Read Luke 16:19-31 “And it occurred that the man [reduced to] begging died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And in Hades (the realm of the dead), being in torment, he lifted his eyes and saw Abraham far away, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22, 23–Amplified Bible). A Pastor of an evangelical church once said to the elders: “No one will ever preach behind this pulpit who speaks about ‘fire and brimstone’.” Well, I guess this church won’t ask me to preach, for I only teach and preach the Word of God and today’s blog will talk directly to the great chasm between Heaven and Hell. Whether you believe there are such places after death, let me quote from Luke 16:31: “If they do not hear and listen to Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be persuaded and convinced and believe [even] if someone should rise from the dead.” I can’t convince you or persuade you to believe in any thing, but I can present to you the truth of God’s Word and you can take it from there. A GREAT CHASM REVEALED A man on an ocean liner was leaning over the ship’s rail, tossing something in the air and catching it. An onlooker asked, “What are you tossing?” “A diamond of great value,” the man said. “It’s all that I have in this world.” “Aren’t you afraid of losing it, tossing it over the water like that?” “No, I’ve been doing it this way for the past half hour and I’ve caught it every time” the man casually replied. “But there might come a last time,” remarked the onlooker. The man laughed and tossed it again–but this time he missed! For a moment he stood aghast. Then he cried out, “Lost! Lost! Lost!” You say, “That story isn’t true.” But, it is true of many people! The ocean is eternity and they are on the vessel of life. That diamond is their soul and if they do not know Jesus as their Savior, they are taking great risk; that every day will be their last on this earth. If they should die without Him, they would be eternally lost. BEING CARELESS ABOUT YOUR ETERNAL DESTINY How can people be so careless about their eternal destiny? One answer is, getting so caught up with the good things of this life, they neglect thinking about the life to come. The great deceiver Satan, gets them to focus on the here and now. Every once in a while, when a friend dies, a major catastrophe claims many lives, they think briefly of death. But they figure, “I’m a basically good person.” So they put it out of their minds and get on with pursuing life. My wife, who used to work in the grocery business, told me that one of her bosses in the store, when confronted with a “catastrophe” in the workplace would exclaim, “It is what it is, so deal with it!” In other words, “put it out of your mind and get on with it.” THE RICH MAN AND LAZARUS Jesus directs the parable to the Pharisees, starting in Luke 16:19. The Pharisees thought they could get into heaven because they were good men. They were the religious leaders of the community; they were at the synagogue every time the doors opened. They studied the Law and the Prophets, quoting lengthy sections of it in public. They participated in all the annual feasts and holy days of the Jewish faith. They gave ten percent or more of their income to the temple. They called Abraham their father. But, their religion was outward; they did what they did to impress others: “You are the ones who declare yourselves just and upright before men, but God knows your hearts” (Luke 16:15). They would have protested that they were keeping the Law. But they were not concerned about inner, heart righteousness before God. Like the rich man in the parable, they were living the good life, assuming that they would go to heaven. The rich man in the parable, as far as we know, was not guilty of any gross sin. His fault was living for himself, for this life only with no view to eternity. His sin was not in having money, for Abraham was a wealthy man! His sin was, he didn’t use the mammon of unrighteousness to make friends for himself. So when he failed, they would receive him into eternal dwellings (Luke 16:9). He failed to lay up treasures in heaven, even though the opportunity was laid before him every day. Even having Abraham as his father (16:24, 27, 30) wouldn’t help him on judgement day. It was because he had neglected the true message of Moses and the Prophets. His faith was mere profession that did not result in obedience. WHAT IS THE MESSAGE FOR US? “Since present choices determine eternal destiny,we must repent and believe God’s Word andnot be deceived by outward appearances.” There are three lessons to take heart: 1. THERE ARE TWO AND ONLY TWO ETERNAL DESTINIES. Jesus makes it plain: HEAVEN AND HELL! Heaven is pictured in the parable in the common Jewish symbolism at a Messianic banquet in Luke 13: “There will be weeping and grinding of teeth when you see Abraham and Isaac and Jacob and all the prophets in the kingdom og God, but you yourselves being cast forth (banished, driven away).And [people] will come from east and west, and from north and south, and sit down (feast at the table) in the kingdom of God” (verses 28, 29–Amplified Bible). At a banquet in that culture, the guests reclined at the table in such a manner, leaning back upon the chest of the one near you; to engage in intimate conversation. Lazarus is pictured at the banquet next to Abraham, the father of faith, enjoying rest, comfort, and fellowship; delivered from the trials known all his life. WHAT HEAVEN IS AND ISN’T LIKE While we won’t be eating perpetually throughout eternity (although that might be heaven for some!), that is the picture. To show us it will be a place of external rest and enjoyment. Whatever heaven is like, you can be sure it won’t be boring! No sitting on a cloud strumming a harp forever and ever. That doesn’t sound very exciting! The Apostle Paul gives us a glance at some of our doing in eternity: “Do you not know also that we [Christians] are to judge the [very] angels and pronounce opinion between right and wrong [for them]?” (1 Corinthians 6:3). While we don’t know what God has prepared for those who love Him, we do know He gives to us the most enjoyable activities on this earth; as a little foretaste of what heaven will be like. God will dwell among us; no sin or grievances against us; no mourning or pain (Revelation 21:3, 4). But the Bible makes it plain also, there is a place of eternal judgement called hell! I will continue with the next blog (Part Two), the second choice of eternal destiny; HELL!