The Rich Man and Lazarus

One day Jesus told a story that tells what happens to a person's spirit when he dies. He said, "There was a rich man who always dressed in the best clothes. Everyday he had a lot to eat. At his gate lay a poor man named Lazarus who was covered with sores. Lazarus wanted to eat the pieces of food that fell off the rich man's table. And the dogs came and licked his sores. When the poor man died angels carried his spirit to lie beside Abraham. The rich man also died and was buried. Now in that unseen world of the spirits of the dead that is called Hades, the rich man looked around. He found that he was being tortured in a fire. A long way off he saw Abraham with Lazarus lying next to him. So he called out, Father Abraham have mercy on me! Send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue with it, because I am suffering in this fire. But Abraham answered, "My child, remember that in your life you got the good things and Lazarus the bad things. But now he is being comforted while you are suffering. Besides, between us and all of you there is a deep canyon, which no one from here can cross over to you. And no person can come over to us from there." Then the rich man said, "I ask you then, father, to send Lazarus to my father's house. For I have five brothers still alive; he could warn them so they would not come to this place of torture. But Abraham said, "They have the writings of Moses and the Prophets. Let them listen to them. The rich man replied, "No, Father Abraham; if someone came back from the dead, they would change their lives. But Abraham said, "if they will not listen to the writings of Moses and the Prophets, they would not be convinced if someone should arise from the dead."

From this story we learn several things. First when a person dies, his spirit goes to the unseen world called Hades. For some people this is a time of rest and for others it is a time of pain. Second, there is no way a person can change where he will go after he dies. We must live for God in this world. Third, spirits cannot come back from the dead. In those cases where people think they see ghosts either their mind is tricking them or an evil spirit is pretending to be a spirit of the dead. Fourth, if the spirit could come back, they would warn people to change their lives and do what God says. But if people will not listen to what God says in the bible, they would not listen even if a spirit really did appear to them. Let us make sure that we listen to and obey God's word, so that we may go to the place of rest when we die.

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