What Can We Learn from a Man in Torment?
When Jesus spoke of the rich man and Lazarus, He wanted to drive home some important points about eternity (Lk. 16:19-31). Sometimes the question is asked whether Jesus is telling a parable. Since Jesus never used parables to teach something false, it does not matter if the account of the rich man and Lazarus is a parable. The information contained therein is truth. Jesus records no words from Lazarus, but there is an exchange between the rich man who is in torment and Abraham, the great patriarch. Notice the lessons we can learn from a man who was suffering in torment.
Some Pleasure Is Temporary
The rich man begs for relief as he is tormented in the flame, but Abraham assures him that he had good things in his lifetime (Lk. 16:24-25). Moses was wise enough to know that the pleasures of sin only last for a season (Heb. 11:25). Most people are getting their reward in this life and they will be disappointed in eternity (Mt. 6:2, 5, 16). If we gain the entire world and lose our souls, we have made a horrible exchange. The man in torment teaches us that pleasure is not a bad thing, but we should seek the lasting pleasures that continue in eternity.
Death Seals Our Fate
While in torment, the rich man could not pass from torment to paradise to have his tongue cooled (Lk. 16:26). There is no such thing as purgatory, baptism on behalf of the dead, or any other post-death plan of salvation. Once a man or woman dies, he or she enters the hadean realm and awaits the judgment (Heb. 9:27). We will be judged for what we have done in our bodies, and we will rise in the same spiritual state we died (Jn. 5:28-29; 2 Cor. 5:10-11). We cannot die in an unsaved state and expect to have our eternal dwelling place reversed. The man in torment wanted relief, yet once he died, it was too late.
Death Seals Our Fate
The rich man in torment knew his fate could not be reversed, but he wanted his brethren to be warned (Lk. 16:27-28). The man in torment knew the seriousness of warning people on earth about what awaits the impenitent (2 Cor. 5:11). Those of us who are in the kingdom of God would do well to learn from a man in torment about the importance of caring for the souls of others (Psa. 142:4). Jesus told us to take the gospel into the entire world (Mk. 16:15-16; Acts 8:4). May we not be outdone in our evangelistic zeal by those in torment!
Hiram Kemp is a graduate of the Florida School of Preaching (2016) and began his full-time preaching work with the South Florida Avenue church of Christ in June of 2016. He received formal education from Bethune Cookman University (BA in Criminal Justice, 2011) and Nova Southeastern University (MS in Reading Education, 2014). Hiram has received a Master's Degree in Old Testament from Freed-Hardeman University. Hiram and his wife, Brittani, have two beautiful children.