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Your Life After Death: The First Five Minutes After You Die

Luke 16:19-31

This article is based on Pastor Adrian Rogers' message, Five Minutes After Death.


The scripture passage explored is Luke 16:19-31.
“There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with [b]the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
“Then he cried and said, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame.’ But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us.’
“Then he said, ‘I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’ And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’ ”


Is There Life After Death?

Man is the only creature that knows he is going to die, and he is desperately trying to forget it. Until you are prepared to die, you are not ready to live.

You were made in the image of God. Your soul could no more cease to exist than God could cease to exist. The great issue, then, is not death, but what happens after. In one of His stories, Jesus pulls back the curtain between Hell and Heaven and lets us look over into the next life.

The Rich Man and Lazarus in Life and Death

The Bible does not call this story a parable. In it, Jesus uses a man’s name, and in no other story did He do that. It may be, and probably is, a historical event—but the truth is the same, parabolic or not.

Jesus begins by contrasting two men.

There was a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day. But there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, full of sores, who was laid at his gate, desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, the dogs came and licked his sores (Luke 16:19-21).

The Contrast in Their Lives

One man was fabulously wealthy; the other, ignominiously poor. Think of all the inequities in life:

Genetics

Some people are born strong, some weak. Some have intellectual fire power between their ears; others are not overloaded. Some are handsome, others are not. These are genetic inequities. You can help them a little bit, but you cannot change them.

Material Goods

Some are born into wealth; others are not. Do you think your fine clothes, cars, and food happened because of you? If you were born somewhere else, it may have been far different. “For who makes you differ from another? And what do you have that you did not receive?” (1 Corinthians 4:7a).

Society

Some people are praised and petted. Some people are not looked upon at all…except perhaps as a nuisance.

The Contrast in Their Deaths

“So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom. The rich man also died and was buried” (Luke 16:22).

One thing you can say about both a poor man and a rich man is this: he’s going to die.

Jesus doesn’t say the poor man was buried. They likely did what they still sometimes do in third-world countries: they carry the dead poor to the dump. No burial, no funeral.

But He says the rich man died “and was buried.” Imagine the funeral he must have had! Dignitaries there, talking about this successful man, about his philanthropy, etc. But everything they said did change his destiny. As we will see, this rich man was in Hell before the undertaker learned he was dead.

The Contrast in Eternity

Your soul will exist somewhere throughout all eternity. So, now Jesus talks about these two after death.

“So it was that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s bosom” (Luke 16:22a).

In Bible times, people reclined at the table. And the chief place of honor at a feast was to recline where your head was near the host’s chest—his bosom. Jesus is saying this poor man Lazarus, who had been feeding on crumbs, is now at an honored place with Abraham, Father of the faithful.

What will Heaven be like? Heaven will be all that the loving heart of God could desire for you. You’ll like it.

“The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torments in Hades, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom” (Luke 16:22b-23).

Should You Believe in Hell?

He who preaches on Hell is called cruel and/or ignorant. Why believe in Hell?

Jesus Taught It

In the New Testament, there are at least 162 texts that deal with the doom of the lost sinner. Over 70 of these were uttered by Christ Himself. If you don’t believe in Hell, you are taking issue with Jesus Christ. The same Bible that tells us about Heaven also tells us about Hell.

Jesus’ Death Proves It

Be reasonable—if there is no Hell, why did Jesus die? Did Jesus die to save you from a non-existent destiny? If there is no Hell, Calvary was the blunder of the ages.

The Justice of God Demands It

Do you think a man can rape, steal, cheat, blaspheme God, and then just die and it’s over? No. “For we know Him who said, ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord. And again, ‘The LORD will judge His people’” (Hebrews 10:30). There are inequities in life, but there are no inequities in eternal destiny.

What Will Hell Be Like?

Physical Misery

Seeing Lazarus at Abraham’s bosom, the rich man cried, “‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame’” (Luke 16:24).

You will carry your senses to Hell. Hell is a place of torment. Not torture; torment. It is self-inflicted torment, and the door in Hell is locked from the inside.

Is hellfire real? Jesus and the Word of God say, “Yes.” (See Matthew 25:41.)

Emotional Misery

“But Abraham said, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things; but now he is comforted and you are tormented’” (Luke 16:25).

You will carry your memory to Hell. You will remember every lie, every dirty joke, every blasphemy. You will remember every time someone told you, “Come to Christ.”

Spiritual Misery

Some people in Hell have what people on this Earth need: a concern for the lost who still have a chance. The rich man pleaded with Abraham regarding his loved ones:

“I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment.” Abraham said to him, “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.” And he said, “No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.” But he said to him, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead” (Luke 16:27-31).

If you go to Hell, you will probably carry some brothers, sisters, fathers, mothers, or children with you. Nobody goes to Hell alone, and that’s part of the hell of Hell.

Eternal Misery

Abraham told the rich man, “Between us and you there is a great gulf fixed, so that those who want to pass from here to you cannot, nor can those from there pass to us” (Luke 16:26b).

Don’t get the idea that you will stay in Hell for a while, then somehow step over into Heaven. There is life after death, but no second chance after death. If you want mercy and forgiveness, you may have them—but you must have them now.

How to Accept Jesus as Your Savior

After reading Jesus’ description of life after death in the Bible, you may be wondering, “Will I be meeting Jesus in Heaven? If you accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, He promises you will. Jesus’ death on the cross paid the penalty of sin for all time for anyone who will cry out to Him, ask forgiveness for sin, and recognize Him as Lord. Your prayer to accept Jesus might be something like this:

Dear Jesus, thank you for dying on the cross for me. I recognize that I am a sinner, and there is nothing I can do to pay the penalty for my sin. But I believe You took my sin. Please forgive me. I turn from my sin today and turn toward You for salvation. Help me to tell others so that they, too, can follow You, live their best lives here on Earth, bring You glory, and experience eternal joy with You in Heaven.

Bible Verses about Life After Death:

1 Corinthians 15:12-31, Hebrews 9:27-28, John 3:16, John 5:24, John 5:28-29, John 11:25, Matthew 10:28, Revelation 1:18

Bible Verses about Celebrating Life After Death:

1 Corinthians 2:9, 1 Corinthians 15:35-38, John 14:1-3, Luke 23:42-43, Matthew 26:29, Philippians 1:21-23, Philippians 3:20-21, 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18