My Thoughts. . .

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Recently I spoke on Luke 16:19-31.  This passage is often used to answer the question, “What happens when one dies?”  I noticed something that I had never seen before although I have studied these verses for the past sixty-two years.  I thought, “How could I have missed this point all those years?”

Some usually preach this passage to show that at death one will go, either to Abraham’s bosom or to a place of torment.  That person will remain in one or the other until the Judgment.  After the Judgment, those in Abraham’s bosom will go to heaven and those in torment will go to hell.  We usually say this passage is literal.  Why?  Because Jesus used names in telling it.  Is it possible for Jesus to use names despite the story being figurative?

Luke 16 Gives These Details:

  1. The rich man can see Abraham and Lazarus: v.23.
  2. The rich man can talk to Abraham and Abraham can talk to him: vv. 24-25.
  3. The rich man is in torment due to the flames he is in. Vv. 24-25.
  4. Abraham (& Lazarus) see the rich man in that torment.
  5. The rich man wants the beggar, not Abraham, to relieve his pain: v. 24.

Most believe it is literal.  If so, here is what Jesus states as literal.

  1. Those who are in Abraham’s bosom can see those who are in torment?
  2. Those who are in Abraham’s bosom can hear the painful cries of those in torment.
  3. Those who are in Abraham’s bosom recognize those who are in torment.
  4. A person in torment can plead with those who are in Abraham’s bosom, asking them to relieve them of their pain.
  5. Since one area is a place of comfort and good things, but the other is a place of continual pain and pleading, as long as there is one, the other will exist within sight and sound of the other.

1). If one part of verses 19 to 31 is real and the other parts are figurative, where is the instructions telling us which one is what?  (Book, chapter, and verse)

2). When we read this passage and fill in the blanks, are we not filling them with our assumptions?

3). If we are supposed to use our intellect to determine what is real, and use that same intellect to determine what is figurative, would that not make man the deciding factor of what is or is not figurative or real in all other Bible passages?

4). If vv. 19 – 31 are not figurative, then doesn’t this section of scripture tell us that the faithful can see and hear those who are lost?  If that part is real rather than figurative, it would mean that the faithful are subjected to observing and hearing those pitiful, cries from acquaintances in torment?  Would that be comforting?

5). If those passages are not the real deal, then we have to take them figuratively.  The only problem, neither Jesus nor Luke give any inspired instruction one way or the other.  So, if we move in either direction, how do we know we have taken the right course?  If we take the wrong one and preach it, would we not end up teaching for doctrine the traditions of men if we are wrong!  How would we know we were right or wrong?

6). If we believe “common sense” tells us what is right or wrong, then is our “common sense” God’s standard of right and wrong?

7).  If those passages are literal, how could Abraham’s bosom be a great place if we can see and hear across that great gulf?  Would that “great gulf” not be all that great?