"Once there was a rich man who dressed in purple and fine linen, enjoying a life of extravagance. In the same town there lived a homeless man named Lazarus, who sat near the gate that led to the rich man's house. He did not ask for anything but the crumbs that fell from the rich man's table. Stray dogs were his only friends, and they licked his wounds.
Finally, one day Lazarus died and was carried by angels into the arms of Abraham. Not long afterwards, the rich man also died, and was buried.
From the agonies of hell he lifted his eyes full of torment, and seeing Abraham a great way off, he cried: “Father
But Abraham replied: “My son, remember that in your lifetime you enjoyed your good things, while Lazarus knew only suffering and misery. Now, he is comforted, and you are the one tormented. Besides, between us is fixed a great gulf of separation, so that those who would come to you from here cannot, neither can you cross over to us from where you suffer.”
Hearing these words, the rich man cried out: “I pray, then, that you send Lazarus to my Father’s house. I have five brothers, and he must warn them, so they do not end up in this hell.”
To this Abraham answered: “They have Moses and the prophets. Let them hear them.”
"But surely," the rich man protested, "if one were to appear to them from the dead, they would repent."
Abraham replied: "If they do not repent because of the words of Moses and the prophets, they will not be persuaded, even if one should appear to them from the dead."
The one principle of hell is:
'I am my own.
I am my own king
and my own subject.'
From this principle flows much evil:
- I am the center from which go out my thoughts
- I am the object and end of my thoughts
- Back upon me as the alpha and omega of life, my thoughts return
- My own glory is, and ought to be, my chief care
- My ambition, to gather the adoration of men to the one center, myself
- My pleasure is my pleasure
- My kingdom is as many people as I can bring to acknowledge my greatness over them
- My judgment is the faultless rule of things
- My right is: what I desire
- The more I am all in all to myself, the greater I am
- The less I acknowledge debt or obligation to another the more I close my eyes to the fact that I did not make myself
- The more self-sufficing I feel or imagine myself-the greater I am.
- I will be free with the freedom that consists in doing whatever I am inclined to do, from whatever urge may come the inclination
- To do my own will so long as I feel anything to be my will, is to be free, is to live.
Jesus comes (He is a Living Savior, after all) to show us all the way things are! What joy to those poor in spirit who recognize at some point in this life their true condition and neediness to God! Sorrow and agony to those who, using the pomp and show of this world, attempt to insulate themselves from their true condition. But make no mistake truth will come out--in this world or the next!
"The only vengeance worth having on sin is to make the sinner himself its executioner. Sorrow and confession and self-abasing love will make up for the evil in us; suffering alone will not. Evil is eternally evil. But I may be saved from it by learning to loathe it, to hate it, to shrink from it with an eternal avoidance."
Repent and keep on repenting. The path to our true condition and the place of comfort & rest!
(adapted from MacDonald's Unspoken Sermons III, Kingship & Justice)