Two separate segments: One is a story that makes the point: If this life is all you care about, then this life will be as good as it gets for you. The second part is about how Christ’s Bride is to live together, addressing sin in an environment of grace filled forgiveness, because that is what God gave us!Both speak to the ordering of our lives, and what our preoccupation is.
Luke 16:19 – 17:10
19 Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man who was splendidly clothed in purple and fine linen and who lived each day in luxury. 20 At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. 21 As Lazarus lay there longing for scraps from the rich man’s table, the dogs would come and lick his open sores.
- Jesus compares the ‘Earthly’ condition of two men; both ends of the spectrum
- Obviously the rich man was aware of Lazarus
22 “Finally, the poor man died and was carried by the angels to sit beside Abraham at the heavenly banquet. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and he went to the place of the dead. There, in torment, he saw Abraham in the far distance with Lazarus at his side.
- At death they go to where God has predestined them to go
- Lazarus goes to ‘Abraham’s Bosom’: Theological equivalent of ‘Paradise’ Lk 23
- This is the ‘Presence of God’ aka: The heavenly banquet
- The rich man goes to Sheol, a place of torment.
- According to Christ the two places can view one another…
24 “The rich man shouted, ‘Father Abraham, have some pity! Send Lazarus over here to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue. I am in anguish in these flames.’
- The rich man recognizes ‘Father Abraham’ & tries to associate himself with him
- He is stuck in the past world’s hierarchy, thinking Lazarus should serve him
25 “But Abraham said to him, ‘Son, remember that during your lifetime you had everything you wanted, and Lazarus had nothing. So now he is here being comforted, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides, there is a great chasm separating us. No one can cross over to you from here, and no one can cross over to us from there.’
- Abraham sets him straight: You got yours on earth, Lazarus got NADA!
- The eternal situation is going to be the opposite of what they experienced
- Once you die, your eternal destiny is fixed
27 “Then the rich man said, ‘Please, Father Abraham, at least send him to my father’s home. 28 For I have five brothers, and I want him to warn them so they don’t end up in this place of torment.’ 29 “But Abraham said, ‘Moses and the prophets have warned them. Your brothers can read what they wrote.’
- Realizing he is a gonner, the rich man wants Lazarus to warn his family
- Abraham says: They have the info, as Jews they have the Scriptures
30 “The rich man replied, ‘No, Father Abraham! But if someone is sent to them from the dead, then they will repent of their sins and turn to God.’ 31 “But Abraham said, ‘If they won’t listen to Moses and the prophets, they won’t be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.’”
- He knows his brothers listen to the Scriptures as much as he did…
- He thinks: If someone were resurrected, that would make them repent….
- Sad Truth: Historically what happens to the jewish religious establishment….
- Didn’t listen to Moses & The Prophets; unpersuaded by Christ’s Resurrection
Material resources are not a sign of God’s eternal favor. Poverty and suffering are not signs of God’s eternal wrath.
There is a divide between eternal joy & eternal damnation that is determined by God.
God provides everyone with all the information they need to recognize His salvation.
Those Christ has placed His Spirit in do not live a lifestyle of preoccupation with wealth, luxury and comfort. Since our hope is fully in The Gospel we don’t live for this world..
So how should those Jesus Christ bought out of Hell live?
17:1 One day Jesus said to his disciples, “There will always be temptations to sin, but what sorrow awaits the person who does the tempting! 2 It would be better to be thrown into the sea with a millstone hung around your neck than to cause one of these little ones to fall into sin.
- The devil, everyone’s flesh and the world provide plenty of temptation
- As disciples of Christ we are not to join with what we have been rescued from!
- Christ makes it clear: causing others to sin is a big deal
3 So watch yourselves! “If another believer sins, rebuke that person; then if there is repentance, forgive. 4 Even if that person wrongs you seven times a day and each time turns again and asks forgiveness, you must forgive.”
- Another Believer = Fellow Disciple
- We are called to deal with sin, not to ignore it. Ignoring sin is participating in it
- Repentance is the only condition for ‘Abundant Forgiveness’
5 The apostles said to the Lord, “Show us how to increase our faith.” 6 The Lord answered, “If you had faith even as small as a mustard seed, you could say to this mulberry tree, ‘May you be uprooted and be planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you!
- They understood their need for more faith when dealing with forgiving others
- Same message as last week: Start small & trust God
- It doesn’t take much faith to see amazing things happen
- Why mustard seed? Your faith has to be faith a that can grow
7 “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me’? 8 No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’
- It takes faith to be a servant, you don’t get to serve based on what you want
- The Master gets to call the shots, but takes care of the servant
9 And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. 10 In the same way, when you obey me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”
- If you need to be thanked for serving Christ, you are not truly serving Him
- It is important that we see ourselves as ‘Unworthy’ of salvation
- In surrendering our lives to The Master we don’t do anything special, God does!
Willfully, purposefully tempting someone to sin is evil and will be punished. Fellow disciples are to address sin & facilitate repentance by practicing abundant forgiveness.
Christ’s church practices abundant forgiveness by Biblical faith in Christ. True faith is expressed by humbly serving The Master dutifully, without needing to be thanked!
We are called to be preoccupied with living as Christ’s disciples!
What is your plan to avoid becoming preoccupied with a lifestyle of luxury & comfort?
How do you foster relationships that can handle addressing sin?
How well do you practice abundant forgiveness in your church body?
Why are you willing to serve Christ, do it consistently, and not need to be thanked?