Last week, I arose from a short nap and began thinking of Christ’s words:
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, Verily I say unto you, That a rich man shall hardly enter into the kingdom of heaven. And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God." Matthew 19:23;24
I suppose the thoughts of human wealth and its misuse was fresh upon my mind because I had submitted a review of one of Dr. Martin Luther’s sermons about The Rich Man and Lazarus to a website which had posted that same sermon written and pamphlet distributed, back in the 1500’s.
Certainly, it is not wrong or sinful to own and possess worldly (material) possessions and to be blessed with employment which adequately and abundantly brings in money to more than pay for the necessities of daily living; also paying the bills and taxes, on time. Jesus never taught that human wealth was, in and of itself, the core problem of human souls going astray, and ending up in hell.
What He did teach was that human wealth has an encroaching way about it; that it ensnares the possessor of those earthly riches to focus one’s attentions and desires away from Him, the worship of the Triune God and His kingdom. And, in Scripture it says that "…. the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." [1 Timothy 6:10] And, I will add that The First Commandment is "Thou shalt have no other gods before Me." [Exodus 20:3] Many wealthy people end up putting their money and possessions before the Triune God. Consequently, they are forever sinning against that First Commandment, without repentance and true belief in the God of the Holy Scriptures.
However, on the other hand, there have been and continue to be some very wealthy and materially blessed, faith filled people who have their priorities in order and who do not allow greed and covetousness to control them. These people utilize the wealth which God has blessed them to invest it into the kingdom of God here on earth so that God’s Word is spread in such a manner as to be instrumental in the process of the Gospel Message, which the Holy Spirit uses as the means to rescue human souls from perdition's wide path to eternity’s heavenly glories.
Why Human Wealth Can and Often Does Steer Human Souls Down the Path to Perdition [Hell] – A modern day (real life) scenario
Those who possess their stocks and bonds and, an abundance of material possessions, be it a second home, RV, yacht, etc. - these people never have to concern themselves with paying their bills and taxes on time, and making ends meet. They don't have to struggle in this world, to exist with "dignity." They have all the dignity that life could offer. [So, they think]
Their dignity is their reputation and feeling good about themselves, that they don't have to struggle. They take pride in that reputation, because their existence is free from needing outside help. Their self abundant rich lifestyle thus insulates them from having to rely upon God for their self worth and inner strength. Hence, they feel no need to exercise personal faith in Christ. Going to church on Sundays, replaces all that, as they can join in the general prayer of confession and hear the general absolution and later (in the same church gathering) hear the pastor pronounce cheap grace in his sermon, as he (erroneously) and repeatedly states that Christ's sacrifice (of total absolution) included them, with all of humanity.
Those who are rich often are ensnared by their own, more than comfortable existence. The Scripture says:
"But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." - 1 Timothy 6:9-10
Those who leave their trust in Christ, in exchange for their comfortable and care free living, are often unaware what has happened to them. Hence, the rich man's non compassion for poor Lazarus.[Luke 16:19-31] But, Scripture says that they who have built their existence upon "sand" – those dwellings, are, but a house of cards, existence. - Matthew 7:1f
I think of the Scripture:
"Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny thee, and say, who is the LORD? Or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain" - Proverbs 30:8-9
The Sad State of Affairs in American Christian Churches Today
American "Christian" churches are full of human souls, who, by global standards are relatively (financially) rich. Yet, (I believe) many of these souls, unwittingly make a pretense of genuine worship toward our Triune God. True worship is replaced by their ever full pocket books. They give freely and abundantly to their church. This self satisfaction, of doing so, is often a replacement for having to place their trust in the good Lord for their daily care and keeping. It's easier to go online and check their investments and pull cash out of fattened pocket books and purses than to exercise any faith in Christ for their daily created existence.
But, be that as it may, the rich (indeed), are needy souls. But, they are often unaware of their true personal spiritual needs, unless, perhaps, God deals their health a severe blow. Their existence is very comfortable. They have no worries or concerns of paying their bills and taxes. They have no struggle. They come to church and join in its many faceted congregational activities, seeking acceptance and status. [They love to be regarded as "good" people]
They are pros at being sociable; yet, they lack genuine friendliness and compassion. They give of their wealth to their respectable church and "respectable" church denominational body, but would seldom lift a pecuniary finger in the direction of those lower than their comfortable status position. They end up utilizing their church status and its "holy" four walled acceptance to stroke their egos. More often than not, they inwardly and unconsciously exhibit the attitude of the Pharisee who thanked God in his prayer to himself that he was not like those sinners. - Luke 18:9-14 - especially Luke 18:11;12
Some Things to Note About Christ's Parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus
The "key" to this parable of Christ, is, essentially, the Word - "Moses and the Prophets." To the Rich Man, those were the Scriptures of his day, the divine revelation to which he did not take heed – (which was manifest in the Rich Man’s temporal lifestyle and sins of omission). He was condemned because of his unbelief in those Scriptures, - whereas Lazarus was a suffering servant of the Lord, who believed. He had nothing to offer His Lord but his patient suffering. To him the words of 1 Peter 1:3-8 would apply:
"Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, Who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time. Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory..." [1 Peter 1:3-8 - KJV]
The Parable says nothing about the personal faith of Lazarus, but, it must be assumed that he did, indeed possess it, since he ended up in heaven, and the rich man, in hell. And, we do know that “without faith it is impossible to please God,” [Hebrews 11:3] as the Great Protestant Reformer remarked (in so many words) in his 1500's sermon about Christ’s Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus.
Sinner – Do Not Think That You Will Escape God’s Just Judgment Upon Your Sorry Soul
Sinner – Do not think that you will escape God’s just judgment upon your sorry soul. In your unrepentant state without saving faith, you, in your damning unbelief, are like the faithless wealthy church goers, who will share your same eternal everlasting torment death fate. Your eternal death doom will be exacted upon you for the same reason it will be for those whose church going did not make a difference to the Triune God who expects personal faith to be present with the hearing of His Scripture Word. The Scripture teaches that God’s Word can be present, - and, even “heard” by those in Christian worship circles, - but if it isn’t met with faith, it is useless for one’s eternal welfare:
"For unto us was the gospel preached, as well as unto them: but the word preached did not profit them, not being mixed with faith in them that heard it." - Hebrews 4:2
May I add here, that American churches are plenteous with false preaching and teaching about Christ’s sacrifice on the Cross. As one person commented, on a Christian website, that false gospel is, a "Universal Forgiveness before and without faith."
What, Essentially, Damns A Human Soul?
In Christ’s Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man's damning sin, is that he did not listen when he had the opportunity to hear God's Word - as mentioned in the parable, as the Word was, "Moses and the Prophets." It was his sin of omission, not giving heed to the divine revelation which finally did this rich man's soul, eternally, in! By failing to hear and listen, the rich man was settled in unbelief.
Today, is no different, as people in modern day culture are too self absorbed with themselves and their own creature comforts, - not only neglecting God's due true worship of faith (of them) but so self absorbed that the love of their neighbor is virtually unseen by their blinded spiritual eyes. Their lack of compassion for their neighbor and the world around them is evidence that no true faith abounds.
Sinner friend, - don’t be like the Rich Man in Christ’s parable. Don’t be like the many wealthy people who attend “Christian” church services, weekly, and are content to swallow, hook, line and sinker the damning doctrine that all is well with them and God because God grants them total forgiveness of their sins whether they have personal faith or not.
Learn of God’s divine revelation, God’s love for you in the person and divine presence of Christ. Read, study and listen to that divine revelation. That is the source of which faith is born from above! [John 1:12-13 ; Romans 10:17 ; John 3:8] Don’t be swept away by unworthy churchy pronouncements of all encompassing absolution deceit by those of which church family you may belong. Give your ear to hearing God’s Word which proclaims that the Holy Spirit works with His means to bring you to faith. 1 Peter 1:23;24;25
May you come to faith in Christ and escape the just judgments of God because of your sin and disobedience to Him, His Commandments and your fellow man. May God the Holy Spirit then draw you into God’s true family, the Holy Christian Church, the Communion of Saints!
Above Message and Related Scriptures [below] -- Intended to be utilized in a simple worship format:
Also: For a couple of other (more formal) worship formats:
Related Scriptures To the Message Above
1 Kings 21:1f – The greedy and coveting sin of King Ahab – the evil consequences for his neighbor and the just punishment of Creator God upon King Ahab and his wicked wife
Luke 12:1f – Christ explains, what is truly important -- Note: Christ's parable in this chapter -- Luke 12: 13-21
Luke 16:19-31 - Christ's Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus
1 Timothy 6:6-11 and 2 Thessalonians 3:7-12 -- Feeding the insatiable base sinful desire of the love of money to acquire wealth -- and, without working for it
Of Whom Does the Prophet Speak" -- by Victor Buksbazen -- Isaiah 53:1-12 -- an in-depth view of and the prophecy of Christ, hundred of years before his birth. Isaiah 53:1-12 underscores the truthfulness of Divine Revelation as exemplified in the Hebrew and Christian Scriptures.
Please note: Topical Messages, by subject
Pastor (emeritus) Nathan Bickel
Please also note:
The "Words in Season" topical messages and related worship format are not intended to discourage or replace the Christian worship and assembly of Christians at their particular places of church worship. As this website's author, it is my prayer and hope, that many souls will find the topical messages, related worship format and other material, a useful and valuable Christian resource.