“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 16.31 NIV).
“I want to ask you something, Mommy,” my eight year old son said from the backseat of our SUV.
“What’s up?” I asked.
He hesitated. “Huh, nevermind.”
When my son becomes wary about asking a question, I know that it is important. “Why don’t you ask me at home.”
“Okay,” he said.
There were a lot of people with us and the car ride home was noisy. I knew he was struggling with something, so I wanted to make sure that we were alone and the atmosphere was quiet before we talked about it.
When we got home, he led me to his room and opened his Bible to his reading from the day before. “Why doesn’t Abraham let Lazarus warn the Rich Man’s brothers about hell?” He finally asked. “I thought the Holy Spirit wants to forgive us.”
I read Luke 16.19-31 with my son. It was the story about Lazarus and the Rich Man — not quite a parable because Jesus uses a person’s name (the same name of a friend He literally raises from the dead).
“Why is the Holy Spirit not forgiving the people? I thought the Holy Spirit loves us!” my son said obviously upset.
I paused for a second, considering my words. I knew this was an special moment. “Jesus died for everyone’s sins, and the Holy Spirit wants all of us to receive salvation. But we must choose to accept it.”
He still looked confused.
I continued. “If I bought you a gift, but you refused to take it, would you have it?”
He thought. “No.”
“No, you wouldn’t. You must accept the gift for it to be yours. The Holy Spirit offers Jesus’ sacrifice to the rich and the poor, but they must choose to receive it,” I said hoping he would understand my metaphor.
“But why wouldn’t Abraham let Lazarus come back from the dead. If people saw him, they would believe and be saved?”
“No, people still wouldn’t believe,” I answered.
“How do you know?” he asked.
“Because God came into this world in the form of Jesus and died for our sins, experiencing separation from God Himself! Jesus then came back to earth three days later, and over 500 people saw Him (1 Cor 15.6). Jesus told all His disciples to tell everyone around the world that He died and came back to life to save us. But you know what?”
“What?” he asked with his eyes wide.
I leaned forward and whispered. “People still didn’t believe Him. Jesus died and came back to life to warn us about a big chasm that separates us from God, but many people did not accept His gift of salvation (Luke 16.26). Jesus loves all of us, and He took all of our sins and gave all of us His righteousness. But many people will not accept the gift. And when they die, they cannot be born into the presence of God because they are not perfect like Jesus. They are born on the other side of the chasm, which we call hell, but it simply means the absence of God.”
“Why can’t we be perfect?” he asked.
“Because God gave us free-will to choose, and sometimes we choose to do things that are wrong. But Jesus took our mistakes and gave us His perfection. And guess what?” I asked.
“All we have to do is accept Jesus’ perfection as our own. It’s a free gift.”
“But I can’t see the gift. How do I know it’s real?” he asked.
“Can you see my love for you?”
“No,” he said.
“Then how do you know my love for you is real?”
He sat quietly.
“It’s called faith. You believe it without seeing it. That’s what we do for Jesus’ gift of salvation–we believe even though we can’t see it. We are made righteous not when we are perfect, but when we believe by faith!”
“I wish Jesus would just hurry up and come back again,” my son said.
“Not yet,” I said. “There’s still time.”
“Time for what, Mommy?” he asked.
“There’s time to tell everyone that our Creator became human and died and came back to life, so that when we are born into eternity, we will be in heaven where God is. We must tell everyone about Jesus because He loves all His children and He wants us all to spend eternity with Him. That’s why we are here: to bring as many people with us to heaven as possible. Jesus is the only way.”
“What will heaven be like?” he asked getting excited.
“I don’t know, but it will be pretty cool!”
“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the condemn the world, but to save the world through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe stands condemned already because they have not believed in the name of God’s one and only Son” (John 3.16-18).
Dedicated to my my future Kingdom Leader — Isaac!