Jesus taught the people around him a story about a rich man who was very selfish, and a poor man who suffered much and didn’t receive help and care from those who were able to provide.
Luke 16:19 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, who 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.
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;
23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
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.
25 But Abraham said, Son, remember that you in thy lifetime received good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and you are tormented.
26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from here to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from there.
27 Then he said, I pray to you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house:
28 For I have five brothers; that he may testify to them, lest they also come into this place of torment.
29 Abraham said to him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
30 And he said, No, father Abraham: but if one went to 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.
What were the commandments that the rich man broke? God was not the most important thing to him. This rich man loved himself more than God. The great command tells us to love God with all our hearts, souls, minds and strength. We are to love our neighbor as we love ourselves. This man did not love Lazarus. He was well able to feed him and give him clothing and medical care. The rich man used his own money on his luxuries. He himself was well fed. He was so short-sighted that he didn’t see Lazarus who needed attention. He could have easily shared what he had with Lazarus, but he didn’t.
We know that bad people will be in hell, but good people will be there too. The reason is simple. Both good people and bad people have sinful hearts. It’s just that it is easier to see the sin in a person’s life if he or she is bad. But if a person has some good qualities, he or she still has sin in the heart.
Sin is breaking the Commandments. God must punish all sin in hell forever. Like the story above, once a person is in hell, he will never be able to get out. In just the same way, once a person is in heaven, he or she will never have to worry about being in hell. There is no way to get from one place to the other.
You might be asking, if good people and bad people both go to hell, how would anyone ever be able to go to heaven? There is only one person who has ever lived that has actually been truly ‘good’. The Bible tells us that Jesus never sinned. Not even one time. Every person born on this earth, except for Jesus, has sinned. We sin by being selfish. We sin by ignoring God. We sin by being angry. We sin when we lie or cheat. We sin when we hate someone. We sin when we slander. We sin when we are proud. We sin when we think we are more important than someone else. If we die in our sins, we will be punished forever.
The word Gospel means ‘good news’. The reason it is good news is because God made a way for us to escape the punishment for our sins. 2,000 years ago, God sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to live a perfect life, and to show people what God was like. He did the most tremendous thing ever done. He took the place for us, and died for our sins. He took all the punishment for your sins and my sins. After He died, he was buried in a tomb. Three days later, He arose from the dead. He instructed His followers for several weeks, then he ascended up into heaven. He will come back to earth one day, and will gather all the people who know Him and are cleansed from their sins. You can be cleansed from your sins too. The blood He shed on the Cross can wash your sins away. You can be ready to meet God because of what Jesus did for you. Your response needs to be one of repentance, or turning away from your self-centered life, and trusting in what Jesus did for you on the Cross. You can turn to God right now. You can pray to Him and ask Him to cleanse you from all your unrighteousness. Would you like to be cleansed from your sins? God will give you a new heart that will be able to love Him and other people. You don’t have to be like the rich man in the story above. You can love God and other people because of the power of the Gospel in your life. You can talk to God and tell Him something like this; God in Heaven, I realize my sin is evil in Your eyes. Please forgive me of my sin. Please cleanse my heart from sin. Give me a new heart and a new desire to live my life for your glory. Thank you for sending Jesus to die for me on the Cross. I trust in you to save me from my sin. Create in me a clean heart, and a heart that will love You and other people. I want to have a healthy, growing relationship with you and want to know You more. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Please let me know if you are responding to God and turning to Him. Send an email to RUgood@mail.com