Matters of Faith: Knowledge Is Power



By Rev. J. Loren Russell, BA, MDiv


Luke 16:25-26:

“Abraham answered, “My friend, remember that while you lived, you had everything good, and Lazarus had everything bad. Now he is happy, and you are in pain. 26 And besides, there is a deep ditch between us, and no one from either side can cross over.”


This conversation took place in the eternal between Abraham, the father of the faith, and a man only identified as a “rich man.’ Both the rich man and a man named Lazarus died. The rich man found himself in anguish, engulfed in the flames of Hades, a place we commonly refer to as Hell. The rich man is pleading with Abraham to send Lazarus to some unidentified watering hole to dip his finger in the refreshing water and come and cool his tongue. Abraham’s response is unsympathetic; he tells this rich man that while he was alive, he had everything good; maids, butlers, cooks, tailors, houses, land, and the money to buy anything his heart desired.  Lazarus, on the other hand, had only bad things; penniless, hungry, sick, and a social outcast. Now, the circumstances are now reversed. Lazarus is being comforted, and the rich man is in anguish. What is really sad about this reversal of circumstances is that it is happening in the “never-ending.” It is in the everlasting and forever. He knew better but chose to do otherwise. Once you know better, the responsibility to do better now rests with you.


I was the eulogist at a family member’s homegoing service this weekend where I spoke about the certainty of heaven and hell. I tried to make it as plain as possible that the decision of where we spend our eternity is completely based on our decision whether we choose to receive Christ as our savior or not. I tried to make it clear that the Bible does not leave a gray area, it’s either you choose Christ or you don’t. I asked them in my own unique way whether or not they wanted to take the deal that God had offered for eternal life and the same comfort He gave to Lazarus, or to be like the rich man who opened his eyes in the torment of Hell. One of the attendees said to me, “You certainly made it plain to everyone. Now that we know (she herself had chosen to follow Christ), it’s up to us to decide now what we are going to do.” Then she said something profound, “It would have been better if they didn’t know! Now they are responsible!”


To be sure, knowledge is power when it is put to use.  In the text, the rich man is told that his request couldn’t be granted even if they wanted it to.  He is told that there is a chasm, a crater, a gulf that is impossible to be crossed from either side. The rich man changes his request and now pleads for his five brothers. The Bible says, Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, 28 for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’  (Luke 27-28)


This man, having resigned his fate to his current reality, is so afraid for his brothers that he begs Abraham to let Lazarus go back and warn them. Abraham’s response to this request is also unsympathetic. He refuses, and tells him that his brothers already know what to do; his brothers need to read the scripture and obey the prophets. This information is, has been, and continues to be accessible to everyone. The accessibility of the information is what makes us know better, just like the rich man knew better and his brothers knew better. They just didn’t choose to act on what they knew. Once your life is over, whatever choice was made during your lifetime determines your eternal destination. As for this rich man and his brothers, would it have been better if they didn’t know? Now that you know, choose wisely. Your eternal destination hinges on it.  


Be Blessed


Rev. J. Loren Russell, BS, MDiv, is President/CEO of The JLR Company, and an associate minister at both Goodwill and Greater Universal Baptist Churches in the Bronx and hosts “Matters of Faith – The Radio Show” on Soul 1 Radio (internet), Mondays 8:00 – 10:00 PM., or by phone at 646-226-1448.  

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