Have you read the Rich Man and Lazarus? It’s been a while for me. But doing a talk about a parable should be straight forward…or so I thought….
This parable is the only time that Jesus really mentions where we go when we die. It is a parable about heaven and hell. My task was to explain this difficult concept to our group of adults with learning disabilities last week.
So how would you explain heaven and hell?
I had found a video of the parable on You Tube that my daughter downloaded and converted for me and prepared a reading of the parable from the Easy English Bible (found on www.biblegateway.com). In presenting the Bible and explaining the gospel we try to start with a tangible story. The members of the group like to see something visual and dramatic. We tend to repeat the story in different ways using video, drama, reading, pictures and symbols. That then gives the speaker who is going to explain what it means a foundation to work from.
So far, so good…
I personally find the fact that the Bible says that some people will go to heaven and some people go to hell when they die quite challenging. I believe it because I believe the Bible and it is referred to enough times for us to need to take notice. And in God’s justice there has to be somewhere where those who don’t want his salvation can go…otherwise we don’t have free will.
I know there are a lot of differing views on the meaning of this story. I am not a theologian but I do trust those who lead our group who have much more training in studying the Bible than I do. Therefore, it was important to check what I wanted to say with someone who is wiser than me. I was very glad of the help and encouragement I had.
But knowing we can’t second guess God and judge for ourselves who will go where is very difficult for us human beings…could someone we love NOT be in heaven?
When praying and preparing my talk I had to face this challenge once again. Then prepare how I would explain this parable to our members with learning disabilities.
As usual it is God’s word that came to my rescue. As I searched the Bible and some good examples of sermons on the parable from trusted sources, I realised that my answer was to concentrate on a really important truth…
God wants ALL men to be saved.
And so we ended with a memory verse to take home, a familiar but awesome, amazing and fabulous promise…
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his one and only Son, that WHOEVER believes in Him, shall not perish but have eternal life.” John 3V16.
Our members responded very positively. Those who could talk were familiar with the concept of heaven and hell. When I asked, (as usual) Do you believe Jesus is God’s son? Do you believe he was sent to take the punishment for our sins? Do you believe we can live forever in heaven with Him? There were lots of yes’s, cheers and even a ‘of course I do’… And I praise God that I do too!
This subject is a challenge to us all. Do comment with your thoughts.