April 4, 2012

“Then drew near unto him all the publicans and sinners for to hear him. And the Pharisees and scribes murmured, saying, This man receiveth sinners, and eateth with them. And he spake this parable unto them, saying, What man of you, having an hundred sheep, if he lose one of them, doth not leave the ninety and nine in the wilderness, and go after that which is lost, until he find it? And when he hath found it, he layeth it on his shoulders, rejoicing. And when he cometh home, he calleth together his friends and neighbours, saying unto them, Rejoice with me; for I have found my sheep which was lost. I say unto you, that likewise joy shall be in heaven over one sinner that repenteth, more than over ninety and nine just persons, which need no repentance. Either what woman having ten pieces of silver, if she lose one piece, doth not light a candle, and sweep the house, and seek diligently till she find it? And when she hath found it, she calleth her friends and her neighbours together, saying, Rejoice with me; for I have found the piece which I had lost. Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repenteth.”

Luke 15:1-10 KJV

Joy in the presence of God is celebrating when one sheep is lost and then found. All the Angels in Heaven are celebrating when one comes to repentance. That’s what the gospel is about. But these two parables were just an appetizer to the next one Jesus was about to tell. The Story of the Prodigal Son. The Greatest Short Story of all times. Jesus gave us this powerful story in the Book of Luke. Think of a time when someone extended “grace” to you: they could have blamed you or shamed you but they didn’t. They gave you love and understanding when you deserved something else. How did it feel? This is the story of a father’s grace which witnesses to God’s grace in Jesus. The definition of Prodigal is: Spending money or resources freely and recklessly; wastefully extravagant. The story starts here in the Bible, and Jesus says, “And he said, A certain man had two sons: And the younger of them said to his father, Father, give me the portion of goods that falleth to me. And he divided unto them his living.And not many days after the younger son gathered all together, and took his journey into a far country, and there wasted his substance with riotous living.” Luke 15:11-13 KJV Jesus sets up this scene with these two sons with a wealthy father. The younger son has this independent streak in him and he tells his father I don’t care if you live or die, just give me my inheritance now! He just thought life on the farm with his father, as lovely as it was, it was just holding him back from the good life. He wanted something more, he wanted something else. He was restless, he was running, he had to get a hold of what was forbidden. In doing this, he dishonored his father. He is so disrespectful, he disowned his family. It is an outrageous dis meaning request. Father give me what’s coming to me, I want it NOW! Sometimes love is tough, you have to let your child go when they are bound and determined to go his or her way. Well he is on his way to a far country. We don’t know where. Most likely it was a Gentile country. His heart was already there. He heard about the lights, heard about the parties, heard about the pleasures. He wanted it bad! When he gets there he is spending money left and right. He has friends all around him. Unfortunately the party doesn’t go on and on and on and on…..His friends bail out on him of course. They leave when the money runs out. This boy found out that his friends weren’t friends after all. They were just using him. When he hit rock bottom he was reaping what he sowed. His life is gone as he had known it. Have you ever been there? Have you ever had a D.U.I. and been arrested? Lost your job? Or maybe your marriage is on shaky grounds and your wife has come to you and asked for a divorce. Maybe you just feel you have hit rock bottom. Maybe your heart is far away from Jesus like both of the father’s sons. The son that stayed home with his father, his heart was just as far away as the Prodigal son‘s heart. It was just as the self-righteous people listening to Jesus as it was to this long-lost boy in this long-lost country. You could be someone raised in a christian home and grow up with a heart far from Jesus. Well by now the boy is now broke and hungry so he has to get a job. Jesus tells part of the parable here, “And when he had spent all, there arose a mighty famine in that land; and he began to be in want. And he went and joined himself to a citizen of that country; and he sent him into his fields to feed swine. And he would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat: and no man gave unto him.” Luke 15:14-16 KJV This was about the lowest of the low to get a job feeding pigs. And if that wasn’t bad enough, he was eating not even good left over rubbish from the pigs. You see sin will take you further than you want to go, keep you longer than you want to stay, cost you far more than you want to pay. Sin never delivers on its promises, sin promises freedom, but delivers bondage. Sin promises success, but delivers defeat. Sin promises that there is pleasure, and there is pleasure for a season, for a little while, but ultimately it delivers pain. “The wages of sin is death.” This boy thought happiness was not on the farm with his father, but in the big city with lights “doing his own thing his way.” We are all prodigal’s. We are all born with are backs towards God. We are all born with this rebellious streak, this attitude to live independent without the father. We have the idea we can live life our own way. If it weren’t for the Grace of God, we would all live in the far country, broken, wasted, and ruined. Maybe you are living the Prodigal Son’s life. Are you wasting your life away? This boy is representing all of us that is far from God. Finally the boy comes to his senses and says, I must be crazy to live a life-like this. He takes responsibility for his own sin. He takes responsibility of his life. He says, I own this, I did this. He came to himself. This is the turning point of the parable. Jesus tells it here, “And when he came to himself, he said, How many hired servants of my father’s have bread enough and to spare, and I perish with hunger!” Luke 15:17 KJV It’s the turning point in our lives. When we come to the place in our lives where we recognize we need to repent. Repent means to change your mind. That is what the boy is doing here. He is coming to his senses. He wakes up, he remembers that he is loved at home. He remembers the joy and the provisions in the father’s house and he is home sick. Do you want to know why you are feeling alone, longing for a home that is secure, a place where it is safe. Maybe it is because you are far from home. This boy now knows that everything he’s looking for is at home with his father. And everything you are looking for is a relationship with God. It’s knowing the Father, experiencing His love, His Grace, His forgiveness in your life, that’s what it’s about. So the boy said, I will go home! He could have said one of these days I will go home. Just like you would say, one of these days I will come to Christ. I’ll get my life right with God. He could have said I’m to far gone. My life is so upside down it’s never going to be right side up. I’ll never get my life back and my father will never take me back, but then he remembers, yes my father will receive me again. It doesn’t matter how far gone you feel, God’s love and Grace is waiting for you. All you have to do is like this boy did and say, I have sinned, I have sinned against Heaven and Earth and my Father. Confess your sin and repent of it. Jesus tells some more of the parable here, “I will arise and go to my father, and will say unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and before thee, And am no more worthy to be called thy son: make me as one of thy hired servants. And he arose, and came to his father. But when he was yet a great way off, his father saw him, and had compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him. And the son said unto him, Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in thy sight, and am no more worthy to be called thy son. But the father said to his servants, Bring forth the best robe, and put it on him; and put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet: And bring hither the fatted calf, and kill it; and let us eat, and be merry: For this my son was dead, and is alive again; he was lost, and is found. And they began to be merry.” Luke 15:18-24 KJV His father came rushing to him kissing again and again and again……..It didn’t matter that he was dirty and smelly from working in the pig pen, and his clothes were like old rags. He had waited so long for this moment, for his son to finally to come home. When he embraces his son with his arms it is as if he is covering his sin. He is holding on to the one that is lost. His heart went out to him. What a “Picture of God” on a run to rescue us. If you will just take that first step home, He will run to you. He is standing at the door of your life and knocking, and if you hear His voice, open the door and He will come in. It’s not to late to say yes to Jesus. Just open your heart to him and confess your sins and commit your life to Him. Jesus’ death on the cross was in our place to pay for our sins through His mighty resurrection which has bought our Justification and purchased our Redemption through His blood, for the forgiveness of our sins. He will take off the rags of stench of sins, by the blood of His cross and the power of His resurrection He will restore and renew you as His son. And you will say this is where I belong, with my Father, with a relationship with God.


My Name is Jeff Ellinger





December 20, 2011

“Therefore the Lord himself shall give you a sign; Behold, a virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel. For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace. Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the LORD of hosts will perform this. But thou, Bethlehem Ephratah, though thou be little among the thousands of Judah, yet out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth have been from of old, from everlasting.”

Isaiah 7:14, 9:6-7, Micah 5:2 KJV

The Christmas Story about the man who missed Christmas starts here in the Bible. It doesn’t tell us the name of this man, but we can read his story in the Gospel According to Luke 2:7.  That verse tells us enough, and more than enough, about the innkeeper, the man who missed Christmas: “And she brought forth her firstborn son, and wrapped him in swaddling clothes, and laid him in a manger; because there was no room for them in the inn.” Luke 2:7 KJV   Why was there no room for Mary and Joseph and their expected Baby, except in a stable? Bethlehem was a small town, and in those days most small towns perhaps had only one inn. The inn in Bethlehem was already filled. No other accommodation was available. He was too busy to notice a woman about to give birth to a Baby, to a Child who would grow up to become the most famous Man in all of history, and more than a Man, the Son of God, the Messiah, the Prince of Peace.

While they were there it was time for the baby to be born, she gave birth to the first-born, a son. She wrapped him in clothes and laid Him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the Inn. God had this messy plan, a plan to save the world, and to do that He was going to send His Son. Where does the God of the universe send His Son? Where does the king of kings and the Lord of lords come? To a barn, a stable, a manger. Of all places, certainly not a place fit for a King. Then again this was no ordinary King. When I say it was messy, I mean messy! It was a barn, a stable, so you got animals, animal stuff, manure, mud, a pitiful place for people. Much less a place for the King of Kings to be born. Why would God do that? Isaiah explains that here, “All we like sheep have gone astray; we have turned every one to his own way; and the LORD hath laid on him the iniquity of us all. For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, saith the LORD.” Isaiah 53:6, 55:8 KJV   You see, Jesus came to this messy Place, a barn, a manger, it’s just a mess! So why did he come into this messy world? The Shepard was coming to take care of his sheep to prepare away for them to go home. That’s what a Shepard does. The Bible says, “He shall feed his flock like a shepherd: he shall gather the lambs with his arm, and carry them in his bosom, and shall gently lead those that are with young.” Isaiah 40:11 KJV  He lives where the sheep are, He sleeps where they sleep, He eats where they eat. That got Jesus in trouble. Why did Jesus eat with sinners? Because that is what the Shepard does. And then an Angel appeared to the shepherds in the field and said, this will be a sign to you. You will find a babe wrapped in clothes laying in a manger. The Bible says, “And this shall be a sign unto you; Ye shall find the babe wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger.” Luke 2:12 KJV  Do you ever wonder why this was a sign? Being a servant is messy. Jesus set this incredible example for us. He got down on His knees and washed feet. God of the universe, deserved the best of everything, got down on His knees, He laid in a feeding trough. Why of all such places? Why such a messy place? He was following a messy plan. He came to this world not as royalty, but as a baby born in a stable full of muck and animals, to humble Himself to become one of us. Paul says it best here, “But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men: And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.” Philippians 2:7-8 KJV  

Christmas represents a hope, a unique joy, felt only at Christmastime, because Christ the Savior is born. Are you lost today? What better time for you to be found than at this Christmas season? Don’t be like the man who missed Christmas. Do you have room for Jesus Christ? Or are you so busy and so occupied with the trimmings of Christmas that you miss its triumph, as the innkeeper did long ago? Have you crowded Jesus out so that there is no room for Him in the inn of your heart? Let the Christ of Christmas come in to your heart today.

That first Christmas was dirty, grimy, filthy, but thank God it was because without it,  what a mess we would be in!

God Bless, Jeff Ellinger



June 20, 2011

“And they, continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and breaking bread from house to house, did eat their meat with gladness and singleness of heart, Praising God, and having favour with all the people. And the Lord added to the church daily such as should be saved.”
Acts 2:46-47 KJV

     Jesus was standing by the Sea of Galilee, which Luke calls the “lake of Gennesaret.”  He saw two brothers, Simon who was called Peter, and Andrew his brother, casting a net into the sea, for they were fishermen. Around Him a crowd had gathered, listening to Him proclaim the word of God. Beyond the crowd of those who were pressing in on the Lord Jesus, there was the sea of Galilee, and two ships were pulled up on the shore. One ship belonged to Peter, and the other belonged to James and John. The Bible says, “And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon.” Luke 5:10 KJV  These four fishermen were not among the crowd. Instead, they were off washing their nets. They had spent a long and fruitless night fishing. It says in the Bible, “we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing” Luke 5:5 KJV  Jesus’ appearance at the lake is not coincidental. I believe that He purposed to be there, knowing that this is where the disciples would be. It is no accident that the boat into which our Lord stepped, and from which He taught, was Peter’s. It says, “And he entered into one of the ships, which was Simon’s, and prayed him that he would thrust out a little from the land. And he sat down, and taught the people out of the ship.” Luke 5:3 KJV  Jesus seems to merely be doing that which would make His speaking more effective and efficient, as well as providing a way of escape from the crowds when He was finished. I believe, however, that Jesus was seeking the disciples. It was time for them to become permanently attached to Him, accompanying Him wherever He went. The time for a deeper level of commitment and involvement had come. The appearance at the lake that day was for the purpose of bringing about a life-changing decision by Peter and his companions. Jesus would momentarily use the boat as His pulpit, but He was intent on making fishermen fishers of men. The disciples had apparently finished washing their nets and had probably hung them out on the ship to dry. Jesus had likewise finished His teaching, and asked Peter to put out to deeper water, and to let down the nets for a catch. The Bible says, “Now when he had left speaking, he said unto Simon, Launch out into the deep, and let down your nets for a draught.” Luke 5:4 KJV  Jesus did not make a suggestion, He made a command. And He did not order the disciples to let down their nets to try to catch fish, He ordered them to put out their nets for a catch of fish. In other words, Jesus was issuing both a command and a promise. The command was to put out the nets. The promise was that there would be a catch. And what a catch it would be!  Peter’s words betray a reticence, perhaps even a bit of irritation in this verse, “And Simon answering said unto him, Master, we have toiled all the night, and have taken nothing: nevertheless at thy word I will let down the net.” Luke 5:5 KJV  In the first place, Peter’s words indicate that he and his partners were dog tired. They had worked hard, all night. Besides that, they had just finished washing their nets. They would have to do it all over again. Second, Peter indicates that their efforts had been futile. Night was the best time to fish. If they had not caught anything at night, why in the world should they catch anything in the daytime, the worst possible time to fish. Third, there is a hint of irritation here. Did Jesus, a carpenter, think that He knew more about fish than these fishermen? His order seemed naïve. Peter relented and let down the nets, but it would seem that he has safeguarded himself for the failure he thinks is certain. You almost wonder if Peter didn’t want to fail in this venture, so that he could give Jesus an “I told you so” look. How many times would Peter have the opportunity to prove Jesus wrong. Surely when it came to catching fish, he was the expert. Jesus was the Master, and so His word would be obeyed, albeit under protest. The result was incredible. There were those stories that all fishermen swapped, about good catches, but this beat all that Peter had ever heard, by far! The nets were absolutely full. They began to break. They signaled their partners for help, and even with two ships, the harvest was so large that both boats began to sink. The catch of a lifetime had been made. And now it was time to “hook” the fishermen. Every miracle had its purpose, and this one was no exception. There was a “catch” to the story, and it is now to be disclosed. Simon Peter was the leader and the spokesman for the others. He immediately responded by falling down at the feet of Jesus, saying, “Depart from me; for I am a sinful man, O Lord.” Luke 5:8 KJV  Falling prostrate at the feet of Jesus was an act of humility and worship. Peter had been ministered to in an area of his own expertise. He now saw the Lord Jesus in an entirely different light. Jesus was Lord, and he was but a sinful man. In verse 5, Jesus was referred to by Peter as “Master,” but now He is Peter’s Lord. The change of terms is our signal to a quantum leap in Peter’s grasp of Jesus’ greatness and power. Peter not only confessed the greatness and perhaps the holiness of our Lord, but also his own sinfulness. Peter saw his resistance and reluctance to obey the Lord’s command to let down the nets as sin. Peter thought he was the expert, but now sees that Jesus is Lord of the sea as well. Peter doubted that they would make a great catch, and feared that his efforts would be wasted. Now he saw his Lord’s sovereignty and his sin. The revelation to Peter that he was a sinner is a basic necessity, and Peter has the distinction of being the first in Luke’s account to become aware of this fact. Whether or not the other three disciples-to-be recognized their own sin as a result of this miracle we do not know, but Luke is clear that all were amazed and seized with wonder at seeing what the Lord had done. It says in the Bible, “For he was astonished, and all that were with him, at the draught of the fishes which they had taken: And so was also James, and John, the sons of Zebedee, which were partners with Simon. And Jesus said unto Simon, Fear not; from henceforth thou shalt catch men.” Luke 5:9-10 KJV  Peter had just confessed to being a sinner, and testified to the greatness of His Lord. Jesus responded by a command not to fear, and a promise that he would become a fisher of men. Peter’s fear can be found in three areas, and that our Lord’s words to Peter provide him with hope in each area. First, I believe that Peter was fearful of leaving his life’s occupation of fishing to follow Jesus. It begins by describing the great crowd which had surrounded Jesus, while the fishermen are in the distance, tending to the washing of the nets, tending to business. Then it says in the Bible, “And when they had brought their ships to land, they forsook all, and followed him.” Luke 5:11 KJV  I believe that these men understood the implications of Jesus’ invitation, but were afraid to leave their life’s work to follow Him wherever He went. This was necessary, however, for Jesus ministered far more widely than just in Galilee, around the Sea of Galilee, where they always fished. With this remarkable catch, Jesus showed that He was able to provide. He was sovereign in the matter of work, as well as in all other matters. With this miracle Peter’s fears about following Jesus melted. He and his partners walked away without a thought, without even bothering with that huge catch of fish. The fears which had haunted and hindered them so long vanished with the catch of fish. Second, I believe that Peter and his partners were fearful about commencing an entirely new career. Not only did the call to follow Jesus require these fishermen to leave their career, it required them to begin an entirely new career. Jesus likened the new career of the disciples to the old. In both cases they would fish. There was a continuity in their tasks. It would seem that the first occupation had prepared them for the second. But even more than this, Jesus gave these men the promise that they would be fishers of men, a promise which in the light of their huge catch, included being very successful fishers of men. Third, Peter’s was fearful because he recognized his sin and the Lord’s righteousness. The words of Peter, “Depart from me, Lord,” reveal his awareness that a holy God cannot have intimate communion with sinful men. While Peter had no desire to leave His Lord, He did not know how he could enter into an even more intimate relationship with the immensity of his sin. Our Lord did not fully answer Peter’s objection on this count, He only assured him by telling Him to stop fearing. Ultimately the Lord’s provision for Peter’s sin is even more abundant than His provision of fish. That provision will be made at the cross of Calvary, where He will die in the sinner’s place. For Peter, and Andrew too, it seems, James and John, the three who will make up the inner circle of Jesus followers, this incident is a major turning point. They have followed Jesus before, but only partially, only for a time. Now, these disciples have made the decision to leave their careers and follow Jesus wherever He went. This was no small decision. It was a crisis of careers and a mid-life crisis combined. From this moment on, Jesus would begin to pour more of His life into these disciples. The more intimate aspects of His life and ministry would now be made known to them. If Jesus were to have His disciples with Him and He was called to preach the good news of the kingdom of God far and wide, then there is no way that these fishermen could continue their fishing career in the Sea of Galilee. It says in the Bible, “And he said unto them, I must preach the kingdom of God to other cities also: for therefore am I sent. And he preached in the synagogues of Galilee.” Luke 4:43-44 KJV  But what we must see is that after our Lord’s death, burial, resurrection and ascension, He is now spiritually present with all saints through His Holy Spirit. While we may need to leave our homes or our employment to obey His leading and to proclaim the gospel, we do not need to leave anything in order for Him to be in and with us. First, our text strongly implies that following
Jesus begins with the realization of our inadequacies and needs. Those who came to our Lord and followed Him in the gospels were those in desperate need. Jesus Himself said that He came to seek and to save the lost, that He came not to the well, but to the sick. Thus, it is those who are inadequate in themselves who follow Christ. There is no need to follow Christ if you are doing fine in and of your own efforts. Those who follow Jesus are those who have found themselves to fail on their own. Peter’s most significant confession is that he was a sinner and that Christ was righteous. When this is granted, it is no wonder that the sinner gives up his way and chooses to follow Christ. Failure is the first step in following Christ. Those who follow Him have found themselves to fail on their own. Those who feel sufficient will not turn to Him. Second, following Jesus requires faith in Him as our all-sufficient Savior. If Peter found himself to be a failure at fishing and a sinner in life, He found Christ to be sovereign, righteous, and all-sufficient. All of Peter’s fears vanished when he realized the sufficiency of the One who had called him to be a fisher of men. Jesus Christ is the only all-sufficient One. To follow Him is to be assured of God’s provision of forgiveness of sins and of righteousness, to follow Him is to be assured of our physical needs. To follow Him is to be assured of eternal life. To follow Him is to be assured of divine guidance and direction. To follow Him is to be assured of all that is required to do His will. Our great lack of faith can be traced, in almost every case, to an inadequate grasp of the goodness and the greatness of God. When we realize who it is who calls us to follow Him, the faith to do so comes easily. Apart from knowing God, we find our faith lacking and deficient. Third, our Lord knows our weaknesses and our unbelief, and gives us ample evidence, ample basis for our faith. The Lord Jesus knew of the inner turmoil which Peter and his partners were dealing with, better than they did. Instead of berating them or of forcing them to follow Him unconvinced and semi-committed, Jesus performed a miracle which vaporized their fears and was a catalyst for their faith. For these men, an overflowing, tearing net and two sinking ships was all the evidence they required to see the sufficiency of the Savior. Fourth, the text strongly implies that to follow Jesus, we must forsake certain things. In order for Peter, James and John to follow Jesus, they had to leave their ships and their nets. In the final analysis, they had to leave those things in which they had faith, in which they found their safety, their security, and their significance. Following Christ, finding Him to be our all-sufficient Savior, requires that we forsake anything besides Him in which we trust, in which we feel secure, in which we feel significant, in which we feel safe. Fifth, the text suggests that if we are to be followers of Christ, we must do what He does. Jesus came “to seek and to save” the lost. The disciples were to become “fishers of men” not only because Jesus would command them to do so, but because this is His mission. These men would become “fishers of men,” not so much because they were fishermen, but because Jesus had come to draw (catch) men into His kingdom. To follow Christ means to do as He does. Those who would be followers of Christ cannot ignore the fact that Jesus was a seeker of men, and thus we, too, must be fishers of men. Sixth, the text suggests that if we would follow Jesus, we must not only do what He does, but we must do it His way. Peter thought of himself as an expert at fishing. Using their finest skills the night before, Peter and his partners caught nothing. Fishing Jesus’ way, which involved a violation of all the principles of fishing Peter knew, brought great success. Doing things God’s way, the Spirit of God produces the fruit and God receives the glory. Let us be careful about what it is we try to bring with us when we seek to follow Jesus. Not only did Peter and his partners leave behind their boats and their nets, they left their proven fishing methods behind as well. There’s also a cost in following Jesus and experiencing the freedom He gives. When fishermen Peter and Andrew heard Jesus call, “And he saith unto them, Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men. And they straightway left their nets, and followed him.” Matthew 4:19-20 KJV  We are tempted to think that we should make something of our lives and at the same time follow Jesus. Wrong!  He calls us first to follow Him, and then He makes something of our lives. He leads us to prioritize so that we see the needs of people and their eternity as the goal of all our endeavors. Jesus is a compelling Person, and He is still looking for followers. He wants to make something of your life by giving you the identity of a follower of Jesus. It doesn’t mean giving up your career, but it does mean that you will do your work, and all of life, according to His will and ways. Where you “fish” is not important. But if you follow, you must fish. What are you waiting for? Drop your nets, follow Him, and let Him make something of your life. Let’s go fishing with Jesus and give you heart to Him, for He is the One that died on the cross and shed His blood to pay the penalty for your sins so you could have that free gift of eternal life. Amen

By: Jeff Ellinger


April 29, 2011

     “There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man’s table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham’s bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And 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 thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.”

Luke 16:19-26 KJV

The Parameters:

Jesus had just given a parable about wealth and taught that you cannot serve both God and money. The Pharisees were lovers of money (Luke 16:14) and scoffed at Jesus. So He tells them another parable about trusting in money. He even begins it the same way he began the last parable – with the phrase, there was a certain rich man…

Jesus had also taught that while the Pharisees looked at the outside, God looks at the heart. (Luke 6:15)

Jesus made a comment in verse 16 about the law and the prophets being proclaimed until John.

Although most people think of future things when they think of the prophets, what the prophets primarily did was condemn Israel for oppressing the innocent and the poor. They proclaimed the importance of loving ones neighbor. This parable will portray one who does not do that.

Jesus also says he is preaching the gospel of the kingdom and makes a comment that everyone is forcing his way into it. This means that everyone is trying to get in. What we will see is examples of someone who gets in and someone who doesn’t. Jesus condemns the wrongful love of money in the Pharisees who thought that riches were synonymous with righteousness.

The Problem

We always talk about the attitude and question that Jesus is dealing with in his parables. In this one the attitude he is dealing with is the Pharisees attitude towards their wealth. They thought wealth was a sign of spirituality and blessing from God. They also thought that poverty was a result of sinfulness and cursing from God. They were sure that poor people were not going to go to heaven.

What is Gods attitude towards the Pharisees who were devoted to money and took great pride that they had it? Would they enter the kingdom of God? What does it take to enter the kingdom (i.e. go to heaven)?

The Progression

Chronological or Logical – there are contrasts between the two characters in their earthly life and the after-life.

Earthly Life

Rich Man – Dressed nice, ate well, lived it up every day. He was on the inside.

Lazarus – dressed in rags, hungry, struggled to survive, oozing sores — therefore unclean, too weak to fight off the dogs. He is on the outside.


Lazarus – In Abraham’s bosom – in heaven – happy – banqueting imagery (reclining next to Abraham at a banquet). He is on the inside.

Rich Man – In Hades – tormented – on the outside.

Note the reversal of the earthly situation. Notice also that the eternal situation is irreversible. There is no second chance. What does this say about the Catholic doctrine of purgatory? The rich man is in Hades which is a place of torment – a holding tank for hell. Death and Hades will be thrown into the lake of fire. Rev… But you can’t get out.

Notice in vs. 24 that the rich man is still trying to order Lazarus around. He wants God to send the poor man to minister to him. His attitude hasn’t changed. I wonder what that says about repentance after death? Will there be any? Or will people in hell also burn with anger?

The Point

Social status and material possessions are no guarantee of ones standing with God. The only thing that matters is a right response to the Word of God.

The Relation of the Parable to the Kingdom of God

Entrance into the kingdom is dependent on one’s faith in Jesus to whom the Scriptures point, not on one’s relationship to Abraham.

The Pharisee did not listen to what the prophets said about the coming Messiah nor about how to treat their neighbors. It was the lack of love that illustrated he had no regard for the prophets. He was counting on his relationship to Abraham.

The Particulars

  • In present life there was no chasm between Lazarus and the rich man. In fact Lazarus was begging just outside the rich man’s gate. The rich man could have gone out and helped Lazarus any time he felt like it. But in eternal life there is a great chasm separating heaven and hell. Jesus uses space to emphasize that this gap is uncrossable and permanent. Notice also that it prevents those who want to go from heaven to hell (to show mercy) can’t.
  • Lazarus “laid at the man’s gate” which indicates he was crippled or lame. He was also poor. According to the Pharisees, people were poor, lame, sick, etc. because they were wicked. It proved not to be the case.
  • The rich man was not with father Abraham in paradise like he thought he would be. Jews – and especially the Pharisees – thought they were guaranteed entrance into heaven because of their physical relationship to Abraham.
  • The rich man did not listen to the law and the prophets which taught about how to love one’s neighbor (Micah 6:8). He did not love his neighbor. We know from the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10 that loving one’s neighbor involved helping one who was down and out like Lazarus was.
  • The prophets also predicted that Messiah would be born in Bethlehem, be the friend of outcasts, etc. (cf. Micah 5:2f; 4:6, Isa 61:1-2). This was also emphasized in Luke 14: and 15:1. The rich man rejected that truth also. He was too good to be the friend of outcasts.
  • The rich man knew his brothers weren’t paying attention to the OT scriptures either and thought they would be convinced if Lazarus came back from the grave. In fact, there was a man named Lazarus who was raised from the dead in John’s gospel. (This is the only parable in which a character is named and I’m certain Jesus did so because he knew he would raise Lazarus.4) It did not convince them. They wanted to kill him again. Jesus was also raised from the dead, and they were not convinced.
  • Rich man knew Lazarus in real life (we know that because he knew his name in heaven) but he ignored him.
  • Treatment of Lazarus on earth revealed the rich man’s true relationship to God.

The Principles

Catholic principles

There is an immediate consciousness after death.

Post death destinies are irreversible. There is no purgatory where you wait until your relatives bail you out.

Charismatic principles:

Signs are never a guaranteed cure for unbelief. If your heart is not open to the word of God now, a supernatural experience won’t help. That is what John Wimber and those in the signs and wonders movement are looking for – signs to make people believe. They have actually said, “If we can only get someone to come back from the dead…” My question is how many do we need? If it did happen, even true believers would be skeptical.

Faith comes by hearing and believing the word of God. Not from seeing miracles. Jesus said, “They have the law and the prophets…”

Christian Principles

  • True religion demands social compassion. We need to evaluate our attitudes towards those in need. It reveals our status and relationship with God. The problem with most evangelicals is that they have over reacted against the liberal “social gospel.”
  • The realities of the after-life include torment and blessing. Not annihilation or neutrality. Some people today are teaching a doctrine of annihilation.
  • Disappointment and disease are not necessarily a sign of God’s displeasure.
  • We need to evaluate our attitude towards wealth. What are we depending on? Do we think being rich means we are right with God? We need to worry more about eternity.
  • God’s word is our source of information. It is enough, don’t look for supernatural signs.
  • The decisions of this life are final and determinative. There are no second chances where heaven is concerned.
  • Luke 16 is not just about money or wealth. That is what everyone labels it. But when you really understand the chapter the key element in both the parables is personal relationships. With the parable of the steward the issue was making friends for eternity which would fall under the heading of evangelism. With this philosophy one of the most worthwhile things you can give to is missions. When you give a donation to sending Bibles to India or China or sending missionaries out, you are making friends for eternity. I have to wonder if when we all get to heaven if people saved through the ministry of some missionary are going to find the ones who supported the missionaries financially and say thank you. Ray Boltz has a song entitled Thank You where this guy gets to heaven and all these people come up to him and thank him for the time he took to teach Sunday school where they first heard the gospel…. Maybe God will give us the knowledge of all who contributed to our salvation so we can thank those that allowed themselves to be used by God. Think of the joy that will bring to you when someone comes to you and says, I wouldn’t be here without your help. Thank you so much!
  • In the parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus, the rich man should have used his money to help Lazarus. But he only used his money for his own enjoyment. It says in vs. 19 that he dressed in the latest and best fashions and spent all his money on partying and buying expensive things for himself. Since Lazarus was the righteous one in the story, it is not about evangelism, it is about edification. It is about what the rich man should have done to build Lazarus up. He should have tried to help Lazarus.
  • If you remember the summary of the parabolic sayings, the last two were about the dragnet and the householder. Those two parabolic sayings emphasized the disciple’s responsibility for evangelism and edification. We see the same theme repeated here.
  • Both stories are really about whether or not we love others. One of the barometers of how we love is how we spend our money. The question to ask ourselves is – Who do I love? The answer can be found by going through our check register.

4 Some argue that this is not a parable because a character is named. But those who argue thus do not understand that minor variations from the literary motif do not mean it is not a parable. The variation is there to emphasize something. In this case it draws attention to Lazarus who was raised.

permission granted by David Austin Exec Director (worlds largest bible study site)



February 11, 2011

Today’s Devotional

“Strive to enter in at the straight gate: for many,  I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. Knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are:”

Luke 13:24-25 KJV

Thoughts on Today’s Verse…..

This morning as I was reading the book of Luke, Jesus told so many good parables.  Luke stresses on a lot of things in this book, like wealth, poor, and salvation. Jesus tell’s the parable such as “the rich fool” (12:21) ” So is he that layeth up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God.” Jesus is not speaking of pay-as-you-go Faith, but of participation in a relationship in which God already provides what he wishes.  Not just to set back and take ease, like the saying, “eat, drink, and be merry.” The other parable that Jesus told was “The rich man and Lazarus.” (16:19) This parable was about a certain rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen, and he fared very well, he had plenty of food to eat, had a nice home. There was a certain beggar named Lazarus, and he laid next to rich man’s gate, and the rich man paid no attention. And it came to pass the beggar died and he was carried by angels into Abraham’s bosom in heaven. Also the rich man died and he was buried left to be tormented into hell. Everyone should give careful consideration to the gospel and trust the Lord and Savior in order to escape the torments of Hades. Because of the severity of these torments, no one should assume he is going to heaven unless he has personally trusted Christ as His Savior.

By Jeff Ellinger

Today’s Prayer…..

Dear Heavenly Father, please Lord help me not be selfish with my monies and assets, to always share and give.  And always to put You first Lord and put my trust and Faith in You, because if it wasn’t for you, there would be no monies. Amen

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