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The Afterlife

 

Luke 16:19-31 is commonly alleged to be a parable; which of course implies that the story is fiction; and some would even say fantasy. But the parable theory has a fatal flaw. Abraham is not a fictional character: he's a real-life man; the father of the Hebrew people, held in very high esteem by at least three of the world's prominent religions: Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. And he's also the friend of God (Isa 41:8).

Abraham was also a prophet (Gen 20:7) which means he was an inspired man. As such, he would be privy to information that would normally be unavailable to the average rank and file pew warmer. However prophets aren't meant to keep what they hear from God to themselves; they're messengers, e.g. Abraham was a teacher/mentor. (Gen 18:19)

So then, I think it's fairly safe to assume the information that Abraham passed on to the rich man came to Abraham via inspiration; which, if so, means that our reaction to his remarks should be very different than the rich man's. He brushed aside what Abraham told him; but we, I should hope, are wiser than that impious dunce because we know that a prophet's teachings are the voice of God.

I simply cannot believe that Jesus Christ— a man famous among normal Christians for his honesty and integrity —would say something untrue about a famous real-life man; most especially a prophet and one of his Father's buddies.

And on top of that, the story quotes Abraham a number of times. Well; if the story is fiction, then Jesus Christ is on record testifying that Abraham said things that he didn't really say; which is a clear violation of the commandment that prohibits bearing false witness.

OBJECTION: This isn't a witness in court that's going to get someone condemned.

RESPONSE: Every word spoken is being recorded and on track to be examined in court.

Matt 12:36-37 . . I say unto you; that every idle word that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the day of judgment. For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned.

Jesus had to be especially careful with his teachings in order to prevent them being used against him.

Christians commonly mouth that they believe Jesus was truthful, but really they don't. In their hearts he's just as much a tale-spinner as Stephen King and M. Night Shyamalan.

John 8:46 . . If I am telling the truth, why don't you believe me?

NOTE: The passage below is often used as a proof text that Jesus' teachings were all presented in parable form.

Matt 13:34 . . Jesus spoke all these things to the crowd in parables; he did not say anything to them without using a parable.

However, that passage is only saying that whenever Christ spoke to crowds, he included at least one parable. To assume he taught only in parable form is a really, really big error.

Not all of Christ's teachings are clearly identified as parables. Watch out for that.

 


Afterlife opponents often quote the passages below to weaken the credibility of Luke 16:19-31

Eccl 9:5 . .The dead do not know anything.

Ecc 9:10 . .Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in sheol where you are going.

Ecclesiastes is the Bible's fun book because it's chock full of normal thinking instead of religious dogma. Ecclesiastes requires very little interpretation as anybody who's been around the block a time or two can easily relate to its thoughts.

Bible students are often baffled as to why Solomon's remarks in the book of Ecclesiastes sometimes contradict Christ's teachings in the New Testament. Well; the answer to that is actually pretty simple.

Solomon wasn't inspired to record his observations of life from the perspective of an enlightened man who's privy to knowledge beyond the scope of empirical evidence and human experience; rather, from the perspective of a man under the sun; viz: a down to earth thinking man whose perception of reality is moderated by what he can see for himself going on around him in the physical universe; which of course results in an evaluation of life on earth as seen from the earth rather than an evaluation of life on earth as seen from heaven.

In other words: Ecclesiastes isn't the word of God, it's the word of a philosopher; his own personal world view, and it's so identified right at the gun. (Ecc 1:1)

Solomon was the brightest intellectual of his day. However; it is not wise to interpret Christ's teachings by citing Solomon's because according to Matt 12:42, Luke 11:31, John 1:1 and Col 2:3; Jesus' wisdom is superior to Solomon's, and has more authority.

In addition: Jesus Christ spoke the words of God (John 3:34, John 8:26, John 8:28, John 12:49, John 14:24) whereas there is not the slightest textual evidence in the book of Ecclesiastes that Solomon spoke the words of God when he wrote it. Caveat Lector.

Another word of caution is appropriate here. Be careful attempting to force Solomon's Song to be anything more than a product of his romantic imagination. We can allow that the Song is inspired but we dare not insist that it's the word of God.
 


Modern evangelists like Billy Graham and Luis Palau generally compose their own sermons and pick their own topics. Jesus did neither; he was micromanaged by a higher power.

John 8:26 . .He that sent me is true; and I speak to the world those things which I have heard of Him.

John 8:28 . . I do nothing on my own initiative, but I speak these things as the Father taught me.

John 12:49 . . I have not spoken of myself; but the Father which sent me, he gave me a commandment, what I should say, and what I should speak.

. John 14:24 . .The word which you hear is not mine, but the Father's who sent me.

Heb 1:2 . . In these last days, God has spoken to us by His son.

So then, all the parables— those clearly identified as such, and those assumed as such —originated with God; who has thousands upon many thousands of years under His belt observing His creation. I seriously doubt that God has to resort to spinning yarns in order to get His points across seeing as how He has at His disposal an immense archive of eye-witness experiences to draw upon and put to use.

There's yet another issue to consider— God cannot lie. (Titus 1:2)

 


Luke 16:27-31 . . I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.

My guess is that the rich man was concerned that his brothers didn't believe that an afterlife actually exists. I suspect that they felt, as many do, that when their brother breathed his last, he ceased to exist. In other words; the rich man hoped that his brothers would be interested to know that although his body was dead and buried, he himself was still alive and conscious somewhere beyond the grave.

Luke 16:29 . . But Abraham said; "They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them"

But of one thing about his brothers that the rich man was convinced: they were not Bible believers. So he protested:

Luke 16:30 . . No, father Abraham

In other words: the rich man was all too aware that any Old Testament's revelations about the afterlife would just bounce off his brothers like a Red Ryder BB gun off the armor plating of a Russian tank.

Luke 16:30-31 . . He said; "If someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent. Abraham said to him; "If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead."

That's still true. Things like after-death experiences, and near-death experiences, typically have very little influence on secular thinking.

 


Luke 16:29 . . "They have Moses"

The first five books of the Bible, a.k.a. the Pentateuch, are attributed to Moses wherein he wrote of a location called sheol (sheh-ole').

Sheol first appears in Gen 37:35, and thereafter six more places in Moses' writings. Apparently the rich man and his five brothers either overlooked sheol, never bothered to research it, or just simply discarded it as fantasy.

Sheol is commonly interpreted as the grave. Well; the specific Hebrew word for grave in the Pentateuch is qeber (keh'-ber) a.k.a. qibrah (kib-raw'); which first appears in Gen 23:4 and thereafter eleven more places in Moses' writings.

The Greek equivalent of sheol is haides (hah'-dace) which first appears in Matt 11:23 and thereafter ten more places in the New Testament.

Haides is commonly interpreted as the grave. Well; the specific Greek word for grave in the New Testament is mnemeion (mnay-mi'-on) which first appears at Matt 8:28, and thereafter forty-one more places in the New Testament.

The rich man was no doubt familiar with qeber/mnemeion from attending a number of funerals; fully expecting the day when he himself would be laid to rest. But the rich man didn't anticipate sheol/haides; that he did not expect. Consequently the afterlife caught him completely by surprise like an unsuspecting bear stepping on the trigger of a powerful spring-loaded steel trap.

The man's five brothers were on the same track, coming after him totally unprepared for the shock, terror, and awe set to greet their arrival. For some families, the only thing they have to look forward to in the afterlife isn't Abraham's bosom, rather, a sad reunion in fire and despair.

 


Luke 16:29 . . "They have the Prophets"

A very useful Prophet in any discussion of the afterlife is Jonah because he was actually there and saw it for himself.

Jonah 2:1-2 . . Jonah prayed to Jehovah his God from the stomach of the fish, and he said: "I called out of my distress to The Lord, and He answered me. I cried for help from the depth of sheol.

Jonah 2:6 . . I descended to the roots of the mountains. The earth with its bars was around me forever

The roots of the mountains aren't located in the tummy of a fish; they're way down deep in the ground.

Jonah's afterlife adventure not only took him deep underground to sheol, but it also included a resurrection.

Jonah 2:6 . . But Thou hast brought up my life from the pit, O Jehovah my God.

The Hebrew word for "pit" in that verse is the very same word for pit in Ps 16:8-10; which Acts 2:25-31 verifies is speaking of putrefaction.

Matt 12:39-40 . . As Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a huge fish, so the Son of Man will be three days and three nights in the heart of the Earth.

There's a popular theory going around that when people pass away, they cease to exist. Well; were that true, then Christ would've ceased to exist when he died on the cross, and it would've been necessary to first re-create him before his corpse could be restored to life. It would've also been necessary to first re-create Jonah too before his corpse could be restored to life. The "cease to exist" theory holds up pretty well in science but it falls flat in the Bible.

Now when you think about it; Jesus' corpse was never in the heart of the Earth. It wasn't even in the Earth's soil. His remains were laid to rest on the surface of the Earth in a rock-hewn tomb.

The only way that Jesus could possibly be in a tomb on the surface of the Earth while at the same time in the heart of the Earth; was for the man and his body to part company and go their separate ways.

Same for Jonah. The only way that he could be in a fish's tummy while at the same time at the roots of the mountains was for the man and his body to part company and go their separate ways.

Jesus and Jonah are the two best biblical proofs I know of that there is an afterlife; and that part of it is located somewhere deep underground. For a great many people who've gone on before us, its discovery has been a terrible disappointment.

 


People are able to terminate each other's bodies, but according to Jesus' statements they are unable to terminate each other's souls.

Matt 10:28 . . Fear not them which kill the body, but are not able to kill the soul:

Luke 12:4 . . Be not afraid of them that kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do.

Well: if ordinary people's souls survive the termination of their body, then I think it's 100% safe to assume that Jesus Christ's soul survived crucifixion.

Ps 16:9-10 . . My flesh also will rest in hope. For You will not leave my soul in sheol, nor will You allow Your holy one to see corruption.

Peter verified that the prophet David was speaking of Jesus when he wrote that passage in the Psalms. (Acts 2:25-27)

1• Jesus Christ attested that the soul survives the death of the body.

2• David's and Peter's statements indicate that Jesus' soul was taken to sheol/hades when he passed away on the cross.

3• David's and Peter's statements indicate that sheol and hades are one and the same place.

4• Christ and the prophet Jonah corroborate each other's statements that sheol/hades is located somewhere deep underground.

5• Jonah prayed while he was in sheol/hades; thus verifying that the people residing there are not in hibernation; instead are fully conscious and able to conduct sensible, intelligent conversations.
 


Ps 146:3-4 . . Put not your trust in princes, nor in the son of man, in whom there is no help. His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his thoughts perish.

Some people, Christians no less, honestly believe the passage above teaches that people cease to exist when they pass away; but watch as I misquote it.

"His breath goeth forth, he returneth to his earth; in that very day his mind is gone"

No, it doesn't say his mind gone, it says his thoughts are gone; and there is a significant difference between one's mind and their cogitations.

Anyway, if people really did cease to exist when their body expires, then Christ would've ceased to exist when he passed away on the cross so that in order to restore his body back to life, it would've been necessary to create him back to existence. In other words; for three days and three nights, there would've been no Christ. No; I'm pretty sure Ps 146:3-4 is saying something very different.

Consider all those people who perished in 2001 as a result of the attack on the World Trade Center, and the 2011 Japan earthquake, and the 2004 Indonesia tsunami, and the 2010 Haiti earthquake, and the people gunned down in 2017 during an outdoor concert in Las Vegas. None of those unsuspecting people woke that day planning on it being their last on earth. No, on the contrary; they had people to see, places to go, and things to do: but in very short order; whatever was on their minds lost its importance-- their priorities went right out the window and became no more significant than green cheese on the moon.

All their plans, their dreams, their schedules, their appointments, their schemes, their problems, their aspirations evaporated as they were suddenly confronted with a whole new reality to cope with.

Sudden death can happen to anybody in the form of a stray bullet from a drive-by, a force of nature, gas explosion, choking on a piece of meat, electrocution, a drunk driver, a fall in the bath tub; bricks dropped from an overpass, or any number of out-of-the-blue surprises like the big truck that mowed down a crowd of people celebrating Bastille Day in France July 14, 2016

People need to start thinking about the afterlife now, while they have the opportunity; rather then risk being caught off guard by sudden death where there will be no time to think; and they find themselves suddenly thrust into the afterlife a lot sooner than they ever expected when a car accident, train wreck, plane crash, crime, heart attack, or stroke puts an abrupt end to every plan they ever made.

 


Luke 16:27-28 . .The rich man answered: I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father's house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.

Luke 16:29 . .But Abraham said: They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them

Luke 16:30 . . But he said: No, Father Abraham

The Bible says that Abraham himself was a prophet (Gen 20:7). Had the rich man believed the book of Genesis he would've listened to Abraham instead of arguing with him.

What can be supposed ever happened to the five brothers? Well; they believed neither Moses nor the Prophets; so I think it's safe to assume the worst: their fate was the same as the brother who went before them.

 


FAQ
:
So there's an afterlife. What am I supposed to do about it?

A: Initiate a rapport with heaven. This is done via mediator.

1Tim 2:5-6 . . For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all men

Simply find a private moment to speak up and tell Jesus that you're aware there's an afterlife and that that you're concerned about coming out on the wrong side of it. That'll get the ball rolling.

Your concern, if it's honest, won't end up in the round file.

John 6:37 . . All that the Father gives me shall come to me, and the one who comes to me I certainly will not cast out.

 

 

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