And take…the sword of the Spirit, which  is the word of God.   Ephesians 6:17


Vol 13, Num 46, 12/19/2010

Published by
Mt. Baker
church of Christ

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Mailing Address:

       P.O. Box 30821
Bellingham, WA 98228
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Editor......Joe R. Price

Morris Bass
Rick Holt
Joe Price

Aaron Bass
Rich Brooks
Mike Finn
John Hague
Dan Head


In this issue:

The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31)
Joe R. Price

     Jesus concluded the parable of the dishonest steward with the summary that “no servant can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Lk. 16:13). The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, scoffed at his teaching and derided him (Lk. 16:1-13, 14). They honored themselves before others, but God knew their hearts and detested their pretentious, self-righteous conduct (Lk. 16:15).

     It is within this context that Jesus tells of “a certain rich man” and “a certain beggar named Lazarus” (Lk. 16:19-20, 19-31). These two men lived very different lives. The rich man lacked for nothing, satisfying himself each day in luxury. Lazarus begged daily at the rich man’s gate, desiring to eat the crumbs that fell from his table.  Not only did Lazarus have to contend with daily hunger; disease was his constant companion, as were the scavenger dogs that licked his open sores.

     The rich man did not show compassion toward the beggar. His clothing was splendid and his food a feast. Yet, he had no pity on the poor man Lazarus; he was too self-consumed to notice.

     But, death comes to both the rich and the poor, and it came to these two men as well. In life the rich man received his good things while Lazarus experienced calamity and trouble. But now, Lazarus was comforted in Abraham’s bosom while the rich man was tormented in flames (Lk. 16:22-25).

Jesus gives us a glimpse into the realm of the dead (or departed spirits, known as Hades, Acts 2:27, 31; 1 Cor. 15:55). This realm is distinguished from hell (gehenna), the place of eternal punishment following judgment (Rev. 1:18; 20:14; Mk. 9:43-48). There would be no relief given to the rich man in torments, for there was a great gulf between that place and the peaceful rest and safety of Abraham’s bosom (called “Paradise” by Jesus in Lk. 23:43). While alive, the rich man’s love of money had figuratively fixed a “great gulf” between himself and the beggar that he failed to mercifully reach across to relieve the suffering of Lazarus. In death, a real gulf now existed between them that could not and would not be crossed by either (Lk. 16:26).

     Materialists (those who deny humans have an immortal soul that exists beyond death) scoff at this story just as the Pharisees must have. Whether this narrative is to be considered a parable or an actual event does not weaken the truth of its content in the least: its message remains the same. Jesus did not use error and fantasy to depict divine truth. If it is noted that nowhere is this account described as a parable, one should also note that neither was the parable of the dishonest steward described as such; the first verse of this same chapter begins with the same words: “There was a certain rich man…” (Lk. 16:1; see Luke 10:30; 15:11 for more examples of such parables).

Parables use real life events to teach spiritual lessons. Therefore, to view the rich man and Lazarus as a parable confirms the reality of its events. On the other hand, nothing suggests this could not have been an actual event. If it is the case, the truth it teaches remains the same. Therefore, rather than exhaust ourselves with a discussion of whether or not it is to be considered a parable, we will study its content to gain real and relevant insight into the realm beyond the grave, so that we may live by faith in this life as we prepare ourselves for the next.

Lessons from the Dead

God had forbidden the children of Israel from seeking after the dead for knowledge and understanding (Deut. 18:9-14). Instead, God gave them His law and sent his servants the prophets to Israel to speak His words of truth and warning (Deut. 18:15-19; Jer. 7:3, 13, 25). But now, the rich man desperately wanted a dead man – Lazarus – to return to earth and warn his five brothers about the future torment they would incur unless they repented. However, Lazarus would not be going back to earth with such a warning, for they had the law and the prophets (the revealed word of God) that taught them “to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God” (Mic. 6:8; Lev. 19:18). If they would not be persuaded to repent of their selfish, sinful love of money by God’s inspired word, the resurrection of a dead person would not convince them, either. Even when Jesus was shown to be alive after his death “by many infallible proofs” there were many who would not believe (Acts 1:3; 4:10-12, 15-20).

Jesus taught many lessons in the story of the rich man and Lazarus to convince us that we cannot serve two masters (Lk. 16:13). Please consider the following:

1. Do not trust in riches (16:19, 25, 27-31). This is at the heart of why Jesus told his audience about the rich man and Lazarus. Those who live for material things, serving mammon rather than God, serve a false god that cannot save them (Lk. 16:13; 9:25). The idolatry of covetousness drowns many souls in destruction and perdition (Col. 3:5; 1 Tim. 6:9-10). The love of money elevates one in his estimation of himself; it is arrogant and self-righteous as it selfish pursues material fulfillment at all costs (Lk. 16:15). In death, the rich man experienced the result of living for himself and not being rich toward God; of loving himself more than God and his neighbor (Lk. 9:25; 12:15-21; 10:25-37).

The Lord expects us to be good stewards of our material possessions instead of making mammon our master (Lk. 16:8-13). Material goods should serve us, not the other way around. Those blessed with material abundance are to remain humble and use their wealth as an opportunity to advance goodness, compassion and faith in God:

Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy.  Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life” (1 Tim. 6:17-19).

2. Salvation is not universal (Lk. 16:23). One man was saved and the other was lost. God offers salvation to everyone because He desires all to be saved from their sins (1 Tim. 2:3-4). Yet, few will choose to enter the narrow gate and walk the straightened way that leads to life (Matt. 7:13-14). Apparently, the rich man gave little thought to his salvation; he was too busy in his self-indulgent life to lay up treasure in heaven (Matt. 6:19-21; 1 Tim. 6:17-19).

(Concluded next week)
-From, The Parables of Jesus, Guardian of Truth


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

Building Character: Forbearance (7)

Scripture Reading:  Psalm 78:34-39

1. Forbearance is a companion of longsuffering.
2. “1) to hold up…to sustain, to bear, to endure” (Thayer). Put up with (2 Cor 11:19, 20)
3. Elements of patience and endurance.


  A. Forbearance is not Toleration, Approval or Accommodation of Sin, Rom 3:25; 2:4; 2 Cor 11:4, 16-20; Col 3:13; Eph 4:31.
  B. Treat Sin and Sinners in a Manner that they May Come to Repentance, Rom 2:4; 2 Pet 3:9-10; Isa 30:18; Psa 78:34-39 (56-64); Acts 17:30-31.

II. Forbearance in Trials, 2 Ths 1:4.

  A. Forbearance is not Deterred when it faces Opposition, 1 Pet 2:19-20; 4:12-16.
  B. How can we be forbearing in the Face of Trials? 1 Pet 4:19; 5:7; 1 Pet 5:10.


  A. Uphold the Weak in Faith, Giving them Opportunity to Grow and be Strong. 1 Pet 2:1-3
  B. Bear With those who are Weak in Conscience, Rom 15:1; 1 Cor 8:7-13.

IV. FORBEARANCE TOWARD SOUND DOCTRINE, 2 Tim 4:3 (2-5); cf. Heb 13:22.

  A. We Bear with Sound Doctrine by Receiving it Rather than Demanding our own Desires, 2 Tim 4:3; Rev 2:2.
  B. We Bear with the Word of Exhortation by Accepting and Obeying it, Heb 13:21-22.


  A. Forbearance Requires an Unselfish Heart that Endures the Moment, 1 Cor 13:7 (Eph 4:2-3)
  B. Forbearance Requires the Expenditure of Time and therefore, is Patient; Psa 78:37-39.

Concl. Put on Christ’s moral likeness (Col 3:10).


You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS

Teaching a Bible Class

Scripture Reading:  Nehemiah 8:8-12

1. Clear importance of teaching the gospel:
  a. God’s plan uses teachers, Matt 28:19-20; Rom 1:15-16; 10:14; 1 Cor 1:21; 2 Tim 2:2. Acts 8:30-31.
  b. Every mature Christian has some responsibility to teach, Heb 5:12.
  c. Teach only the gospel, 1 Pet 4:11; Acts 20:24, 27, 32 (Gal 1:6-10).
2. Why, what and how of teaching Bible classes.


  A. From a Desire to Save Souls, Matt 9:36-38 (Rom 10:1, 16-17).
  B. To Do our Part,, Rom 12:3-8; 1 Pet 4:10; Jno 15:8.; Eph 4:11-16.
  C. To Experience one of Life’s Great Joys, 1 Ths 2:19-20; 3 Jno 4.


  A. Every Faithful Christian can Prepare to be a Teacher, 2 Tim 2:2; Heb 5:12.
  B. Prepare to Teach by being a Good Bible Student, 1 Tim 4:15-16 (Jno 3:10); 2 Tim 2:24; Matt 23:1-4; cf. Heb 13:7.
  C Prepare to Teach by Growing in Grace and Knowledge, 2 Pet 3:18.
  D. Work at it! 2 Tim 2:24; Prov 26:16; 12:27 


  A. Be Sure of Your Motives: The Glory of God and the Salvation of the Students, 1 Ths 2:3-8.
  B. Know Your Objective: Help Students Learn and Live God’s Word.
  C. Know your Subject, 2 Tim 2:15.
  D. Know your Audience: Teach on the Level of Age, Maturity and Spiritual Condition. 1 Cor 4:21
  E. Use a Variety of Teaching Methods.

Concl. Teaching the gospel is a great work; Honor it/God by doing your best when you teach it.


(Current events in the light of Scripture)

As a thief in the night
Joe R. Price

A billboard in southern New Jersey announces Judgment Day will be May 21, 2011. According to the sign posted by Edwin Ramos, “The Bible guarantees it”. He gets his inspiration from preacher Harold Camping (you can see his explanation of this calculation at

     Camping and his followers are woefully mistaken, which will be clear on May 22, 2011. Such false predictions cause people to ignore the Bible and to think those who make them are representative of Christians. They are not. Such forecasts cause people to ignore what the Bible actually says about the judgment to come (Acts 17:30-31).

     Predictions of when the world will end are futile, false and faithless since the Bible says the times and seasons of things belong to God – and He has not revealed to us the time of Christ’s return (cf. 1 Ths 5:1-3). God has told us Jesus will come “as a thief in the night” (1 Ths 5:2; 2 Pet 3:10).

     Jesus Christ will return. That is the Bible’s guarantee (Acts 1:11; 17:31; 1 Ths 4:16). “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming” (Matt 24:42).

     Jesus will come unexpectedly. “Therefore, you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect” (Matt 24:44). Harold Camping does not know when the Lord will return. Jesus could come anytime. Be wise and be ready. Repent and follow Christ (Acts 17:30; 1 Ths 5:1-11).


Created by Chuck Sibbing.  12/20/2010

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