A Story of Fire and Salvation

In Luke chapter 16, Jesus relates a very interesting parable: the Parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus. The Rich Man, like his appellation suggests, lived an affluent life. Lazarus, however, lived as a destitute, feeding on whatever scraps he could get. Both men eventually went the way of all flesh, and their afterlife estates were drastically different, just like when they were both alive.

Lazarus ended up in paradise, while The Rich Man was retired to “Hades,” where he was rewarded with torment for all his earthly troubles. Jesus tells us about how this Rich Man sighted Lazarus enjoying himself, and the conversation that followed between The Rich Man and Abraham (apparently Lazarus was too busy enjoying paradise that he didn’t have time for anything else).

The story climaxes when The Rich Man asks Abraham to send Lazarus back to the land of the living to warn his brothers of what awaits them if they don’t repent. I find Abraham’s response so poignant. His response is one that continues to be relevant till today. Don’t be pressed to believe me. Here, read it for yourself:

“Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’
“‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’
“He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’”

(Luke 16:29-31, NIV)

At first thought, it seems like a really great idea. And you’ll probably want to accuse Abraham of not being open minded enough to explore other options for salvation. I mean, imagine someone coming back from the dead to tell you that Heaven and Hell is real. And that Jesus is truly only the way to salvation.

It would be fantastic, wouldn’t it? Except that there have been instances of people actually coming back from the dead to declare these things, and their announcements didn’t do more than to stir emotions and raise some eyebrows. If someone were to resurrect from the dead this moment and go on social media to declare what he/she saw on the other side, I can already imagine the derision the person would face. Especially if the person was formerly a beggar.

Abraham’s response to The Rich Man was to make him (and us especially) understand that the efficacy of the message of Moses and the Prophets was not necessarily a function of the precedents of the messenger. The efficacy of the message is the Message Itself. What was the message of “Moses and the Prophets?”

“And beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, he (Jesus) explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself.”

(Luke 24:27, NIV, [word in bracket is mine])

The message of “Moses and the Prophets” is the message of Jesus’ birth, death, resurrection and ascension. It’s the message of the sufferings of Jesus Christ and the Glory that should follow. It’s the message of the Gospel. It’s the message of the Good News of our salvation.

“For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes…”

(Romans 1:16a, NIV)

Abraham’s charge to The Rich Man (AND TO US) is that the Gospel message in itself is capable of bringing salvation to man. The Gospel is the only Power through which God can save a man. So don’t be ashamed of the simplicity of the Gospel. Don’t feel pressured to add theatrics and showmanship to the Gospel.

As God helps you, preach the Gospel in simplicity, and in the power of the Holy Ghost.


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