When Seeing is not Believing – Luke 16:19-31

Having so far in this Framework series talked about the Authority and Inerrancy of Scripture, we turn now to the third of our four topics – the Sufficiency of God’s Word.

Have you ever thought about how much easier it would be to have faith and confidence in God, or to also testify to other people about His reality if only you could physically see and experience Him? That would make all the difference, right? You could bring your needs directly to Him; people would have to believe and obey, because there would be no denying, right?

Today we read in Luke’s gospel about Christ’s telling of the parable of the rich man and Lazarus. The background for this is the ongoing debates of Jesus with the Pharisees. They believed they were in good shape with God because they were rich and righteous – the obvious signs of God’s blessing and approval. Beyond that, they constantly pestered Jesus for a sign – something incredible to verify his claims.

The parable details a rich man who had no mercy or compassion for a poor beggar at his gate named Lazarus. Both men die and go to their appropriate abode – each a temporary place for Old Testament era departures from this world – Hades and a place called “Abraham’s side.”

These areas were able to see from one to another, though there was an impassable chasm in between. The rich man in torment begs for relief, but learning it is impossible, he then resorts to begging for someone to return from the dead to warn his five brothers. His reasoning was that a person raised from the dead would be so impressive that anyone would listen to such.

But Abraham says that is not true. The brothers – obviously representative of the Pharisees – possessed a sufficient resource in Moses and the Prophets. In other words, they had the Scriptures – God’s Word – and that was more than sufficient. If they would not belief that, they would not believe someone raised from the dead.

At the end of the day, the issue honestly for most folks who do not believe the Bible is not that they can’t get there intellectually – though that is what they truly believe is their hang-up. Actually, it is that they don’t want to be the creature of a creator, and thus they deny even the inner intuitive sense that there is a God to whom they should be subservient. It is more comfortable to be their own captain than to yield to an external set of guidelines for living.

It really is amazing to see the Pharisees interact with Christ. He heals someone on the Sabbath, and rather than be impressed with the miracle, they are angry that it happened on that day of rest. Eventually, the pinnacle moment of power is the raising of a man from the dead – so happens that his name is Lazarus! And even then, instead of accepting the sign as a display of divine power, they jointly resolve from that time forward to have Christ entirely removed from the scene with his execution by the Romans.

Without going into all the details of end-times events, during the 1,000-year rule and reign of Christ on the Earth, there is a rebellion at the end where even in the visible presence of God, many rise up against him to their demise.

Seeing would still not be believing. The Bible is sufficient. It contains the whole story – a macro story of God’s plan of the ages as it unfolds through dozens and dozens of other stories and historical events. And it all tells us how we may know God and be connected with Him for eternity.

The Rich Man and Lazarus

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.’”