August 26, 2010 • By Ed Wrather
There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham's bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades (hell - KJV), he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. Then 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.” But Abraham said, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.” - Luke 16:19-26 NKJV.
In North Conway, New Hampshire, Jeff Allard got a surprise when he took out the trash. Jeff threw his trash into the trash dumpster and a 300lb black bear popped out swinging his paw. The bear did manage to give Allard a wound that needed 16 stitches. Normally, the dumpsters in the area have a bar on top that prevents bears from opening them. However, this bear was able to squeeze inside anyway, and then was unable to get back out. After taking a swing at Jeff with his paw the bear ran away.
What a surprise to take out the trash, and suddenly you are face to face with a bear! Life has a way of giving us some surprises along the way and all of us have encountered surprises in some form or another. However, are you prepared for the ultimate surprise? There are those who will die and wake up in…hell! Surprise! Where's the fun in that? Actually there will not be any fun at all in that, only misery. The rich man in the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus has experienced the ultimate surprise. As good as life was for him here on Earth, he surely was surprised that the non-life he has now in hell can be so bad.
The Rich Man must have been surprised to find out that there actually was a hell. There will be some who are living today who will be just as surprised. Even though the New Testament mentions the place 23 times (KJV) many try to explain it away. Then there are those who think that because they are living a somewhat moral life that a good God will send them to Heaven. Others believe that God is sending everyone to Heaven regardless. Won't they be surprised! No one will be in Heaven because of their good works. Ephesians 2:8-9 makes that clear, “For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” Only by believing in Jesus Christ as their personal Savior, while still living and breathing, will anyone go to Heaven. Jesus is the only way as He says in John 14:6, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.”
Not only was the Rich Man surprised by there actually being a place called hell, but he must have also been surprised that there was no escape possible, and that it lasts forever. We have enough surprises in this life without having another one when we die. Do you know where you are going when you die? There are only two destinations possible: Heaven or Hell. You choose by deciding to believe in Jesus or reject Jesus. It's your choice. Which place do you want to be in for eternity?