Friday, February 5, 2010

Luke 16:24--26

"And he cried out and said, 'Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.' But Abraham said, 'Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.' "


As flippantly as the world tries to trivialize the biblical portrayal of hell, its reality resonates deeply, still. The horrific images refuse dismissal, and mankind knows instinctively the words don't begin to fully describe the unceasing, unspeakable torture there.

In the present story, the Lord Jesus recounts three miseries of hell: (a) an unstoppable flame which produces unquenchable thirst [v. 24]; (b) everlasting memories of lost opportunities feed a guilty conscience [v. 25]; and (c) a fixed, unchangeable chasm separates the soul from God and everything good [v. 26].

The first, the physical agony, elicits a cry for mercy from the rich man's lips. Even but a drop of water would be infinitely better than the choking thirst the flame continuously causes. Surely father Abraham would heed his plea, and provide a moment's respite. But no. For, as a man on the rack will confess to anything, so in such terrible pain the rich man could seem piteous, when actually he is unrepentant still. Hell is totally punitive, never remedial. No one improves there.

There is mental anguish as well, with memories and conscience accusing the hell-enslaved one, reminding him of all the days filled with lost moments, lost to eternity, never to be given again for repentance and salvation. This indeed is a worm that never dies, a guilt that never relents, a yearning for the escape of sleep or unconsciousness, but there is none.... ever.

Finally there is emotional angst, unutterable despair, as the great chasm is revealed. The lost one sees and senses the separation from God, and feels it intensely. Impassable, irreversible, the great gulf is an unending reminder of the lost soul's confinement for eternity. Though within earshot and eyesight, the rich man could not move one inch toward heaven, to somehow improve his situation. The chasm removed any hope of help he might have had.

May the Lord burn this passage into the hearts of believers, adding urgency for seeing opportunities to share the gospel with lost folk; and should one who reads here be unsaved, may you look to Jesus, and live!

13 comments:

Michael said...

PURGATORY
1. A State After Death of Suffering and Forgiveness
2. Purification After Death By Fire

Luke 16:19-31 - in this story, we see that the dead rich man is suffering but still feels compassion for his brothers and wants to warn them of his place of suffering.

But there is no suffering in heaven or compassion in hell because compassion is a grace from God and those in hell are deprived from God's graces for all eternity.

So where is the rich man? He is in purgatory.

Julie said...

Nice post, Doc!

Michael said...

Separation from God is the chief punishment of Purgatory.

Wherein Purgatory differs from Hell.

All the pains of Purgatory arise from original or actual sin. God created the soul pure, simple and clean of all stain of sin, with a certain beatific instinct towards Himself whence original sin, which the soul finds in itself, draws it away, and when actual is added to original sin the soul is drawn yet further away.

The further it departs from its beatific instinct, the more malignant it becomes because it corresponds less to God.

There can be no good save by participation in God, who meets the needs of irrational creatures as He wills and has ordained, never failing them, and answers to a rational soul in the measure in which He finds it cleansed of sin's hindrance.

When therefore a soul has come near to the pure and clear state in which it was created, its beatific instinct discovers itself and grows unceasingly, so impetuously and with such fierce charity (drawing it to its last end) that any hindrance seems to this soul a thing past bearing. The more it sees, the more extreme is its pain.

Because the souls in Purgatory are without the guilt of sin, there is no hindrance between them and God except their pain, which holds them back so that they cannot reach perfection.

Clearly they see the grievousness of every least hindrance in their way, and see too that their instinct is hindered by a necessity of justice: thence is born a raging fire, like that of Hell save that guilt is lacking to it.

Guilt it is which makes the will of the damned in Hell malignant, on whom God does not bestow His goodness and who remain therefore in desperate ill will, opposed to the will of God.

Michael said...

WHAT YOU MUST DO TO BE SAVED

Best of all, the promise of eternal life is a gift, freely offered to us by God (CCC 1727).

The Catholic Church teaches what the apostles taught and what the Bible teaches: We are saved by grace alone, but not by faith alone (which is what "Bible Christians" teach; see James. 2:24).

When we come to God and are justified (that is, enter a right relationship with God), nothing preceding justification, whether faith or good works, earns grace.

But then God plants his love in our hearts, and we should live out our faith by doing acts of love (Galatians 6:2).

Even though only God’s grace enables us to love others, these acts of love please him, and he promises to reward them with eternal life (Romans 2:6–7, Galatians 6:6–10).

Thus good works are meritorious. When we first come to God in faith, we have nothing in our hands to offer him.

Then he gives us grace to obey his commandments in love, and he rewards us with salvation when we offer these acts of love back to him (Romans 2:6–11, Galatians 6:6–10, Matthew 25:34–40).

15 Nor do they light a lamp and then put it under a bushel basket; it is set on a lampstand, where it gives light to all in the house.

16 Just so, your light must shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5: 15-16)

Jesus said it is not enough to have faith in him; we also must obey his commandments. "Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ but do not do the things I command?" (Luke 6:46, Matthew 7:21–23, 19:16–21).

We do not "earn" our salvation through good works (Ephesians 2:8–9, Romans 9:16), but our faith in Christ puts us in a special grace-filled relationship with God so that our obedience and love, combined with our faith, will be rewarded with eternal life (Romans 2:7, Galatians 6:8–9).

Paul said, "God is the one who, for his good purpose, works in you both to desire and to work" (Philippians 2:13).

John explained that "the way we may be sure that we know him is to keep his commandments. Whoever says, ‘I know him,’ but does not keep his commandments is a liar, and the truth is not in him" (1 John 2:3–4, 3:19–24, 5:3–4).

Since no gift can be forced on the recipient—gifts always can be rejected—even after we become justified, we can throw away the gift of salvation.

We throw it away through grave (mortal) sin (John 15:5–6, Romans 11:22–23, 1 Corinthians 15:1–2; CCC 1854–1863). Paul tells us, "The wages of sin is death" (Romans 6:23).

Read his letters and see how often Paul warned Christians against sin! He would not have felt compelled to do so if their sins could not exclude them from heaven (see, for example, 1 Corinthians 6:9–10, Galatians 5:19–21).

Paul reminded the Christians in Rome that God "will repay everyone according to his works: eternal life for those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works, but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness" (Romans 2:6–8).

Sins are nothing but evil works (CCC 1849–1850). We can avoid sins by habitually performing good works.

Every saint has known that the best way to keep free from sins is to embrace regular prayer, the sacraments (the Eucharist first of all), and charitable acts.

Turretinfan said...

If the place the rich man was in was Purgatory, then Purgatory is worse news than most people think, because no one is getting out of the place where the rich man went:

Luke 16:26 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.

But, of course, the rich man was in hell (not in the fictional place, Purgatory):

Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

What sort of religion is it, which commends itself to its hearers with lies?

-TurretinFan

Michael said...

Turretinfan said...
Luke 16:23 And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.

22 When the poor man died, he was carried away by angels to the bosom of Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried,
23 and from the netherworld,
14
where he was in torment, he raised his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. (Luke 16: 22 - 23)

Michael said...

A State After Death of Suffering and Forgiveness

Matt. 5:26,18:34; Luke 12:58-59 – Jesus teaches us, “Come to terms with your opponent or you will be handed over to the judge and thrown into prison. You will not get out until you have paid the last penny.”

The word “opponent” (antidiko) is likely a reference to the devil (see the same word for devil in 1 Pet. 5:8) who is an accuser against man (c.f. Job 1.6-12; Zech. 3.1; Rev. 12.10), and God is the judge.

If we have not adequately dealt with satan and sin in this life, we will be held in a temporary state called a prison, and we won’t get out until we have satisfied our entire debt to God.

This “prison” is purgatory where we will not get out until the last penny is paid.

Matt. 5:48 - Jesus says, "be perfect, even as your heavenly Father is perfect."

We are only made perfect through purification, and in Catholic teaching, this purification, if not completed on earth, is continued in a transitional state we call purgatory.

Matt. 12:32 – Jesus says, “And anyone who says a word against the Son of man will be forgiven; but no one who speaks against the Holy Spirit will be forgiven either in this world or in the next.”

Jesus thus clearly provides that there is forgiveness after death. The phrase “in the next” (from the Greek “en to mellonti”) generally refers to the afterlife (see, for example, Mark 10.30; Luke 18.30; 20.34-35; Eph. 1.21 for similar language).

Forgiveness is not necessary in heaven, and there is no forgiveness in hell.

This proves that there is another state after death, and the Church for 2,000 years has called this state purgatory.

Sandy said...

Amen Doc...great post.
Your posts are few and far between, but I do enjoy them when they appear. Your pastoral insights are a blessing.


I will note, that our catholic friend here, does not want to interact with the biblical teaching of heaven and hell, rather, he prefers to copy/paste from catholic propaganda sites.

RazorsKiss said...

So, if that "netherworld" was Purgatory - that Greek word is "hades", which should be familiar to every reader here.

If this is so, consider this:

Mat 11:23 - And thou, Capernaum, which art exalted unto heaven, shalt be brought down to (Purgatory?) hell: for if the mighty works, which have been done in thee, had been done in Sodom, it would have remained until this day.

Hrmm? All of the inhabitants of Capernaum are going to become believers, and be purified of their temporal sins?

Mat 16:18 - And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell (Purgatory?) shall not prevail against it.

What? I thought that only people FROM the church go to Purgatory. So, if they are going to Purgatory, are those gates not prevailing? I thought Purgatory was a good place - not a place to be at war with.

Rev 1:18 - I [am] he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen; and have the keys of hell (Purgatory) and of death.

So, Christ has the keys to purgatory, it seems... but what about this?

Rev 6:8 - And I looked, and behold a pale horse: and his name that sat on him was Death, and Hell (Purgatory?) followed with him. And power was given unto them over the fourth part of the earth, to kill with sword, and with hunger, and with death, and with the beasts of the earth.

Wait, so... Purgatory attends Death? So, this Rider is after believers, to throw them into Purgatory? That could result in some interesting eschatology. It would make "Left Behind" look tame, in fact.

This view, even on a cursory examination, is utterly untenable.

Michael said...

Sandy said...
I will note, that our catholic friend here, does not want to interact with the biblical teaching of heaven and hell, rather, he prefers to copy/paste from catholic propaganda sites.

Dear Sandy,
WHAT MUST I DO TO BE SAVED?

27 When the jailer woke up and saw the prison doors wide open, he drew (his) sword and was about to kill himself, thinking that the prisoners had escaped.

28 But Paul shouted out in a loud voice, "Do no harm to yourself; we are all here."

29 He asked for a light and rushed in and, trembling with fear, he fell down before Paul and Silas.

30 Then he brought them out and said, "Sirs, what must I do to be saved?"

31 And they said, "Believe in the Lord Jesus and you and your household will be saved."

32 So they spoke the word of the Lord to him and to everyone in his house.

33 He took them in at that hour of the night and bathed their wounds; then he and all his family were baptized at once. (Acts 16: 27 – 33)

God bless you
Michael

Michael said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Michael said...

RazorsKiss said...
So, if that "netherworld" was Purgatory - that Greek word is "hades", which should be familiar to every reader here.

Dear Razors Kiss,
“Purgatory” comes from the Latin word purgatorium. In Scripture, we do find references to an afterlife that is neither the hell of the damned nor heaven.

In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word sheol is used to describe this condition; in the New Testament, the Greek term is hades.

In fact, the Book of Revelation describes how, at the end of time, death and hades are thrown into hell (gehenna).

This is the second death, the lake of fire.

Scripture teaches that at the end of time, there is no more death; and once the purification of all souls has taken place, there is no more need for hades.

This same concept of sheol (in Hebrew), hades (in Greek), and purgatorium (in Latin) is purgatory as we have come to know it today (cf. Catechism, nos. 1030-32).

God bless you
Michael

RazorsKiss said...

That's all you reply to?

Notice there was a whole lot more to that comment - specifically, addressing what amazing gymnastics the RC position has to go through to make "hades" mean purgatory.

I'm well aware of the Latin origin - purgatorium. I'm wondering if you're aware of the gymnastics necessary to render the Greek Hades as a place for Christian suffering for the purging of sins. Which, if you'd actually dealt with the subject of my comment, would be what you'd have dealt with. Since you didn't, and went off into the origin of the Latin (which, I am more than willing to believe the author and readers know already - as does practically everyone on the face of the planet), I'm wondering why you are going so far afield from the substance of my reply. I've never seen a Roman Catholic who takes your position - that "hades", the place the rich man is, is purgatory - satisfactorily explain how this jives with the usage of Hades elsewhere.

Not to mention that you completely ignored the substance of Tur8infan's comment, as well. What about the great impassable gulf?

What about the rider being followed by Purgatory? What about the eventual salvation of the whole town of Capernaum? That's just addressing one word. It doesn't even address the rest of the content of Luke 16.

If this place is only Purgatory, why the urge to keep all his brothers out of it? It's purpose is to purify believers from their temporal punishments for sins, right? Why keep them out of it? If there is a great gulf - an impassable gulf - why is this, in a purification for believing men?

I notice that you won't go to the passage. Care to exegete it for us? I'm sure you can do that, when commenting on a pastoral blog. Right?