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Advice From Hell

November 29, 2020 Speaker: Dr. Rick Gregory Series:

Verse: Luke 16:19–16:31

Theme: Only those who respond to God’s Word in repentance for sin will know eternal blessing.

Introduction: This section advances the point that Jesus is making that wealth does not equate to godliness or God’s approval. There is disagreement regarding whether this story ought to be seen as a parable or as actual. It is introduced like it is a parable – “Now there was a rich man …” Some of the details provided buy Christ lend themselves to a parable. However, Jesus gives the poor man a name – something that He never does in any parable. He also includes both the names of Abraham and Moses which tends to imply that it is an actual account since Jesus would likely not mingle fiction with fact. I lean toward seeing this as actual, although it isn’t something critical to understanding the message Jesus provides here. Essentially, Jesus wants us to see that only those who respond the Gospel found in God’s Word in repentance for sin will know eternal blessing …

I. Advantages in Life Are Deceiving – 16:19-21

A. The Assumptions Brought by Means – v. 19

  • Throughout this section, Jesus has been confronting the assumptions that the Pharisees – and even the broader culture of the day embraced – that wealth equaled God’s favor. 
  • Again, the prevailing persuasion was that if you were affluent, you were in right standing with God because He would not bless the unworthy; and, if you were destitute, you were guilty of sin because God would not curse the worthy.
  • As we have noted in previous messages in this chapter, God’s kindness and grace is designed to lead unworthy people to repentance – cp. Romans 2:4.
  • In the previous verses, Jesus stated that what men often value and prize, God detests – cp. v. 15.
  • Instead of responding to God’s grace with repentance, the assumption of sinners is that they are worthy of such blessing and thereby assert that all is well with God.
  • Thus, Jesus continues to confront such nonsense with this account of a “generic” rich man – “Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day.”
  • This man was “rich” [πλούσιος] – describing an abundance of possessions that exceeds normal experience; literally, “abounding.”
  1. “habitually dressed in purple” – conveys the wealth as “purple” [πορφύρα] – was a color rare given it was achieved through an expensive process of extracting the color from sea snails – cp. Acts 16:14; Revelation 18:2.
  2. “habitually dressed” [ἐνδιδύσκω] – conveys constant past tense (imperfect middle indicative) that he didn’t merely occasionally wear “fine linen” but regularly “put these clothes on himself.”
  • “Joyously living” [εὐφραίνω] – (“good thoughts”) refers to the fact that these things made him happy – he was delighted by the fine clothes and material wealth.
  • Clearly, his perspective was elevated and sustained by the delight that he took in wealth and luxury – he truly had “his best life now.”

B. The Aspiration Brought by Misery – vv. 20-21

  • In stark contrast, Jesus introduces us to a downcast, broken beggar named “Lazarus” – “And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores.”
  • “Lazarus” is a form of the more popular Greek form of the Hebrew name Eleazar which means “whom God has helped.”
  • The irony of this doesn’t escape us – a man who was “poor” [πτωχός] – lit. “lacking in worth” – a man who was dependent on mercy as a beggar.
  • It is stated that he was unable to even walk – “was laid at his gate” – that is, the gate of the rich man and then abandoned or “dumped,” perhaps others were tired of his condition and dropped him off at someone who could help the poor man without effort or sacrifice.
  • He was “covered with sores” [