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The Billionaire and the Beggar, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey
The Truth Network Radio
March 14, 2024 12:00 am

The Billionaire and the Beggar, Part 2

Wisdom for the Heart / Dr. Stephen Davey

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March 14, 2024 12:00 am

Listen to the full-length version or read the manuscript of this message here:  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.


Again, this man remembers Lazarus. He recognizes him, which lets us know that Lazarus didn't come back as a different guy. Only now, given a temporary body awaiting the final glorified state, it's interesting to me that his attitude doesn't even change toward Lazarus. He still views Lazarus as below him, incidental, nothing more than an arrogant boy. Hey, Abraham, send Lazarus over here to cool off my tongue. His arrogance is remarkable. Welcome back to Wisdom for the Heart.

On our last broadcast, Stephen Davey began a message that he didn't have time to complete. We're going to do a little bit of review, and then bring you the conclusion to the message called, The Billionaire and the Beggar. Jesus' teaching on hell is 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.

For the unbeliever, if the reality of hell isn't causing you to turn to God, you haven't yet realized the eternal judgment that right now awaits you. Here's Stephen with more. 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. He just, 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 gatehouse 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 to 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 it 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 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. 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, in 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.

Now, let's just read through the rest of this encounter. Verse 22, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried and in Hades being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. And he called out, Father Abraham, have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue for I am in anguish in this flame. But Abraham said, child, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things and Lazarus and like man are bad things.

But now he is comforted here and you are in anguish. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able and none may cross from there to us. And he said, then I beg you, Father, to send him to my father's house for I have five brothers so that he may warn them lest they also come into this place of torment. But Abraham said, they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. And he said, no, Father Abraham, but if somebody goes to them from the dead, they will repent. Abraham said to him, if they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be convinced, even if someone should rise from the dead. All right, now let me give you very quickly nine observations from this description.

Ready? Here we go. Number one, neither man went out of existence. They weren't asleep or in limbo, but fully alive. Now we know from other passages, by the way, in the New Testament that the immaterial soul or spirit is given a temporary body whereby it immediately experiences enjoyment or suffering, food, singing, talking, suffering, thirst. Lazarus here evidently has a finger. He has a hand, an arm. The rich man feels heat. He's thirsty.

He has a tongue, which he wants to cool. And Abraham has a body as well. These are literal expressions of a temporary body given to the deceased upon death. Number two, temporary bodies are recognizable and communication is rational. The rich man, you notice, recognizes Lazarus. In fact, he's able to gather enough information, we're not sure exactly from where, from whom, that Lazarus is seated next to Abraham.

And so the rich man immediately begins talking to Abraham. He's not communicating telepathically, you know, by mind. He's not communicating mystically in some, you know, weird Star Trek kind of way. He's speaking literally, personally, rationally, physically. In fact, three times he will call Abraham father, Father Abraham.

That isn't because he learned a little song in Sunday school. He's actually saying, hey, I'm related to you. Evidently, a Jewish man. I'm a descendant of your stock.

Do something for me. See, to all the Pharisees listening here, by the way, to Jesus, this was stunning. A wealthy man would be viewed as blessed by God. Abraham will acknowledge a physical connection.

We'll call him child, you could translate it son. But Abraham will deny any kind of spiritual relationship by faith. Number three, moments after death, a person is immediately aware of either torment or comfort. Now, the prevailing opinion during the days of our Lord, the rabbis would teach that the spirit or the soul hovered over the deceased body for three days. And then, after three days, he couldn't find a way to reenter. It goes into the afterlife. And we've already pointed out a belief that Jesus waits four days before he raises Lazarus from the dead, another Lazarus. He's condescending in graciousness to that superstition.

And so he waits four days. Paul's statement again, upon death, we are immediately in the presence of the Lord. Number four, life after death doesn't eliminate someone's memory.

Now, we have this view that our minds are swept clean or clear of any kind of memory of life on earth. The view is that if we remember anything, it's going to mess up heaven for us. Our memories, beloved, are not going to ruin heaven. They're going to make the grace of God all the more wonderful. In fact, heaven is not ruined for Jesus who retained scars.

Why? To remember and to remind us every time we see him. It isn't ruining heaven for him. It isn't ruining heaven for us, even though we know our sin did that to him. We know that the Father's house, that ziggurat of those levels are engraved upon them, the names of the sons of Jacob, the gates, the 12 disciples. I think I might have gotten those in the right order. Don't check it out.

If you do, let me know. But we're going to be reminded of 24 men. How will that even matter if we have no memory? Or what about them? Will they remember?

They certainly will. To remember life on earth is an important part of life after death. Again, this man remembers Lazarus. He recognizes him, which lets us know that Lazarus didn't come back as a different guy. The rich man didn't come back as a different man. Abraham didn't come back as Moses.

They are who they were, only now given a temporary body awaiting the final glorified state. It's interesting to me that his attitude doesn't even change toward Lazarus. He still views Lazarus as below him, incidental, nothing more than an errand boy. Hey Abraham, send Lazarus over here to cool off my tongue.

His arrogance is remarkable. But for the believer, memory is part of eternity. Our memories are going to be perfected, by the way, in holiness.

We're going to see with a perspective of God. Then our failure that we're reminded of in our memory will be seen as that which God even in that worked together for good, according to his purposes. Otherwise, we'd never stop weeping over our sin. But we will remember. In fact, your memory is going to be necessary. The judgment seat of Christ, that's where every believer is going to be rewarded for every act of faithfulness or service, is not where the real is going to show all your sin.

It's all covered. But whatever you did, God won't forget. And he's going to reward you.

It won't make any sense unless you have a memory. In fact, we're told that pastors and elders are going to receive a unique reward for their service. 1 Peter 5 verse 4, the martyr is going to receive a unique reward for their faithfulness unto death. James 1 verse 12, none of them would make any sense if they didn't remember they were elders or martyrs. In fact, the martyrs that are standing before the Lord, having been martyred during the tribulation, are going to say to God, how long before you avenge our blood? Interesting, they're in heaven and they want God to avenge their blood.

They know they were murdered for the sake of truth. You might notice here in verse 25, this is one of the most tragic words from Abraham. He says to this unbelieving man, remember.

Do you notice that? Remember. Remember your life on earth. Remember those services you sat through in the synagogue?

You remember how when the word was read, you yawned through it all. You remember that? Remember all those blessings, all those advantages. Pilate will remember Jesus standing before him. Herod will remember. Judas will remember. Memories will haunt the unredeemed.

Our memories will give us great praise for the grace of our God. Number five, the chasm between joy and judgment is uncrossable, unchangeable, and eternal. Abraham says to this man, you can't come over here and Lazarus can't go over there. There's a chasm. It's uncrossable. It's impassable.

It's fixed forever. I think it's interesting that this man never protests the sentence. He doesn't argue that he shouldn't be there. He argues about other things. It's hot in here.

I want some water. And he's going to ask about his brothers in a little bit. But he doesn't sit around saying, you know, this is a dream.

This is a bad dream and I'm going to wake up and it's all going to be over. He understands this unchangeable verdict from God. I think of Dante who wrote his epic poem in the 14th century called The Divine Comedy. In his poem, he imagined descending into hell and traveling the nine circles of suffering and then eventually earning his way out of that and into purgatory and the circles there and he eventually pays for his sins and emerges into heaven. The Roman Catholic leaders applauded, of course, this poem primarily because it supported the concept of purgatory, which the Bible knows nothing about, post-mortem salvation, which the Bible knows nothing about. And the Western world, by the way, took it as fact rather than a poem of fiction.

There's no emergency exit, no post-mortem conversion. Observation number six, the reality of judgment made this rich man and should make us passionate evangelists. The rich man remembers he has five brothers and he remembers they're just as lost as he is. So he wants a miracle of resurrection. He wants them to be convinced. Abraham, I want you to send somebody, in fact send Lazarus. They know him too. They walked by him every time they came to see me. Bring him back from the dead and let him testify to the reality of this place of torment and if they see him and hear his word they'll believe. They need to be saved. He's saying I don't want my family following me here. You know, I've had people actually tell me yeah I'm going to go to hell and I'm going to be with all my friends and we're going to party. There's no party here. There's no relationship, only regret. But this man believes that if his brothers had a little more evidence, a little more information, they'd believe in God and Abraham says no they won't.

No they won't. And that leads me to observation number seven. People are not in Hades because they lack information but because of defiant rebellion. They defy whatever they know to be true. Our world does it today. The law of God written on their hearts that says that's wrong and that's right. It's written on their hearts and they hate it. They defy it. They applaud one another for defying it. They ignore the complexity of creation around them.

They study the animal kingdom and then defy the knowledge that's intuitive that there is a creator. The Jewish people, he mentions here to him, had the Old Testament. He's a Jewish man who had Moses. He had the prophets. That's a summary statement for the Old Testament. He had that. It was sufficient to lead him to understand he needed to trust in God by faith of the coming Messiah, the Redeemer, the final sacrifice.

And he wasn't interested. Will the miracle of resurrection change his brother's mind? No. Did it change the mind of Caiaphas, of Pilate, of Herod? No. In fact Jesus will raise from the dead a little later on a man named Lazarus, ironically.

What did they do? The religious leaders planned to kill him to get rid of the evidence. It changes nothing. John chapter 12 verse 10. So these five brothers are defying everything just like their brother did even if somebody came back from the dead. And I don't want you to miss this and I'm trying to hurry on but understand that even though this rich man knows the reality of his judgment, he's still defiant here. Imagine, he's arguing with Abraham. No, Abraham, that's not true. Wouldn't you think by now he'd say, okay, I guess I was wrong?

No. He argues with him. He never admits selfishness.

He never apologizes to Lazarus. He never mentions sinning against God. He just argues with Abraham. He says, effectively, God's word is not enough.

What's the world saying today? God's word is not enough. It's folk tales and legends. It's make believe.

Give us something else. That leads me to my eighth observation. There is no such thing as unbelief after death. Everyone will be a believer one day. If you've never believed in the judgment of a holy God, if you've never believed in the reality of the wrath of God, if you've never believed in the reality of Hades, heaven, hell, if you've never believed that the Bible was telling the truth all along, you will believe all that I just said moments after you die. Your only hope and mine is to believe it and to come to God by faith in his Son who died for us and receive him as Lord and Savior.

One more. Even though acts of service will be rewarded for the believer, heaven is not a reward. It's a gift. For this impoverished beggar, think of Lazarus, he accomplished nothing in life that we know of that would ever bring him to conceive of the thought that he would be given the seat of honor. This is an incredible reversal.

Why? Because in between the lines you discover that this rich man had everything but God and Lazarus had nothing but God. Lazarus, the beggar, abandoned, diseased, starving, just think as the hymn writer put it, like Lazarus in a moment, in a moment there's this eternal reversal, just think, of stepping on shore and finding it heaven, of touching a hand and finding it God's, of breathing new air and finding it celestial, of waking up in glory and finding it home. Father, thank you for this text. It is a warning for those who do not believe it is perilous and for those of us who do believe, who follow you as our Lord and Savior, it is a reminder of what we have escaped and we thank you for that, for your grace and goodness. Thank you that you've collected us here to rehearse these great truths and we believe them because they are in your word, breathed by you, inspired and infallible and true.

Would you give us a heart for people in our world around us who do not know you? Help us to courageously tell the truth with kindness, grace and love but the truth nonetheless and we pray for fruit to abound to your glory in Jesus' name and everyone said amen. That was Stephen Davey and he called this message the billionaire and the beggar.

This is wisdom for the heart. Stephen Davey is your Bible teacher for this daily program. Stephen's goal is to help you know what the Bible says, understand what it means and apply it to your life.

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When you go to the store, that's what you want to search for. Search for wisdom international and when you do, you'll find our free app and you can install it and begin using it immediately. I hope it's a blessing to you and if it is, tell us about it. Our email address is info at wisdom online dot org and our phone number is 866-48-bible. Please continue to pray for Stephen and for this ministry. Like you, Stephen desires to finish well and our ministry is empowered by your prayers. We'd enjoy learning what God's doing in your life. You can send us an email if you address it to info at wisdom online dot org. I'm Scott Wiley and for Stephen and the rest of the wisdom team, thanks for listening. Join us back here next time for more wisdom for the heart. We'll see you next time.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-03-14 01:08:03 / 2024-03-14 01:16:50 / 9

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