Jesus told many stories. Some of them were parables, as in
the lost sheep and the lost coin (Luke 15:1-10), the tenants in Luke 20, and
the ten minas in Luke 19. Jesus also told true stories like the rich man and
Lazarus in Luke 16. We also have stories of real encounters with people: Nicodemus
in John 3, the rich young ruler in Mark 10, and the woman at the well in John

Let’s look at one of the true stories:

“There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine
linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named
Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s
table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar
died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and
was buried. In hell, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far
away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity
on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my
tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son,
remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus
received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And
besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, so that
those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from
there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my father’s
house, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also
come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the
Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if
someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they
do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if
someone rises from the dead’” (Luke 16:19-31).

This is not a parable. Lazarus is named, as is Abraham. This
is history. This is not a picture; this is the real thing.

Judgment is instantaneous upon the deaths of the rich man
and Lazarus. There is no second chance after death. The gulf is fixed. Jesus
said so. And if this was only a parable, the real thing would be even worse.

There is a real place of punishment and a real place of
happiness, and it starts when we die.

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