THE URGENCY OF NOW- Luke 16:19-31
Contrary to what some people think the Bible’s primary focus is not getting people into heaven, but getting heaven into people. Jesus said, “I came that they may have life and that they might have it more abundantly”(John 10:10).I love those superlatives—“more abundantly.” The Apostle Paul loved them too. He wrote: “Now unto Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that is within us” (Eph.3:20).One translator translated it “far more” into “immeasurably.”
I take quite a different approach to the purpose of this story that Jesus told. And I am sure it is an actual scene that Jesus saw, because it does not contain the elements of a parable.
Some scholars get stalled on the fact that many of the Pharisees were lovers of money and insisting that they were the primary target of Jesus message. I certainly believe there was a message for those folks, but I see a larger message for His own disciples. First, the chapter makes clear that Jesus was addressing his disciples, not the Pharisees. Second, because in the beginning of the chapter Jesus tells the story of a wise steward that managed his property well that was entrusted to him. And this is a follow up story to say to His disciples, “You as my disciples are entrusted with the gospel, see to it that you are good stewards of it.”
Therefore, I contend the message of Hell, while it has a purpose for the lost-that is there is a place to shun and a wonderful place to gain, is mainly an evangelical call to believers to go out with the good news for a lost world.
A military chaplain reported to his new post. When he arrived, some men met him with this question, “Do you believe in a literal hell.” When he replied that he did not, the men asked him to resign. He asked them “why?” Their response was this: “If there is not hell then we don’t need you and if there is a hell we don’t want you to lead us astray.”
Yes, there is a literal hell and that is the reason you and I need to take the good news to this lost and dying world.
I.NOW IS URGENT BECASE IT IS ALL WE HAVE.
This rich man, like so many today, must have thought, that he had plenty of time-there was no hurry. How wrong he was because we only have the moment. We only have now to do whatever we are going to do.
We have no assurance of tomorrow.
Jesus in the parable of the Great Invitation to Supper pictures the master of the house sending out invitations by way of his servants and the excuses that were offered. Finally, he says to his servants “go the highways and byways and COMPEL then to come in.” There is an urgency in now.
There is a finality in this story. Note Lazarus died and was carried into Abraham’s bosom. Then the Rich Man died, and was buried. The poor man never had a funeral, but he got something better. Now, the rich man had all the fan fair of a funeral:
1. His casket was preceded by hired mourners.
2. His body was wrapped in precious spices with fine linen.
3. He was placed in a costly sepulture.
4. He had a fine epitaph bestowing his fine virtues.
He who had everything now has nothing. He begs for a drop of water to cool his parched tongue.
Look at the contrast between these two men.
A. The Rich Man-
1. “He fared sumptuously every day.”
I can just imagine that he had the best chiefs in the land. He ate shrimp and lobster from the sea. He enjoyed the finest fruits from the market. He imported the best wines and meats the world had to offer. And, this man enjoyed the pleasure of many banquets of fine good to which he invited his friends. There was never a day that he knew the pangs of hunger like the poor beggar at his gate.
2. He wore expensive cloths. -Botony 500 suits, Shirts and ties from Harrod’s of London, and Nunbush shoes. He was flamboyant and the authorized version calls him the name Divies.
B. The Beggar.
1. He was poor and hungry. “he longed for the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. “
2. He was diseased with some affliction. He laid at the gate so long he developed decubti -bed sores. He was constantly shifting to find a place of relief.
Ill. When I was a boy our well got infected. It was a long time before we could discover the cause of these terrible boils on our bodies. I can remember the terrible pain my dad went through trying to work with these things. Finally, the doctor suggested we test our water and that was it.
3. He had few friends only those that carried him to the gate daily and took him home to what? The only comfort he got was from the dogs that came and licked his
II. NOW IS URGENT BECAUSE ENTERNITY IS FOREVER.
There are some liberal theologians today that argues the non-existence of the reality of Hell and there are others who say that it is only temporary for those who go there. One well respected conservative theologian said when a person went there the suffering was temporary and the end is annulation. You just burn up.
The Bible uses words like “perish,” “destruction” and “perdition,”
But they do not mean that “they cease to exist.” It means they are ruined for the use for which they were designed.
Jesus spoke of the lost, “Then shall he say unto them…Depart from me, ye cursed, into the everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels”(Matt.25:41). The Bible clarifies the term “everlasting” by using the term “for-ever and ever” (Rev.20:10).
C.S. Lewis once an atheist who became dynamic Christian writer spoke of a grave stone in London, England that read, “Here lies an atheist-all dressed up and nowhere to go.” Lewis said, “I just imagine he wished that were true.”
1. It isn’t that the man was rich. Compared to the rest of the world there is a person sitting here today who isn’t rich. Every night 2/3 of the world goes to be hungry. It isn’t money that corrupts. It is the love of money. There are wealthy people who are saved in the Bible. Lydia is just one.
2. It isn’t that the rich man was directlycruel to the beggar. He wasn’t. He never kicks on his way out the gate. He never spit upon him.He never ordered Lazarus away from his gate.
3. What was it?It was that he never noticed the needs of others:
He had no heart for the hurting
He had no hands for the hopeless
He had no eyes for the suffering
He had no ears for the agonizing
He had no noise for the nauseating needs of others
He had no feelings for the fainting.
He had no food for the famished.
He had no compassion for the common
You see all these things are characteristic of a true believer.
Yet, I have no doubt he was a religious man. I suspect he did all religious people do. The only problem is religion will take you to hell, but a Savior will take you to heaven.
III. NOW IS URGENT BECAUSE THERE WILL NEVER BE AN EASIER TIME TO BELIEVE THAN NOW.
Not only is there a contrast in living there is a contrast in dying. Let me give you the background picture here. The scene is the realm of the dead. In the Old Testament is was called Sheol and in the New Testament it is called Hades-the same place. This sphere of the dead, in Jewish theology, had two compartments the upper part being the real of the dead believers, separated by a gulf below which was the real of the dead lost. Now, in this story a man was looking up across a vast chasm
that separated him in the realm of the lost, below. Death is a one-way ticket for the lost-there is no return.
1. The rich man became a man of prayer after death, but it was too late. He prayed for Lazarus to bring a drop of water to cool his parched tongue, but he could not pass into that sphere.
2. He became a missionary asking that someone could go to his five unbelieving brothers, “lest they come here.” But if a man won’t believe the gospel, he won’t believe a ghost. It was too late!
Conclusion: Dr. George W. Truett, was pastor of the First Baptist Church of Dallas, Texas for fifty years. During World War I General John J. Pershing invited Dr. Truett to speak to his soldiers just before a campaign where many of them would lose their lives. There was an urgency in his invitation. Truett preached and many of the soldiers gave their lives to Christ. Dr. Truett along with the military chaplain counseled each one of them. Late at night Truett made his way to his tent for rest. As he sat down on the edge of his bed he noticed a shadow pacing back and forth before his tent. “Who is there” he called. A young soldier opened the flap and said, “Dr. Truett, I know it is late, but is it too late to trust the Lord.”
Of course, Truett said, “No, son come in.” He led the young soldier to the Lord and they both stood up rejoicing. Then the soldier said, “Dr. Truett I never knew my father and I wonder if I might kiss you on the forehead.” “Of course, son,” said Truett. The young soldier kissed him on the forehead and left the tent. Years later Dr. Truett was preaching a revival in South Carolina and a mother with a twelve-year old boy beside her was holding a letter in her hand. She said, “Dr. twelve years ago you peached to the soldiers before terrible campaign and my husband came to your tent and
you led him to Christ. He wrote me that night before he was killed the next day in the war and told me all about it. This is our son. I was pregnant at the time, but my husband didn’t know it. Dr. Truett said, “Yes, I remember your husband. And this” turning to the boy, “is his son.” Just as he did the boy reaching up and kissed Dr. Truett on the forehead just has his dad had done years ago. Dr. Truett said, “What if I had told him I was too tired or I would talk to him tomorrow.”
There is an urgency of now! Now if you need to accept Christ come and do it. Now if you need to be baptized, I want to urge you to do it now.Now, if you need to make another decision-do it now.
Isaiah said, “Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He is