Pastor Zach McIntosh

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Adult Bible study!
                                                                                              Based on a True Story:   The Parables of Jesus

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            Contact Pastor Zach McIntosh at

                                                                                                                Chapter 7
                                                                                                             God In The Gap

                    “Join us next week as we begin our sermon series:
                      Based on a True Story: The Squeaky Wheel”

                                                                                                 Pastor Zach McIntosh
                16801 Huebner Road @ Loop 1604                                                       April 3, 2011
                     San Antonio, TX 78258
                        (210) 479-1477                                                         Concordia Lutheran Church
            “Based on a True Story: The Parables of Jesus”
                           God In The Gap
                 Pastor Zach McIntosh-April 3, 2011                   Verses 23-24
                                                                	     •	“In	hell”
Love and Judgment
	     •	Rob	Bell                                                	     •	“torment…agony”	(verses	25,	28)

                                                                	     •	“Send	Lazarus”	(Ben	Witherington	III,	C.S.	Lewis)
	     •	Francis	Pieper

                                                                      Verses 25-26
                                                                	     •	“Son”	–	teknon	–	“child”	(Ephesians 5:1)
Luke 16:19-31
      Verse 19-21
	     •	“purple	and	fine	linen”                                 	     •	“great	chasm”

	     •	“lived	in	luxury”	–	“fared	sumptuously”                       Verses 27-31
                                                                	     •	“beg”
	     •	“beggar”	–	ptoxos	–	“poor	man,”	“man	of	little	value”
                                                                	     •	“even	if	someone	rises	from	the	dead”
	     •	“Lazarus”	–	“one	who	God	helps”	(Psalm 73:13-14)
                                                                What’s the Transcendent Truth?
	     •	“what	fell	from	the	rich	man’s	table”
                                                                	     •______________________________________(Hebrews 9:27,	Augustine)
	     •	“dogs”	(Philippians 3:2,	Revelation 22:15)

                                                                	     •_________________________________(Matthew 25:41,1 Timothy 2:3-4)
      Verse 22
	     •	“Abraham’s	side”	(Matthew 8:11)

                                                                	     •_________________________________________________(verse	29)
                                                           Concordia, San Antonio, TX
                                                                        Luke 16:19-31

ABC Series: “Based on a True Story: The Parables of Jesus: God in the Gap”
We are in the middle of a series in both worship and ABC called “Based on a True
Story” where we are taking a look at the parables of Jesus in the Bible…
      …and just by way of review, I want to begin by giving the definition of a parable…
      because this is important to understanding the genre of literature we’re
      studying…parable: when Jesus takes everyday items, scenarios, and people
      and uses them to teach transcendent truth about the Kingdom of God…
And this weekend, as we continue through our series, we come to one of the hardest
parables in the Bible: the Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus…
      …and the reason this parable is so hard is because this is a parable about hell…
And I need to be upfront with you and tell you part of the reason we’re talking about this
parable today is because recently the topic of hell and whether or not there is a hell and
whether or not there are actually going to be any people in hell has been a big story in
the news these days…
      …a few weeks ago, a pastor named Rob Bell, who leads a church in Grand
      Rapids, MI, came out with a book titled Love Wins where he basically argues that
      God’s love is a love that will basically win everybody over and nobody will be in
      hell…nobody will have to spend an eternity apart from God under wrath after
      they die because they didn’t believe in Jesus Christ…
Rob talks about it this way in his book…
      “Millions have been taught that if they don’t believe, if they don’t accept
      Jesus in the right way, that is, the way the person telling them the gospel
      does, and they were hit by a car and died later that same day, God would
      have no choice but to punish them forever in conscious torment in hell.
      God would, in essence, become a fundamentally different being to them in
      that moment of death, a different being to them forever. A loving heavenly
      father who will go to extraordinary lengths to have a relationship with them
      would, in the blink of an eye, become a cruel, mean, vicious tormenter who
       would ensure that they had no escape from an endless future of agony. If
       there was an earthly father who was like that, we would call the authorities.
       If there was an actual human dad who as that volatile, we would contact
       child protection services immediately…That kind of God is simply
       devastating. Psychologically crushing.” (Rob Bell, Love Wins, 173-174)
       …and so here’s the argument: God cannot be both loving and pursue people for
       salvation like a father and then just and consign people to hell for their sin and
       their refusal to trust in Christ after they die…that picture of God just doesn’t wash
Now, it’s important to understand that Rob Bell isn’t the first person to struggle with this
tension: how God can be loving and just / gracious and wrathful at the same time…
In fact, let me show you another quote from a guy named Francis Pieper who also
struggles with this tension…
       “The objections raised in all ages to the endlessness of the infernal
       punishment are understandable; for the thought of a never-ending agony of
       rational beings, fully realizing their distressing plight, is so appalling that it
       exceeds comprehension...But all objections are based on the false
       principle that it is proper and reasonable to make our human sentiments
       and judgments the measure of God’s essence and activity.” (Francis
       Pieper, Christian Dogmatics, vol. 3, 545)
Now, just so you know, Francis Pieper was one of the greatest theologians to ever
grace our church body, the Lutheran Church – Missouri Synod…
       …he wrote a three volume series on Christian dogmatics, he was the president
       of Concordia Seminary in St. Louis, and he was also the president of our church
       body…I mean, this guy had amazing theological credentials…
       …but even a guy with theological credentials as amazing as Francis Pieper’s still
       struggled with the tension between God’s love and justice / grace and wrath…
There is, however, a fundamental difference between the way Rob Bell deals with this
tension and the way Francis Pieper deals with this tension…
       …Rob Bell deals with this tension by appealing to a fundamentally therapeutic
       view of God…he even says it! “This kind of God – a God who is both love and
       just / graceful and wrathful is devastating…psychologically crushing!” And so,
      how do we deal with this kind of God who strains the limits of our mind? We
      make him small enough and tamed enough to understand him…to feel good
      about him…we make him all love – in the sentimental way that we talk about love
      – and no wrath…that’s Rob’s answer…
Francis Pieper’s answer, however, is wholly different…
      …because he states that appealing to human psychology is not the answer: “All
      objections are based on the false principle that it is proper and reasonable to
      make our human sentiments and judgments the measure of God’s essence and
      activity”…we cannot make our human sentiments stand in judgment over God’s
      character…instead, God’s character must stand in judgment over our human
      sentiments…and we learn God’s character from the Bible…
You see, really, this whole debate over hell boils down to a question of trust…
      …when it comes to hell and what it is and who is there and how long it lasts, who
      are you going to trust? Your sentiments and sensibilities, or the way God reveals
      himself in his Word? Who are you going to trust?
(Now, before we jump into our text for today and what the Bible has to say about hell, I
do want to throw in a little caveat…
      …this is not a topic I enjoy talking about…I like to talk about things like the
      intricacies of biblical language and the Bible’s cultural settings and how this all
      relates God’s incredible, expansive, pervasive grace…I don’t like to talk about a
      reality as stark and as dark as hell…
And the reason I say this is because one of the things that Rob Bell says in his book is
that those who believe in the traditional doctrine of hell, as I do, get almost kind of a
twisted glee out of consigning other people to it…
      …he explains it like this: “Those people out there may be going to parties
      and appearing to have fun while the rest of us do ‘God’s work,’ but
      someday we’ll go to heaven, where we don’t have to do anything, and
      they’ll go to hell, where they’ll get theirs.” (Rob Bell, Love Wins, 180).
And you need to know, right out of the gate, that I don’t want anyone to go to hell so that
they can “get theirs,” as Rob Bell says…
        …in fact, I’d be happy if everyone did go to heaven, which is the very thing Rob
        Bell implies in his book…but as a pastor, I’m called to tell you the truth, even
        when that truth is hard…and the truth is hell is real and real people go there…
        and that’s why we’re doing this ABC…not because I get some kind of twisted joy
        out of talking about this topic and not even to prove Rob Bell wrong, but because
        Jesus talks about hell and its reality and I don’t want anyone in this room to go
        there…and you don’t have to…because Christ has opened salvation to you…and
        we’ll be talking about that…
But with that, on to our parable for today…
Luke  16:19-­‐‑21  
    “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  sores  21  and  
longing  to  eat  what  fell  from  the  rich  man’s  table.  Even  the  dogs  came  and  licked  his  

        …pause right there…
Jesus opens his parable by introducing to us a rich man…
        …and the first thing Jesus mentions about this rich man is that he dresses in
        “purple and fine linen”...and this is an important thing to catch…because in the
        ancient world, purple fabric was very rare – it was reserved primarily for royalty –
        and it was very expensive…it could easily break your bank if you weren’t careful
        …you could only buy it at Nieman Marcus, Saks 5th Avenue, and Nordstrom and
        it was never on sale / could never find it on the clearance rack…and Jesus says
        this guy dresses in purple every day…and so the picture here is almost comical:
        this rich guy goes to his closet and looks at all his outfits and thinks to himself,
        “Hmmm…What am I going to wear today? How about something purple!”…
        because that’s how rich this guy was…
But not only did he dress in purple, he also dressed in “fine linen”…
        …and this is a technical phrase referring to, I kid you not, a person’s underwear
        …and this kind of linen underwear was actually imported from Egypt – I am not
        making this up – and was again very expensive…and so Jesus is saying, “Here’s
        how rich this guy was: He spent lots of money on every single piece of
        wardrobe, right down to his skivvies!”
But that’s not all…
       …because Jesus says this man “lived in luxury”…and I actually like the old
       KJV better here…it says he “fared sumptuously” or “feasted sumptuously”
       …and so this guy is having seven course dinners every night…
       …and what’s especially interesting here is that the Greek word for “sumptuously”
       has a sense of being “ostentatious” or “showy”…and so it’s not just that this guy
       is having lavish seven course meals, it’s that he’s bragging…he goes up to all his
       friends the morning after one of his big parties and says, “You would not believe
       the roast duck with mint sauce that I had last night! Mmmm…mmmm…mmmm!”
But all the while he’s feasting sumptuously / ostentatiously, he doesn’t even notice that
there is a beggar lying at his door, in need of help…
       …and the Greek here for the word “beggar” is ptoxos…and this word can refer
       to either the socioeconomic status of a person – that he is poor – or the intrinsic
       value of a person – that he himself is not worth very much / has little value…
       …and I was thinking about this, and I realized how, all too often, these two things
       – someone’s socioeconomic status and what we assume about their intrinsic
       worth / value – go together…I mean, has anybody ever seen someone on the
       side of the road with one of those signs, “Hungry…Anything Helps” and
       immediately thought to yourself, “What a mooch! I bet if I gave them money they
       wouldn’t even use it for food…they’d just use it for booze”…now, although it is
       true that, sadly, a lot of people who do hold up those signs do struggle with
       chemical dependencies and we need to be discerning, it’s amazing to me how
       quickly our minds jump from a person’s socioeconomic status to a person’s
       character / value / worth…we see that they’re poor financially, so we assume that
       they must be poor spiritually / have a poor character..
And this was probably what this rich man thought of this beggar lying at his door…he
probably thought, “This vagabond sure is hurting my property values! Can’t we do
something to get rid of this guy! He’s just trying to mooch off me…”
       …but, as we’re going to see, even though the rich man thinks the beggar is poor
       in character and a mooch, it’s really the rich man who is poor in character…
(Now, this beggar has a name: Lazarus…
        …and this is the only parable in which a character gets a name…and so Lazarus
        is obviously a very significant guy…
        …in fact, the meaning of his name is kind of interesting…it means, “one who
        God helps”...and I hope you catch the irony here…because here is a man
        whose very name extols the promise of God’s help in time of need, and yet, it
        sure doesn’t seem like God is helping him / hanging him out to dry…
(You know, I think I’ve lost track of how many times I’ve had someone in my office or on
the phone and their life is not going well…their finances are in ruin or a relationship is a
wreck or they’re struggling with depression or chemical dependency…
        …and they’ll say something to me like, “I just wish I could catch a break from
        God…I mean, it’s just one thing after another…and I’m just wondering if God
        hears or knows or even cares…Can’t he help me out a little bit?”…
If you’ve been through or are going through or know someone who’s going through a
time like this, then I just want you to remember the name “Lazarus”…
        …because he’s the poster child for someone whose very name expresses the
        theological truth that God does indeed help and care, while, by all appearances,
        not receiving any of that help and care himself…
And this is a tension that the biblical writers struggle with…because the Bible is clear:
God is our helper…and yet, sometimes, he seems strangely distant when we need his
help the most…the Psalmist talks about it like this…
Psalm  73:13-­‐‑14    
     Surely   in   vain   have   I   kept   my   heart   pure;  in   vain   have   I   washed   my   hands   in  
innocence.  14  All  day  long  I  have  been  plagued;  I  have  been  punished  every  morning.  
          …and so the Psalmist is saying here: “Hey, what’s going on? I trust in God /
        believe in God / hope in God / am righteous before God! Why is everything
        going wrong? Can’t I get a little bit of help around here?”
But as we’re going to see in the story of Lazarus…God does indeed help…even when
we can’t see it and even when that help is a long time coming…
        …because right now, things are not looking up for Lazarus…
(Jesus says that Lazarus longed to eat (vs. 21): “what fell from the rich man’s table”
        …and the way this would have worked is that a meal like this one, there would
        have been bread and then some sauce to dip it in…and if you were really rich,
        what you would do is you would dip your bread into this sauce, eat a bite, and
        then use the remaining dry bread a napkin to wipe your fingers or your mouth
        and then you would just throw it on the floor…
        …and it was a terrible waste…but this is the way that a lot of rich people would
        show that they were rich in this day…they had bread to spare and so they would
        just toss it on the ground…
        …and Jesus says that Lazarus was so hungry that he longed for this bread…this
        bread that was someone else’s dirty napkin…
But not only was Lazarus extremely hungry, he was also sickly…
        …Jesus says (vs. 21) that he had these sores all over his body and the dogs
        would come and lick his sores…
Now, in our day, we like “dogs”…they’re our pets…
        …but the Bible takes a much more negative view of dogs…because people didn’t
        keep dogs as pets in the first century…and so the only dogs around were stray
        dogs who would scavenge for food…and this makes sense since apparently, at
        this rich man’s house, there was all this bread for them to scavenge…and so
        dogs in this day were considered unsanitary and even evil…
Just a couple of quick examples of this…
Philippians  3:2  
  2  Watch  out  for  those  dogs,  those  men  who  do  evil,  those  mutilators  of  the  flesh.  

        …and so Paul here compares evil men / men who are enemies of God to dogs…
Revelation  22:15   John has this captivating view of heaven and he says…
     Outside  are  the  dogs,  those  who  practice  magic  arts,  the  sexually  immoral,  the  
murderers,  the  idolaters  and  everyone  who  loves  and  practices  falsehood.  

        …and so here is a stark and dark picture of the reality of heaven the reality of
        hell…because there are people in heaven with Jesus celebrating forever…but
        there are also people outside…in hell…and John calls these people dogs…
And so time and time again in the Bible, wicked people were compared to dogs…Why?
Because obviously God likes cats better than dogs…don’t hiss! It’s in the Bible!
And so these are dogs in the Bible…and this is Lazarus’ life: poor, starving, sickly, and
being licked by stray dogs…it’s a miserable existence…
(Jesus continues…
Luke  16:22  
     “The  time  came  when  the  beggar  died  and  the  angels  carried  him  to  Abraham’s  side.  
The  rich  man  also  died  and  was  buried.  

(If you’ve ever had a loved one who has died after a long and protracted sickness, one
of the things you have to deal with after their death are some mixed emotions…
        …because on the one hand, you’re really sad that they’re gone…and you miss
        them…and you wish that they wouldn’t have died…and you shed some
        tears…but, on the other hand – even if it’s hard to admit it – a lot of times, you
        also feel a certain amount of relief…because that person you love has been so
        sick and so miserable for so long that it’s nice to know that finally, they’re out of
        their misery…and if they believed in Jesus, it’s great to know that finally, they’re
        safe and peaceful in the arms of their Savior…
And as I was reading Lazarus’ story this past week and pondering it, this was what I felt
for him when I finally got to this verse: a sense of sadness, yes, but also a sense of
relief…because Lazarus had such a miserable life…and when you read that his misery
finally comes to an end, you can’t help but be a little glad for him…
(Jesus says that when Lazarus dies, he is carried by angels to “Abraham’s side”
        …and this phrase, “Abraham’s side,” is an important phrase to catch…
Because one of the beliefs about heaven among first century Jews was that Abraham
was going to be there and there was going to be a giant feast…that’s why Jesus says…
Matthew  8:11  
     I  say  to  you  that  many  will  come  from  the  east  and  the  west,  and  will  take  their  places  
at  the  feast  with  Abraham,  Isaac  and  Jacob  in  the  kingdom  of  heaven.  

        …and so apparently, Lazarus is now at this feast…
And when you went to a feast in the ancient world, you actually wouldn’t sit at a table,
you would actually recline at a table…
        …the way this would work is that you would lean way down on your left elbow so
        that you could eat your food with your right hand…
And so, here’s the picture: Lazarus is reclining on his left hand, eating with his right
hand, right next to Abraham…his head is actually in Abraham’s side…
        …the old KJV says Lazarus is in “Abraham’s bosom” / right there in his stomach
        …and so, if Lazarus is leaning on his left elbow and his head is in Abraham’s
        bosom, that means he’s on Abraham’s right side…
Now, you guys tell me: At a dinner / feast, what seat was always the seat of honor?
        …it was the seat on the right hand side…and Lazarus gets to recline on the right
        hand side of Abraham…he is the guest of honor at this heavenly feast…
And I hope the irony isn’t lost on you here…
        …because on earth, Lazarus wasn’t even able to get table scraps from the rich
        man…but now in heaven, he, just like the rich man, is feasting sumptuously as
        the guest of honor on Abraham’s right side! He’s finally getting was his name
        promises: the Lord is helping him…that’s Lazarus!
But then, there’s the rich man…and Jesus says that he dies too…
        …but as we’re going to find out, the rich man’s eternal destiny is much different
        than Lazarus’…Jesus continues…
Luke  16:23-­‐‑24  
     In  hell  (the rich man is in hell),  where  he  was  in  torment,  he  looked  up  and  saw  
Abraham  far  away,  with  Lazarus  by  his  side.  24  So  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.’  

Now, there are a couple of things that I want you to notice here…
(The first thing I want you to notice is the language of agony that Jesus uses here…
        …the rich man is in “torment,” Jesus says in vs. 23…and he’s in “agony”
        according to vs. 24…and these same adjectives come up again in vs. 25 and 28
Guys, you need to know something…and this is not popular…but there is torment and
agony in hell…it is not a pleasant place…it is a place of extreme torment and agony…
        …it is a place where people really, truly, consciously suffer…
In fact, one of the things that Rob Bell pokes fun at in his book is how some Christians
believe that people will consciously suffer forever in hell…
        …he says: “On the websites of many churches, there is a page where you
        can read what the people in that particular church believe. Usually the list
         starts with statements about the Bible, then God, Jesus, and the Spirit,
         then salvation and the church, and so on. Most of these lists and
         statements include a section on what people in the church believe about
         the people who don’t believe what they believe. This from an actual church
         website…‘The unsaved dead will be committed to an eternal conscious
         punishment’…We’re told not only will these ‘unsaved’ be punished forever,
         but they will be fully aware of it – in case we were concerned they might
         down an Ambien or two when God wasn’t looking…All this, on a website.
         Welcome to our church.” (Rob Bell, Love Wins, 95-96).
Now, I have to admit that I like the rhetorical flare here that Rob uses, it makes me
chuckle…but no amount of rhetorical flare and poking fun at church websites and what
they say about conscious punishment in hell can cover up false doctrine…
(Guys, I just don’t know of another way to cut this, slice this, or dice this…
         …the rich man, no matter what Rob Bell says, is suffering consciously…it’s not
         popular, but it is true…this is why Jesus uses words like “torment” and “agony”
         four times…these are words that you can feel! They’re words of consciousness!
In fact, the torment and agony the rich man is experiencing is so excruciating, the rich
man, when he looks up and sees Lazarus and Abraham, cries out to Abraham (vs. 24):
‘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.’…The rich man is clearly in agony…  
But here’s what’s really interesting…
         …here is the rich man, in hell, in excruciating conscious pain, while Lazarus is
         reclining as the guest of honor at the heavenly banquet with Abraham, and yet,
         the rich man still seems to think he’s better than Lazarus / still seems to think
         he’s more important than Lazarus… he even asks Abraham to tell Lazarus to run
         an errand for him (vs. 24): “Send  Lazarus  to  dip  the  tip  of  his  finger  in  water  and  cool  

         my  tongue,” he says…he wants Lazarus to be his water boy! You see, the
         problem with the rich guy is that he just doesn’t get it! Hell doesn’t humble him in
         his sin! He’s just as selfish and pompous as he’s always been…that’s why, if you
         notice, the rich man never asks Abraham to leave hell!
I mean, think about this for a moment…
        …if you were in hell and you were in agony and you got to see Abraham in
        heaven and talk to him, doesn’t it just seem logical that if you were to ask for
        anything, the first thing you’d ask for is to get out of hell?
But this rich man doesn’t ask for that! He doesn’t ask to get out of hell…
        …I love the way a NT scholar named Ben Witherington III puts it…he says: “The
        rich man doesn’t ask for a promotion to the bosom of Abraham, only drink
        service in hell. Sad, yes, but true.” (Ben Witherington III,, 3.27.11)
You see, this is how stuck this man is in his own sin and depravity: even in his agony
and torment, he still doesn’t repent of his sin…he chooses to stay in his sin and in hell
        ...C.S. Lewis puts it this way: “All that are in hell choose it.” (C.S. Lewis, The
        Problem of Pain, 116).
        …the rich man has chosen to be in hell…and he will not choose differently…
(Jesus continues his story…
Luke  16:25-­‐‑26  
   “But  Abraham  replied  (to the rich man’s request to make Lazarus his water boy),  Son..  

        …and I want to pause right here and make a quick note on the Greek word for
        “son” here…it’s the word teknon…and what’s important to catch in this word is
        that it’s a word that denotes not so much a biological relationship – this person is
        the son of that person – as it does emotional endearment…it denotes love…
Ephesians  5:1  
  1  Be  imitators  of  God,  therefore,  as  dearly  loved  children.  

        …and the Greek here for “children” is teknon…and Paul doesn’t pull any
        punches here…he says that teknons are “dearly loved” by God…and so, when
        Abraham calls the rich man, “son,” he’s using a term of affection / endearment…
And it’s here that we encounter a profound tension between the love of God and the
justice of God…
        …because this rich man is loved by God…God’s servant Abraham says as much
        when he calls this rich man a teknon…but God’s love does not negate his
        justice…God still consigns this man to an eternity in hell for his sins…and this is
        just! This is precisely what his sins deserve…
You see, one of the problems with a lot of different theologies out there is that they take
one attribute of God and then use it to trump another attribute of God…
        …they take the love of God and they say, “Well, the love of God will eventually
        carry the day in a way that God won’t really worry about that justice thing
        anymore…he won’t punish people for their sins…he’ll just call it good enough
        and everything will be fine”…OR, they take the justice of God and they say,
        “Those who are always talking about God’s love and how incredible and
        expansive it is, they’re just not taking seriously that our God is a just God! He’s a
        sovereign God! He’s a holy God! We need less talk about love and more talk
        about justice and God’s wrath at sin!”
But both of these positions fail to hold God’s attributes in tension…
        …God is wholly loving and wholly just…God is wholly gracious and yet gets very
        angry at sin…God is perfectly sovereign and yet willing to listen to and respond
        to our prayers…and it’s important to believe in all these attributes! It’s important
        to take seriously all these attributes!
And so, when Abraham calls the rich man a teknon, we see both the love of God for
sinners and the wrath of God at sin being held together in perfect tension…and so…
 “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.  26And  besides  all  this,  between  us  and  you  a  great  chasm  has  been  fixed,  so  that  
those  who  want  to  go  from  here  to  you  cannot,  nor  can  anyone  cross  over  from  there  to  

        (In his book, Rob Bell has a picture that of a painting that he says hung on the
        wall of his grandmother’s house from before he was born…take a
        look…***CROSS PIC***…and I actually love the way he describes this picture:
        “In the center of the picture is a massive cross, big enough for people to
        walk on. It hangs suspended in space, floating above an ominous red and
        black realm that threatens to swallow up whoever takes a wrong step…It’s
        as if Thomas Kinkade and Dante were at a party, and one turned to the
        other sometime after midnight and uttered that classic line, ‘You know, we
        really should work together sometime…’” (Rob Bell, Love Wins, 21-22)
        …and I love that…it makes me chuckle every time I read it…
But this picture is actually an illustration of the gospel that has been used many times…
        …and the idea is that our sin separates us from God / creates a chasm between
        us and God…and rather than us having to bridge the chasm by our good deeds
        or our pious thoughts or our perfect doctrine, Jesus dies on a cross in our place
        for our sins and his work / his cross bridges the chasm between us and God…in
        fact, that’s actually where we got the title for today’s lesson from: “God in the
        Gap”…it’s not about how God shops at midrange priced clothing stores, it’s about
        how God in Christ stands in the gap that separates us from him through the cross
        …and so hell, then, is the refusal to cross over to God on the cross of Christ…it’s
        the insistence on living in that chasm that separates us and God…and this is
        essentially what Abraham is talking about when he says, “Between  us  and  you  a  

        great  chasm  has  been  fixed  ,  so  that  those  who  want  to  go  from  here  to  you  cannot,  nor  

        can  anyone  cross  over  from  there  to  us.”…and so the chasm that was once bridged
        by the cross of Christ in this life is now fixed for eternity…and the rich man is
        stuck in this chasm / stuck in hell…
And it’s here where the true weight of the rich man’s plight begins to sink in…
Luke  16:27-­‐‑31  
     “He  answered,  ‘Then  I  beg  you,  father,  send  Lazarus  to  my  father’s  house,    

        …and you can almost hear the pitch in the rich man’s voice begin to get more
        desperate…now, he’s “begging” Abraham…this is a critical situation…
     “‘Then  I  beg  you,  father,  send  Lazarus  to  my  father’s  house,  28  for  I  have  five  brothers.  
Let  him  warn  them,  so  that  they  will  not  also  come  to  this  place  of  torment.’  
     “Abraham  replied,  ‘They  have  Moses  and  the  Prophets;  let  them  listen  to  them.’  
     “‘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.’”  
         …and of course the irony of all this is that the very person who tells this story did
        rise from the dead…and just like Jesus foretold here, there were people still
        didn’t believe…there are people who still don’t believe…they are content and
        even insistent on finding their eternal home in that chasm of sin – that hell – that
        separates them from God…
And so that’s parable…and it’s a tragic one…
        …but our destinies do not to end in this kind of tragedy / we do not need to spend
        our eternities in pain and agony in the chasm of our own sin in a place called hell
And this leads us to our transcendent truths for today…
        …a parable is where Jesus takes every items and scenarios and people and
        uses them to teach transcendent truth about the way things work in his Kingdom
        and so, what are the transcendent truths that we can walk away with from this
        parable? And I would offer three of them…
The first is this: Salvation and damnation are eternal (2x)
(One of the big arguments that Rob Bell makes in his book is that salvation and
damnation are not eternal and that, when it comes to damnation, God can save you
even post-mortem…
        …Rob writes: “There are some who…insist that there must be some kind of
        ‘second chance’ for those who don’t believe in Jesus in this lifetime.” (Rob
        Bell, Love Wins, 106) And the idea here is that hell is almost like purgatory…
        you suffer the consequences of your sin in hell, but it’s only temporary, not
        eternal…eventually, you’ll make it to heaven…but this is not true!
The preacher of Hebrews couldn’t be clearer…
Hebrews  9:27  
     Man  is  destined  to  die  once,  and  after  that  to  face  judgment.  

        …and so you die, you face judgment, and that’s it…there are no second chances
This is why Abraham talks about that chasm that has been fixed between heaven and
hell…you can’t go from one to other…it’s fixed for eternity!
And just so you know, this is actually the historic position of the Christian Church…take
a look at this quote from Augustine…
        “Is it not folly to assume that eternal punishment signifies a fire lasting a
        long time, while believing that eternal life is without end?...If both are
        ‘eternal,’ it follows necessarily that either both are to be taken as long-
        lasting but finite, or both as endless and perpetual.” (Augustine,
        Concerning the City of God Against the Pagans)
        …and so Augustine says that both salvation and damnation are eternal /
        perpetual / fixed…there is no “get out of hell free” card…
So that’s transcendent truth #1: Salvation and damnation are eternal…
Then, transcendent truth #2 is this: God doesn’t want you to be damned (2x)
        …God doesn’t want you to wind up in hell…he wants you trust in Jesus and
        experience salvation…
In fact, I had never noticed this before I was studying up for the ABC…
        …do you guys remember the story of the sheep and the goats? How there are
        some who trust in Jesus and they are sheep and they experience eternal
        salvation and there are some who are goats and they don’t believe in Jesus and
        they experience eternal damnation?
Do you remember what Jesus says to the goats? Turn in your Bibles to…
Matthew  25:41  
     “Then  Jesus  will  say  to  those  on  his  left  (the goats),  ‘Depart  from  me,  you  who  are  
cursed,  into  the  eternal  fire  prepared  for  (who?) the  devil  and  his  angels.  

Who is the fire prepared for? The devil and his angels…
        …that’s who hell is prepared for…not for people…Jesus prepares hell as the final
        destination for Satan and his demons…but if people refuse to repent of their sin
        and trust in Jesus / if they insist on working with Satan, Jesus will give them what
        they want: he will put them with Satan… but Jesus doesn’t want this for you…
1  Timothy  2:3-­‐‑4  
    This  is  good,  and  pleases  God  our  Savior,  4  who  wants  all  men  to  be  saved  and  to  come  
to  a  knowledge  of  the  truth.  

And so this is transcendent truth #2: God doesn’t want you to be damned…
And then, transcendent truth #3: You have what you need to trust in Christ for
salvation (2x)
At the very end of Jesus’ parable, when the rich man is begging Abraham to send
Lazarus to go and tell his five brothers about hell so that they won’t come there,
Abraham says (vs. 29): “They  have  Moses  and  the  Prophets;  let  them  listen  to  them.”
       …all the brothers have to do is to listen to Moses and the Prophets / listen to
       their Bible and believe what it says…and they will not taste the fires of hell…
And you know what? We have Moses and the Prophets too…
       …but we even have more than that for we have the gospel of Christ! A gospel
       which tells us how Christ died on the cross in our place for our sins to conquer
       hell, death, and the devil! A gospel that invites us to trust in Christ for salvation!
       To cross Christ’s cross into eternity! We have the Bible! We have all that we
       need for salvation!
And so, let me ask you: “Are you listening? Are you listening to what the Scriptures say
about sin / Jesus / how Jesus rescues you from sin and brings you into salvation? Are
you listening?”
(ILL: I do not watch soap operas – at all – but there is a show that I know of that has
been on ABC since 1968 – and I couldn’t tell you what it’s about – but I was thinking
about it’s title: “One Life to Live”…has anybody ever heard of this show?
And I was thinking about how in soap opera parlance, this probably means one life to
live to take chances and one life to live to live it up and engage in all sorts of things –
many of which are immoral…one life to live to be rich and to flaunt your affluence…
       …that’s what having one life to live means in the soap operas…and in our world..
That’s not what it means for Jesus, though…
       …because to have one life to live for Jesus means to have one life to listen…one
       life to listen for the call of the gospel…one life to listen for the promptings of
       God’s Spirit…one life to listen for ways of God’s Word…because if you don’t
       listen in this life, the sad tragedy and truth is that you’re not going to listen in the
       next either…the rich man in Jesus’ parable is proof of that…
You only got one life to listen…and how you listen – and really, if you believe what
you’re listening to – makes all the difference in eternity…
And so, let me ask you again, “Are you listening?”
       …I hope you are…because the gospel / God’s love for you / God’s salvation won
       for your through Christ on the cross is the best thing in this world – and the next –
       to listen to…