Luke 16:27-31 – “And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’ But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 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.’”
The above passage is the word of Jesus as he taught on some very important issues. There are incredibly important truths to be learned in Jesus’ telling the account of the rich man and Lazarus. This account, which reads like a parable, but which also has a more narrative feel than a simple parable, is often rightly used by preachers to talk about heaven and hell. Others read this passage when giving eschatological hope to people who are suffering in this world. But, as R. Albert Mohler preached on March 23, 2006 in a chapel service at Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, there is another crucial message for today to be found here.
At the end of the account, the rich man, tormented in hell for a life of godlessness, recognizes that he will never be comforted from his torment. He then calls on Abraham to send the noble Lazarus back to the land of the living to warn his brothers of their impending doom. Abraham’s response to the suffering rich man is of monumental importance to Christian life, preaching, counseling, and evangelism. Abraham told the rich man, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” He went on to say, lest we miss the significance of his first statement, “If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.”
Now, let us remember, right away, that this is not the teaching of Abraham, though such teaching would be absolutely valid, it is the teaching of our Lord Jesus Christ. The incarnate Son of God told us that, if we want people to repent of their sin, change their lives, and turn to God for grace, it will happen through the working of the word of God. When he said that the people had “Moses and the prophets,” he was saying that the written word of God is what the rich man’s brothers needed in order to avoid damnation. If he were saying it to day, the simple answer would be, “They have the Bible, let them hear it,” and “If they will not hear the Bible, they will not be convinced by any miracle, even the resurrection.” Jesus lets us know, in no uncertain terms, that the way to see souls saved and lives changed is not persuasive signs, felt-need preaching, clever gimmicks, philosophical apologetics, scientific research, or popular psychology. The way to see souls saved and lives changed is by the application and preaching of the inspired word of God in the power of the Holy Spirit.
In his application of this passage, Dr. Mohler argued that we will live by one of two different logics concerning the scriptures. We will either live in the belief that the Bible is inspired and truly able to change hearts and lives, or we will not. We will either believe the scripture to be sufficient for our needs, or we will not. If we believe the scripture to be inspired and sufficient, our evangelism, preaching, and counseling will be based on bringing the word of God to people’s lives. If we believe that the Bible is insufficient to change lives, then our preaching, evangelism, and counseling will be centered around self-help, felt-needs, gimmicks, and psychology.
I could not agree with Dr. mohler more. It is time for the people of God to return to the true faith of Christianity for centuries that holds the Bible to be the inspired revelation of God that is sufficient for every one of our eternal needs. It is time that the preaching of the church was more focused on the word of God than on the 7 habits of highly-effective, purpose-driven, blue like emerging prayers of Jabez. It is time that the modes and methods of Dr. Phil are taken out of our pulpits, along with the same modes and methods of those who would carelessly slap a scripture verse on the same methods and call them biblical. It is time that our churches returned to the word of God. It is time that we held the Bible up as our ultimate resource for life and godliness, as God tells us it is. It is time that we believe our Lord when he tells us that if people will not believe the word of God, they will not believe no matter what we do. Jesus made the word of God the first and last line of defense, and so there we must stand.
Dear Lord, I thank you for your word. It is powerful, life-changing, inspired, and sufficient for life and godliness. You have given us what we need, and for that I thank you. I pray that you will help me to show others that your word is what we need for life and godliness, and we do not need to bow to the whims and gimmicks of a culture that rejects the Bible. Let us truly believe that your word is what changes lives when you apply it through the power of the Holy Spirit. Let us treasure your word, as it is the written revelation of yourself to us. Help me to faithfully preach and apply your word to the lives of all around me. Help me to speak your word to the saved and the lost. Help me to honor you by how I handle your word.
*** You may find Dr. Mohler’s message from 3/23/2006 by clicking here. ***