1. DESTINY FIXED AT DEATH
a. What parable illustrates the truth that a person’s future is fixed at death according to his or her manner of life? Explain the difference between the two men, and tell the lesson we can learn. Luke 16:19–21.
“In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Christ shows that in this life men decide their eternal destiny. . . . If men waste their opportunities in self-pleasing, they cut themselves off from everlasting life. No after-probation will be granted them. By their own choice they have fixed an impassable gulf between them and their God.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 260.
b. What eventually happened to both the beggar and the rich man? Luke 16:22.
“The poor man had suffered day by day, but he had patiently and quietly endured. In the course of time he died and was buried. There was no one to mourn for him; but by his patience in suffering he had witnessed for Christ, he had endured the test of his faith, and at his death he is represented as being carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom.”—Ibid., p. 262.
2. CORRECTING ERRONEOUS VIEWS
a. Though erroneous, what belief held by many of his hearers did Jesus use to teach important truths? In the destiny of the rich man, what truth was Jesus teaching? Luke 16:23, 24.
“In this parable Christ was meeting the people on their own ground. The doctrine of a conscious state of existence between death and the resurrection was held by many of those who were listening to Christ’s words. The Saviour knew of their ideas, and He framed His parable so as to inculcate important truths through these preconceived opinions. He held up before His hearers a mirror wherein they might see themselves in their true relation to God. He used the prevailing opinion to convey the idea He wished to make prominent to all—that no man is valued for his possessions; for all he has belongs to him only as lent by the Lord. A misuse of these gifts will place him below the poorest and most afflicted man who loves God and trusts in Him.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 263.
b. What does the Bible teach in regard to the state of the body and soul in death? Ecclesiastes 9:5, 6; Psalm 146:2–4; John 11:11.
“My mind had often been disturbed by its efforts to reconcile the immediate reward or punishment of the dead with the undoubted fact of a future resurrection and judgment. If at death the soul entered upon eternal happiness or misery, where was the need of a resurrection of the poor moldering body?
“But this new and beautiful faith taught me the reason why inspired writers had dwelt so much upon the resurrection of the body; it was because the entire being was slumbering in the grave. I could now clearly perceive the fallacy of our former position on this question.”—Life Sketches, pp. 49, 50.
c. What is the response of the figurative Abraham to the appeal of the rich man? Luke 16:25.
“What are the sufferings of this present life, compared with the final eternal weight of glory?”—The Signs of the Times, December 10, 1885.
3. AN OPPORTUNITY LOST FOREVER
a. What additional difficulty was stated by Abraham in this illustrative conversation? Luke 16:26.
“It is a solemn thing to die, but a far more solemn thing to live. Every thought and word and deed of our lives will meet us again. What we make of ourselves in probationary time, that we must remain to all eternity. Death brings dissolution to the body, but makes no change in the character. The coming of Christ does not change our characters; it only fixes them forever beyond all change.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 466.
b. What concern hitherto unheeded is voiced by the rich man? Luke 16:27, 28. Has God left anything undone in providing for our salvation?
“When the rich man solicited additional evidence for his brothers, he was plainly told that should this evidence be given, they would not be persuaded. His request cast a reflection on God. It was as if the rich man had said, If you had more thoroughly warned me, I should not now be here. Abraham in his answer to this request is represented as saying, Your brothers have been sufficiently warned. Light has been given them, but they would not see; truth has been presented to them, but they would not hear.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 264, 265.
“When God gave Christ to our world, He gave in this one gift all the treasures of heaven. He held back nothing. He can do no more than He has done to bring men to repentance. He has no means held in reserve for their salvation.”—The Review and Herald, September 17, 1901.
c. As we view the condition of this world today, what sobering thoughts should we consider? James 4:14; 2 Corinthians 6:2.
“God . . . bears with men until the last resource for leading them to repentance is exhausted. But there are limits to His forbearance.”—Ibid.
“Come now, while mercy lingers; come with confession, come with contrition of soul, and God will abundantly pardon. Do not dare to slight another opportunity.”—Testimonies, vol. 5, p. 353.
4. AMPLE WARNING NEGLECTED
a. What testimony did the Jewish nation first refuse, and what further evidence did Jesus say they would ignore? Luke 16:29–31; John 5:46, 47.
“‘If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead’ (Luke 16:31). These words were proved true in the history of the Jewish nation. Christ’s last and crowning miracle was the raising of Lazarus of Bethany, after he had been dead four days. The Jews were given this wonderful evidence of the Saviour’s divinity, but they rejected it. Lazarus rose from the dead and bore his testimony before them, but they hardened their hearts against all evidence, and even sought to take his life (John 12:9–11).”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 265.
b. What spiritual blessings were given to the Jews? Romans 9:3–5. What were many of them guilty of doing with their blessings? Luke 12:21.
“When Christ gave the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, there were many in the Jewish nation in the pitiable condition of the rich man, using the Lord’s goods for selfish gratification, preparing themselves to hear the sentence, ‘Thou art weighed in the balances, and art found wanting’ (Daniel 5:27). The rich man was favored with every temporal and spiritual blessing, but he refused to cooperate with God in the use of these blessings.”—Ibid., p. 267.
c. How can we be in danger of making the same mistake? Proverbs 14:31; Zechariah 7:10.
“If God gives us much of this world’s goods, it is not that we may selfishly hoard them, or that we may crave for more, but that we may freely impart to those not so richly blessed. Nothing so refreshes the spirit as giving gladly and willingly of the blessings God has so freely given us. The life of the soul is revived by the sight of the good thus accomplished, and by a sense that a conscientious use has been made of the Lord’s goods.”—The Review and Herald, May 27, 1902.
“The same spirit of sacrifice which purchased salvation for us will dwell in the hearts of all who become partakers of the heavenly gift.”—Lift Him Up, p. 278.
5. DANGER IN SELF-CONFIDENCE
a. What self-satisfied confidence was held by God’s favored people in the time of Christ? John 8:33. When did they understand His warning?
“When calamity came upon Jerusalem, when starvation and suffering of every kind came upon the people, they remembered these words of Christ and understood the parable. They had brought their suffering upon themselves by their neglect to let their God-given light shine forth to the world.”—Christ’s Object Lessons, p. 269.
b. What similar deception affects the Laodiceans? Revelation 3:16, 17.
“Today there is a class in our world who are self-righteous. They are not gluttons, they are not drunkards, they are not infidels; but they desire to live for themselves, not for God. He is not in their thoughts; therefore they are classed with unbelievers. Were it possible for them to enter the gates of the city of God, they could have no right to the tree of life, for when God’s commandments were laid before them with all their binding claims they said, No. They have not served God here; therefore they would not serve Him hereafter. They could not live in His presence, and they would feel that any place was preferable to heaven.
“To learn of Christ means to receive His grace, which is His character. But those who do not appreciate and utilize the precious opportunities and sacred influences granted them on earth, are not fitted to take part in the pure devotion of heaven.”—Ibid., pp. 270, 271.
PERSONAL REVIEW QUESTIONS
1. What lesson was taught in this parable about the lives of the two men?
2. How did the reply of Abraham reveal the rich man’s problem?
3. What did the request of the rich man concerning his brothers imply?
4. What does this parable teach about present opportunities?
5. Self-righteous church members are not infidels. Why then are they classed with unbelievers?