To the Pharisees, “who were covetous” (Luke 16:14), Jesus described what happened after death to the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31). In earthly life, the rich man had refused to help Lazarus, a beggar full of sores who was laid at his gate. The dogs did more than the rich man to help Lazarus, at least they licked his sores (Luke 16:21). Lazarus was not an able-bodied man trying to sponge off others; he could not work, but had to be carried to the rich man’s gate. He simply desired to be fed with the crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table (Luke 16:21). Wealth is not inherently evil, nor is poverty inherently good; however, a self-absorbed life sets a course for the soul that leads to eternal ruin. In this part the book of Luke, Jesus has been speaking on neglect. In Luke 14:16-23, Jesus highlighted the neglect of responding to the invitation. Here he speaks of neglecting a man clearly in need whom the rich man could easily have helped.
After death the situations of these two are reversed, as Abraham, a great Old-Testament saint in paradise, explained to the rich man, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented” (Luke 16:25). This was a reply to the rich man’s request for Lazarus to be sent with water to cool his tongue (Luke 16:24). It seems that even in torment the rich man’s self-centeredness remains. He wants Lazarus to be his servant, to fetch water for him.
The rich man had made Mammon (wealth) his god (Luke 16:13). Unlike Lazarus, the rich man is never given a personal name in this account. Perhaps this hints at the fact that he had established his identity on his wealth. When he left all his wealth behind at death, he lost his sense of self as well. We ought to take heed that we base our identity on God, Who never changes, but will live with the saved eternally after this short life on earth is finished.
Even the rich man’s request on behalf of his brothers turns out to be self-centered. He still wants Lazarus to be his servant, sent to warn his brothers (Luke 16:27-28). His plea also smacks of self-justification by suggesting that he, along with his five brothers, did not have ample opportunity to know what should be done to avoid torment. Abraham responds with, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29). The rich man is quick to dismiss this with, “Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent” (Luke 16:30). To dismiss the Law and the Prophets—the Scriptures that had been written at this time—is also to dismiss the gospel of Jesus Christ, for the Law and Prophets pointed to Christ (Luke 24:27, 44). The rich man demands something more than the clear warnings of the Bible. He wants an unavoidable sign such as someone speaking from the dead. Jesus, the one who rose from the dead, told us to go to what is written in God’s word to have eternal life (Luke 10:25-26; John 5:39).
There are many today who follow the rich man’s steps. Sadly, their blame-shifting blindness to their own spiritual need will lead to the same eternal destiny if they do not wake up and repent. Their self-absorption will lead them to choose torment, to be free from God who calls them to repent and think about someone other than themselves.
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By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid three months of his parents, because they saw he was a proper child; and they were not afraid of the king’s commandment. By faith Moses, when he was come to years, refused to be called the son of Pharaoh’s daughter; Choosing rather to suffer affliction with the people of God, than to enjoy the pleasures of sin for a season; Esteeming the reproach of Christ greater riches than the treasures in Egypt: for he had respect unto the recompence of the reward. By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for he endured, as seeing him who is invisible. Through faith he kept the passover, and the sprinkling of blood, lest he that destroyed the firstborn should touch them. By faith they passed through the Red sea as by dry land: which the Egyptians assaying to do were drowned. – Hebrews 11:23-29
Debates are not heard of much these days. Religious debates are heard of even less. However, there was a time when those of conviction would engage in honorable debate. In fact, in time past many Gospel Meetings (Revivals) conducted by our brethren would not come to a close without a challenge to debate from one of the denominations in the community.
Debating is a Biblical concept. Jude said Christians “should earnestly contend for the faith,” Jude 3. Paul said, “I am set for the defence of the Gospel,” Philippians 1:17. Jesus engaged in debates as we see in Mark 12:28, “And one of the scribes came, and having heard them reasoning together, and perceiving that he had answered him well, asked him, Which is the first commandment of all?” Jesus was a controversialist, so was Paul. In Acts 17:17 we read that Paul, “disputed he in the synagogue with the Jews, and with the devout persons, and in the market daily with them that met with him. The word “disputed” in this passage means “to discourse with one, i.e. he reasoned (ASV). Used of a discussion likely to end in a dispute. He engaged in a debate with them.” To engage in debate and set forth the truth of the Gospel has done and still does great good in evangelism. The view was once stated that “a week of debate is worth a year of preaching.”
The advantage to an honest and open religious debate is that both sides of the proposition is set forth. Light has its greatest effect when contrasted with darkness (e.g. religious error). Reading the religious debates of our brethren have the same advantages. Regarding a given issue, the position of a denomination is expressed, and the Bible answer is given by the defender of Truth. There are many debates still in print, either in book form or eBooks, audio recordings, video recordings, etc. There are several debate books in our library and many more can be found online. Such debates as:
James D. Bales and Woolsey Teller: The Existence of God, A Debate
- Perry B. Cotham and Peter John: The Cotham-John Debate on Miracles Today
- B. Hardeman and Ben M. Bogard: Hardeman-Bogart Debate on The Work of The Holy Spirit, The Necessity of Baptism, The Establishment of The Church, and The Possibility of Apostasy.
- B. Hardeman and Ira M. Boswell: Boswell-Hardeman Discussion on Instrumental Music in the Worship
- Charles R. Nichol and A. S. Bradley: The Nichol-Bradley Debate on The Kingdom Of Christ Was Established On The First Pentecost After The Resurrection Of Christ and Man Is Wholly Mortal And Unconscious From Death Till The Resurrection.
- Gus Nichols and J. D. Holder: Nichols-Holder Debate on Salvation Without The Preached Or Written Word, Or Any Condition On Their Part.
- Gus Nichols and Max R. King: The Nichols – King Debate on The 2nd Coming of Christ Occurred in 70 AD with the Fall of Judaism. (aka 70AD Doctrine)
- Foy E. Wallace, Jr. and Charles M. Neal: Neal-Wallace Discussion on the Thousand Years Reign of Christ
- Thomas B. Warren and L. S. Ballard: Warren-Ballard Debate on Is Obedience (Water Baptism) Necessary For Salvation.
- Thomas B. Warren and E. C. Fuqua: The Warren-Fuqua Debate on Are Men Out of The Church Amenable to the Law of Christ on Divorce and Remarriage.
- Guy N. Woods and A. U. Nunnery: The Woods-Nunnery Debate on Baptism and Apostasy
Many of these debates can be found in our church library. Many are still in print and can be ordered from Christian Bookstores (i.e. Tucker Bookstore, Chula Vista Books, etc.). Those listed in this article (and many more) can be found in PDF format through such websites as International College of the Bible (http://www.icotb.org/).
“But grow in grace, and in the knowledge of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. To him be glory both now and for ever. Amen.” 2 Peter 3:18
-Jerry D. Sturgill
Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience. Be not ye therefore partakers with them. For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord: walk as children of light: (For the fruit of the Spirit is in all goodness and righteousness and truth;) Proving what is acceptable unto the Lord. – Ephesians 5:6-10
And one of the malefactors which were hanged railed on him, saying, If thou be Christ, save thyself and us. But the other answering rebuked him, saying, Dost not thou fear God, seeing thou art in the same condemnation? And we indeed justly; for we receive the due reward of our deeds: but this man hath done nothing amiss. And he said unto Jesus, Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom. And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. – Luke 23:39-43
05.27.18 AM – Mark Day – The Words of a Thief05.27.18 AM – Mark Day – The Words of a Thief