The death of a neighbor, a friend, or a loved one brings us face to face with eternity. We dare not honor the life and death of another without being reminded of the fact that we, too, will die. The Bible teaches us that death is a kind of door leading to eternity. There is much that is mysterious about eternity, but the story which our Lord told in Luke chapter 16 opens the door, and enables us to learn some important lessons concerning the relationship between life now and life in eternity.
The story our Lord told was directed toward a hostile audience. It was aimed at a particular group of religious people, known as the Pharisees. Luke tells us that they were "lovers of money" and that they were scoffing at His teaching (verse 14). They were also those who were proud of their knowledge of the Old Testament, thinking they knew much more about their Scriptures than others (John 7:47-49).
The story is one which may be familiar to you. It is about two very different men, who in their lives lived in close proximity to each other. The first man was named Lazarus; we are not told the name of the second man, only that he was a rich man in life.
Their lives are contrasted in three different ways:
1. In life--verses 19-21
2. In death--verse 22
3. In eternity--verses 23-31
The story has many lessons for us, but I wish to focus on just five:
1. First, eternity is where earthly wrongs or injustices are made right.
2. Second, our eternal destiny is not what most people expect. Eternity will come as a shock and a surprise to many, who think that they are going to heaven, and find themselves in hell.
3. Third, our eternal destiny is not determined by those things by which our society measures "success" and "significance." By human estimates, it would have been Lazarus, the poor and miserable man, who would have suffered eternally, and the rich man who would have lived in comfort.
4. Fourth, our eternal destiny is sealed by a decision we make in life, and cannot be reversed after death.
5. Fifth, the decision involves the acknowledgment and repentance of our sins, and trust in the person and work of Jesus Christ, who died rise from the dead and proclaim the good news of the gospel and warn men of eternal judgment.