"I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me will live, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die."
I am sure you all know the parable Jesus told about Lazarus and the rich man. Have you ever looked at some of the subtle things it tells us? Here is the section of the parable that I want to look at today:
"The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. 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.' "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. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.' "He answered, 'Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.' "Abraham replied, 'They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.' Luke 16:22-29
I want to look at the rich man. Of course he is in torment, but the interesting part to me is that once he is told there is nothing that can be done for him, he turns his attention to his brothers. He does not want them to end up in torment too.
I believe this parable shows that what we are on this earth, our friends and family, our experiences, will be part of what we are after our deaths. I think too, it shows that there is nothing a person who has died can do for a person who is still alive.
Now the point I want to get to is; after a person dies if they remember their earthly lives, and friends and family, then they will also remember the opportunities they had to accept Christ but didn't. Think about this, they will also know that there were times they were not given an extra opportunity because of other peoples failure to witness or confront them about Jesus.
Before I go any farther let me state clearly that I believe every person has to make a decision for themselves. Every person will answer for what they did know, not what they didn't know. God is a fair and just God. But my point is that the person who dies will remember the "Christians" that they worked with or were friends with or even just came in contact with. They may also wonder how many other people they came in contact with were Christians but said nothing about their faith.
Although I believe they will know that the decision was theirs and theirs alone, I have to wonder if they will not mourn the fact that those Christians did not talk more about their faith. Explain more often what a person has to do to gain eternal life. Might they not think, it was cruel to keep such information from them? Okay, they know they probably wouldn't have listened, they might even have gotten mad about it, but who knew it was this important!?
Will they mourn even more because they are afraid that you or I won't witness to their other loved ones? Even in their torment they won't want their loved ones to share their fate. But they can't do anything about it, they must trust us, the "Christians" to try to keep their loved ones from ending up in hell too.
Is there anyone you know who has passed away that might be pleading with you from beyond the grave to reach out to their loved ones? Or for that matter anyone who is now in heaven with Jesus that has to trust their unsaved loved ones to you?
I have several friends who have died, whom I mourn for everyday. Of course I cannot know what condition their heart was in when they died. But I do know that I did not do enough to share my faith with them. I was afraid that they would get mad at me. I was embarrassed to broach the subject, after all they knew me when I was doing the same things they were doing. Now they are gone and I can only pray that some other Christian witnessed to them more than I did.
Several years ago, I had a very close friend get very sick, very quickly with MS. Within a month he was in a wheel chair and was getting worse each day. I talked to him on the phone one Friday evening. I knew he was scared. I told him I would pray for him and he thanked me. I kept thinking I should say more, I should ask him if he wanted to accept Jesus, but I held back. I hung up that night and thought about my friend day and night. I prayed for his healing and comfort. I knew I had to talk to him about his soul. I wanted to but I was scared. I decided to call him again on Friday. I was going to somehow try to bring up the subject.
I received a phone call on Thursday evening. He had died. I mourn everyday for what I didn't say to him. I loved him like a brother, but I let Satan cause me to hold back and be embarrassed. Now there is nothing I can do. I hope someday he will touch my shoulder in heaven and say, "I made it without your help." But I am scared that he didn't make it. If he didn't make it I believe he is pleading with me from beyond the grave to help others, to speak out boldly, to trust God.
Think about it, there may be someone who is lost and in torment that is pleading with you to trust God! Don't take the chance, speak out about your faith!
These devotionals are written by Ralph Dettwiler, and reflect his views.
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