Preparing for eternity
Chaplain Bertram Bobb
Again it is my privilege to share with you something from the Word of God. I am reminded much of our Choctaw-speaking preachers saying, “Achukmalit illa nukfilla shke.” (“Let’s meditate or think on these things.”)
The Bible indicates that this life we are living is only for a brief period – preparing us for eternity. There are many who are living only for today with little thought about the future life. The Bible has a great deal to say about the future, one is the subject of hell.
In the record of the rich man in Luke 16, we have an example of a man who chose to disregard God’s law and lived to regret it in a place that Jesus called hell. Jesus was trying to picture what would happen if you left God out of your plans. Because He will bring judgment in the life to come.
In Luke 16:22 we see that this man was rich, “…the rich man also died, and was buried.” God does not condemn men because they are rich, nor does He justify a man because he is poor. Poverty is not a virtue nor are riches in themselves sin.
The altar of God is where the rich and the poor meet. There are no rich nor poor in heaven and with one voice they say, “Nothing in my hands I bring, simply to thy cross I cling.” Some of the finest Christians are men of means, but their bank accounts, like their lives, are consecrated wholly to God. But the rich man of whom Jesus spoke, lived selfishly.
This rich man eventually found himself forsaken by the God he had ignored and by his friends whom he had neglected. Money with all its advantages cannot buy everything. This rich man died and all of wealth could not buy one more precious hour of life.
Think of the things that cannot be bought with money. It cannot buy health, friends, love, or peace of heart and mind. It cannot buy peace of soul. We come to the conclusion then, that money in itself is not worthy of the importance most people place upon it.
This man’s sin was his selfish use of money. He placed it ahead of God and because of that, his heart was conditioned for hell instead of heaven.
Notice in verse 23 of Luke 16 the place to which the rich man was condemned, “And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.”
I find no pleasure in the knowledge of the fact of hell, but it is my duty to remind you that the same book, the Bible, that proclaims the wonders of heaven also describes the terrors of an eternal separation from God in hell.
The rich man carried all of his faculties with him when he went to hell. He saw, he felt, he heard, he remembered and he cried.
A million years from today, for eternity, you will still be living somewhere. The immaterial part of man, your memory, your hearing, your feeling, your sight, your taste, will be living somewhere forever according to the teaching of the Bible.
It is reasonable to believe that God the Father would not send His only Begotten Son to leave heaven, to come to this earth, to become man, to be mocked by an insane mob, to be spit upon by the rude rebels, to be nailed to the cross and to die shamefully upon the cross, if there were no danger of your soul being lost and going to hell.
There are many people who feel that sermons on hell are intended to frighten the lost into accepting Jesus Christ. This is not my motive. This is what the Bible teaches, if our Lord Jesus Christ mentioned it over and over again it is important enough for me to mention.
Notice how the rich man was punished in Luke 16:23, “And in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, …” It took the torments of hell to turn this rich man’s thoughts toward others. What will people endure in the service of Satan and sin? See him descending down the social ladder in spite of the prayers of friends and loved ones and the faithful convicting plea of the Holy Spirit.
The rich man had the torment of memory. Abraham said in Luke 16:25, “… remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.”
I imagine also that this man had an opportunity to turn to God, but refused or neglected it and now he had the memory of those neglected opportunities.
You remember the times that you drove by the church. You are going to remember the times that you saw the Bible and neglected to read it. You are going to remember the times the Spirit of God spoke to you in the quietness of your heart, but you didn’t turn to God. You are going to remember throughout eternity and that alone will be a torment that will drive you deeper into hell. This man squandered his opportunity. Notice, the rich man had the torment of thirst. We read in Luke 16:24 “… he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.” Is there literal fire in hell? I answer, by reminding you again that these are the words of Jesus. Jesus said, “in this flame.”
This brings us to the last torment. The torment of separation in Luke 16:26, “And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot, neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”
Sin separates God from man. It was man’s sin in the beginning which created a gulf of separation between God and man.
But Jesus Christ, the Son of God, in the supreme act of atonement fashioned a bridge over the impassable gulf of separation, and reconciled God and man. This bridge was in the form of a cross and every man who comes to God must come by the way of the cross. Will you trust Jesus Christ as your Savior today? You do this by faith.
Remember to pray for America. Pray for our leaders. May is Memorial month, pray for our Service men and women.