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Watch 2022-2023 online sermons » Michael Youssef » Michael Youssef - The Rich Man and Lazarus

Michael Youssef - The Rich Man and Lazarus

Michael Youssef - The Rich Man and Lazarus
Michael Youssef - The Rich Man and Lazarus
TOPICS: Enduring Wisdom

What happens a moment to the believer and the non-believers after we die? Our gracious Lord shows us the story of two people. One lived for self, the other one worshiped God. Two people who ended up in two different eternal destinations. The greatest news of all in this story is the unspeakable joy that awaits the believers immediately as soon as they die.

Today, we're going to hear from the lips of Jesus himself an answer to the question, what happens a moment after we die? What happens to the believer and the non-believers? What happens? In Luke chapter 16 beginning at verse 19, our Lord Jesus literally opens a window on what happens to everyone after they die. Jesus graciously shows us exactly what happens after death for the believer and for the non-believer. There are several things I want to tell you before I delve into this text. The first thing you notice is that place where the believers go with unspeakable joy, and the place where the non-believers go, there is unspeakable agony. And it is impossible to transfer from one place to the other regardless of the length of time they spend there.

Regardless of the intensity of the pain and suffering. Regardless of the social status of somebody like that so-called rich man has been in this life. The only possible time for being transformed our eternity from hell to heaven, is in this life. After that it is too late. There is such thing as too late. It's not too late as long as you're breathing, but there is a time will come when it is too late. Look with me please at the words of our Lord Jesus. There's several very important things that I believe with all my heart, the Lord would teach every one of us, whether you are a young person, old person, it doesn't matter. But the first thing I wanna tell you is that there are some people who mistakenly think that this man ended up in that region of Hades where there's suffering, is because he was rich. It could not be further from the truth.

You see, the man did not end up there because he was rich, because the whole Bible from cover to cover never condemns riches, but what took this man to this miserable region of Hades, and I'm gonna explain to you the difference, is because of his greed. It was his selfishness, it was his self-centeredness, it was his self-worship, it was for caring only for himself and nobody else. Look at the text with me. Story of two people who ended up in two different eternal destinations. One lived for self and the other one lived for God. One worshiped self the other one worshiped God. Remember, Jesus is telling this story before his own death and resurrection because I'm gonna explain to you what had taken place since then. He was telling this story, the true story, actual event before his death and resurrection, he hadn't gone to the cross yet.

Why am I saying this? Because in the Old Testament, the Old Testament believers who looked forward by faith to the coming of their Messiah, started with Abraham 2,000 years before Christ. And Jesus said, "Abraham saw my day and rejoiced". You see, everyone after Abraham, and you see it throughout the prophets in Jeremiah and Ezekiel and Isaiah particularly, they looked forward to the coming of the Messiah, they anticipated the coming of the Messiah, and they saw it through the eyes of faith. And so there were two regions of Hades, two regions. They were separated, but they could communicate with each other. One region was called the Bosom of Abraham. It's really a Hebrew word of kinda saying fellowship, intimacy with Abraham. They were close to Abraham. Why? Because Abraham is the first to see by faith the coming of the Messiah, the redeemer of the world, the redeemer of Israel. The other region of Hades was a place of torment and suffering.

Now, don't miss this, please don't miss this. Both men were fully conscious after death. The nonbeliever was conscious of his own region of Hades where there's unbelievable, incredible, unbearable suffering. He had memories, he was able to speak, he was experiencing pain. Lazarus also had memories. He was able to speak but he was experiencing joy in the so-called Bosom of Abraham. Look at verse 24. This self-centered, self worshiping man said, "Father Abraham". He could call him Father Abraham because obviously he's Jewish. You see, all Jews looked Abraham as a father but not all Jews were saved, not anymore than all the so-called Christians are saved. "Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony".

Beloved, the Bible makes it very clear from 1 Corinthians 15:54, 2 Corinthians 5:2, and 3, is that for the believers, as soon as they go to heaven, the moment they close their eyes in death, they are clothed in a glorified body the moment they reach heaven. Our souls are not gonna be floating around in heaven until the return of Christ. When John the Revelator was privileged to be taken into heaven, he did not see souls floating around, he saw real people, real people in glorified bodies. As for Lazarus, he was in that blessed place where all of the Old Testament saints were at the Bosom of Abraham or the company of Abraham. All those who have shared the faith of Abraham in anticipating the coming of Jesus before Jesus came, they been with Abraham.

That's why Jesus said, "They're gonna come from the East and the West, and they're gonna be coming from Africa, from Asia, from South America, from North America, they're gonna come from all over the world, and they're gonna be with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob". But those who are the physical descendant of Jacob and Abraham who have rejected the faith of Abraham, they aren't gonna make it. After the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the apostle Peter in his epistles tells us that Jesus went to Hades, he went to Hades, and there he declared his lordship, he declared his victory over death to those Old Testament saints who were in that region of Hades, who were waiting and anticipating patiently. He came and declared his lordship, he came and declared his resurrection to all of these Old Testament saints, and he took them from that region of Hades and opened paradise for them, amen.

And ever since then, every New Testament saint, every person who died, died in Christ, have been with them in paradise from that time on. Second thing I want to tell you is this, don't want you to miss this. Both destination are irrevocably fixed, they're irrevocably fixed. Verse 26, "Abraham said, 'We have a great chasm between us and it's been fixed. We can't cross to you and you can't cross to us.'" Now, there are some people, beloved, who have convinced themselves that somehow if they end up in the place of Torment, God is gonna feel sorry for them and he's gonna take them to the other side. None of that is here. The greatest news of all beloved friends, the greatest news of all in this story is the unspeakable joy that awaits the believers immediately as soon as they die.

Please listen to me carefully. There is no waiting place, there is no waiting place, there is no purgatory, it's not anywhere in the scripture, there is no soul sleep. The second you close your eyes in death if you are in Christ, you are immediately looking at Jesus's face. In fact, that's exactly what Jesus said to the repentant sinner on the cross next to him. He didn't say, "You know, in the by and by when your soul go to sleep and then wake up", no, no he said, "Today, today you're gonna be with me in paradise". And the reason the Bible calls the believer's death, sleep, it's really more of a somatic way of expression because like deep sleep, it's restorative, it's restorative. Like sleep, it is temporary because we close our eyes here, we open them up in heaven.

Sleep is saying goodbye to the physical pain we're experiencing in this life, please hear me right. I'm gonna hammer at this point, I'm gonna hammer at it because I know some of you have come from traditions and from churches that taught soul sleep. That the soul goes to sleep until the resurrection day. And all of that built on one thing, from Thessalonians well Paul said, "The dead will rise first," but they don't understand that the next breath Paul said, "They're gonna come with Jesus in the clouds". I mean to us, they're resurrected, but they're not gonna go in the grounds and the cemetery's gonna, you know, shake up and they're gonna come out of that, no, no, no, no, no, they already gone to heaven.

When Stephen, the very first Christian martyr, when he died, was stoning him and they're stoning him and finally he's about to die, what did he say? "My soul's gonna sleep now". No, he saw Jesus standing up to receive him. And that's exactly why the Apostle Paul could say, Philippians 1:23, "I desire to depart and be with Christ, which by far is much better". Paul didn't say, "Oh, I long to die so I can get my soul asleep". He longed for death because he knew that it means instant transliteration, instant and immediate presence in the presence of Christ. While Paul was torn, I honestly, God as my witness, I understand that feeling now. He was torn between wanting to go be with Christ or stay and serve him here some more and take some more people to heaven. He made it very clear that to be glorified, to be in that glorified body in heaven, hands down is much better.

You see to Paul, far from being terrified of death, far from being frightened of death, he was looking forward to it because it meant presence with Jesus. 2 Corinthians 5:8, Paul spells it out when he said, "Absence from the body, immediate presence with the Lord". In Revelation 14:13, John said, "Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on... they will rest from their labor, and the deeds follow them". Again 2 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul describes this body in which houses our soul 'cause this body's not you, it is just a house, it's a housing operation where the soul lives. What's inside of you, that's who you are. And Paul describes this body, this flesh and blood in which our soul dwells as a tent, tent.

Now what happens to a tent? A tent deteriorates, a tent sags, a tent get tattered, and eventually the tent collapses. Tents always remind us of the temporary nature of this earthly body, of this housing place in which our soul is. We are on a pilgrims, my beloved friends, we are traveling, we have a traveling plan, and we are going home to be with Jesus. And there's a third thing I wanna share with you. That Jesus wanted those who know him and love him to know about eternity. And that is self-awareness, self-awareness. Let me repeat that, self-awareness. This self-centered, self-worshiping man, the nameless man, he was fully aware that he deserved to be where he ended up. That he got what he deserved in that place of torment. He never complained, he never said, "Well, this is unfair, this is unjust, this is a raw deal. How can a loving God do that to me"?

No, no, no, no, no, you do that here, people do that all the time here but when they get the heightened awareness, they're not gonna do this, they're not gonna say that, they gonna know they got themselves into that place by them little selves. He knew that he got what he deserved and he ended up where he deserved. He had a heightened awareness of his sin and rebellion against God. He had a heightened awareness that he lived this life for self, totally ignoring God and the needs of others. Every time I read the story, the one thing it gets to me is that the self-worshiping man was only in that place of torment for few seconds and he became an evangelist. He became, not just witnessing, he became an evangelist.

Look at verses 27, 28 and 29. "Send Lazarus back from the dead, send him to my family, send him to my five brothers. When they see him risen from the dead, they may believe and not come to this terrible, painful, agonizing place". Please don't miss what I'm gonna tell you, don't miss what I'm gonna tell you. This self-centered, self-worshiping man pleads with Abraham. Verse 30, "If someone rises from the dead and go to my brothers, they will repent and won't come here". Here's a classic response from Abraham, underline it in your Bible, I really can preach a whole sermon on that, maybe more than one.

Verse 31, let me give you a Youssef translation. You have your Bible with your check on me. If I say I'm not gonna do injustice to the text, but I'm gonna give you a translation. "If they do not listen and obey the Word of God, which they already have, they already know, even if someone rises from the dead, they're not gonna believe". This man knew that the decision you make here and now in this life will impact your eternity. Of course, with his state of heightened perception and understanding, he becomes aware of the fact that relationship with God through Jesus Christ is everything. Don't miss this, don't miss this. You can have everything in the world, but you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ.

Jesus said, "What can profit a man if he gains the whole world, and loses his own soul"? We saw in the last message the necessity of scrutinizing every investment we make in life. Why? Because it impacts eternity. Here he's saying that your relationship with God through Jesus in this life will determine your eternity. As I said, and I said, I'll come back to it, I'm coming back to it now. Hades was your reference in the Old Testament to the place where all the dead go, but it was made up of two regions because that was before heaven and hell were permanently separated.

After the death and the resurrection of Jesus, I already told you, he went to Hades, to the place where the Old Testament saints were waiting, declared his own power and the power of his resurrection, vindicated their faith and he took them straight to paradise and opened the door of paradise. And from that time on, after the resurrection of Jesus, the separation between those two places have become irrevocable in every way. While they could communicate in the old Hades from both regions, now no communication, no communication. And every New Testament believer that we said goodbye to in this life are in paradise with Jesus right now. This pain and suffering in that region of Hades, listen to me, is a play thing in comparison to the final judgment of hell.

After Jesus's resurrection, the chasm between heaven and hell became impossible to cross. The communication the two places used to have impossible. I said in the last message, if you're planning a journey, if you're going on vacation, if you're planning a retirement, whatever it is that you're planning in the future, you at least find out where you're going, study where you're going. Some people now read reviews of where they're going, see what people said about it. And we have Jesus's word. That's the only review you really need, that's the review you need. So my beloved friends, how much more should we be concerned about where we're gonna be spending our forever, and ever, and ever, and ever? If you die today, will you be in the presence of Jesus in that glorified body? And if your answer is, "I hope so," make sure you take care of that. If you have the slightest doubt, make sure you don't leave this place without taking care of it.
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