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Matthew 28
posted August 9, 2012

Revelation 13
posted August 16, 2012



Luke Sixteen

Sermon of the Week November 21. 2010 
Ladies and Gentlemen, What is this that I hear of thee? What have you done to My Church? What have you done to My baptism? What have you done to My Bible? In Luke sixteen that is the question God asked of His unjust steward. Everything in the world belongs to God, so we are all stewards, believers and unbelievers alike. The gospel is God's greatest treasure and God wants to know, “What is this that I hear of thee?”

Actually there are two rich men in Luke sixteen. The story of Rich Man number one instructs us all to invest our lives in the kingdom of God and Rich Man number two is the results either for good or bad.

Regarding Rich Man number one, Jesus said unto the disciples, “There was a certain rich man who had a steward; and the same was accused unto him that he was wasting his goods. And he called him and said unto him, What is this that I hear of thee? Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.”

In this case the unjust steward, seeing he was about to be fired, called in the various creditors and asked, “How much owest thou unto my Lord?” When he found out, he changed their accounts to less money and pocketed the rest for himself as a nest-egg for his retirement. In the parable the Lord seems to admire the unjust steward, not because he lowered the standards of what was right, but for the clever way he enriched himself.

We sometimes do the same. Several years ago a man stole a half million dollars in cash, got into a plane and parachuted out over the Rocky Mountains with his loot. No one has heard from him since. Every year a group of people get together and drink a toast to him, not knowing whether he is alive or dead. They would not do what he did, but admire him for doing it. We cannot help but marvel at some people who are clever enough to pull off such a scam.

There is many an unjust steward in the Lord’s Church today. The Lord must marvel how they lower the standards of God’s Word on God's plan of salvation. Was Peter right when he said to those who believed they had crucified the risen Lord, “Repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit”? The unjust steward says, “As long as you believe, don't worry about it.” How the Lord must marvel at such insolence? There is a thoughtful statement of Jesus between the stories of the two rich men, “That which is exalted among men is an abomination before God.”

Then, think for a moment of the question the unjust steward asked the creditors and apply it to ourselves, “How much owest thou unto my Lord?” How much do we owe the Lord Jesus Christ for dying on the cross to save our souls from hell? How much do we owe the Lord for sending someone to preach the gospel to us? How much owest thou unto My Lord for the priceless treasure of the Bible that most never read; the Bible that people in other lands are begging to receive. How much owest thou unto the Lord here in America where there are no restrictions of public worship and many cancel out attendance at the Lord’s Table, except on Christmas morning, when many in foreign lands are being tortured and murdered because they are Christians? Now let us get right into this provocative statement of Jesus, “Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.”

It will come to all of us in various ways; for some, in old age. One of these days we will all be old, if we are lucky enough and tough enough. This world being what it is, you have to be very lucky to survive to old age. Most of us will never make it. But if you make it to old age, you will hear the voice in one-way or another, “Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.” It will be heard also at a time of sickness or accident.

The message is heard here because of the fragility of life. An accident or disease can remove a person at any time. At such a time of a triple-bypass, a cancer or an accident, we are reminded of our mortality and make all kinds of promises to God for deliverance. It is easier to offer a sick body to the Lord than a well body. We hear over and over again about people who have died suddenly or had a heart attack or accident, and if not dead, they are incapacitated and can no longer go full-speed ahead. They have heard the voice, even though it was unexpected, “Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.” It will come to some at a time when influence is lost.

It is all too often that someone tells us of some spiritual leader who is overtaken in a fault through some indiscretion, and has lost his influence. It may happen also to an elder or some other church leader; although he may not lose his job or have to move, his influence is gone just the same. He has heard the message loud and clear, unless he is too deaf, “Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.” Again, the message is heard loud and clear by parents. There are only a short number of years that a parent has to mold the life of a child. The day comes when the child assumes a little more authority and then is out on his own. However, for some it comes much earlier than supposed. Perhaps at the age of ten or younger, parents seem to have no control for whatever reason.

At an early age, my dad had me to read aloud the Bible while he followed in another. Day after day we read, and when he stopped reading with me, the habit was formed and I never stopped. No doubt this was the reason that I am in the ministry today. Every parent has the chance to lead a child in a similar way. If the opportunity is put off too long, the day will come, and all too soon it will be heard, “Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.” This message will come also at the moment of death.

The time of death is perhaps the most deceptive of all. The Devil told Eve in the Garden of Eden, “Thou shalt not surely die.” Death is something that happens to everyone else, but not to me. I remember as a teen-aged boy how one day I told my best friend that I did not think that I would ever die. He said that he felt the same way. At that time a life-span of another fifty years seemed a long time. This is a natural feeling. It was not long after this that my friend got in a fight and someone stuck a thirty-eight in his chest and pulled the trigger. The Devil lied. My friend died. As a preacher I have had the funeral of many teen-agers who thought they would never die. They did. “Thou shalt not surely die.” The Devil lied. “Thou shalt not surely die.” Death is always something that happens to someone else. The Devil lied. The person across the street may die, but it will not happen to me. “Thou shalt not surely die.” The Devil lied. The man next door may drop dead with a heart attack, but it will not happen to me. “Thou shalt not surely die.” The Devil lied. The person across town may die in a wreck, but it will not happen to me. “Thou shalt not surely die.” The Devil lied.

You are one heartbeat from eternity. When you pass a car at fifty miles an hour, if three feet is all that separates you from a head-on collision, then you are just three feet from being able to hear the angels sing or from hearing the groans of the damned. That message could come any day or hour, “Thou canst be no longer steward.” It will most certainly come at the second coming of Jesus.

For all those who escape the other times it will be heard on that day when the Lord returns. On that day, there will be no more opportunities to give or go to win the lost; no more sermons to preach or lessons to teach; no more children to guide; no more opportunities to serve. When the Lord returns, He will come with a shout and as far as the Christian is concerned the shout can be translated, “Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.”

Now for Rich Man number two: Jesus said, “There was a certain rich man.” He had someone in particular in mind. “A certain rich man; who was clothed in purple and fine linen and fared sumptuously every day.”

Then Jesus said there was another man in this saga, a beggar named Lazarus. Jesus mentioned his name. This is natural because the Good Shepherd calleth His sheep by name. Lazarus happened to be poor and sick and full of sores. “Lazarus was laid at the gate of the certain rich man and begged for crumbs that fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. Both men died. The rich man died and was buried.” I can hear the Rabbi now as he preached his funeral, “What an inspiration this rich man was. Someone ought to write a book about his life. What an inspiration it would be for the young people.” No wonder Jesus prefaced this story with the statement, “That which is exalted among men is an abomination to God.”

Mankind has a way of classifying everybody. We judge horizontally. There are three classes of people. The top line is upper-class. The second line is middle-class. The bottom line is lower-class. God judges with a vertical line. There are only two classes of people; the saved and the lost. When the beggar also died Jesus said, “He was carried away by the angels.” This thought has come into our hymnology, “O precious cross, O glorious crown, O resurrection day. Ye angels from the stars come down and bear my soul away.”

Jesus said, “The rich man was in torment. In Hades he lifted up his eyes being in torments and saw Abraham afar off and Lazarus in his bosom.” Abraham's bosom was the happy side of Hades and the other side was torment. The rich man had three things to say after he died. The first thing the certain rich man said after he died was, “Father Abraham have mercy on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.” Abraham told him to remember his life on earth and also the plight of Lazarus. He told him about a great gulf that separated the saved and the lost.

          The rich man spoke a second time, “Send Lazarus to testify to my five brothers lest they come to this place of torment”. Abraham told him there would be no need to send Lazarus back to earth since the five brothers could find all the answers they needed in the Bible. Still, a third time the rich man spoke. He said, “It would be better to send Lazarus back and they would repent if they listened to someone from the dead. Abraham said if they hear not Moses and the prophets they would not be persuaded though one rise from the dead.” This story was told by Jesus. And as in this story millions are dying every day and going into the same life after death as these two men. Remember the spirit-world is called Hades and Paradise—Paradise is the happy side where the saved will rest in bliss.

Now here are some conclusions to this story that Jesus told. First, repentance is necessary. The certain rich man said, “If one go unto them from the dead they will repent.” Evidently, from his knowledge of the lifestyle of his five brothers they were not fit candidates for Paradise. Think of it! Six brothers, one was in hell and five on the way. They needed to repent. In the first gospel sermon preached under the new covenant, Peter put it this way saying that they needed to repent and be baptized for the remission of sins and the gift of the Holy Spirit. Another conclusion from this story that Jesus told is the all-sufficiency of the Bible. Abraham said, “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” Evidently the five brothers had copies of the Word of God. “They have Moses and the prophets let them hear them.” At this time we also have Jesus and the Apostles.

           The rich man said, “Nay, Father Abraham they will hear if one goes to them from the dead. Abraham said, no they won't, if they won’t listen to the Bible they will not be persuaded even by a resurrectee.” The rich man thought his brothers needed a better revelation. But God has a different view; if you won’t believe the Bible you won’t believe anything. The Bible is the only message God will ever give us.

Another conclusion in this story that Jesus told is there is no second chance. Abraham told the certain rich man, “Even if Lazarus wanted to cross over, or if you wanted to come this way there is no way it can be arranged. There is a great gulf between the two places, a gulf that is un-crossable.” That one statement of God’s Word completely demolishes Purgatory. There is no second chance. There is no hope beyond the grave. In this life we have hope. Paul tells us, “There is one hope of our calling.” If that hope fails there is no other hope we can fall back on. Another conclusion about this story that Jesus told is the consciousness of a person after death.

Sometimes when we hear of people dying in their sleep, and some say that is the best way to die because you won't know what happened. Actually, even if a person is in a coma, at the moment of death they will be free from the flesh and shall be fully aware of where they are at that moment. Notice Jesus said, “The rich man died and was buried.” His body was in the grave. He lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham and Lazarus. He could still see. His ears were in the grave but he could still hear. His body was in the grave, but he could still feel. His tongue was in the grave, but he could still thirst. He was conscious after death. A hundred years from now we will be just as conscious of where we are and about our surroundings as we are at this moment. The real us will still be alive. We can count on being conscious the moment after death.

Another conclusion in this story that Jesus told is that, hell is not just for big sinners. From the standpoint of the Christian there are a lot of easy ways to go to hell. It would seem to me that one way to slide right in would be to have an abortion and not repent. Another way would be to become a sexual deviate and not repent. A drug dealer would be a sure-fire way (no pun intended). A child abuser would land you right on the front row of hell, no problem. You can add your own list of easy ways to go to hell and the list is long.

However, you will notice that the certain rich man was none of these and he still made it. He was none of these and apparently he was very religious. Abraham called him son, “Son, remember.” Think of it, some today going to church every Sunday, and going to hell. One more conclusion from this story that Jesus told is remembrance. Abraham told the certain rich man to remember. What did he tell him to remember? He said, “Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime received good things.” He remembered his lifetime. In eternity we will not be encumbered with the drowsiness of the flesh or the weakness of our intellect. We will have total recall of everything. Every second of your life will come before you in bold relief. Son, remember. You will be able to remember every word of every sermon you ever heard preached on this broadcast. Son, remember. You will be able to remember clearly the plan of salvation of God, the death, burial and resurrection of Jesus and how we need to respond to the gospel. Son, remember.

Studdert Kennedy has a poem that speaks of the person who lives for this world only: “I would build me a perfect island home-Sweet set in a southern sea-And there I would build me a paradise-For the heart of my love and me-I would plant me a perfect garden there-The one that my dream soul knows-And the years would flow as the petals grow-That flame to a perfect rose-I would build me a perfect temple there-A shrine where my Christ might dwell-And then I would wake to behold my soul-Damned deep in a perfect Hell.”

Ladies and Gentlemen, things that the unsaved will remember in eternity will be the hell of hells. Think again of these words of Jesus to the rich man, “How much owest thou unto my Lord? Render an account of thy stewardship for thou canst be no longer steward.”