Christ's Object Lessons
by Ellen G. White
Chapter 21: "A Great Gulf Fixed"
Based on Luke 16:19-31
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Christ
shows that in this life men decide their eternal destiny.
During probationary time the grace of God is offered to
every soul. But if men waste their opportunities in
self-pleasing, they cut themselves off from everlasting life.
No afterprobation will be granted them. By their own choice
they have fixed an impassable gulf between them and their
|Lazarus Begging.—Davis Collection.|
This parable draws a contrast between the rich who
have not made God their dependence, and the poor who
have made God their dependence. Christ shows that
the time is coming when the position of the two classes will
be reversed. Those who are poor in this world's goods,
yet who trust in God and are patient in suffering, will one
day be exalted above those who now hold the highest
positions the world can give but who have not surrendered
their life to God.
"There was a certain rich man," Christ said, "which
was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously
every day. And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, [p. 261] 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."
The rich man did not belong to the class represented
by the unjust judge, who openly declared his disregard for
God and man. He claimed to be a son of Abraham. He
did not treat the beggar with violence or require him to go
away because the sight of him was disagreeable. If the
poor, loathsome specimen of humanity could be comforted
by beholding him as he entered his gates, the rich man
was willing that he should remain. But he was selfishly
indifferent to the needs of his suffering brother.
There were then no hospitals in which the sick might be
cared for. The suffering and needy were brought to the
notice of those to whom the Lord had entrusted wealth,
that they might receive help and sympathy. Thus it was
with the beggar and the rich man. Lazarus was in great
need of help; for he was without friends, home, money, or
food. Yet he was allowed to remain in this condition day
after day, while the wealthy nobleman had every want
supplied. The one who was abundantly able to relieve the
sufferings of his fellow creature, lived to himself, as many
There are today close beside us many who are hungry,
naked, and homeless. A neglect to impart of our means
to these needy, suffering ones places upon us a burden of
guilt which we shall one day fear to meet. All covetousness
is condemned as idolatry. All selfish indulgence is an
offense in God's sight.
God had made the rich man a steward of His means,
and it was his duty to attend to just such cases as that of
the beggar. The command had been given, "Thou shalt
love the Lord thy God with all thine heart, and with all
thy soul, and with all thy might" (Deut. 6:5); and "thou
shalt love thy neighbor as thyself" (Lev. 19:18). The [p. 262] rich man was a Jew, and he was acquainted with the
command of God. But he forgot that he was accountable for
the use of his entrusted means and capabilities. The Lord's
blessings rested upon him abundantly, but he employed
them selfishly, to honor himself, not his Maker. In proportion
to his abundance was his obligation to use his gifts for
the uplifting of humanity. This was the Lord's command,
but the rich man had no thought of his obligation to God.
He lent money, and took interest for what he loaned; but he
returned no interest for what God had lent him. He had
knowledge and talents, but did not improve them.
Forgetful of his accountability to God, he devoted all his
powers to pleasure. Everything with which he was
surrounded, his round of amusements, the praise and flattery
of his friends, ministered to his selfish enjoyment. So
engrossed was he in the society of his friends that he lost
all sense of his responsibility to co-operate with God in
His ministry of mercy. He had opportunity to understand
the word of God, and to practice its teachings; but the
pleasure-loving society he chose so occupied his time that
he forgot the God of eternity.
The time came when a change took place in the
condition of the two men. The poor man had suffered day
by day, but he had patiently and quietly endured. In the
course of time he died and was buried. There was no one
to mourn for him; but by his patience in suffering he had
witnessed for Christ, he had endured the test of his faith,
and at his death he is represented as being carried by the
angels into Abraham's bosom.
Lazarus represents the suffering poor who believe in
Christ. When the trumpet sounds and all that are in the
graves hear Christ's voice and come forth, they will receive
their reward; for their faith in God was not a mere theory,
but a reality. [p. 263]
"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."
In this parable Christ was meeting the people on
their own ground. The doctrine of a conscious state of
existence between death and the resurrection was held by
many of those who were listening to Christ's words. The
Saviour knew of their ideas, and He framed His parable so
as to inculcate important truths through these preconceived
opinions. He held up before His hearers a mirror wherein
they might see themselves in their true relation to God.
He used the prevailing opinion to convey the idea He
wished to make prominent to all—that no man is valued
for his possessions; for all he has belongs to him only as
lent by the Lord. A misuse of these gifts will place him
below the poorest and most afflicted man who loves God
and trusts in Him.
Christ desires His hearers to understand that it is
impossible for men to secure the salvation of the soul after
death. "Son," Abraham is represented as answering,
"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 can not; neither
can they pass to us, that would come from thence." Thus
Christ represented the hopelessness of looking for a second
probation. This life is the only time given to man in which
to prepare for eternity.
< Prev T. of C.
... Next >