Text: Luke 16:19-31
Sermon-in-a-Sentence: Live like hell is real!
Intro- There is some necessary information concerning Luke 16 that should be reviewed.
#1- These verses are not a parable. They describe a rich man who is unnamed, and a beggar named Lazarus. Parables do not use proper names. It also describes a place and gives account of a conversation. It is not a parable.
#2- Hades is the place of departed souls. The place of the dead.
#3- There were two parts to Hades – the place of torment and the place of comfort. Abraham mentions that these two areas are separated by a great gulf, a chasm.
I. Request #1 – …Have mercy on me…
A. 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. (16:24) The rich man requests comfort in the midst of the torment. The merciless one now cries out for mercy!
B. Things that stand out about this request. Notice:
* Notice the simplicity of the request. The rich man does not ask Abraham to perform some grand miracle. He does not request a day of no suffering, or an hour, or even a minute. As well he does not request a cup of water. He simply asks for Lazarus to dip his finger in water and touch his tongue.
* Notice the humility of the request. The beggar that this rich man had ignored while on the earth, is the very one that he requests Abraham to send. He had shown no mercy to Lazarus while living, but at his time of suffering he requests Lazarus to come to him.
* Notice the severity of the conditions. In verses 24 and 25 the rich man describes his suffering as ‘torment’. Another translation words it- I am in anguish in this flame.
II. Request #2 – …That thou wouldest send him… that he may testify unto them…
A. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. (v.27-28) The rich man requests that a warning be sent to his still living brothers. The one who gave no thought to eternity, now is deeply concerned about it.
B. Things that stand out about this request. Note…
* Notice the loneliness of the request. The rich man does not desire the company of his own brothers. The attitude of this rich man completely discredits the present day opinion that hell will be one big party. This man did not want even his own flesh and blood there with him.
* Notice the absence of ego in the request. The man so consumed with himself during life now exhibits a complete turn around. His second request is void of self and completely concerned about those still living.
III. Requests not Voiced
A. Did not request prayers from Lazarus or his brothers. There is no praying someone out of hell or ‘purgatory’ and into heaven.
B. Did not request to escape suffering. He hoped to simply receive a little comfort in the midst of the torment. There is no escape from the suffering experienced in hell.
C. Did not request an explanation as to why he was there. He knew why he was there and that his brothers would soon follow him to the same place. There will be no doubt for a person as to why they are in hell.
The concept of hell, a place of eternal torment, is an unpopular belief today. However the big challenge before pastors is not necessarily to preach on it more, but rather to provoke church members to live like hell is REAL. Believers live like hell is real! Preach like hell is real! Witness like hell is real! Pray like hell is real!