Never in history has there ever been a sermon from hell. A voice from hell a man is overheard speaking in hell for the only time in the history of the world history. “In hell (Greek, Hades) he lifted up his eyes being in torment” (Lk 16:28). It is an awful cry. “Cool my tongue, for I am tormented in this flame.” Four times (the torment is asserted)

When the unclean spirits cowered before our Lord in Gadara,

  • “they entreated Him that He would not command them to depart into the abyss,” saying,
  • “Art Thou come to torment us’ before the time?” (Lk 8:31, Matt. 8:29, R. V.)
  • “These demons also believe and shudder” (Jam 2:19, R. V.)

Unbelief in a coming hell is a snare leading straight to hell according to one who is there. Christ lays the whole emphasis throughout on a physical contrast:

  • here and hereafter
  • beneath which lies a far profounder spiritual contrast,
  • two men who exchange positions in the world to come.

Abraham’s answer sums it up: ‘Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receives thy good things”—reached your own ideal that—”none may pass.”

  • Now, what does a man who finds himself there say in hell? Mr. Dives tells us.
  • What he does not say is overwhelming.
  • Unutterable volumes lie in the sudden silence of the soul who, on the other side, knows.
  • He was told that no spirit can cross the gulf that divides the good from the evil dead.
  • He has to be told that a good spirit sent out on the earth would not convince. But he needs no one to tell him that there is no escape out of the place of the lost for one who has died unrepentant.
There is one word which we can hardly imagine a soul, thus plunged into catastrophe and involved in fearful ruin,
  • Not uttering—the name of the One who controls the universe.
  • It is one word in which hope alone can survive. Yet in all the dialogue in those fateful shades the, word God never escapes his lips.
  • The man who lives without God, dies without God.
  • Lips that never pray on earth are mute in hell.
  • His only other cry, besides that of pain, is a cry that involves complete self-despair: “Send to my father’s house.”
        The dead know that there is hope for the living, but none for the dead.
Now the sermon of a lost soul issues from the rich man’s lips.
  • “Send him (Lazarus) “—
  • how remarkably he does not say, “Send me,” for he knows the gates of Hades are locked—”to my father’s house, lest they also come into this place of torment: if one go to them from the dead, they will repent.”
  • “Dives” is anxious for his brothers to repent. But not once does he speak of his own repentance, for he is keenly aware that repentance will keep his brothers from hell,
  • Yet he never dreams that repentance will pluck a man out of hell.
  • It is impossible to carry our sins into heaven, and the moment we are in the other world we shall know it.
  • “Dives” suffers from remorse, not from repentance.
  • Not one word of admission of sin;
  • Not one word of regret of sin;
  • Not one thought for the cleansing from sin;
  • Not one cry for the pardon of sin.
  • Hell holds no sense of sin, and
  • Therefore no absolution from sin.
Dives himself manifestly had never believed that there was a hell.
In it, he infers that all who conceal or deny the fact are doing men a fearful wrong. And his one appeal for his brothers is that they should be told that hell is a fact, and that they may escape it he concentrates all on one word—REPENT! That is what a dead man thinks every living man ought to do. It is sin that fills hell, and it is only repentance that can escape it. Dives was sure that if only his brothers knew the facts of the other world, they would move heaven and earth to avoid the torment The Savior Himself has warned us in words that could not be more clear or sure, and no lost soul who ever entered the gloomy portals but knows that they are true: “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Lk 13:5).
The startling fact in Abraham’s answer is that the five brothers had in their hands something more convincing, more saving than an evangelist walking straight into their house from out of a ruptured tomb. “If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, if one rise from the dead.”
Abraham’s reply reveals what alone will save any man, in any epoch of the world, anywhere.
  • God Himself can give no more than He has given.
  • Christ Himself never once appeared to an unbeliever after His resurrection.
  • I do not need news from hell, but pardon from heaven.
  • A messenger from Hades cannot cleanse my foul soul, but the Scriptures can (Jn 15:3, Eph. 5:26).
  • They proclaim the efficacy of the cleansing blood of Christ  (I Jn1:7).
  • No messenger from the other world could:
    • Make goodness more love-able, or hell more terrible, or Calvary more cleansing
    • Christ more divine, or
    • duty more clear, or
    • decisions more urgent, or eternity more solemn,
    • than the Scriptures do which we hold in our hands.
  • The dead might lie.
  • The Scriptures cannot.
  • We have all the proof that almighty wisdom sees to be the right proof, and we have enough proof. Any more would only deepen condemnation.
  • And no more proof will ever be given.
  • The Bible we have is all the Bible we need.
Samuel Wilberforce has said,
“The experience of many deathbeds has convinced me that, so far from the deathbed’s being the place where you will see the greatest sincerity, there are few places where you will oftener see men hypocrites, very few times and very few places where men are more desperately striving to deceive themselves, because they feel that now it is almost hopeless to turn.”
  1. How few words our Lord devotes to these two men’s lives.
  2. How He concentrates all on their hereafter!
  3. Two men, traveling the same earthly way, pass at once into opposite abodes, as surely as vapour rises and water falls.
  4. And between their eternal habitations there is a gulf fixed which
    1. no reasoning can hide,
    2. no time can remove,
    3. no angel can bridge,
    4. no eternity can destroy.
    5. no traffic to cross; it is impossible, for the good will not cross when the day of mercy is closed,
    6. and the bad may not, when the day of opportunity is gone.
    7. And all around are walls unscalable, unpiercable, unmovable.