Yesterday, I preached from Luke 16:19-31 in a special sermon that would setup our evening evangelism series that kicked off last night. The purpose of the sermon was to point people to the reality of death, the certainty of eternity, and to point people to the sufficient Word of God for evangelism.
In Luke 16:19-31, we find a parable that was told by our Lord Jesus Christ. He provided us with a story that illustrates the sober reality of death. In this story, we see two men —one was rich and the other was poor. Yet, as we read the story, we see that both died. Death was not partial to either of the two based on social status, material wealth, or health. Both of the men in this story died.
Jesus also points out that although both died, they went to two contrasting places for eternity. The man of poverty was taken immediately to the side of Abraham. This depicts the place of paradise – ultimately that of heaven. The rich man who died was buried, and immediately we see that he is in hades in utter torment.
As the story unfolds, we find that the self-centered rich man requesting for Lazarus to take one drop of water and place it on his tongue to take away his pain. When that request was denied, he then turned to the awful reality of his five brothers who would soon be joining him in the flames of God’s wrath. He looked to Abraham and made another request. He asked if he would send Lazarus to his father’s house to warn his five brothers so that they would not come to that awful place of torment too.
Abraham’s response to the rich man in this story that Jesus told is striking. In fact, many people miss this because they are focused on the flames of God’s wrath and the other details that seem to overshadow this truth. Abraham takes this opportunity to point to the sufficiency of Scripture. Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them” (Luke 16:29).
Immediately, the rich man who apparently is still arrogant in his attitude begins to argue with Abraham. He said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent” (Luke 16:30). The depraved rich man was in no place to argue with Abraham, but still blind at heart and arrogant in his mindset, he disagreed with the clear doctrine of sufficiency.
Abraham’s response takes the spotlight and once again places it squarely upon the doctrine of sufficiency. Abraham said, “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” (Luke 16:31). The point was clearly articulated. No matter what sign or what statement was made to his brothers, even if someone was raised from the dead to give a warning, if they were not willing to hear the clear testimony of Scripture, nothing else would work.
This shatters the heart of pragmatism in gospel ministry. This statement of Abraham strengthens our resolve to do the work of an evangelist with assurance that the results are not resting upon our abilities. God’s Word is sufficient to speak and by the Holy Spirit, the Scriptures pierce people’s heart bringing them to a place of repentance and faith in Christ. Therefore, we don’t need to cling to stories such as Heaven Is For Real or other “heavenly tourism” books. The Bible is sufficient. Nothing else is necessary to communicate the truth of the gospel to sinners.
As we consider this story that Jesus told, we must recognize that we have access to the Scriptures that Abraham was speaking of in response to the rich man’s request. We have brothers and sisters, friends and neighbors, co-workers and friends who are on their way to hell. Although the rich man was unable to go to his brothers, we can go to our friends and relatives. We don’t need a person to be raised from the dead or another miraculous sign to assist us in sharing the hope of salvation because we have a sufficient book —God’s Word.
Will you communicate the gospel to people this week? Will you share the hope of salvation with your friends and family? They need to hear the gospel. God has sent you.
Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”