Lessons from Jesus’ parable on heaven
Jesus’ parable of the rich man and Lazarus has been on my mind and heart this week. I have read Luke 16:19-31 over a dozen times and it is amazing how the Holy Spirit brings clarity and conviction through sincere, humble prayer and repetitive reading of the Scripture.
Here are the lessons I will share Sunday with the congregation that I am currently ministering to as interim pastor:
- A parable is different from a direct discourse. A parable is a picture with one specific point. As clear as the parable of the prodigal son shows God’s love, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus shows God’s judgment
- Jesus clearly illustrated the reality and torment of hell
- Jesus specifically illustrated the finality of judgment
- The rich man’s riches and the Lazarus’ poverty did not decide their eternal destiny. This story challenges the prosperity gospel narrative, but the gospel is still clear that salvation only comes through personal surrender to Jesus Christ as Lord
- There is power and responsibility in your testimony, but ultimately, it is the power of the Word of God and the work of the Holy Spirit that saves a soul
Mentioning these lessons here in my column is like “preaching to the choir.” I know that because I have been personally challenged by the enthusiasm and commitment of the many volunteers I have visited with in the few months I have been at the helm of OJPM.
Yet, I know that to be the best “choir member” you need to be a life-long learner and disciple of Jesus Christ. So let me say this as a way of bragging on you, but also of reminding you; the ministry of OJPM, empowering lay volunteers to enter the dynamic mission field of our county jails, is driven by the lessons of this parable.
People are sinners. Heaven and hell are realities. Whether a person is rich or poor, they are in need of Jesus Christ. The love and grace of God are only available this side of death.
The confinement and separation we see each time we visit an inmate in jail will become permanent one day according to this parable where it says in verse 26 “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you can not, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” The freedom of a soul is much greater than any physical freedom this life has to offer and the damnation of a soul in the life to come is worse than any sentence in jail or prison.
The inmates in our correctional facilities are in a unique position to see the deceit of Satan and the destructiveness of sin. Stay in the Word of God! Keep humble before the Holy Spirit’s conviction! Hold fast to your commitment of taking the life-changing gospel to the mission field in our own backyards!
Unleashing the captives,