Michael Youssef - Jesus, Know Him and Live - Part 3
In the last several years, there has been a rash of books written by people who supposedly died and came back again. And when they died, there's a common theme between all of them, that they all saw light. Some of them said that they saw somebody who is reputedly to be Jesus. But then when you listen to what they say, this supposedly Jesus said to them is contrary to everything that he did and said and taught throughout his earthly life. For example, "Jesus said, 'I Am the only Way to heaven: no one can come to the Father, but by me.'" But some of them say that this person that they saw they think is Jesus said to them, "No, no, no, no, that's not really important. All the ways lead to me".
Sounds like Satan to me, don't you? When it comes to life after death, when it comes to the other side of the curtain of eternity, when it comes to what happens after we die, you have to decide whom you're gonna believe. Luke chapter 16, verses 19 to 31, here Jesus tells us about two people, two real people. This is not a parable. This is two real people. They both have died. They did not both go to the same place. They went to two different places. One went to a place of agony and torment. The other went to a place of unspeakable joy. But that's not all. Jesus is telling us that after death, it is impossible to switch places. After death, it is impossible to go from one destination to the other. Why? Because once we cross over the other side, that's it.
Don't take my word for it. Listen to what Jesus said. And he tells us about these two real people, one who lived for self, and the other one did not. The one who lived for self, he cared for no one else but himself. He pleased no one else but self. He served his own desires and his whims. He was filled with his own opinions. He refused to hear the truth. He thought that he could save himself, and he ended up spending eternity in hell. The other one, named Lazarus, dies, but during his life, he put his faith in God. He placed his whole trust in God. He fixed his hope on God. He sought to please God. And when he died, the Bible said, "The angels carried him".
Now, in the Old Testament, you have to understand, before the death and the Resurrection of Jesus Christ, before he defeated death and the grave, the Old Testament taught that everyone who dies go to two different places, two regions of the same place. The Bible calls that "Hades". Those who were believers, that's Old Testament believers, the Jewish believers, they went to what the Jews would call "the bosom of Abraham". Why Abraham? Because Abraham is the father of faith. He is the father of everyone in the Old Testament who put their faith in God. They were saved by faith, not by law. As a matter of fact, Abraham lived 400 years before the law was given, and so he believed God by faith. And therefore, everyone who trusted God by faith ended up in this place we call "the bosom of Abraham" or "paradise".
And that is why Jesus said, "Abraham saw my day and rejoiced". And they got mad at him. They wanted to kill him. And they said, "How can you, who's 30 years old, tell me that Abraham saw your day 2,000 years earlier and rejoiced"? They did not know that this Messiah is the one who created the world, that this Messiah is the one through whom the world was created, that he was there before Abraham. So, those who put their faith in God, how did they do this? They looked forward to the coming of the Messiah. Abraham believed that God is sending his Son Jesus the Messiah, and everyone from Abraham's time on and among God's people who believed that, they ended up in a place called "paradise" or "the bosom of Abraham".
The Jews who refused to believe by faith, they ended up in that dark place. But there's something very important here I don't want you to miss. Because some people, when they read this passage, they think that the reason this rich man ended up in hell because he was rich. That is not the emphasis of the text here. The emphasis that Jesus was placing is on the fact that the man lived for self. That's the difference. The Bible never condemns wealth. The Bible condemns the wrong use of wealth. Abraham, for example, was probably the richest man at that time on the earth, but he did not worship his money. He lived by faith. He put the hope in Yahweh. He knew that Yahweh's gonna send his Son the Messiah, and he anchored his hope on that.
What is this Hades that the Bible talks about? Hades is a place where people went to prior to the death and the Resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ, and that is why the Apostle Peter in his epistle tells us that when Jesus died on that cross and then he was buried in the tomb, he really went to Hades, and there he declared his lordship over the dead, and he took those believers who were waiting for him straight into heaven with him. But Hades, according to the Old Testament, is divided into two regions. There is a gap between them. There is a chasm between them. One called, as I said, "the bosom of Abraham," the other one is the place of torment and suffering.
Please don't miss what I'm gonna tell you. Your eternity could be hanging on it. Both men were conscious after death. They both had memories of their earthly life. They both were able to speak. One was experiencing great joy, and the other one was experiencing torment. Verse 24 of Luke 16: "The nonbeliever said to Abraham, from the other side of the chasm, 'Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus.'" "Lazarus? The one that you ignored him all your life? The one you had no time for? The one you despised and lived for self"? "Yes, have him dip his finger in water to cool my tongue because I am in agony in this fire".
Beloved, the Bible teaches that after death, the believer is going to receive a glorified body. 1 Corinthians 15:54: "We will be clothed by resurrected bodies". The book of Revelation, where John was given the privilege to go into the very portals of heaven, he saw real people, real people in resurrected, glorified body. The bottom line that Jesus wants every one of us to know is telling us about these two people. The reason he's telling us about them is he wants us to know that there are only two places, no third, and that those two places stand in contrast of one another. And the question is, everyone must be asking, "Where will I spend eternity"? Don't ever rest until you answer the question. No, you don't have to be vague about it.
You don't have to be uncertain about it. You can be absolutely sure now because you have God's Word on it. If you are not sure today, you can be. Where will you spend eternity, the place of unending condemnation, or the place of joy unspeakable? Listen, I have dedicated my life to tell people the truth about Jesus. Not about a denomination, but about Jesus. For no one can take you to heaven except Jesus. He's the only one who can take you to heaven. None and no one and nothing can take you to heaven except Jesus. No amount of good work will ever get you there. No amount of wishful thinking will get you there. No amount of religious activities will get you there. No amount of good will will get you there. Only Jesus the Christ, who can take you from one side of eternity to the other.
Now, I'm inviting you to come to him and be rescued. Come to him and be saved. Come to him and be assured of eternal life in heaven with him. That is the very core of the Christian faith. Will you respond? The other alternative, spending eternity forever in regret and self-beating, like this man. He did not want to place his faith in God alone. And therefore, he was not only mentally, emotionally, and physically in agony, he was worried sick about his family that he left behind on the earth. That was even more painful than what he was experiencing. Obviously, his family were as godless as he was. And so, in the midst of his pain, he comes to the realization, "I don't want them to come here. I don't want them to experience what I'm experiencing".
After a few seconds in hell, he wanted someone to tell his family the truth. By contrast, when a believer dies, he goes immediately to the presence of Jesus, a place where there's no pain, no suffering, no regret, no torment, no condemnation, and there are no tears, only rejoicing and praising and worshiping and adoring the Son of God, who made it possible for them to be there in heaven. Why? Because, beloved, listen to me. Please listen to me. There is no waiting place. There is no place where you can change destination after you die. There is no soul sleep. There is no purgatory. None of that is in the Scripture. There's no second chance, and that is why the Bible urges everyone who have never committed their life to Jesus Christ, never received the gift of salvation, eternal life, "Come now while you can".
You say, "Michael, how do you know that? How do you know that it's a checking out and a checking in immediately, no change of destination"? I'll tell you exactly how I know: from what God said. Not what I think, what God said. Jesus hanging on the cross, and the man dying right next to him repents of his sins. And Jesus said, "Today you're gonna be with me in paradise". "Immediately, when you close your eyes in death, you're gonna be with me". Not only that, the book of Acts tells us, hundreds of people watching as Stephen, one of the deacons of the first church, was being stoned to death. And all these people watching as he began to die from the stoning, and he looks up to heaven, and he says, "I see Jesus standing to receive me".
But not only that, Philippians 1:23 tells us that: "To depart this life is the presence with Christ". 2 Corinthians 5:8 tells us: "Absence from the body is presence with the Lord in heaven". And Jesus tells us that this self-centered man, this man who tried to save himself, was able to talk, and he called out to Abraham on the other side of the divide. He was able to feel his tongue, as it were, on fire. And he was able to hear Abraham speak back to him. And Jesus is saying to you and to me and to everyone who would listen, Jesus is saying this: "Every one of us, we live forever. Every person who's alive today will live forever".
Here's what Jesus is saying: "I left the glories of heaven, came to earth so that I might take to heaven with me everyone who put their faith in me. I laid down my glorified body and came to earth so that I might give everyone who put their trust in me, who received me as Savior and Lord, a glorified body. I am God, a very God, but became Man so that I might give all my children divine nature. I am perfect and sinless, but came to take your sin and your punishment over my body, my sinless and holy body. I paid it all. All that you need to do is to come and receive".
Will you come to him today? But there's something else here that is very important. I don't want you to miss it. This man who lived for self, he had no time for God, no time for others, only for self. When he ended up in hell, never one time would you hear him say, "That's not fair. Why has this happened to me"? No, no, he becomes so self-aware on the other side of eternity that he knew he received his just and fair judgment. He knew that he received the consequences of rejecting God's hand of salvation. He never blamed God, never blamed others. Not one time do you find it there. But he becomes worried sick over his family.
So, what does this man do? He pleads with Abraham. He pleads with him. He said, "If Lazarus would rise from the dead and preach the truth to my family, they will repent and they'll believe, and they will not come to this place". Please, please, my friend, don't miss Abraham's answer. Don't miss Abraham's answer. He said, "Even if someone raised from the dead, they will not believe". What does he mean by that? He said, "If they're not gonna believe the Bible, if they're not gonna believe God's Word, even if Lazarus rises from the dead, they're not gonna believe".
If people don't believe the resurrected Jesus, if people refuse to put their faith in the resurrected Jesus, if people ignore the invitation of the resurrected Jesus, they may get mesmerized by miracles and supernatural, but they will not repent. What about you? Are you ready to believe the words of the resurrected Jesus? Are you ready to accept his invitation? Are you ready to come to him and say, "I've come to the end of myself. I cannot save myself. I come to you, seeking your forgiveness".
Listen to what Jesus said. When somebody does that, somebody says that, the promise of Jesus, that he'll never reject you. In fact, he said, "Those whom the Father's given me, I lose none". You are in the grasp of his hand from that moment on. There is such a time as too late. Now it is not too late, but then it will be. Abraham said, "There's deeper divide between us. There's a chasm between us". They said, "We can't go to you, and you can't come to us".
Every one of us, yours truly, every one of us born with a deep chasm between us and heaven. Being religious cannot bridge that chasm. Being nice cannot bridge that chasm. Being politically correct cannot bridge that chasm. Doing some good things cannot bridge that chasm. Only Jesus can carry you across that deep divide. And he's stretching his loving arms to everyone today, saying, "Come to me. I love you. I died for you". Will you hold his hand and say, "Lord, forgive me. You died for me. Forgive my sins. I accept your invitation. Save me, Lord". And he'll do exactly that 'cause he promised to.