The separation between those who believe and those who reject the Lord, becomes an eternal, unbridgeable chasm
Luke 16:16-31 – Focus on the chasm of verse 26
16 ‘The Law and the Prophets were proclaimed until John. Since that time, the good news of the kingdom of God is being preached, and everyone is forcing their way into it. 17 It is easier for heaven and earth to disappear than for the least stroke of a pen to drop out of the Law.
18 ‘Anyone who divorces his wife and marries another woman commits adultery, and the man who marries a divorced woman commits adultery.
19 ‘There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. 20 At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores 21 and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores.
22 ‘The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 24 So he called to him, “Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.”
25 ‘But Abraham replied, “Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.”
27 ‘He answered, “Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, 28 for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.”
29 ‘Abraham replied, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.”
30 ‘“No, father Abraham,” he said, “but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.”
31 ‘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.”’
Abraham describes a great chasm. On the one side are those with him and on the other side those who rejected God and are rejected by God. It shows the terrible situation of those who depart this world without Christ. The origin of the chasm is sin. Our sin separates us from relationship with our God. People who have not been rescued by Jesus live their lives as strangers to God. It is what our sinful nature wants. This description of life beyond this world shows that the sinful desire has its completion in a permanent separation from God and his people.
There are several consequences for these people described here. It is clear this is a hopeless situation. There are no second chances or change of direction at this point. It is permanent and hence eternal. The opportunity for evangelism, a call to repentance, of turning to Jesus for forgiveness, is gone forever.
The other side of the chasm is encouraging for those who believe in the Lord Jesus. They are safe and secure with the Lord and those he has saved. There is no chance of them falling into separation because the chasm works both ways. Their security is eternal.
It is very easy to ignore the ultimacy of this while living in the world. Those heading to one side or the other live side by side with little visible difference. Jesus’ description of this chasm does impress on us the need to think in an eternal way because we live for a very short time in this world. A YouTube video by Francis Chan illustrates this brilliantly. Francis Chan Video He has a long piece of white rope and asks us to imagine that it goes on forever. He then shows a tiny red bit on the end of the rope and calls on us to imagine that the tiny red bit represents our life in this world. Imagining that the whole rope represents our life, in this world and beyond, he asks the disturbing question. Why would we spend so much of our efforts in trying to secure pleasures in the little red bit but be relatively unconcerned about the eternity that stretches out beyond this life? It is of overwhelming importance that we entrust our lives to Jesus who died to bear our punishment for sin and rose again to give us life eternal.
Head: It is so important for us to understand the consequences of sin and the fact that Christ alone is the hope.
Heart: This brief scenario stirs both a passion of thanksgiving among God’s people but also the deepest of concern for those who are still separated from God by their sin.
Hands: How can you show that you take seriously this reality throughout each day?
Prayer: Loving Father, I thank you that my Lord Jesus Christ has rescued me from my sinful separation from you. Help me to show my thanks by a life of love to you and a life of directing others to Jesus that they too might be saved. In Jesus name. Amen
A song to listen to: Fall Before Him
Living Church – Creek Road