If you had a choice between the two – what kind of life would you prefer to live? The good life here on earth or the good life in Heaven?
If you read and study Luke 16:19-31 you will discover that there are some very interesting life lessons that we can learn from the story that Jesus gave of the rich man & Lazarus.
The story is about 2 very different men. The first is The Rich Man; a man who was rich, wealthy, respected and lived in extreme luxury on a daily basis.
The second man is Lazarus; a man who was extremely poor, had a physical illness and who lived his life as a beggar. Lazarus was so poor that he desired to eat from the left-over food or crumbs that the Rich Man threw away.
Both men eventually die with Lazarus going to heaven but the Rich Man going to hell. Lazarus is carried by angels to live in comfort to Abraham’s bosom, while the Rich Man is sent to hell to suffer torment in flames.
Why would Lazarus go to heaven and the Rich Man go to hell? The conversation that occurs between Abraham and the Rich Man in Luke 16:24-31 give some insight and some life lessons that we can learn and apply to our personal lives.
LIFE LESSON # 1
WEALTH OR RICHES DO NOT INDICATE SPIRITUAL MATURITY OR THAT A PERSON HAS SPIRITUAL FAVOUR & BLESSINGS ON ONE’S LIFE. (LUKE 16:19-21)
The Rich Man was materialistically rich & wealthy but spiritually he was poor & bankrupt. Though the Rich Man was dressed in fine linen clothes & lived in extreme luxury, his outward appearance did not match his inward condition. One indication of his spiritual state was the Rich Man’s indifference to Lazarus’ plight despite the fact that this beggar stayed by his gate. The Rich Man had no compassion, love or sympathy for the poor.
In your personal life, what are you pursuing? Are you pursuing after riches & wealth at the expense of having a sound relationship with God? Are you measuring your spiritual condition based on the amount of money & possessions you have? Do you believe in the false “prosperity gospel” doctrine that material prosperity is indicative or evidence of spiritual prosperity?
Matthew 6:19-21 – “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal; 20 but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”
Mark 8:36-37 – For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul?
LIFE LESSON # 2
POVERTY DOES NOT ALWAYS INDICATE THAT A PERSON IS CURSED (LUKE 16:19-21)
Lazarus was extremely poor. He lived on the crumbs of the Rich Man and lived his life as a beggar. He also had sores all over his body, indicating that he had some kind of sickness. As a beggar Lazarus was clearly in the lowest social class in society and the world did not care about him as indicated by the Rich Man’s indifference towards him. A person would be tempted to believe that God’s wrath and displeasure was upon Lazarus and that Lazarus was probably being punished or under a curse.
Yet the fact that Lazarus went to heaven when he died indicates something about his spiritual relationship with God. While Lazarus’ reasons for being in poverty are unknown, the fact that he was living in poverty did not indicate that God had cursed him or that he was doomed to go to hell.
For Lazarus to go to heaven, he obviously had a sound & genuine relationship with God. His poverty did not hinder him from believing in God and nor did his low social status & lack of possessions mean that he had a bankrupt faith.
In your personal life – are you looking at your poor financial situation and concluding that God has cursed you or is unhappy with you? Are you persuaded that people who are poor are probably in that particular state due to a bankrupt faith? Do you believe in the false prosperity gospel that feeds on people’s covetous desires rather than on having godly contentment?
Luke 12:15 – And He said to them, “Take heed and beware of covetousness, for one’s life does not consist in the abundance of the things he possesses.”
1 Timothy 6:6-8 – Now godliness with contentment is great gain. 7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
LIFE LESSON # 3
HEAVEN AND HELL ARE REAL PLACES (LUKE 16:23)
Heaven and hell are literal places that exist. After death people will consciously know they are in hell or that they are in heaven. There are various false doctrines and teachings that claim that hell doesn’t exist or that a loving God cannot allow His creation to suffer torment in hell. The Bible also does not mention any type of purgatory. However, on many occasions Jesus spoke about hell and the Bible clearly indicates that a literal hell and a literal heaven exist. The story in Luke 16:23-31 indicate that the Rich Man was in a literal hell in which he suffered unbearable torment to the extent that he requested something as small as water from the tip of Lazarus’ finger in order to cool his tongue.
In your personal life – do you take the existence of hell seriously? Do you take seriously that you may have friends, colleagues, family members who might go to hell if they do not have a relationship with God? Are you aware that hell is a literal place?
Matthew 25:41-42 – “Then He will also say to those on the left hand, ‘Depart from Me, you cursed, into the everlasting fire prepared for the devil and his angels:”
John 14:2 – In My Father’s house are many mansions; if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.
LIFE LESSON # 4
HOW YOU LIVE IN YOUR LIFETIME WILL AFFECT WHERE YOU WILL SPEND ETERNITY (LUKE 16:25)
Even though he was rich and wealthy on earth, the Rich Man did not have a relationship with God. If he did, he may have treated Lazarus better and would have been compassionate towards Lazarus. The Rich Man’s wealth was not evidence that he would spend eternity in heaven. Instead his life choices on earth sent him to hell.
In contrast, Lazarus suffered on earth, but ended up spending eternity in comfort in heaven. This clearly indicates that even though Lazarus lived in poverty and suffering, he clearly had better life choices in God’s eyes than the Rich Man.
In your personal life – what kind of life choices are you making? Do you know where you will spend eternity when you die – heaven or hell? Are you making choices that have an eternal benefit or are you making choices that gratify the flesh only and have a temporary benefit?
Romans 6:23 – For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.
John 3:16 – For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
LIFE LESSON # 5
JUDGEMENT TO HELL IS PERMANENT. THERE ARE NO SECOND CHANCES OR ESCAPE OUT OF HELL (LUKE 16:26)
Abraham told the Rich Man that nobody can walk out of hell. Also we discover from Abraham’s statement in Luke 16:26 that nobody who is in heaven can travel into hell.
Being in hell is an eternal punishment in which there is no second chance as soon as a person dies.
Therefore as long as a person is alive on the earth, that person has many, many chances and opportunities to repent before he/she dies. However, that chance is no longer available when the person dies.
In your personal life – are you resisting Jesus; are you refusing to repent and accept Christ as your Lord & Saviour? Are you aware that life is short and we can die at any moment due to a variety of causes? Therefore it’s important for us to accepted & trust Jesus to be our Lord & Saviour before we die?
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Ephesians 2:8-9 – For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
LIFE LESSON # 6
THE SCRIPTURES BRING US TO THE FOOT OF THE CROSS. SIGNS & WONDERS DON’T (LUKE 16:27-31)
In Luke 16:27-31 the Rich Man tries to persuade Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth from the dead to testify to the Rich Man’s brothers of their need to repent to avoid the torment of hell.
Imagine a person you know, perhaps a loved one, resurrecting from the dead and testifying to you that you need to repent. Imagine hearing the testimony of a miracle healing of a terminal disease. Would such signs & wonders convince certain people of their need to repent & receive Christ as their Lord & Saviour? The Rich Man believed that such a sign as someone rising from the dead would convince people to repent, but Abraham rebutted this claim by saying that people have Moses & the Prophets to listen to. Abraham was basically referring to the scriptures and all that people need in order to come to a knowledge of the grace and need of repentance is the word of God.
The irony is that Jesus Himself died & resurrected but yet people such as the Pharisees did not repent. In fact they tried to spread lies & rumours that Jesus’ body was stolen (Matthew 28:11-15).
Jesus also healed the blind & the sick before the presence of the Pharisees but yet they did not believe or repent despite seeing miracles.
Therefore Abraham was correct by saying “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
God’s word will bring us to a knowledge of our sinful nature & the need that we need Jesus and that we need to live according to God’s values.
In your personal life – are you busy looking for signs & wonders instead of searching for God Himself; Are you searching for the gift instead of the Giver? Do you believe that the Bible is infallible & the final authority on matters concerning life? Do you believe we must be doers of the word and not just hearers?
Galatians 3:24-25 – Therefore the law was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Therefore the above are very important life lessons we can learn about the Rich Man & Lazarus.
Was Jesus’ story of the Rich Man & Lazarus a parable or a real-life account / event? Unlike other parables that Jesus spoke, Jesus uniquely named 2 of its characters in this particular story making it very different from any of Jesus’ other parables.
Whether we believe it’s a parable or real-life account, what’s most important is that this story came from Jesus Himself & the Bible is infallible & inspired by God Himself.
The life lessons from Jesus’ story in Luke 16:21-31 are therefore to be taken seriously.
DO YOU KNOW WHERE YOU WILL GO WHEN YOU DIE?
DO YOU WANT TO BECOME A CHILD OF GOD & A FOLLOWER OF JESUS CHRIST???
1. ACKNOWLEDGE: “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23).
This means that we have all broken God’s laws and God’s 10 Commandments like those mentioned in Exodus 20:1-17. For example, we are all guilty of telling a lie; we are guilty of lust; we are guilt of coveting at some point in our life. If we are guilty of breaking even one of God’s 10 Commandments, then that makes us sinners. The fact that we are sinners who have broken God’s commandments means that we are accountable to God the lawgiver. Romans 6:23 says that “the wages of sin is death BUT the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”
You must acknowledge that you are a sinner who has broken God’s commandments and that you therefore need Jesus in your life.
2. REPENT: “Unless you repent you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3), “Repent therefore and be converted that your sins may be blotted out” (Acts 3:19)
Repenting means: to change your mind; a sincere turning away, in heart, mind and action;
Therefore God wants you to repent of sinful values and of sinful living. God wants you to decide to
follow Him and to make Jesus the Lord of your life.
3. CONFESSION: “If we confess our sins. He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). “That if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9)
God is a forgiving God. God will forgive any sin that you have done because Jesus died for ALL your sins and to set you free from the bondage of all types of sin in your life.
4. BELIEVE: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting” (John 3:16). “He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned” (Mark 16:16)
You must believe that ONLY Jesus can save you and restore your relationship with God. You must believe that Jesus is the ONLY way by which you can have everlasting life and escape from eternal separation from God. You must believe that Jesus died on the cross for you and resurrected from the grave.
5. RECEIVE: “He came to His own, and His own did not receive him, But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name” (John 1:11-12)
By faith, You must receive Jesus as Your Lord & Saviour and therefore; you become a child of God; you become born again; you become a Christian; you restore your broken relationship with God
Why not make your eternal decision now and pray the following prayer?
Why Not Make Your Eternal Decision NOW?
We become born again Christians by GRACE through FAITH or TOTAL TRUST in Jesus Christ as our Lord & Savior (Galatians 3:26) & (Ephesians 2:8,9). Salvation is a FREE gift received through FAITH in Christ.
This prayer is only an EXPRESSION of your faith, belief & trust in Jesus.
“Lord Jesus, I thank You for Your love. I thank You that You died on the cross for me and resurrected so that I may have life through You.
I confess Lord that I have sinned against You and today I ask You to forgive me of all of my sins, past present and future.
I repent of all of my sins and I ask You to cleanse me Jesus.
Thank You for forgiving my sins.
From this moment, come into my life Lord Jesus & take full control of my life. I want to follow You Jesus and I want to follow Your ways. Save me and from today, make me the person You want me to be.
I receive You Lord Jesus right now by faith. I make You my Lord and Saviour
Have you, by faith, received & accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord & Savior because of what you have read here? If so, please let us know by clicking on the “I have accepted Jesus Christ today” button below so that we may explain this wonderful decision you have made & steps you can make to grow in the Lord.