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"FIVE MINUTES AFTER WE DIE"

Luke 16:19-31

Introduction

A. Letter to Hebrews informs us "It is appointed unto men once to die".

1. It is a scientific fact that someday you & I & all who now live will die.

- Our hearts will stop beating and pumping blood through our bodies;

- Our chests will no longer rise & fall with each breath.

- Our brain will stop sending millions of signals to various parts of our body.

2. Millions of people will die this year in the U.S.A. alone.

- Some will be friends of yours & some friends of mine & perhaps by the end of this year some of us will be among those we classify as "dead".

3. Accordingly few subjects interest men more than life after death.

- How many of us have repeated the question of the ages found in Job 14:14, "If a man dies will he live again?".

4. The Question we must each ask of ourselves today is: "What will happen to me five minutes after I die?"

- And the only place we can find an accurate answer to our question is in the Word of God: The answer is found in Luke 16:19-31.

5. From this text we learn a lot about the afterlife, & from this text we learn several things that will happen to us five minutes after we die.

Transition: The first thing we learn is that Five Minutes After We Die:

1. WE SHALL BE ALIVE

A. In vs.22 we see that both Lazarus & the Rich man had died.

- We can be assured that when Lazarus died there was no funeral.

- They probably took his body out to the Valley of Gehenna where refuse was thrown & burned (also where they put bodies of poor).

- When the rich man died we may rightly assume there was a big funeral.

- Many people would have come out to mourn the death of a man so wealthy.

- They would have placed his body in a first rate tomb w/all the trimmings.

B. I've been to quite a few funerals over the last few years.

- And I'd like to share something w/you that I've learned.

- I've learned that whether you're rich or poor, whether you have lots of friends or few, whether you're placed in a rich man's tomb or your body is thrown into the Valley of Gehenna;

- When death comes knocking at your door you're just as dead as the next guy.

- Yet we see in vss.22-23 that both Lazarus & Rich man survived death.

C. You & I will survive death--there is an afterlife.

- According to a recent survey in U.S. News & World Report many Americans now believe in an afterlife:

- 78% believe there is a heaven

- 60% believe there is a hell

- Now out of those who believe in an afterlife:

- 78% believe they have an excellent chance of going to heaven

- 4% believe they have an excellent chance of going to hell

- Those who believe in an afterlife are clearly in agreement w\the biblical record.

- The Bible teaches that your final destiny is not the ground you're buried in.

- Your soul will not sleep.

- We can have confidence from the Word of God that 5 min. after we die we will really be alive.

- In Matt. 17:3 we find Moses & Elijah still alive even though they'd died many years before.

- In Heb. 12:1 we're told of a "Great Cloud of Witnesses" that surround us & we learn that this "Great Cloud of Witnesses" is made up of all those who have gone before us yet are still alive.

D. We need to understand that death is not extinction, but separation.

- Adam, in the day he ate the forbidden fruit died.

- Physically he didn't die until 900 years later.

- But the day he ate of the fruit he found he was separated from God.

- Mankind has been separated from God by sin.

- People w/o Christ are dead while they live.

- Eph. 2:1 (speaking to the living) "And you were dead in your trespasses and sins".

- Yet people who are in Christ are alive even if they die, (Jn. 11:25-26) "I am the resurrection & the life; he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, & everyone who lives & believes in me shall never die".

- So we see that the state we are in in this life determines our eternal state in the next life.

- If I am dead in my sins in this life I shall die eternally in the next.

- But if I am alive in Christ in this life I know that 5 min. after I die I shall live w/Christ for eternity.

Transition: The 2nd answer we receive to our question is that 5 min. after we die:

2. WE SHALL BE CONSCIOUS

A. Notice what Abe said in v.25 after rich man asked for Lazarus to dip his finger in the water & come to cool off his tongue.

- READ v.25.

B. From this we see that in the afterlife we're still concious of our PAST.

- Remember rich man:

- you've received the good things all your life: finest clothes; parties; friends.

- best seat at banquets; been society man; popular w/the people.

- Do you remember Lazarus?:

- when he was a sore covered beggar sitting at your gate longing to be fed w/the crumbs that fell from your table?

- do you remember passing by & seeing the dogs licking the sores that covered his body?

- it's strange you have no memory of inviting Lazarus to join you at your table.

- no memory of having his wounds attended to by your doctor.

- no memory of ever stopping to ask him about his day.

C. From this verse we see that we will be concious of the PRESENT.

- In the afterlife the rich man realized that:

- Lazarus was now in paradise, yet he was in torments.

- He saw the beggar being comforted in Abraham's bosom.

- He realized that he now needed what Lazarus possessed.

- The roles have now been reversed.

- The rich man has become the beggar, craving for just a drop of water.

- Lazarus has become the rich man enjoying the eternal blessings of one who has turned his life over to God.

- Please understand that the rich man's wealth had nothing to do w/his eternal state

- He was not in torment because he had too much, he was in torment because of what he refused to give--his life to Jesus Christ.

D. Our conscious survives physical death.

- Lazarus' conscience was at peace.

- It was at peace because he knew he'd been forgiven.

- It was because he knew he'd turned his life over to God before he experienced physical death.

- Is your conscience at peace this today?

- Do you know that 5 min. after you die you will have the peace that passes all understanding?

- You can know it today if you'll give your life to Jesus Christ.

Transition: The 3rd answer to our question is that if we have given our lives to Christ then 5 min. after we die:

3. WE SHALL BE WITH CHRIST

A. Vs. 22 tells us that Lazarus was carried to Abe's side by the angels.

- Lazarus left his world of hunger and pain & was taken to paradise.

- Five minutes after we die we can also know we will see paradise.

B. Out of the survey mentioned earlier only 83% of church members knew they'd go to heaven after they died.

- 3% of church members said they knew they'd go to hell.

- Now that leaves 14% of the church members surveyed that don't know where they're headed.

- That's the same as saying we have 14% of church members who do not understand the biblical teaching on this matter.

- The Bible clearly teaches that we can know our eternal status:

- 1 John 5:12-13 "He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son does not have life. I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life."

- John 5:24 "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word & believes Him who sent me has eternal life & will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life."

- Understand that Christianity is not a hope-so but a know-so salvation.

C. Yes I & all Christians shall be with Christ.

- The day is coming when we shall be in the very presence of His glory!

- All the saints will gather around Him & shout "Salvation belongs to our God who sits upon the throne, and to the Lamb!"

- To be w/Christ should be the desire of every Christian; we can say w/Paul that we "prefer to be away from the body and at home w/the Lord".

- Often we have trouble seeing the better life ahead of us.

- We become so stuck in the ruts of this world that we have a hard time visualizing the life that God has prepared for us.

- But my friends when we shall be w/Christ the joys & sorrows of this life will fade into the past.

- Rev. 21 & 22 teach us that:

- God will wipe every tear from our eyes;

- There will no longer be any death;

- There shall no longer be any mourning or crying or pain.

- There will be no need for sun or moon for the glory of God will illuminate the sky.

- Yes, to be w/Christ should be the desire of every Christian.

- And if you are a Christian the Bible is clear, You Will Be With Christ.

Transition: 4th answer to our question is that 5 min. after we die:

4. OUR EARTHLY OPPORTUNITES WILL BE GONE FOREVER

A. vs. 28 we learn that the rich man had five brothers.

- Five brothers that he wanted to be warned of their impending condemnation.

- It is good that the rich man was concerned for his brothers.

- He became concerned because he was presently experiencing the torment he knew that they were soon to face.

- So we must commend him for his concern, yet acknowledge that his concern came too late.

- Five minutes after we die we will have no more opportunity to win others to our Lord & Savior Jesus Christ.

- But right now the Lord is giving us plenty of opportunities if we'll just take advantage of them.

B. You see the rich man's five brothers are still w/us today.

- They are my friends and your friends; They are our co-workers; They are our relatives; They are our acquaintances.

- If we would sit down & consider all of those we come in contact with on a regular basis we would realize that we all personally know a lot of people who need Jesus in their lives.

- Some will say like the rich man, "if someone from the dead goes to them they will repent."

- But you see someone has come back from the dead: His name is Jesus, His title is Christ.

- He has sent a message to the world--a message of love displayed on a cross--a message of power displayed by an empty tomb.

- We must tell the world about Jesus & the time is NOW.

- You see five minutes after we die our opportunity will be gone forever.

- You & I are responsible for communicating the gospel.

- It is up to us to communicate--but up to them to make a choice.

- But if we don't communicate we are saying that we're not willing to give them a choice--a choice that someone gave to us at some point in our lives because they loved us.

Transition: Lastly we learn that five minutes after we die:

5. OUR DESTINIES WILL BE FIXED FOR ETERNITY

A. We determine our destiny in this life.

- The rich man chose an eternity separated from God & he made that choice while he was still alive.

- He chose to reject God & God honored that choice.

- Lazarus chose paradise while still on this side of life.

- He chose to accept God & God honored his choice by welcoming him into His eternal Kingdom.

- Whatever we choose in this life cannot be changed after physical death.

- We're told in vs.26 (READ)

B. There is a great chasm fixed.

- Once we have passed on there is no longer a choice to make.

- Once we have gone we cannot pass over from one side to the other.

- There is no purgatory, there is no second chance.

C. There are but two destinies.

- Jesus said in John 5:28-29 "Do not marvel at this for an hour is coming, in which all who are in the tombs shall hear His voice, & shall come forth; those who did the good to a resurrection of life, those who commited evil to a resurrection of judgment"

- Five minutes after you die where will you spend eternity?

- You must make a choice.

Conclusion:

- Today by studying the rich man & Lazarus we've learned that five minutes after we die:

1. We shall be alive.

2. We will be concious.

3. We shall be w/Christ.

4. Our earthly opportunities will be gone forever.

5. Our destinies will be fixed for eternity.

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