Pauls Footsteps #285

“And because of Abraham’s faith, God counted him as righteous. And when God counted him as righteous, it wasn’t just for Abraham’s benefit. It was recorded for our benefit, too, assuring us that God will also count us as righteous if we believe in him, the one who raised Jesus our Lord from the dead.”Rom.4:22-24.NLT

PS before we begin. Due to the fact that I was not leaving the program running long enough for 180 SMS’s to file through the portal some have been missing out. Easy fix: change the number on the https://smlr.nu/footsteps-2XXlink and it will give you the missing link.

Footsteps #285 In both Romans 2 & 4 we have noted that Paul is adamant that Jewish heritage is not a way of salvation. Paul had done the same thing that Jesus taught in His parable of The Rich Man and Lazarus (Luke.16:19-31.) We cannot isolate this story from its context of 5 successive parables. The Jewish concept at the time was that affluence was a sign of God’s blessing and poverty was a sign of God’s displeasure. With His short, allegorical story designed to convey a moral lesson, Jesus turned this theology on its head by having the beggar in heaven and Lazarus in hades – the place of the dead. Jesus (like Paul) was teaching that heritage was not an automatic entrance to heaven. Some would like to make more of this ‘parable’ by pressing the details, but that, on close examination, is not what Jesus was saying. It would also contradict a plethora of scripture on the subject. Luke.16:23 uses the term Hades, which was the grave. Had Jesus wanted to use ‘the burning place’ He would have used the word Gehenna, which was the rubbish dump outside Jerusalem, sometimes translated as Hell in e.g. the KJV. Clearly, this is figurative, because heaven and hell were in speaking distance(v24), and the beggar went to the bosom of Abraham, not God(v22.)  

There is irony in vs27-31 because someone by the name of Lazarus was soon to return from the dead and they did not believe him (John.11:1-44.) If we were to take this parable literally the one before it (Luke.16:1-15.) would be commending dishonesty and lies – and I’m sure Jesus didn’t intend that interpretation. There is much more that could be said on this parable that space does not allow, but you are welcome to ask for more elaboration. 

Both parables in Luke 16 are teaching the importance of using present opportunities to turn our thoughts towards eternity. Life and death is a choice set before everyone, yet we reveal in this life our fitness for that life to come. The rich man was not condemned for riches but for selfishness. The rich Jews had hoarded the truth but were spiritually impoverished.

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