September 26, 2010
A whole new genre of television mystery has emerged during the past 30 years: forensic science. It was popularized by “Quincy” in the 1980s and skyrocketed with “CSI” (and its many offshoots) in the 2000s. My family’s preference is “NCIS.” I am drawn to Ducky, the chief medical examiner. He talks to the corpses and is convinced the dead have a story to tell. He is fond of saying, “The living may lie, but the dead tell no lies.”
Perhaps this huge interest in forensic science mysteries is because people are becoming increasingly fascinated with death. Séance masters, authors about death experiences and channeling gurus are gaining popularity because people want to know what the afterlife is like. Thus, the stage is set for Jesus, the greatest teacher ever, to offer His views in the market place of ideas.
Our passage brings us face to face with His most specific anecdotal teaching on death, which lies ahead for all humans. He gives us a firsthand account of two who died and what it was like. According to Jesus, there are only two options: heaven and hell. As we look at the eyewitness account, we will be confronted with four facts about hell. Remember, dead men don’t lie.
Hell Is Literal (
Hell is not a religious fantasy, but a literal place. The doctrine of hell is taught throughout Scripture. Jesus preached more on hell than any other Bible figure. Our politically correct society has deemed it improper to discuss any aspect of God other than His love and grace. However, any description of God without considering His wrath is incomplete. God’s holiness will not allow sin into heaven, and His justice demands a price be paid for unconfessed sin.
Unbelievers must be confronted with the literal nature of hell. Calvary demands they repent for salvation. We as believers on the other hand must fuel our witnessing with the conviction that hell is literal.
Hell Is Horrible (
Hell is the embodiment of unspeakable horror. This story gives us three aspects to the horror of hell.
First, hell is a place of torment. The word torment is mentioned four times in this passage and refers to deep anguish. The second aspect of hell’s horror is the fire. The rich man mentions the flame. Few deaths are as horrific as those caused by fire.
The third aspect of hell’s horror is the memory (
Hell Is Eternal (
The one thing that convinced the rich man of his horrible fate was the eternal state of his new address. He realized there would be no second chances and no pardon would be forthcoming. Oh, the magnitude of this new weight of indefinable despair!
Hell is not a temporary punishment for the ungodly. The chasm separating heaven and hell is impassable and permanent. It is not a holding tank or a refining fire for heaven. The Bible teaches neither universal salvation nor temporary torment.
Imagine how long it would take an ant to crawl around the globe, then to crawl around the globe enough times to cut the earth in half. That does not even begin to describe the length of eternal damnation.
Hell Is Avoidable (
Literal, horrible, eternal hell is avoided through faith in Jesus Christ. The rich man realized this, but it was too late for him. He willingly would face this eternal horror if only he could rescue his family from this coming judgment. Amazingly, anyone going to hell does so over the protests of the current occupants.
Abraham pointed out the “beware” aspect of Scripture. The Bible was not written and preserved through centuries to teach us how to attain health and wealth. It teaches us how to have a relationship with God through His Son Jesus Christ and warns us of the consequences of rejecting this offer. Scripture is clear: We have a terminal disease called sin. Jesus is the only antidote, and His cure is applied only through individual repentance and personal faith.
The next time you are talking with someone about a forensic science show, segue the conversation into a witnessing discussion about death and the afterlife. If they ask you how you can be so sure, remind them Ducky is right: Dead men don’t lie.