The ocean liner Titanic sank in April 1912. The captain and radio crew had received detailed advice about the location of icebergs, but the Titanic steamedinto troubled waters anyway — and struck an iceberg.
Some of the radio (Morse code) messages:
“Come at once. We have struck a berg” the Titanic called to the ship, Carpathia.
“We have struck an iceberg and sinking by the head,” was radioed to a German ship.
The Titanic had only enough lifeboats for about half the passengers and crew.
“We are putting passengers off in small boats.”
“Women and children in boats.”
“Cannot last much longer.”
“Losing power … Engine Room Flooded……Come quick. Engine room nearly full.”
Then nothing but silence from the Titanic’s radio. The ship sank, plunging 1,517 people to their deaths at the bottom of N. Atlantic
The Titanic had sent out its messages of distress, but there was no rescue. All hopes sank with the ship and more than 1500 people.
Consider this, another distressful message:
Sermon Title: Mayday from Hades
19 “There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. 20 But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, 21 desiring to be fed with the crumbs, which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. 22 So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. 23 And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. 24 “Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ 25 But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. 26 And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’ 27 “Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ 29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ 30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31 But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’”
1. A Man in a Terrible Circumstance.
Verse 23 says the RICH MAN was in HADES & in TORMENT. Some translations say he was in HELL, but the Greek word used here in not “Gehenna,” which is usualterm for hell in the New Testament. Related phrases include “punishment of eternal fire” (Jude 7), “lake of fire” ( Rev 19:29; 20:14-15), and “judgment.” English versions occasionally translate Greek words “hades” (esp. Luke 16:23) and “tartaroo” (2 Peter 2:4) as hell. However, some scholars say that these terms appear to denote the intermediate state, not the final destiny of the wicked.
HADES = Temporary realm of dead awaiting judgment. The permanent place of punishment for the lost is “hell,” the lake of fire.
Rev 20, ff: Death will give up the bodies and hades will give up the souls…and the lost will stand before Christ in judgment….Death and Hades thrown into the Lake of Fire.
These verses draw a distinction between “hades” and “hell.”
Lazarus was resting in Abraham’s bosom, and the rich man was in HADES, awaiting his final judgment while in torment. Yet, both men seemed to be in the same place or region.
WHERE DO Christians go today?
Jesus told one of the thieves on the cross, “Today you will be with me in paradise.” It is clear the rich man was not in his “happy place.” He was tormented in flames, not in paradise, but yet was apparently near Lazarus.
Some theologians and scholars would say that Hades, as represented in Luke 16, ceased to exist after Jesus Christ’s resurrection.
Cf. these interesting verses in Ephesians 4:8-9
8 Therefore He says: “When He ascended on high, He led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men.” 9 (Now this, “He ascended”—what does it mean but that He also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? 10 He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.)
Add to these verses from Ephesians the crucifixion and resurrection account in Matthew 27
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the gravesafter His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.”
Some Bible scholars say that when Jesus died and then rose from the dead, he “led captivity captive,” that is, he went to get those who were “resting in Abraham’s bosom” in Hades, but he left the RICH MAN and all those like him in HADES.
Nonetheless, the rich man DIED. When we talk about the deceased, we don’t like to use the words “died” or “death.” We say someone “passed away; met their maker; is resting in peace,” or “is in a better place” because we don’t want to hear the words “died” or “death.”
Truth is, we all will die a physical death. The Bible says it is appointed unto man once to die, then the judgment (Heb. 9:27).
What kind of judgment? Well, if you die without Jesus Christ as your Savior, you will
die w/o forgiveness; live forever in flames
die w/o Christ’s atonement; live forever in anguish
die w/o the Savior; live forever in suffering
die w/o the Master; live forever in misery
Some people don’t believe this, like agnostics and atheists. The great Christian writer (former atheist) and apologist, C.S. Lewis, heard about a tombstone epitaph of an atheist that read: “All dressed up and no place to go.”
Lewis responded: “I bet he wishes that were true!”
The rich man died physically, but not spiritually, and he was miserable.
The words “torment” and “agony” used to describe RICH MAN’s plight where he went
But rarely if ever will you hear these kinds of words at the funeral of a person who dies without salvation in Jesus Christ. WHY? Because we don’t want to upset anyone.
There was the funeral of the wife beating, child abusing, no count, shiftless, ne’er-do-well drunkard, and the preacher was eulogizing him way too kindly: “Old Joe was a good man. He loved his family. He was kind to his neighbors. He did good for strangers.” Just about then, the widow elbowed her son and said: “Go up there and make sure that’s your dad in the casket. We might be at the wrong funeral.”
It’s too late for the wife-beating drunkard; but it’s not too late for those who listen.
My granddad and my dad would preach the Gospel at funerals, and sometimes a lost soul sinking in sin, headed for hell, would respond to the Gospel and would repent and commit to follow Jesus. They would hear the MAYDAY from the PULPIT, and sometimes someone would be rescued by the lifesaving grace of God.
Are there any here today who will hear a MAYDAY from the pulpit and will be rescued, or will you end up like the rich man, with an unquenchable thirst and no water, living where the flames never cease, outside the presence of God?
Will you end up like the RICH MAN as a Person in a Terrible Circumstance?
2. A Man in a Desperate Situation
v. 24 says, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me…”
Rich men are not accustomed to asking for help. Rather, he had servants who anticipated his needs and desires. He flaunted his wealth. He wore clothing of purple and fine linen, ate the best food, and was one of the “beautiful people.”
Why clothing of purple? Extracting the dyes to make the color purple was a labor intensive, time consuming process, so purple clothing was expensive. Such clothing was a status symbol. Purple to this day is called the “color of royalty.”
However, poverty lived outside the RICH MAN’s front gate, but he didn’t let it bother him; it didn’t spoil his day.
As a Jew, the RICH MAN knew of God’s heart regarding the poor.
As a Jew, he would have been well schooledin the TORAH, the first 5 books of the Bible, also called the Pentateuch or the Books of Moses. RICH MAN would have known well these verses and their inclusive instruction:
Deuteronomy 15.11: “For the poor will never cease to bein the land; therefore I command you, saying, ‘You shall freely open your hand to your brother, to your needy and poor in your land.’”
Exodus 23.10-11: “Six years you shall sow your land and gather in its produce, 11 but the seventh yearyou shall let it rest and lie fallow, that the poor of your people may eat; and what they leave, the beasts of the field may eat. In like manner you shall do with your vineyard and your olive grove.”
Here are some other things the Bible — the Book of Proverbs — says about the poor and needy in our lives:
14:21, “He who despises his neighbor sins; but he who has mercy on the poor, happy is he.”
19:17, “He who has pity on the poor lends to the Lord, and He will pay back what he has given.”
21:13, “Whoever shuts his ears to the cry of the poor will also cry himself and not be heard.”
28:27, “He who gives to the poor will not lack, but he who hides his eyes will have many curses.”
22:9, “Whoever has a bountiful eye will be blessed, for he shares his bread with the poor.”
22:2, “The rich and poor meet together; the Lord is the Maker of them all.”
The RICH MAN and the POOR MAN are together in Hades.
The Rich Man is desperate and is crying out for mercy. Lazarus needs nothing and is experiencing the blessings of God. Lazarus once longed for the crumbs from the rich man’s table; now the rich man begs for a just a drop of water from Lazarus.
The RICH MAN died a physical death, but he was still conscious. He had all the agony of Hades, but without any relief from it. This is the consequential plight of people who die outside of the grace of God.
Matthew 25:46 says: “And these will go away into ETERNAL punishment.”
Revelation 14:11 says: “And the smoke of their torment goes up foreverand ever; and they have no rest day and night.”
There are those so-called “Intelligent, Sophisticated, Reasonable, Logical” people who do not want to believe in a literal Hell or that it is eternal.
One survey asked people what they thought about the idea of an afterlife. The majority response was that the old “hellfire-and-brimstone” idea seems to be on its way out replaced by the idea of hell as a mere absence of God.
Hell is a mere absence of God? WHAT? — as if that is some sort of utopian existence?
Colossians teaches that Jesus holds the Creation together, (Colossian 1:17). One of the Holy Spirit’s ministries is to restrain sin on Earth (2 Thess. 2.7), but when he is removed from the Earth in the end times, all HELL will break loose. The Earth will see the fullness of evil as never before witnessed.
Yes, hell is, at the very minimum, the absence of God; but not in the way a non-Christian thinks of an absence of God. The Bible describes HELL as a place of eternal punishment and agony and torment.
Others say: “I cannot believe that a loving God could do such a thing as condemn someone to eternal punishment and agony in hell!” Well, God doesn’t really do that. Sinful, unrepentant people do it to themselves. It is a consequence of rejecting the Gospel. It is even a consequence of ignoring how God reveals himself in Creation.
Read Romans 1:18 and the following verses. See that God shows that his Creation points to himself, the Creator. But instead, people worship the trees and the mountains as gods. They even willfully suppress the truth that God is revealing. So, God gives them over to their reprobate minds. Hell is a consequence for those who reject, even willfully suppress the revealed truth of God. THAT sends people to hell.
FACT: The Bible teaches a literal & eternal hell and that real people will go there.
Listen to the words of Jesus Himself in Matthew 10:28:
“And do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”
If you reject the Bible’s teaching about Hell, you reject the words of Jesus Himself.
Robert Ingersoll, a famous lawyer and atheist from America’s 1800s once delivered a blistering lecture on hell. He called hell the “scarecrow of religion” and told his audience how unscientific it was, and how intelligent people had decided there was no such place.
A drunk in the audience came up to him afterward and said, “Bob, I liked your lecture; I liked what you said about hell. But, Bob, I want you to be sure about it, because I’m depending upon you.”
Who are you depending on today? Your own intellect? You may have been sprinkled as a baby. You may have been ‘confirmed’ as a young person. You may have walked down the aisle in a church, shook a preacher’s hand, filled out a membership card and been baptized. But none of those acts are required for coming to faith in Christ — not one.
WHAT is required? Repentance and Belief! Turning from one’s sins, being sorry for them, asking for God’s forgiveness, and then acknowledging that Jesus Christ is Lord and Savior; thus, then, committing one’s life to follow Jesus from now on. This is how someone comes to faith in Jesus Christ.
We’d all better consider very carefully whatever it is we are counting on to get us through.
On this side of death, there is an endless fountain of God’s mercy. On the other side of death — if you die w/o Christ in your heart — there will be no mercy from Christ — not even the tiniest drop.
1. A Man in a Terrible Circumstance
2. A Man in a Desperate Situation
3. A Man Helplessin Hades
Verse 24 says, “send Lazarus that he may cool off my tongue”
RICH MAN still doesn’t get it. He still thinks Lazarus ought to serve him.
How many times did the rich man ignore Lazarus? The Rich Man ate while Lazarus starved. He drank while Lazarus thirsted. Surely the rich man had the finest physician, but the dogs licked the sores of Lazarus. The Rich Man lolled on his couch while Lazarus lay on the hard ground at the gate. The Rich Man paraded in the streets, but Lazarus was carried wherever he went. The Rich Man still believes that Lazarus should serve him; but now, the Creator tends to Lazarus.
Now the rich man is thirsty…………….Lazarus is satisfied
The rich man is helpless………………….Lazarus is helped
The rich man is hopeless…………………Lazarus lives in eternal hope
4. A Man Hopelessin Hades
v. 26, “there is a great gulf (chasm) fixed” and no one may cross over from either side.
Initially in this story, a gate separated the two men, but now a great canyon. You can step through a gate, but you cannot step across a gulf. There is nothing ANYONE can do for the RICH MAN in HADES
Concerned for his family, the RICH MAN wanted Lazarus to go warn his brothers “that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’
Abraham replied: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.”
How much more of the Word of God did the RICH MAN or his brothers need before he (they) would believe? Many living today think that if there were really such a place as Hell and if it were really as bad as all that, God would somehow alert them in a special way so as to get their undivided attention.
The now-deceased atheist, Carl Sagan, was fond of saying that if God would place a burning cross in the sky, he would believe. Whether he was sincere in that, who knows. But this is for sure: Sagan NOW believes in Hell and God, but too late.
The RICH MAN rejected what he knew about God, which could have led him to escape Hell.
And likewise, his brothers, so there would be no special warning for his five brothers: They knew the Torah, as well.
It is possible that someone here is thinking: “One of these days God will do something really big to get my attention, then I’ll change”?
That didn’t happen in RICH MAN’s life. He had received all the warning he was ever to get.
Once a person gets to Hades, there will be nothing anyone can do to help him.
5. A Man for Whom It’s Too Late.
Verse 25, “During your life you received your good things…[now] you are in agony.”
God had already extended all the goodness this man was going to get. His problem was he did nothing positive with it
NOTE: Key words here are “during your life.”
“During your life” is all the time you get. If you blow it; then it will be too late afterward to change the result.
Don’t interpret God’s goodness toward you today as an indicator that everything is all right.
God’s blessings of rain falls on everyone, upon those who believe in God and those who don’t. So, don’t mistake a generally happy and mostly problem-free life as indicators that you are “OK” in God’s sight. If you have not repented of your sins and confessed Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord, then hell is your eternal destination.
DON’T WAIT for a later time to give yourself to God
1 Cor. 6.2: “Look, now is the acceptable time; today is the day of salvation.”
Romans 2:4, “Do you think lightly of the riches of His kindness and forbearance and patience, not knowing that the kindness of God leads you to repentance?”
We have no guarantee of tomorrow — or even of our next breath. The Bible tells us not to count on having a tomorrow, for we don’t know what a day of destruction that might be.
I have read a copy of the transcript released by the National Transportation and Safety Board of ValuJet Flight 592 cockpit voice recordings just before the fatal crash into the Florida Everglades. On that day, May 11, 1996, 110 people came face-to-face with the horrifying reality of death.
It was haunting to read the words as the cabin and cockpit filled with smoke. For the people aboard Flight 592 that fateful day there is nothing we can do, now. There is no way to undo what happened. But preventative steps can be taken to keep such a tragedy from happening again.
Likewise, today there is nothing that can be done about those already in Hell.
But preventative steps can be taken to assure that other people don’t end up there.
We cannot live as though it could never happen to us. Men, women, boys and girls die every day. You should read the obituaries in the newspaper and ask yourself: “Did any of these people plan to die on a particular day?” Did a certain person plan to be killed in a head-on collision? Did a certain person plan to be shot in a robbery? Did a certain person plan to die from cancer? No, no, no.
Don’t wait to give your life to Christ.
We sometimes assume that every one that is in a church service is a Christian, is born again, and is going to heaven. I don’t want to make that assumption. It’s too costly a mistake for me to take as a preacher.
So, I want to ask you to examine how it was you came to Christ.
I am not trying to get your to doubt your salvation; I want you to be sure of it.
And if you don’t have salvation in Jesus Christ, then I want to help you find it.
Simply put, you must be sorry for your sins; so sorry that you deeply regret them and never want to commit them again. Likewise, you must recognize that Jesus died to save you from your sins. He conquered death, hell and the grave for you. Most importantly, he rose again. God raised him from the dead. These truths should elicit a response of faith from you — of faith and belief, as well as a commitment to surrender your life to Christ, to acknowledge him as Lord and Master of your life. He’s the new boss, and you will want to obey him as you grow in spiritual maturity and Christian service.
Heaven awaits those who will follow God’s word, follow His commands, and will repent, believe, and obey.