“And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.” – Luke 16:19-31
Jesus tells a parable about a rich man and a very poor man in which he intends to teach us personally relevant truths, which we do well to hear. The poor man has a name: Lazarus. The rich man does not. The major truth in the parable is about an impassable chasm separating the rich man and Lazarus after their recent deaths. Lazarus cannot go to the rich man nor the rich man to him that Lazarus might alleviate his post-death misery with a drop of water for the rich man’s parched lips. The chasm also separates both Lazarus and the rich man from their previous life-relationships and communication prior to death, for the rich man has no way to speak to his brothers warning them about what they truly face after death; something the rich man now knows himself all too well.
The rich man thought, since his brothers knew Lazarus had died, if Lazarus could be sent back to warn them the shock of seeing him alive would get their attention. They would then believe what he had to say. But the rich man is told that the nature of unbelief is such that even a man returning from the dead would not persuade them to believe. If they refused to believe Moses and the prophets, they will not believe the warning of a resurrected Lazarus!
It is hard for us to grasp the impenetrable manner of unbelief. But this is its hardened nature. This explains for us Jesus’ conversation with Nicodemus in which Jesus says emphatically, “Nicodemus, if you want to see the kingdom of God, if you want to believe, you must be born again!” The power of the Spirit of God must pierce your unbelief and regenerate your heart before you will be able to believe the truth. This Jesus tells him in no uncertain terms.
Preaching or witness that is not drawn specifically from the content of the written Word of God, from the Gospel and Epistle accounts of the Bible, will not persuade one to believe. The Spirit bears witness to the truth of God’s spoken and written Word and He accompanies those words with power to believe. These written words are called The Faith once delivered to the saints! Another message, one which is extra-biblical, will never produce saving faith!
This fixed chasm does not allow communication from those on the other side of life to those still in this life. Such communication would take away the essential requirement of faith. We are not saved by sight; we are saved by faith! There is still the opportunity to believe when still in this life, but the standing you possess as a believer or as an unbeliever is fixed by your death for eternity. This parable of Jesus reaffirms this truth.
So the chasm is fixed verbally, consciously and “geographically,” that is, where you are positioned spiritually when you die. Faith is the conduit of your salvation in this life. And as Jesus says, you must be born again! Your faith must persevere pursuing this new birth until it takes place. Regeneration and the faith which accompanies it brings with it an assurance of salvation. Jesus promises to anyone who earnestly seeks Him, they will find Him. And He assures them, “If you EARNESTLY seek me, I will in no way cast you out!”
Pursuing Him with everything in you is the answer, if you desire to be found in Him when you die or when He comes again!
“Long my imprisoned spirit lay fast bound in sin and nature’s night; thine eye diffused a quickening ray; I woke, the dungeon flamed with light; my chains fell off, my heart was free; I rose, went forth, and followed thee. Amazing love! How can it be that thou, my God, shouldst die for me?”
(Verse 4 of Charles Wesley’s hymn, “And Can It Be That I Should Gain,” 1738)