This morning, we live in a "not good enough" world. Economically, people's financial situation is never good enough as they always want more. Socially, people complain about things not being good enough with their spouse, children, friends, etc. Politically, those in offices of authority over us do not ever measure up to either expectations or their own promises. Sadly, these ideas of culture spill over into church thinking. Today, people in church desire the "good old days" when preachers preached a certain way, buildings had more attendants than they do today, and meetings seemed "more spiritual." While there are generally kernels of truth in most of these thoughts – politicians could do a better job, our relationships with family and friends could be improved, and churches could certainly be more vibrant than we are at times – that does not excuse or justify that we fail to follow the injunction from Scripture to have godliness and be content. (I Timothy 6:6) However, a prevailing mindset with some today about God, His church, His Book, and spiritual matters in general is seen from the lens of the "not good enough" viewpoint.
Our study verse is found at the end of Christ's discourse on the rich man and Lazarus. Since it is not our point of the study today to examine this story in detail, we suffice to say that this account reads like a literal account of two real men that lived and died. Christ shows not only their life on earth but the end result in eternity: one is in heaven and the other in hell. Before moving to our thought of the day, should one read this as a figurative story that is not talking about two real people, consider that such a premise still does not change the fact that Christ's parables are never based in imagination. Whether He is talking about a sower of seeds, net with fish, labourers in a field, etc., He always takes real situations to teach His points. So, should this story not be about two real men, we have every Scriptural precedent and pattern to believe that His description of the afterlife is nothing short of a real situation that will be experienced just as He laid it out. People will really live in the comfort, peace, and love of Abraham's bosom (heaven), while others will really and truly experience the flames and torments of punishment (hell).
Leading up to our verse, the rich men begs Abraham to send Lazarus back to earth to warn his brethren to "save themselves" from coming to the awful place he now inhabits. Abraham's response to him is that they have the law and the prophets. Let your brethren hear them. When the rich man makes a second plea, he exposes the faulty logic that our study verse will then address. His logic is that the law and the prophets are not good enough. One coming back from the dead will be good enough to accomplish this – he thinks. In our verse, Abraham informs the rich man that if what he thinks is not good enough will not work, what he thinks is good enough will not work or be good enough either.
While the rich man's thoughts come from a non-elect suffering the flames of hell, his mentality is not regulated to the wicked unregenerate man. All of us – even post-regeneration – carry the vestiges of the depraved old man that lead to this kind of faulty and unreasonable thinking. Whenever we get in the "not good enough" mindset, we fall prey to not being able to see things honestly and clearly. Have you heard people today, even professed Christians, make the claim that the Bible is not good enough? Just having the written word of God to go by is not sufficient for them? They follow after people that talk about dreams, visions, revelations, etc. More than anything, they seem much like the mob on Mars' Hill that wanted to hear something new.
These people oftentimes will make the claim that if they saw some great sign like the Bible talks about, they would be amazed and follow it wholeheartedly. Truly, they would declare that if someone came back from the dead, they would believe. If they had seen Lazarus come back in John 11 from the dead, they would rejoice and accept the message. However, that mindset of thinking is never permanent. People who follow after amazement and emotional tickling never perpetually follow what they rejoiced in for a season. Permanence comes from something that we follow for reasons other than those. Whenever people's "amazement and 'Wow!' meter" is ramped up, they expect it to stay that way, and when it goes back down, they look for other ways to ramp it up again. Maybe a resurrection today is seemingly good enough, but does that heightened sense of emotion content for tomorrow or the next day?
What did our examples do? Paul tells us in I Corinthians 10 that the children of Israel in Moses' day were an example for us not to follow. They saw repeated signs, miracles, and wonders, but after the "Wow-o-meter" went down, they quickly forgot the glory and majesty of the experience. Things became not good enough anymore. Are we any different today? The Lord blesses repeatedly, and sometimes we stand back in wonder at the gracious kindness of the Master. Then, things are never good enough anymore. Eventually, it takes more and more to even impress us anymore. So, how do we take Abraham's words to the rich man and see that what we have is sufficient for our present needs?
Obviously, the rich man also had faulty logic in thinking that his brethren could do something to save themselves from hell, as the salvation from hell is accomplished by Christ wholly apart from human aid or action. However, passing over that point, Abraham's statement is applicable generally to all today. If someone refuses to hear the law and the prophets, they will not hear one though he came back from the dead. Why? When people refuse to accept Biblical testimony (law and prophets included), why does that insufficiency immediately condemn the sufficiency of a literal resurrection?
Considering the testimony of a resurrected person, that testimony will only be believed if one truly believes their circumstance. In other words, do they really believe he was dead? Do they really believe that he has been resurrected? What evidence would it take for them to accept it? Seeing him come out of the grave? There has to be some measurable amount of faith (confidence) that his case is true for one to accept his testimony. To believe the man's case takes some amount of faith. To believe Biblical testimony, it takes faith to see and accept the evidence that these accounts within the pages are verily real and infallible. It takes faith to perceive that references to the dead rising are in fact real. It takes faith to perceive that the story of Jesus Christ – as testified and prophesied by the law and the prophets (Romans 3:21-22) – is verily a true story about His majesty, greatness, and power.
To draw the two points together, the heart and soul of the law and the prophets is a testimony of Jesus Christ. The heart and soul of His course here on earth for us centers on His literal and bodily resurrection. Paul staked his gospel message on the testimony of the Scriptures of the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. (I Corinthians 15:1-3) The testimony of Scriptures are hinged upon the reality of Christ's resurrection. Without that, the whole story is not worth anything. Everything in Scripture points to that blessed event and takes from that a forward looking glance to the final resurrection of the family of God to righteousness and joy and the wicked to everlasting punishment. If someone denies that testimony, they are – in fact – denying the power, reality, and manifestation of the resurrection of the dead. So, why would they believe another testimony about the same thing? Point of fact, as Abraham declares, they would not, nor do many today.
Friends, we live in a world that is never satisfied, never content, and will never be in peace. Since there will never be a utopia on this earth, may we seek to live contented lives looking forward to complete satisfaction in the world to come. Do we have all we need? Positively and certifiably we do. The evidence of our sufficiency is found within the cover of the Book we call the Bible that tells of One who conquered over death, hell, and the grave for us. Because He triumphed, we triumphed with Him and through Him. We do not need the testimony of anyone else as we have His. We should not be looking for something new, as the same old story grants all the necessary information to live contented lives walking and talking with the Saviour. Instead of saying, "Things just aren't good enough," may we instead declare, "Thank God that things are not only good enough but greater than anything we could possibly ask or think."