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The doomed in hell long for the work of evangelism
Is it not staggering that the horrors of Hades were so awful that suddenly the doomed rich man was interested in the missionary work of the Gospel?
He did not want his brothers to experience the pain he had to endure.
He longed for someone to warn his brothers who were still alive. Presumably, they were living the same lifestyle of luxury without concern for others.
Once again, his request seems perfectly reasonable. What could be more appropriate than a dead man’s prayer for his family’s salvation?
Yet this plea was also denied – or better yet, deemed unnecessary.
Luke 16:29 Abraham said to him, ‘They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.’
In other words, the rich man’s brothers had in their possession everything they needed to get to heaven. They had the word of God – the very means of salvation.
Moses and the prophets = the Law and the Prophets (OT) – these scriptures continually mandate care for the poor, the widow, the orphan, and the stranger. His brothers need no other instruction according to Abraham.
One of the reasons the rich man found himself in hell is that he did not believe God’s word. Even suffering there, he still did not believe in its power to save.
Luke 16:30 And he said, ‘No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’
Here was the kind of man who never really understood the point of going to a worship service and listening to someone teach the Scriptures on the Lord’s Day. He valued his own skepticism towards spiritual truth. Indeed, he was proud of it.
Ultimately this is what kept him out of glory: his lack of compassion towards others was simply the outward evidence of his inner unbelief.
The rich man knew his brothers well enough to understand that they did not believe the Bible any more than he did. But what if God tried a different approach with them?
The second prayer that is refused in hell is the prayer for an alternative sign.
What if a ghost came and preached to them? Surely they would have to sit up and take notice, right?
Not even a spectacular sign like one returning from the dead can change those whose hearts are set against God’s word.