Q I heard this pastor say that, in Luke 16:19-31, Abraham’s bosom was in Heaven because the angels took the beggar to Heaven while the rich man went to Hell and torment. I have been teaching that this is NOT a parable but truth because Jesus uses names which He doesn’t do in His parables. If this is true, then the rich man can see into Heaven and talk with Abraham who is in Heaven. That can’t be true.
by Pastor Matt Ritchey, Managing Editor
Estimated Time to Read: 4 Minutes
ANSWER: Parables are illustrative real-to-life stories that teach an important truth. In other words, you won’t find talking animals in a parable, for animals do not speak in real life. There is no definitive rule (other than the one made up by theologians) to say that parables cannot be an actual event used to teach an important truth. This is the case with the story of the rich man and Lazarus. It is a true parable told to teach an important truth to the disciples.
As explained in the previous question, Abraham did not go to Heaven. He went to Paradise, which is the blessed side of Sheol across the dividing chasm from the torment side. Maybe it would help to picture two houses separated by a big field. Keep this in mind.
Did Lazarus go to Heaven?
There are two main reasons that people teach that Lazarus went to Heaven. First, it comes from not recognizing that the destination of Heaven was unique to Paul’s message of Grace. No believer expected to go up to Heaven before Jesus Christ unveiled it in the Mystery message.
The second reason has to do with the statement that the rich man “lift up his eyes” (Lk. 16:23). Returning to the mention of the two houses separated by a large field, now picture you owned one of the houses. You are sitting on your wrap-around porch in your rocking chair as you read the newspaper (or check the news app on your phone). You happen to lift up your eyes and notice your neighbor mowing his grass way over yonder. Did you lift up your eyes to the sky above? No, you glanced up and looked across the field. This is what the rich man did in torments. He looked up and saw Abraham and Lazarus way over yonder—not to Heaven but across the chasm.
I suppose another reason people give for Lazarus being in Heaven is the presence of the angels in verse 22, but it says the angels carried him “into” (it could actually be “to”) Abraham’s side. It does not say that the angels carried him “up.”
So, you are correct in both of your conclusions. First, the account of Lazarus and the rich man was a true life event that actually happened, and, second, the rich man was not talking to people in Heaven while he was in torment.
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