Call To Die

Then [Jesus] said to them all, "If anyone wants to come with Me, he must deny himself, take up his cross daily, and follow Me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life because of Me will save it. (Luke 9:23-24, HCSB)

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Follower of Christ, husband of Abby, member of Kosmosdale Baptist Church, and tutor/staff member at Sayers Classical Academy.

Monday, May 03, 2010

The Intermediate State (Part 2)

[See Part 1 HERE.]


Jesus’ Teaching Concerning the Intermediate State


In Luke 16:19-31, Jesus says:


19 “There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20 And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21 who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23 and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side. 24 And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26 And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’ 27 And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28 for I have five brothers— so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ 29 But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’” (ESV)


In the above passage, Jesus gives His listeners some important information about what they may expect immediately after they die.


The Humble Will Receive the Loving Fellowship of “Abraham”


In Jesus’ account, Lazarus– the humble poor man– is taken away to Abraham as soon as he dies. The text above says that Lazarus was at “Abraham’s side” – the older translations say “in Abraham’s bosom”– the idea is not just that Lazarus is situated close to Abraham, but that he is (in a sense) embraced by Abraham: he is brought near to Abraham’s heart. Lazarus, who was ignored in life by the rich man and, it seems, by everyone else except the filthy dogs, is now given a place of great honor and he has fellowship with Abraham.


“Abraham” is mentioned because he was a greatly respected example of faith, one who was known as God’s friend (see, for example, Genesis 15:6, 2 Chronicles 20:7, and Isaiah 41:8). When we who trust in Jesus die, we will have the opportunity to have fellowship with heroes like Abraham, but the Bible also indicates that we will find ourselves in the presence of all faithful people who have died before us; this is one reason why the Old Testament frequently speaks of people who die being ‘gathered to their people’ (see, for example, Genesis 25:8; 49:33). When the person who humbly trusts in Jesus dies, he is immediately taken into the presence of the Lord Jesus Christ, he is able to fellowship with heroes of the faith that we read about in the Bible, he is reunited with all his faithful departed loved ones– the Bible’s picture of the Intermediate State is joyful indeed!

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