Friday, August 12, 2011
Earlier I have referred to Brownlow North (1810-1875) and his evangelistic efforts in England and Ireland. I enjoyed reading the book "The Rich Man and Lazarus" (Banner of Truth Trust).
Some very emphatic points were made about the plight of the rich man in Jesus' story in 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. 23 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.'
25"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. 26 And 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 us.'
27"He answered, '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.'
29"Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.'
Note the rich man arrived in hell, not because of riches but because of unbelief. There is a hell.
The rich man pleaded for mercy. One will either importune Jesus during this life and to his eternal joy. Or in the next life when the divinity of Jesus becomes most apparent, but the petitioner has run out of time.
He claimed that he thirsted. All men will hunger and thirst for righteousness...now or later.
The rich man prayed amiss to Father Abraham. There will be no profit in praying to anyone but Father God in the name of Jesus. Not to saints. Not to the memory of a sainted grandmother or diligent pastor/priest. Not to little Mary of Nazareth.
The rich man was straightened over the thought of five brothers coming to join him. Was it for their sakes? Or did he anticipate that the thought of his fruitless influence might constitute his greatest torment. This should register as one area of great responsibility in elder siblings, parents, employers, pastors and teachers...that of spiritual influence and encouragement.
He prayed that some miraculous occurrence might help his brothers. Perhaps one sent back from the dead with a message of warning. But miracles will not bear fruit meet for repentance unless the heart has been honestly exercised by the conviction and promise of Holy Scripture. Supernatural manifestations are NOT all from God.
In the pages of my Bible I took note of one very impressive admonition from North:
"Men have been known to gain the whole world by their wisdom and natural powers, but no man ever yet followed the guidance of his own wisdom, from his birth to his grave, who did not dishonour God and lose his own soul. It was for this reason - because no man could by wisdom find out God - that God gave us his word, the Bible; and whether we believe that word or our own reason, is the point on which hangs our salvation."