Where would you like it delivered? Across the street. You want 19 pizzas delivered to the psychiatric hospital?

That's right. And who are you? I'm an FBI agent. You're an FBI agent.

Well, yeah, there are a lot of us over here. We're hungry. Is that right? That's right. And by the way, deliver the pizzas around the back.

The front doors are locked. We'll see you soon. Pizza guy says, I don't think so. Oh, I would have too. I would have too. Have you ever thought about the fact that when you talk to people out there in the traffic pattern of your life about Christ and the Gospel, when you talk to them about a creator God, when you talk about the wrath of God that we sung about, the judgment of God, which we sung about being rescued from, they think you need help.

They might even tell you you're out of your mind. I have to admit to you, beloved, that if it wasn't for the Bible, there are things I wouldn't believe. The truth is the same Bible that introduces us to the truth about heaven and eternal joy is the same Bible that introduces us to the truth about hell and eternal judgment. Vance Habner and evangelist from North Carolina, I've listened to some of his old recordings, he's been with the Lord now for decades, but he preached in a country church on the subject of hell one Sunday morning. And after the service a farmer came up to him, very upset, disturbed, and he said, Mr. Habner, I don't think you should preach at all about hell. You just ought to preach about the meek and lowly Jesus. Vance Habner said, well, he's the one who gave me the information about hell.

Think about it. Jesus spoke often of it. In fact, he warned his audience of it more than any other referenced in the New Testament.

J.I. Packer put it this way when he said Jesus is the chief exponent of the doctrine of eternal punishment. And since he created hell, he knew what he was talking about. It seems he never forgot about it.

And he never concealed the truth about it from his audience. What Jesus is about to give us the only testimony in scripture from someone who had died and gone to this place of torment. He's going to reveal one of the most graphic warnings ever delivered to mankind. And that's where we find our place now back in the gospel by Luke, where we left off.

We're now in chapter 16. And it's perhaps called or entitled in your Bibles, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. Now, before we dive into the passage, it immediately raises a couple of questions. And and so I want to answer these two questions before we get into the encounter. First, is this a parable? And secondly, is Hades a real place? First, is this a parable? Now, I don't have time to give you all of the opinions out there. I only have time to give you the correct one.

So listen fast. One of the key reasons I personally believe, even though good men are divided, that this is a real encounter, is that the Lord in his parables never names anyone except here. They are clearly fictional characters in his parables that he intends to use to deliver a truth.

And so you'll hear about the prodigal son or the older brother or the woman who lost a coin or the man who found the pearl of great price. But in this text, Jesus gives us the name of the beggar, Lazarus. Now, this isn't the same Lazarus that he'll raise from the dead a little later on. That's a different Lazarus. In fact, this is a very common name in the days of Jesus. It's the New Testament counterpart to the Old Testament name Eliezer. It means God is my helper, which is ironic because it seems to mock this particular man.

It seems obvious that God is not helping him at all. Now let me say, even if it were a parable, keep in mind that Jesus used parables to teach real, literal truths. The truths the Lord delivers here are going to effectively pull back the curtains and give us a glimpse of life after death. I also want to say this, that what Jesus is about to reveal in this text is consistent with what he's preached and will preach about judgment and eternal torment. In Matthew's Gospel, chapter 13, verses 36 to 42, we read that Jesus left the crowds and went into the house. He told a parable. It's communicating real truths.

That happens here. The disciples came to him and said, explain to us the parable of the weeds of the field. And he answered, the field is the world. The good seed is the sons of the kingdom. The weeds are the sons of the evil one and the enemy who sowed them as the devil.

The harvest is the end of the age. And the reapers are angels. Just as the weeds are gathered and burned with fire, so will it be at the end of the age, the son of man will send his angels and they will gather out of his kingdom all causes of sin, all all-breakers, that is all unbelievers, and throw them into the fiery furnace. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth. Over in Matthew 25 and verse 46, Jesus says, and these will go away into eternal punishment, referring to the unbeliever, but the righteous into eternal life. And Jesus significantly uses the same word eternal for both punishment and life. By the way, the only reason we know we're going to be in heaven forever.

Can you imagine that? How do we know God after a trillion years isn't going to say, Stephen, it's been great, but kind of tired of you. Poof. How do I know? He says it's eternal.

I own us. See, we don't just believe the word of God. We believe the words of God. Of course, the horrifying truth on the other side is that judgment is eternal. Now, somebody might say, you know, Stephen, you shouldn't try to, you know, frighten people. You ought to skip this passage and get to something a little nicer. Jesus wouldn't want people to be afraid, would he? Well, just listen to Jesus preach back in Luke chapter 12.

We dealt with this earlier, but I'll review it. Verse 5, Jesus says, but I will warn you whom to fear. There's somebody you ought to be afraid of. Fear him who has authority to cast into hell. Yes, I tell you, fear him. It sounds like he's telling us we ought to be afraid of God, at least as it relates to judgment. Back in Matthew's account, Jesus again says we ought to fear God in his coming judgment. He says in Matthew 10, 28, and do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul.

Rather, fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell. Now, those who don't believe that hell and judgment are eternal run to this verse, typically, and they say, well, this is clear to us. God can extinguish both the body and the soul, which he will do evidently after some period of time, perhaps matching how evil they were in life.

Well, that's a philosophical argument that is not an exegetical argument. In fact, Jesus makes a point to change the verb here from kill to destroy. The verb to destroy never means to annihilate. It means to bring to ruin. It means to allow corruption to come in. He uses the same verb, by the way, earlier when he referred to old wine skins that were ruined.

They were unable to do what they were originally created to do. So this verse is actually a warning that you ought to fear God more than people. Why? Because people might be able to kill your body, but God has designed eternal torment, which will affect both your material body and your immaterial soul. Your soul is your mind, emotions, your will.

It's the real you, by the way, living inside that shell of a body. Your physical body dies, but your soul lives on. Jesus says, people don't have power over your soul, but God does. So he's saying here that the horrifying part really you ought to fear is that God has designed punishment to affect both your body and your soul to bring them to utter ruin, to allow corruption to invade.

Whether Luke 16 is a parable or not, the content he reveals in it is consistent with his teaching in scripture. Well, here's the second question. Is there a real place called Hades? Is Hades eternal?

And the answer is yes. Prior to Jesus' resurrection, when an Old Testament individual died, their souls lived on as well. Again, by the way, immortality is a distinct feature of the human race. We were made in the image of God.

Only the human race was. And part of that means that we are eternally created beings. We will never die or pass away, as it were.

We will live forever. Now, in the Old Testament term, the term he had for the realm of the dead souls, where they went after the body died, was called Sheol. You probably are familiar with that term. The New Testament counterpart to that word is the word Hades. Now, prior to the resurrection of Jesus, Hades is presented in scripture as having two compartments.

One compartment is comfort. The word paradise is used. Or Abraham's side, the place of those who follow God by faith. The other side is torment. In fact, Jesus is about, as we'll see, to use the word torment four different times, as if he's trying to get us to understand you don't want to go there.

It's torment. Lazarus ends up on Abraham's side or compartment, synonymous with comfort or paradise. Now, I would agree with many evangelical theologians that something very significant took place at the resurrection of Jesus.

Follow me here. When Jesus arose from the dead, he emptied the comfort side, the paradise compartment of Hades. Victorious Jesus took all the Old Testament believers, their souls, which have temporary bodies, with him to heaven.

Now, Paul writes in Ephesians 4 this interesting text. When Jesus ascended on high, he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men in saying he ascended. What does it mean but that he also descended into the lower regions of the earth? He who descended is the one who also ascended far above the heavens, that is, the universe, that he might fill all things. So Jesus descends, as it were, into Hades. And by the way, not to suffer. Jesus never went to hell to suffer. He never went to Hades to suffer. Jesus won the victory over sin and death from the moment he said, it is what?

Finished. And then you might remember he committed his spirit not into the hands of the devil or into the flames of Hades, but into the hand of his father. And so later on in the New Testament, we find the word paradise becoming synonymous with heaven. In fact, the Apostle Paul talks about being caught up to paradise. He is given a tour of heaven, 2 Corinthians chapter 12 verse 3, and then he's forbidden to tell us about it, which I find very frustrating that we don't have a few chapters on that tour. We have to wait.

We've been given just enough, though, to anxiously long for it. So for us today, in this dispensation of the New Testament church age, all that is left of Hades is the torment side. So to this day, when an unbeliever dies, their soul immediately goes to this holding place, this place of torment called Hades. It's a holding place for the condemned to await the final judgment of all of unbelieving humanity that Revelation describes for us. Now, how do we know that Hades still exists today beyond this encounter here? How do we know that unbelievers go there? Well, John gives us an interesting description of Jesus. In fact, Jesus is speaking to the Apostle John in Revelation chapter 1, and Jesus says to him in verse 18, I am the first and the last and the living one.

I died, and behold, I am alive forevermore, and I have the keys of death and Hades. By the way, he created it, and forever he will manage it. It's not managed by the devil who has gone around sick of people with his pitchfork.

It's all myth. The devil is incarcerated there one day. He's an inmate. He's not the warden. At the end of the book of Revelation, we're shown, in fact, that all the unbelieving souls of all time are resurrected. This judgment I just mentioned, Jesus has been given the authority to judge. He says in the Gospel by John, the Father has given him the judgment of all.

He's the one seated on the great white throne representing the purity, the holiness of God. This is the final judgment of all unbelievers in Revelation chapter 20 in verse 14 says, then death and, notice this, Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. That's what we refer to as hell. If anyone's name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire. In other words, he's saying death can't hide anybody. The grave can't conceal any unbeliever. Hades, this temporary holding place, is now emptied as it were poured into hell.

In his commentary on Luke 16, Warren Wiersbe writes, Hades is like a temporary jail, but hell is the permanent prison for the unbeliever, but the suffering in both places is real. Now for the believer, the Bible makes it very clear that their souls go immediately to be with Christ in heaven upon their death. The apostle Paul wrote, to be absent from the body, referring to death, is to be present with the Lord, 2 Corinthians 5, 8. In fact, in Revelation chapter 5, we're shown the deceased believers and they're before the throne of God singing.

Worthy is the lamb. They're not in limbo. They're not floating around. They're not sleeping. They're wide awake in the presence of God. And then in Revelation chapter 6, believers who are martyred during the tribulation and it's describing for us the tribulation were all those chapters. And those who've died, they're shown to us as standing already before the throne of God and they're communicating with them.

They're talking with them. So let me summarize. Let me wrap up this introduction. We're going along, by the way, today.

Okay, you chose the second hour. I'm sorry, but we're going along. Every unbeliever who dies today goes to this holding place of torment called Hades. The comfort side no longer exists and believers today, since the church was created following the resurrection of Christ, go immediately to the glory of Christ in heaven. Now, with that, Jesus introduces us to two individuals who are described in that afterlife experience.

Luke chapter 16 now, verse 19. Here's the first man. There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. This man, we would describe in terms today as being a billionaire. Money is nothing.

He just throws it around. He's dressed in purple. A purple robe, by the way, would cost three years of the average person's salary.

So figure out what you make, multiply it by three, and there's your outfit for the day. The word here for fine linen, busas, was the most expensive fabric known in the ancient world. The word for feasting here is reserved for the kind of banquet you would find at a wedding reception. He's eating this way every meal, seven days a week. Now, his life is contrasted with the life of Lazarus, who's probably never eaten one meal like that in his entire life. We're told here in verse 20, at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus. The word for gate, by the way, is a word used reserved for the temple gate, or gates, or gates to a vast estate. It more than likely included a gate house guarding the entry to this billionaire's home, more than likely the place where Lazarus hoped to be seen.

And we'll notice a little later on, he was seen by this rich man. Now the expression here that he was laid at the gate is actually the verb to throw. It implies that Lazarus has been abandoned there. He's not dropped off in the morning and picked up at night. He's abandoned here.

He's laid here. We would put it this way, Lazarus was dumped off at the gate of this rich man's estate. His only hope for survival is described here in verse 20, Lazarus was covered with sores who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Your translation may read crumbs, pieces of bread. And these days everybody used their fingers to eat.

I've traveled different places in the world where they still do that. You don't have utensils, you eat with your fingers. And the wealthy would wipe their fingers in Jesus' day on pieces of bread, chunks of bread, which would be thrown away. So Lazarus is hoping to get some of this soiled bread to eat. To our minds that would be disgusting, but he's hoping for at least that much. We would say today that he's living out of the dumpster.

Now if you don't feel sorry for his hopeless estate here given, described by the Lord, the Lord adds one more description in verse 21. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. Now don't think to yourself, well isn't that nice, he's got some dogs to keep him company, he's probably named them.

And this is sweet. No, and these days people didn't have pet dogs. Dogs were scavengers, they ran wild, they roamed in packs, they were dangerous. In fact the New Testament uses the word dogs for evil unbelievers. Uses the word dogs as an analogy to treacherous false teachers.

So they're dangerous. In fact Paul says in Philippians 3, 2, beware of dogs, those evil workers. So Jesus is picturing here a man who is so weak and feeble, no doubt starving, that he can't fend off the dogs who pester him, who more than likely frighten him. That was Stephen Davey and this message is called The Billionaire and the Beggar. You may have realized that we've ended this message early. Stephen's not made it to the end of this passage, but we're just about out of time, so we're going to stop here. On our next broadcast Stephen will do a little bit of review and then bring you the conclusion to this message.

This is Wisdom for the Heart. Stephen Davey is the president of our ministry called Wisdom International. We produce this daily program as well as Stephen's second daily program called The Wisdom Journey. In addition to these two daily programs we have a collection of resources designed to help you grow in your walk with God. Stephen's commitment is to help you know what the Bible says, understand what it means, and apply it to your life. You'll find a collection of biblically faithful resources at wisdomonline.org. Visit there today. Our email address is info at wisdom online dot org and our phone number is 866-48-bible. Once again that's info at wisdom online dot org or 866-48-bible. I hope we hear from you today. Thanks for listening. Be sure and come back next time to hear the conclusion to this message on Wisdom for the Heart.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-13 00:34:32 / 2024-03-13 00:43:43 / 9

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