I encourage you to read Luke 16:19-31 carefully. The American Church is in crisis. In 2008, a Pew Forum poll found that only 17% of Americans believed you must be born again to enter Heaven. Yet, around 75% of Americans claim Christianity as their religion. Other polls show that a much bigger percentage of Americans believe in Heaven than in Hell. What does this tell us? It tells us that many people who think they are Christians are not. It also tells us that many who are true Christians are complete Biblical illiterates. The Bible is crystal clear that all people will exist forever in the spiritual realm. It is also quite clear that there are two places in which they will exist - Heaven or Hell. Let’s look at Lk 16:19-31 more closely.
What do we learn from this story told by Jesus? 1. “There was a certain man and a certain beggar” tells us that this is a true story, and not a parable. Do not allegorize. It was intended to be taken literally. 2. Riches nor poverty determine eternal destiny - only faith in Jesus Christ. The rich man wasn’t in Hell simply because he was rich - but rather because He was rich outwardly, but was not rich towards God in faith and charity. Likewise, the beggar was a Believer, and so went to Heaven.
3. Each and every person has an appointment with death. Rich, poor, male, female, free, slave - everyone of us will die. We cannot escape it. 4. Upon dying, angels either carry your soul to Heaven, or you fall into Hell. 5. This is not metaphorical - Hell is not a state of mind. It is a literal place of torment in the spirit world. While some people’s lives may be “Hellish,” it is by no means Hell. 6. Souls can see; souls can feel; souls can speak; souls are conscious and aware. Your soul is the invisible you. You will see Hell. You will smell it and taste it. 7. In Hell, you beg for mercy, but find none. Even a drop of water will not be granted. Also, notice how the rich man ignored Lazarus in life, but now wants him desperately in death. 8. “Son, remember.” In Hell, you will be tormented by your own memory. Every church service you sat through; every tract given to you; every prayer offered up for you; every chance you ever had to get right with God will be remembered forever.
9. In Heaven is comfort for all Christians afflicted on this earth. In Hell is affliction on all those who ignored God and enjoyed earthly pleasures. 10. Hell and Heaven are eternal. It is impossible to ever pass from one to the other. You can never get out. Once you are there, you are there forever (Mk 9:43-49; Rev 19:20; 20:10, 13-15). 11. Hell will be no party. Those there now would beg and plead with you not to come there. Go ahead and laugh and joke about you and all your buddies “partying hard” in Hell. You won’t be laughing then - but you’ll remember the jokes. Over and over again will you remember.
12. We have the Word. We have the commandments. We have the knowledge of salvation. We will be without excuse on judgment day. We can hardly go two blocks without tripping over a Church or a Bible in this nation. We will be held accountable for that. 13. No special miracles will convince you of eternal life, or Heaven, or Hell - if the Word doesn’t. We must obey the Word. It is that simple. Luke 12:4-5 “And I say unto you my friends, Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will forewarn you whom ye shall fear: Fear him, which after he hath killed hath power to cast into hell; yea, I say unto you, Fear him.”
To the true born again Christian I say: Remain steadfast in your faith. No matter the hardship, discomfort, persecution, or suffering endured in this life; know you will be comforted for eternity. Persevere, fight the good fight of faith, & finish your course with Joy!
To the pretender, and mere confessor of religion, I say: Repent, and lie to yourself and to God no longer. God knows your heart. He knows you are playing, and have never truly bowed your knee to Him in faith and worship. You will not be held guiltless on judgment day, but you will be condemned, and will hear Jesus say “depart from Me, you worker of iniquity - I never knew you“. Get right with God right now.
And to the rest I say, you must be born again. You must be washed in the blood of Jesus, and believe on Him for the forgiveness of sins, to receive everlasting life and a place in Heaven. Your name must be written in the Lamb’s Book of Life. You must repent and be converted. With all of your heart, you must confess you are a sinner, and call on Jesus to save you. This is the Word of The Lord.