Yesterday at church I was reminded of heaven. We heard a beautiful sermon about heaven and all the things we would be doing in heaven. The pastor gave us some scriptures to look up at home because he could not get to all of them. Today, I looked up one of them...Luke 16: 19-31. This not only gave me a little glimpse of heaven, but a big glimpse of hell. Take a look with me...
(scripture via www.biblegateway.com)
The Rich Man and Lazarus
19 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day.20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores21 and 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.23 In Hades, 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.26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, 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 family,28 for 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.’”
This convicts me on many levels. Notice I said "convicts" and not "condemnation". Conviction is a good thing. It reminds us to do right. Condemnation brings shame and guilt and usually we self medicate to deal with how bad it makes us feel. Conviction challenges us to rise above our circumstances and live the life Christ intended.
Here are my convictions:
1. It reminds me that hell is a real place, and I do not want to go there.
2. It reminds me that I don't want anyone to go there so I need to tell others about Jesus.
3. It reminds me of the finality of hell. There is a "great chasm set in place....nor can anyone cross over from there to us".
I believe in Jesus because of his love for me and the awesome love that I feel for him. I believe his power and his goodness are so great that I don't want to live without him in my life. I can't live without him. He has become so ingrained in who I am, that I don't want to live any other way. He is my hope. He is my rock. He is my truth.
Those are the things I dwell on. This is a relationship to me, not just fire insurance, so I don't spend much time thinking about hell. This scripture of the beggar and the rich man reminds me, "oh yeah, and there is that hell thing too!". (lol)
The rich man saw that it was too late for him, and he pleaded for the life of his family. He begged God to send someone from the dead to convince them to repent and believe. But, he was told even that would not work. Was it too late for them too? Had they already been told many times and simply refused to believe? Ouch!
Heaven is a real place...but so is hell. I don't like to think about hell very often, but it is a good reminder that we don't want to live there for eternity. And, as if hell were not bad enough, can you imagine if we had to be in hell and then watch those in heaven? That would be pure torture.
The good news is ... it is our choice. We choose where we want to live for eternity. And, I chose heaven. I hope you do too.