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Monday, September 21, 2020

“If They Do Not Listen …”

By Joe Chesser
 
    The story Jesus told about the rich man and Lazarus in Luke 16 is fascinating on several points. It gives us insight as to what happens to us after we die. Lazarus was taken by angels to Abraham’s side, a place of comfort (16.25). When the rich man died he went to a place of torment (16.23). The story tells us that once death has taken place, our destiny is forever sealed (16.26). A great chasm is fixed to prevent movement from one place to the other (16.26). No second chances.
    But to me, the greatest impact of this story is how it ends. Why? Because the ending of the story affects every one of us now … today. The rich man could do nothing about where he was eternally, but he desperately wanted his five brother who were still living on earth to avoid ending up in torment with him. His hope was that if Abraham would send Lazarus back to earth to warn his brothers about the horrors of the place of torment, that they would pay special attention to someone who had come back from the dead, and repent. The rich man knew his five brothers were heading to the same place he was … and he didn’t want them to join him there.
    Abraham’s answer speaks volumes about how people listen to God and His word, both then and now. Abraham told the rich man, “If they do not listen to Moses and the prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (16.31). In the Scriptures God has “given us everything we need for life and godliness” (2 Peter 1.3). There is evidence enough in the Bible for everyone who wants to know how to go to heaven when they die to do so. No new miracles or signs are needed. The apostle John put it this way: “Jesus did many other miraculous signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name” (John 20.30-31). The problem is not insufficient information. The problem is that most people are not listening to the word of God and doing what it says. The rich man and his brothers had access to God’s way of salvation, but they chose not to live by them, as do many today.
    Over and over God warns us about listening to Him. That means hearing what He says and doing what He says.  Jesus said the wise builder is the one who hears God’s words and puts them into practice (Matthew 7.24). James warned his readers, “Do not merely listen to the word, and so deceive yourselves. Do what it says” (James 1.19). Only those who do the will of God will enter into his kingdom (Matthew 7.21). Your soul is too valuable for you to refuse to listen to and obey God.
- Joe Chesser preaches for the Fruitland Church of Christ, Fruitland, MO.  He may be contacted at joeandareva@yahoo.com 


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