October 13, 2005

The Reality of Hell

Luke 16:19-31

19"There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21and longing to eat what fell from the rich man's table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24So he called to him, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.' 25"But Abraham replied, 'Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' 27"He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, 28for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' 29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' 30" 'No, father Abraham,' he said, 'but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.' 31"He said to him, 'If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.' "


"Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment." Luke 16:28

I don't like to think much about hell. But I have to because God's Word teaches about it. The plain truth is that hell is real, and real people go there forever. Several times in the Gospels we read that Jesus was grieved when people turned away from him--grieved because he knew they were walking down the road that eventually would lead to hell.

The message Jesus brought is simple: Unless you turn and put your trust in me, you will die in your sins and face an eternity without me. In Jesus' parable of the rich man and Lazarus, we see the rich man begging for a little relief from his suffering. Father Abraham explains that this kind of relief is not possible. The rich man then turns his attention toward his brothers who are still living. "Then I beg you ... send Lazarus... Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment."

Notice that a short time in hell turned this unbeliever into a motivated evangelist. In a sense the rich man is saying, "Someone has got to warn people that hell is real and that real people go there." How tragic that the man in this story found out too late.

What's it going to take for you to become motivated? Pray that God's grace, not his wrath, will fill your heart with a passion to save the lost.

Lord Jesus, let us not forget that the stakes are sky high. Eternal life and eternal death hang in the balance. Help us not to become complacent but to be your witnesses. Amen.

About the author — Dan Jongsma

Dan Jongsma pastors the Dearborn (Mich.) Christian Reformed Church in suburban Detroit. He has also served as a church planter in the Chicago area. In addition, Dan has pastored congregations in Elmhurst and Fulton, Illinois, and has served as a youth pastor in Jenison, Michigan, and Sunnyside, Washington. He and his wife, Gloria, have three teenage daughters.

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