Luke 16:19 There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: 20 And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, 21 And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; 23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 And 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. 25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. 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. 27 Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: 28 For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. 29 Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. 30 And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. 31 And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
One of the most accepted definitions of a parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. This story is listed with parables most of the time, but I believe it’s an actual page out of history. Other parables start with the statement “he spoke a parable.” In Luke 16 actual names are mentioned stating there was a certain rich man and a beggar named Lazarus. The rich man’s name isn’t mentioned, perhaps because some in his family were listening. But he lived in constant splendor having the finest food and clothing. If he desired it, he had it. The beggar’s name is given. Lazarus is helpless being laid at the rich man’s gate. No money. He depended on scraps from that rich man’s table for food. He was in poor health, full of sores. The dogs licked them. The main point in verse 22 is that the beggar died. I’m sure there was no funeral. The real Lazarus–his soul, what we cannot see–was escorted into heaven. Then the rich man died. I’m sure there was a funeral with professional mourners that had been hired. What of his soul? Verse 23 says in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments. His body was in the grave and his soul was in hell.
Many a profane person suddenly becomes religious in a bad situation. The tables were now turned on these two. He didn’t go to hell because he was rich; neither did Lazarus go to heaven because he was poor. Money won’t get you into heaven. What determines your eternal destination is what you do with Jesus Christ. At this time both Abraham’s bosom, where Lazarus was, and hell were in the same place but with a great gulf span separating them. The rich man could see Lazarus. It is not like this now. Ephesians tells us that when Jesus died and was buried he went to the saints in Abraham’s bosom and when he came out of the grave those captives were led on high. Hell is still there. The rich man had five brothers; all were lost without Jesus. He cared nothing for salvation in his life but all of a sudden he’s concerned for the salvation of his brothers. He asked that one be sent from the dead to speak to his brothers but was told they had Moses and the prophets. If that would not persuade them, someone rising from the dead wouldn’t either.
We see the certainty of hell in this story. Man tries to eliminate hell, but it’s still there. Not everyone will be saved. Not all will go to heaven. The road to heaven is straight and narrow with few traveling it while the road to hell is broad and many are on it. You don’t have to do anything to go to hell. Just continue as you are. To go to heaven you must make a decision for Jesus. Hell was originally prepared for the devil and his angels, but all who reject Jesus as Savior will go there. Some believe there is a hell but that it’s not forever. People who go there are consumed or released after a time of punishment. Not so. The Bible says the soul in hell never dies. The fire is never quenched. Some can’t conceive hell lasting forever, but it will. Some teach there is a place called purgatory in which the sins are burned out, paid out, prayed out and then you go to heaven. The Bible teaches no such thing. When you leave this life, you’ll go either to heaven or hell. The choice is yours.
We see the characteristics of hell. There is constant pain. I’d just as soon be pain free. We know what it’s like to be without it and the thought of going to hell and being in constant pain makes me shutter. The rich man had a body capable of feeling pain. He was in torments. He sensed his thirst and asked for water to cool his tongue. There was no water in hell. It is a place of memory. Every time a person has the opportunity to be saved will be remembered. He remembered his brothers. It is eternal separation from loved ones. It’s sad to be separated from a loved one. In hell, you’ll never see them again.
We see the citizens of hell. Revelation 21 tells us who they are. Verse 8 says the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death. No one wants to live in a community like this. Surely we see the need to separate this group from others. Hell is as necessary as jails and prisons are today. It’s for the safety of society. For heaven to be as it is, hell is essential.
A lost person who goes to hell cannot blame God. Mercy is available now. Here. But not after death. The rich man found none. Neither will you. Make your choice for Jesus and avoid this real, literal place called hell.