Pastor's Notes: [View Archives]
C.S. Lewis was told about a gravestone that read, "Here lies an atheist—all dressed up and no place to go." Lewis quietly replied, "I bet he wishes that were so!"
Pause my friend, as you walk by:
As you are now, so once was I
As I am now, so you will be.
Prepare, my friend, to follow me!
Great advice most would think! But one visitor who read this epitaph felt compelled to add two additional lines to it...
To follow you is not my
Until I know which way you went!
The Bible teaches us that life after death for the Christian is a wonderful time of fellowship with the Lord Jesus Christ, and a great reunion time with relatives and friends in the Christian faith who have passed on before us.
In the book of Acts, Stephen, while being stoned to death for preaching the Gospel, in that moment before passing, said,
Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of man standing on the right hand of God.
Life after death for the Christian is a wonderful, exciting, and glorious event, for it brings us into the very presence of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
However, life after death, for the unbeliever is quiet a different thing. C.S. Lewis understood the truth about life after death. The atheist may very well be all dressed up, but he wasn't without a destination.
What is it like to die without Christ?
19: There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day:
20: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores,
21: And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores.
Here we have the report of two men. One is rich and self-sufficient, so much so that Jesus says he "fared sumptuously every day."
The other is Lazarus. He is a beggar. He has nothing. He's sick and suffering and in need of food and medical attention. And adding insult to injury, the Bible says, "the dogs came and licked his sores." Is this not a miserable picture?
The Bible says that Lazarus was laid at the rich man's gate. Somebody, obviously, saw Lazarus's need, and carried him to a good place where his needs could certainly be met. But, unfortunately, though Lazarus desired the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table, he never received one morsel. This rich man, everyday, filled his belly with a wholesome breakfast, had his juice and coffee, and walked right out the front door, down his walk, his newspaper stuck up under his arm, and stepped right over this miserable sight of a beggar named Lazarus.
So here are two lifestyles, each drastically different one from the other, but on a specific date, death came for both at the same hour. The Bible says,
…it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment:
22: And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried;
Nobody saw the angels sweep in and carry Lazarus away into Abraham's bosom, a place of rest, and a place of peace. When Lazarus died, the city street workers came and scooped up his pitiful, gaunt, and emaciated body and carried it to where all the other refuse of the city was collected to be burned. And there they just tossed his body over the hill and down into the burning pit! No funeral service. No friends or family to speak on his behalf or to weep over his departure.
But guess what? Lazarus was home free. Free from the burden of hunger, free from the misery of sickness, and suffering, and pain. And free, forever, from the burden of a beggar's life.
In his life, Lazarus was an instrument in the hands of God to try and reach a lost soul; the rich man.
The Bible tells us that,
The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live:
God, everyday, took Lazarus and laid him at the gate of this wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked, rich man (Revelation 3:17) that he might in some way show God's servant, Lazarus, some kindness, some compassion, some benevolent gesture before his appointed time of death.
For whosoever shall give you a cup of water to drink in my name, because ye belong to Christ, verily I say unto you, he shall not lose his reward.
But the rich man did nothing. Not even a cup of water, not even a morsel of bread
The Bible says, the rich man was buried! Can you imagine the funeral service for the rich man? Why there would be a long line of mourners standing in the pouring rain, their umbrellas shielding them from the downpour just to get a chance to comfort his five brothers. His coffin would be made of the very best metals and fabrics, the flowers would beautifully grace the funeral parlor as the mourners carefully studied the names of the contributors. He would have not one, not two, maybe three or four ministers to come and speak on his behalf.
And while all of this would be comforting to his five brothers, it would profit him nothing.
For the Bible says,
23: And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments…
How shocking! He never once thought death was going to be this way.
After all, some religious person told him that death was nothing more than a step from one lower plain of existence upward and onward to a higher plain of sweetness and bliss.
And, not only that, there was this other guy who swore up and down that once you die, you just turn right around and come right back into this world to live a brand new life all over again.
And then there was the guy who said, "Eat, drink, and be merry for tomorrow we die, and that's the end."
Why didn't somebody warn him that this was the reality of death?
But it was too late for him…It's not too late for you!
23: And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
Lazarus, the miserable beggar, is now being comforted. His temporary life on earth was a miserable existence for sure, but now, for all eternity, he will find rest and comfort in the presence of Abraham's bosom, a place of rest and peace.
24: And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.
Will you note that the tables have now been turned? Lazarus has become the rich and blessed for ever. And the rich man is now become the beggar, in torment, and agony forever.
Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.
The rich man wants mercy, and compassion, and water. He doesn't want a lot of water, just a touch, for he is tormented in a flame. His body is dead and in the casket, but he still feels the agony and the torment of a burning hell. He's crying out for help.
25: But Abraham said, 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.
26: And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
The great gulf, between heaven and hell, is fixed for all eternity for every soul that dies without faith in Christ.
If you believe not that I am, you will die in your sins, for where I am going you can not come.
It is absolutely imperative that one come to Christ for forgiveness of sins before they die, or else they will die without Christ, and be subject to an eternal hell.
This rich man lived his life to the fullest! He had fixed and lofty goals, but it was all vanity now.
He begins to think about it.
27: Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house:
28: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29: Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30: And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent.
31: And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead.
The great evangelist D. L. Moody, as a young man, was always afraid of death. He worried about it constantly, but when he gave his life to the Lord Jesus Christ, death was no longer a terror to him In fact, he once said, "Death may be the king of terrors, but Jesus is the King of kings!" And just before the death angel finally came for D. L. Moody, at high noon on a beautiful Friday in December of 1899, he was heard to say,
"Is this dying? Why this is bliss. There is no valley.
Earth is receding; Heaven is opening; God is calling; I must go."
If the death angel came for you today, what state would you find yourself in? Would there be a band of angels escorting you into the very presence of the Prince of Peace, the Lord Jesus Christ, or would you find yourself in the midst of an agonizing flame forever and ever?