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Life after Death PDF Print E-mail
Written by Ir. David Kurniadi   
Saturday, 17 March 2018 06:16

In Luke 16: 19-31, Jesus tells us the story about two men whose lives were very contrasting. The one was very poor while the other was very rich. The rich man was clothed in purple and fine linen. This was the apparel of a rich man at that time. He also lived in luxurious life and feasted everyday (verse 19). While the poor man lived as a beggar and his body was full of sores. He was laid at the gate of the rich man’s house (verse 20). He waited for the crumbs, which fell from the rich man’s table, to fill his empty stomach; moreover the dogs came and licked his sores (verse 21). It was a very sad situation.


But the strange thing in this story is that the poor man’s name was known, while the rich man’s name, which supposed to be well known, was unknown. The poor man’s name was Lazarus. The Lord must have a reason for this, which contains a very profound lesson for us. The Lord doesn’t hate a rich man: He doesn’t like discriminating people.


The Lord tells the story about the two men who have died (Remember, Jesus is the Lord of both the dead and living: Romans 14:9). The angels carried the poor man into Abraham’s bosom when he died (verse 22), while the rich man was thrown into hell (verse 23).


The Scriptures say: “Everyone whose name was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire” (Revelation 20:15).


The rich man’s name was not found in the book of life and cast into the hell, so the Lord cannot mention his name. While the poor man’s name was written and may enter the heaven, so the Lord mentioned his name that was Lazarus.


Jesus once said to the other seventy disciples, who were succeeded when He sent them to preach the Gospel, to rejoice because their names are written in Heaven (Luke 10:20). It means that their names are written in the book of life. Have our names been written in Heaven? We have to make it sure while we are living this life on earth, because it is the only chance for us, and not after we died.


Why the rich man was thrown into hell? It was not because he was rich, but because he transgressed the Great Commandment of God (Matthew 22:37-39), which says to “love the Lord God with all our hearts, with all our souls, and with all our minds, and to love our neighbor as ourselves; because on all these two commandments hang the laws and the prophets” (verse 40).


Everyday the rich man feasts in luxury (Luke 16:19). He seeks pleasure and satisfaction from party to party and from luxury things. He was materialist, secular and hedonist.


During that time the rich man party was always associated with drunkenness, indecency and lustful things.


“Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy” (Romans 13:13). 

That was why Job would sacrifice a burnt offering for each of his children every time after they would hold feasts, because he thought that may be his children sinned by carelessly spoke against God when they got drunk during their feasts (Job 1:4-5).


So a person who everyday partying and indulges himself with luxuries must be a worldly person. He loves the worldly things that make the love for God is not in him (1 John 2:15). We can say that the rich man in the story doesn’t love God with all his heart, and with all his soul and mind: he loves the worldly pleasures and sumptuousness more.


Man cannot love the world; live in debauchery and sinful life, and at the same time loves God. The love for the world will kill the love for God, and vice versa.


“No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money (including worldliness)” (Matthew 6:24).


The rich man also doesn’t care about other people that are in need. Though Lazarus was always at his gate, he didn’t care and never had compassion on him. The rich man actually had the opportunity to help the poor man Lazarus, who was sick and hungry, but he didn’t do anything. He was rich just for himself, but was poor in kindness in the eyes of God (Luke 12:21).


So the rich man transgressed the great commandments of God (Matthew 22:37-39). In other word the rich man transgressed the entire words of God, and he never repented until his death (Luke 16:23).


But the poor man Lazarus received blissfulness after his death. He entered the Heaven, not because he was poor, but because he was always dependent on God as long as he lived. The name Lazarus was similar to the name “Eleazar,” which means “God helps.”


The Lord Jesus once said: “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 5:3). Meanwhile the rich man never relied on God but in his riches: “who did not make God his stronghold but trusted in his great wealth” (Psalms 52:7). He relied in the power of his wealth. He thought that he could buy everything and handle anything with his money.


Then death comes. For Lazarus, death released him from his suffering, but for the rich man death ended his happiness and his party life; death separating the rich man from his great wealth that he embraced in his life. He must go with empty hand as when he was born (Job 1:21).


Death does not discriminate people, whether rich or poor. The rich man cannot refuse death with his great wealth. He could pay the best doctors or the most expensive medicines. He could buy vitamins to keep him healthy and long life, but his money could not keep him from death.


Death is the most democratic thing, because death treats everyone the same. Death doesn’t recognize and differentiate someone’s status. Death makes everyone the same before God: mere mortal beings.


There was no story about Lazarus’ funeral. May be only few people attended at his funeral. While the rich man funeral was mentioned in the story (Luke 16:23). Many people attended in his funeral. A well-known religious leader led the magnificent burial ceremony. If it was happened in this day, his coffin might be the most luxury and expensive one and his tomb would be magnificent. A very long convoy followed his hearse. May be his funeral was covered by television, and with big advertisement of his death in the newspaper. But this extravagant funeral doesn’t determine his happiness in the realm of death where he goes. In the other hand, the humble burial of Lazarus also didn’t prevent him from the blissful life in Heaven.


“Now he (Lazarus) is comforted (happy and joy) here and you are in agony (in hell)” (Luke 16:25).


Both Lazarus and the rich man were the descendants of Abraham: they were Israelites. But Lazarus was approved as the true Abraham son and allowed to sit by his side. While the rich man, who also called Abraham as his father, was rejected and thrown into hell. He was not recognized as true Abraham’s son.


“Understand, then, that those who have faith are children of Abraham … So, those who rely on faith are blessed along with Abraham, the man of faith” (Galatians 3:7,9).


So, not all Israelites are approved as Abraham’s sons, but those who live by faith like Abraham – the man of faith – are the true Abraham’s sons.


Though Lazarus was a poor man, but he lived in faith. He relied on God’s help, as his name that means: God’s help. That was why; he was recognized as Abraham’s son, and sat by his side. While the rich man, though he called Abraham as his father, because he was an Israelite, but he didn’t live by faith and relied on God, instead he relied on his great wealth. He was rejected to sit by Abraham’s side.


“I say to you that many will come from the east and the west, and will take their places at the feast with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven. But the children of the kingdom will be thrown outside, into the darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth” (Matthew 8:11-12).


We, who are in Christ, though we are not physically as descendants of Abraham, but through our faith we are accepted to become Abraham’s descendants spiritually (Galatians 3:29).


Though the rich man was the descendant of Abraham (Luke 16:24). But he didn’t live by faith like Abraham. The rich man didn’t recognize the God of Abraham. This we can see while he was praying in Hades. He didn’t pray to God for mercy, but he prayed to his ancestor, Abraham. He said: “Father Abraham! Have pity on me!” (Luke 16:24).


Jonah once cried out to the Lord from the realm of the dead, when he was dead swallowed by giant fish. He said: “From the deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, and you listened to my cry” (Jonah 2:2). And God had mercy on him, raised him from the dead and the Lord commanded the fish to vomit him out (Jonah 2:10). Luckily Jonah was expelled from the head of the fish not from behind.


If man does not know the Lord while he lives in this life, he will never know God in the later life. And he will be perished for not knowing God (Hosea 4:6).


The place where Abraham was with his children in heaven was separated very far from the place where the rich man was. It was separated by a great chasm (Luke 16:26), so that no one can cross over to change his fate or to change other people’s fate.


“Besides all these, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us” (Luke 16:26).


It means, in the realm of death one’s fate cannot be changed at all. If we want to change it, change it while we live, because after that our fate will be determined and cannot be changed eternally.


In the realm of death there will be no repentance. Repentance is only possible while we still live on earth. It will bring us into forgiveness and salvation. While we live, sins can be pardoned through earnest repentance (1 John 1:9). The blood of Jesus can wash away our sins (1 John 1:7) and makes us really clean (Isaiah 1:18); and we become righteous before God (Romans 3:23). But in eternity there will be no forgiveness anymore.


“If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9).


Seemingly one’s character, good or bad, will be carried to eternity. In Hades the rich man was still having the character when he was lived on earth. As a rich man he liked to rule other people and always considered the poor as his servants or slaves. We can see it when the rich man asked Abraham to send Lazarus to dip his fingertip in the water to cool his tongue (Luke 16:24), even though when he was lived he disgusted to Lazarus.


“So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in the water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire” (Luke 16:24).


It seems that man’s spirit can feel the agony in the realm of death though he has no physical body. Could it be what the apostle Paul meant as “spiritual body”  (1 Corinthians 15:44) that is “imperishable” (verse 42) either in Heaven or in Hell?

Will not the good and the evil alike one day be raised from the dead: the good will be raised to live a blissful life in heaven, and the evil will be raised to be condemned in hell (John 5:28-29); though each will be raised at different time (Revelation 20:5)? So, do not ever say that in the realm of death we will feel neither pain nor joy.


The rich man asked Abraham to raise Lazarus from his death and to send him to his father’s house to tell his brothers who live like him to repent (Luke 16:27). While during his life it was impossible the rich man would listen to the words of the poor like Lazarus. A certain man says: the wise words of the poor were considered like fart (sorry!) by the rich, while the fart (sorry again!) of the rich was considered as wise and gives inspiration by people surround him.


“No, father Abraham,” he said, “but (I am very sure) if someone from the dead goes to them they will repent” (Luke 16:30).


Abraham refused the rich man suggestion. But the rich man was always thought he was right and wiser than other people when he lived. He dared to oppose Abraham though he was in hell. He dared to say: “No, father Abraham, but …”


If while living man was stubborn and think himself wiser than other, then in hell he will be still stubborn and think himself that way, because they cannot repent anymore. If he dared to oppose Abraham while he is in hell, then while living he must be dare to oppose the spiritual leaders and refuse to hear the words of God they preached. And this is the bad character that caused him to be condemned in hell.


If we don’t change our bad attitude through repentance here when we are living in this world, then the bad attitude will be carried away into eternity. And this bad attitude will torture us and condemn us in hell. A man of God says: If grace cannot change you then grace cannot save you!


The rich man thought that if Lazarus was raised from the dead and would warn his brothers, they would repent. But Abraham said that if his brother would listen to the teaching of the word of God, which was available, they could repent, and not waited someone from the dead should come to tell them. But if they do not want to listen to the Word of God and to the admonitions of God’s servants, they will not repent even there is a man who rises from the dead and tell them to repent for their salvation.


“Abraham replied: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them. If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead” (Luke 16: 29,31).


Remember king Saul who called for the spirit of Samuel (1 Samuel 28:1-19), but Saul remained unrepentant though Samuel reprimanded him. Likewise the Jews at the time of Jesus: they had seen with their own eyes Lazarus who was raised from the dead and Jesus who had raised him; but they still didn’t believe in Jesus, instead they tried to kill Jesus and Lazarus as well (John 11:46-53; 12:10-11).


If man demands someone who rises from the dead to preach him, Jesus is the firstborn from the dead (Revelation 1:5), and He preaches the world the way for salvation, so that man will not perish but have everlasting life (John 3:16). But still the world does not want to hear Him. But those who receive His words He gives them a new life: a second chance to live in righteousness. They sins are forgiven, and they receive their salvation.


If we really would repent, then repent now! The word of God is always available and the servants of God are willing and ready to help them to know Christ. But if they harden their hearts, then even the man who rises from the dead will not make them believe and repent.


“But Abraham replied: Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted and you are in agony” (Luke 16:25).


In this story there is a statement that actually is not the teaching of our Lord Jesus, that if a man has received good things in life, he will suffer condemnation in hell, and if a man has received bad things in life, he will have a blissful life in heaven. This is not the principle that Jesus teaches us. Instead Jesus teaches us about salvation and eternal life through faith in Him (John 3:16; Ephesians 2:8; 1 Corinthians 10:9-10).


We have learnt before that the rich man was condemned and went to hell not because of his riches but because he transgressed the Great Commandment of God that is to love God and to love others (Matthew 22:37-40). The rich man perished because he didn’t acknowledge God Who Abraham worshiped and did not live in faith like Abraham – though he was the descendant of Abraham. Riches or wealth doesn’t make someone to be condemned in hell.


The teaching that “rich man goes to hell and poor man goes to heaven” was the false teaching of the Pharisees that was believed by some of the Jews especially the poor. The Pharisees wanted to comfort the poor by giving them hope that the poor will go to heaven, while at the same time they condemned the rich man that they will be punished in hell. Indeed at that time many rich men oppressed the poor (James 2:6; 5:1-6).


Through the story Jesus would teach us that we would be judged by the principle that we believe and embrace. If we believe and embrace the above principle we will be judged by that principle. In this story Jesus was judging the Pharisees with the false principle they taught.


If we believe that our alms and good deeds could purchase our salvation and redeem our sins, then we will be judged by that principle. And we will be failed and disappointed, because our alms and good deeds are not adequate to redeem our sins and purchase our salvation (Isaiah 64:6); not enough to buy the ticket that we might enter heaven without the grace of God. No one able to redeem his own sins which he has done in his entire life and purchase his own salvation apart from God’s grace. It was God’s grace alone that makes us forgiven and receives our salvation. Man cannot depend upon his own goodness but only on the God’s goodness.


If man has not yet reconciled with the Lord and is in enmity with Him, how can his alms and good deeds acceptable to the Lord? If God rejects the man himself then how can his good deeds acceptable?


But if we believe in God’s grace principle: in redemption and forgiveness of sins by the blood of Jesus, and the salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, then we will be judged according to that principle too. And the principle of grace will testify that our sins have been redeemed and paid by Jesus Christ on the cross in Calvary. Through His death on the cross we have been reconciled with God and now in peace with Him. So God now accepts us and even more adopts as His children. As the result, we are free from condemnation.


“Now therefore there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ” (Romans 8:1).


When we are stand before God’s throne, God will find our names are written in the book of life and we are sealed with the Holy Spirit (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) as God’s purchased possession (1 Corinthians 6:19-20). So there is no other choice for God but accepts us in Heaven and gives us eternal life according to the grace in Jesus Christ. Hallelujah!


“Who will bring any charge against those God has chosen? Is it God who justifies? Who then is the one who condemn? No one. Is it Christ who died – more than that who was raised to life, and is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us?” (Romans 8:33-34).


So man will be judged by whatever they believe and the principle they embrace:


“And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books were opened. Another book was opened which is the book of life. The dead were judged according to what they had done as recorded in the books” (Revelation 20:12).


If man relies on the work of the Law, then he will be judged according to the Law. And the Law demands man to do EVERYTHING written in the Book of the Law (Galatians 3:10). If he failed to do just one thing then he has failed entirely. No one can perfectly fulfill the demands of the Law, since the weakness of our flesh. The apostle Paul gave his testimony about this (Romans 7:13-26). That’s why God sent His Son Jesus to fulfill the Law for us (Romans 8:3; Galatians 4:4-5).


That’s the way man will be judged after his death (Hebrews 9:27): according to the principle they believe and embrace, either with the Law or without the Law (Romans 2:12). But for those who believe in Christ they are released from judgment and condemnation (Romans 8:1). Whatever it is, the choice is up to us. Let us choose to believe in Jesus and receive the grace of salvation and eternal life in heaven. Choose it while we live because there will be no more grace in hell.

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