Great is Thy Faithfulness: A Modern Day Lazarus Experience
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And we must approach Christ in these two ways that his beloved friends approached him. Mary sat still in the house: we must pray, we must develop within ourselves great love, great fervor, unshakable belief. We must also be active in our faith. We must go to Christ. We must beg Him for the things we need.
And we must live according to the way He has told us to live. He has told us, live within the ark of the church, to fast, to pray, to partake of all the things that the church has given us.
Great is Thy Faithfulness; A Modern Day Lazarus Experience by Patrick Hawthorne
This is the activity that Martha points to. Both are necessary.
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Neither one is enough to save a soul. We must have fervent belief, and we must live within that belief. Slightly more than seven days from now -- no, actually it will be Friday evening -- I will read a sermon of Saint Epiphanius  in which he speaks of when Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life, when down into Hades. We have a taste of that today. We should meditate very carefully, and think what it would be like to be in the depths of Hades, to be in the depths of hopelessness, to see our flesh and see how weak it is, and for God to say, "Come forth", and break everything that is holding us fast.
A Christian must really understand this. This is what the resurrection means for us. It is how we reach our perfection. It is very painful. It is painful for me, and I tell you, it might sound strange, but I hope and I pray that it is painful for you.
I hope that you see the uselessness of so much in what we call this life, that you see the depravity, both in yourself and outside of yourself, and that you long to be made whole, to be made complete. A Christian must be like that. He must be like a stranger in a strange land, like Moses.
He must consider himself to only be passing through on the way to the heavenly city, to Zion, to Jerusalem, to perfection. This is what we are going after, you know. And we see that God can perfect. He didn't just raise Himself from the dead; He raised us from the dead. This must be understood. And it's not just something you read in a book and understand. It's not just a point of doctrine or a question to be answered.
It's in the heart. If you know that God raised you from the dead, you won't want to do anything but to become like Him, and you will know that you can become like Him. You have been promised that you can become like Him. This is the meaning of the resurrection. This is why God raised Lazarus from the dead. To show us the power of the resurrection in us, because we're weak. He knows. We might say, "He did it, but he is God. So how does that apply to me? This is why Lazarus was raised from the dead.
And it's also why Jesus waited. Not only so Lazarus would die. He certainly, as God, could have arranged that He was near the town, but He was far away from the town and after He was told about Lazarus, He went slowly to Bethany and took four days. He waited so that He could teach us something that is very important: that we must wait, that we must be patient, that we must have faith even when it appears that things are not as we would wish them to be, and that they won't change.
Jesus Christ can take a man, stinking, from the grave, after four days, and raise him from the dead, He can raise us. But don't believe in the resurrection later; believe in the resurrection now. Live in that belief. Try to change because of that belief. Believe that you can be changed. I don't care what it is that assails you.
God can heal you. Not later, but now.
Great is Thy Faithfulness; A Modern Day Lazarus Experience
Don't believe in the resurrection -- later. Believe in the resurrection and the life, Who is with us, now. They talked. This account is not given to substantiate life after death, but it does present a secondary truth. There is life after death and before the resurrection. Two thieves were crucified with Christ. In the last moments of life one of the thieves turned to Jesus and said, "Lord, remember me when thou comest into thy kingdom.
And Jesus said unto him, Verily I say unto thee, Today shalt thou be with me in paradise. The thief was conscious. He realized that very day the fulfillment of Christ's promise. As Jesus was dying on the cross he, ". Therefore being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spake of the resurrection of Christ, that his soul was not left in hell, neither his flesh did see corruption.
But if I live in the flesh, this is the fruit of my labour: yet what I shall choose I wot not. For I am in a strait betwixt two, having a desire to depart, and to be with Christ; which is far better: Nevertheless to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Ecclesiastes Moses speaks of Rachael as she was dying, while giving birth to Benjamin, "And it came to pass, as her soul was in departing, for she died that she called his name Benoni: but his father called him Benjamin.
Luke There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores, And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; And in hell he lift up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom.
And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented.
And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father's house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.
And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. This is a true story; it is not a parable. According to Jesus, two men lived, two men died and their souls went into another world? Proper names are used Lazarus, Abraham, Moses, and a certain rich man.
The rich man had five brothers who were still alive on earth; therefore it is not the judgment scene at the end of time. In fact these events took place while the Law of Moses and the prophets were still in effect. It was before Christ died on the cross. It may well have been when Jesus was with God before he was born. John The account of the rich Man and Lazarus indicates that there is an intermediate state between death and the resurrection. I believe that this account is giving us a glimpse into the unseen realm of the spirits, a glimpse no man has had before this time.
He makes a specific affirmation, ". There was a certain Rich Man. There was a certain beggar named Lazarus. Both men lived, and both men died. Angels carried the beggar to Abraham's bosom where he was comforted. The rich man lifted up his eyes in torment. Do the dead have any power over our lives? Some believe that the souls of the departed loved ones are making intercession for those alive on earth.
Some believe that the departed "saints" hold a special place of honor with God because of the good they did while on earth. And because of this, they are able to intercede for a person here below. They claimed that they could help you with the "little" things while God is busy elsewhere.
When the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God cried out to God, they were told to be patient until God worked his plan. They could not bring about justice on their behalf.
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The rich man's prayers were to no avail. The rich man knew how his five brothers were living when he made his exit but there is nothing that indicates that he knows what is transpiring presently. He prayed that Lazarus be sent back to warn his five brothers of this place of torment, but he was told that they had Moses and the prophets and they must hear them. This story makes me wonder when someone has had a near-death-experience and they come back saying that God sent them back to warn others of what lies ahead.
God didn't send Lazarus back why would he send others back. I am in no position to judge what others have experienced. Galatians We have something more substantial to sink our teeth into. We not only have Moses and the prophets but we have Jesus Christ and his resurrection from the dead speaking to us presently. Acts And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent: Because he hath appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained; whereof he hath given assurance unto all men, in that he hath raised him from the dead.
And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked: and others said, We will hear thee again of this matter. Can the dead answer our prayers? These scriptures reveal that prayers to the dead departed saints will not accomplish anything for us. They don't know what is transpiring on earth and they have no part in anything that goes on under the sun forever.
The dead do not know what is transpiring on earth and they have no power to change our lives. In Ecclesiastes Solomon writes, "For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten. Also their love, and their hatred, and their envy, is now perished; neither have they any more a portion for ever in any thing that is done under the sun.
These scriptures show that the dead cannot hear our prayers. Many times it is difficult to accept the fact that a separation or departure has taken place. It is easier for many to believe that the soul of a departed loved one is constantly with them. Some take Hebrews to mean that we are compassed with a cloud of witnesses to mean that these witnesses spoken of are our departed loved ones. Therefore they think that they can feel them nearby in times of need. They believe that the departed loved ones are mystically imparting power to the living. Yet other passages teach that the dead can work neither good nor evil to the living.
They have no power on earth.
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Hebrews says, "Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us. They continue to surround us and speak to us posthumously. In Hebrews the writer says, "By faith Abel offered unto God a more excellent sacrifice than Cain, by which he obtained witness that he was righteous, God testifying of his gifts: and by it he being dead yet speaketh. As we read the Bible these lives continue to surround and speak to us posthumously. The rich man communicated with those on the other side of the gulf.
The rich man recognized Lazarus. If you know someone who is about to depart this life, it seems that you could tell them to give a message to a love one who has already made the journey. Of course you are not going to receive an answer back. In our congregation we had a young lady who was on her deathbed only a couple of hours from death.
Her life long friend asks her to say hello to her mother-in-law who had just passed away a short time before.
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She told her that she would. My mother was passing from this life and as she was taking her last breath, I asked her to say hello to my dad. Is there memory in the next life? Abraham told the rich man, "remember in your life time"; there was memory of how he had lived. John wrote, "And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.
The story of the rich man and Lazarus teaches that there is reward as well as punishment for how we have lived while on earth. The rich man was in torment and Lazarus was in paradise.