Hello Project Ezra! This week’s suggested reading is the story of the rich man and Lazarus, from Luke 16. It is also another example of a story that is so appropriate for sharing the gospel that I can’t believe I haven’t used it in my outreach more often. It is a wonderful, compact description of the truth of hell and real issue in man’s disbelief, that of the suppressing of God’s truth. I’ve shared many times with others I’ve helped to mentor in public evangelism that disbelief is never an intellectual problem, but a moral and spiritual one. Certainly there are those out there who have unanswered questions, and if those questions are sincere (many are not), we should be willing to take the time to answer those questions, or to look for the answers. But as is made clear is this week’s passage, if they do not believe Moses and the Prophets (primarily the moral law and our conscience, and fulfilled prophecy), they will not believe even if someone rises from the dead.
Many people will ask questions and claim lack of proof simply to try to shut Christians up. If they can stump you, or confuse you, or catch you in what they think is a logical mistake, it will help encourage them in their disbelief, and they will think they are smarter than you. It is that pride that is the foundation for much of people’s denial of God. But don’t let it get to you. Remember, it’s not your job to convince somebody of the truth of God’s word, or to save them. Your job, and my job, is simply to be faithful to the calling God has given us, and God is glorified and honored in that. We should study to show ourselves approved (2 Tim 2:15), and present the truth as clearly and plainly as we can, trusting that the Holy Spirit will do the rest. And it is only through a change by the Spirit of God that anyone will come to true salvation.
I pray this outline is a blessing, and that the Spirit will bring many to true faith this weekend.
All for His glory,
INTRODUCE YOURSELF AND THE PROJECT
READ LUKE 16
This is the story of a rich man, and a poor man, but it’s not really about money
It’s a story about eternity
During life the rich man had all that he wanted, but nothing that really mattered
While the poor man had nothing of earthly value. No money, no health, and no help.
But when they walked off into eternity, things changed dramatically.
I want to share a few truths, that I pray, by God’s grace, will change you dramatically.
First, hell is a real place, and it is terrible beyond comprehension.
It is a place of fire and pain. The rich man was in such agony, that he begged for a single drop of water.
No one should want to go there. I don’t want to go there, and I don’t want you to go there.
That is part of why we are here tonight.
Second, there will be no second chance after this life.
When the rich man saw Lazarus, there was a wide gulf separating them, which could not be crossed.
Whether that picture was figurative or literal, the message is clear.
As scripture says, it is appointed unto men once to die, and after that the judgment.
Third, you will not be able to claim ignorance, or lack of evidence, on that final day.
Though God is not obligated to prove His existence of power to us, He has still chosen to provide us with evidence.
The Prophets foretold many truths about Jesus Christ
They told us what family He would come from, where He would be born, where He would live, that he would be betrayed, and the details of that betrayal, that He would die for sin, how He would die, and even that His garments would be gambled for.
(IT WOULD BE WISE TO MAKE A LIST OF PROPHECIES FULFILLED IN JESUS TO KEEP IN YOUR BIBLE WHEN YOU GO OUT TO SHARE THE GOSPEL).
The Law also shows us the truth of God’s existence.
The Bible tells us that God writes His law on our hearts, and our conscience bears witness.
Every one of us has a conscience, and a knowledge of right and wrong.
Though we may try to suppress God’s truth because of our unrighteousness and desire to sin and go our own way (Romans 1:18-23), in the end we will be without excuse.
If you examine yourself in light of God’s moral law, you will find this to be true.
Consider the 10 Commandments. Though God says much more in His law, the Commandments are a good litmus test, an over-arching view of God’s expectations.
GO THROUGH THE MORAL LAW TO BRING CONVICTION OF SIN
So we see that there is an eternal punishment waiting for those that rebel against God.
We see that all of us deserve to go there, and that we can no claim ignorance as an excuse.
And we see that there will be no way of escape, and no second chance.
So what should we do?
Though we know we are guilty, is there a way our case can be dismissed, so we can go free?
There is a way, one way, and it is through the man who told us this story.
Jesus Christ, who lived almost 2000 years ago, was more than a wise man, or a teller of stories.
He not only told the story. He was the answer to the story.
Jesus lives a life like no other person in history. He lived a life of perfection.
He could live that life because He was God in human flesh, who came to earth for our sake.
By the power of the Spirit, He lived in obedience to God, taught the people, worked many miracles, and then suffered and died.
When He died on the cross, God laid all our sin, all our iniquity, on Him, and punished Him in our place (Isaiah 53).
Then, as He has prophesied, He rose again from the dead, proving His power over death.
Then He ascended into heaven, where He will represent His people before the eternal judgment seat.
Every one of us will stand in judgment one day. It is appointed unto men once to die, and then the judgment (Hebrews 9:27)
On that day sentence will be passed. Will you have to pay for your own crimes?
There is only one other choice. God is perfectly justice, so justice will be done.
But if you turn from your sinful, selfish life, and turn to the Savior, Jesus Christ, trusting in Him alone, then His blood will be the payment for your sin.
Colossians 2 tells us that God satisfied the legal demands of the law, nailing them to the cross.
Through Jesus’ blood our sins can be washed away. Though you deserve Hell, you can spend eternity in Heaven, worshiping and loving God, and mankind was intended to do.
If you have not done that, if you are denying God and continuing to live in sin, please repent and trust in Christ today.
Life is short. None of us is promised a tomorrow.
Turn to Christ today, and live, while you still have time.