The article which appeared in the last issue dealt with the question whether the teaching of Jesus in Luke 16:19-31 was a parable or a description of some event which had really taken place in Palestine.
I concluded that, for various reasons, this passage of Scripture must indeed be considered a parable. But I also took the opportunity to say a few things about the meaning of the parable, particularly that Jesus in fact included what may be considered two different parables in these verses. I reached this conclusion on the basis of the fact that the section can be divided into two parts, both of which teach a different truth.
The first part, vss. 19-27, teaches the dreadful consequences of the sin of covetousness. The second part, vss. 28-31, teaches the truth of the sufficiency of the gospel.
The discussion in the last issue pointed out that the rich man really was blaming God for his punishment in hell. He tried to shift the blame to God by saying, although indirectly, that God had not given him in "Moses and the prophets" a sufficiently good reason to believe the gospel. The rich man pleaded that a special miracle, a ghost, a return of Lazarus from the dead, would succeed in doing what the gospel had not been able to do, namely to bring the rich man's brothers to repentance.
Abraham emphatically refutes that position. He points out that Moses and the prophets, i.e., the Old Testament Scriptures, are enough. He states as a fact that if people will not believe Moses and the prophets, nothing in all heaven or earth will persuade them of the truth of the gospel.
That is a truth which needs emphasis today.
It may very well be that I had occasion to discuss this same truth in some earlier issues, but the matter is important enough to repeat, and I ask those who remember the former article to give me this opportunity to say something about this matter once again.
I am not primarily interested in the constant efforts made by some in the church to add to the gospel (as the Charismatics do) signs and wonders in the hope that more will be converted; I am not primarily interested in those who soften the gospel to an insipid Arminianism (God loves everyone; He wants to save everyone.) in order to make it more palatable. I am interested in the positive truth Jesus drives home in the last part of this parable: The gospel is God's means of salvation, and in that gospel we must trust.
We are often of the opinion that many do not believe the gospel because the proof is inadequate or the presentation of it ineffective. Many suggest this, for example, when they claim that evolutionists must be answered by proof from the creation itself. Or, scholars will be persuaded of their errors of higher criticism only when they are answered in a scholarly way -- whatever scholarly may mean. Or, if only the ark could be found on Ararat, people would believe in the story of Noah and the ark.
But these assertions are not so. The reason why men do not believe the gospel is not lack of sufficient proof, or evidence, or information. The reason for rejection of the gospel lies in man's wicked and depraved heart. He hates God and will have nothing to do with God. All the evidence in the world of the truth of the gospel will not alter his opinion, for no one is so blind as he who will not see -- and the will is bound by sin.
If the ark would be found and it could be proved to be Noah's ark, the situation in this unbelieving world would not be altered one whit. If the angel Gabriel should appear in all his glory to announce to men that evolutionism is a terrible lie, not one man would change his mind. If Christ Himself would appear again on earth to preach the gospel, the "Christian" countries of Europe and America would conspire together as Herod and Pilate did to put Him to death. If a voice from heaven would testify, "This is my beloved Son," the meteorologists would tell us that it thundered.
Only God can change the heart of man from one filled with hate to one filled with love for God. How does God do that? He does that in only one way: The gospel! The gospel is the power of God unto salvation to all who believe (Rom. 1:16).
Such a truth has vast implications in the life of the believer. Every believer is a true prophet. In that office he is able to stand up against the most learned of the wicked and defend the gospel regardless of the circumstances. He need only appeal to Scripture and point men to Scripture's testimony. Indeed, he does disservice to the cause of the gospel should he do anything else. The gospel saves, not learned arguments or empirical proof. And the gospel saves because God saves through the gospel.
We must trust in that gospel believing that through it God accomplishes His purpose.
- Volume: 7
- Issue: 12
Prof. Herman Hanko (Wife: Wilma)
Ordained: October 1955
Pastorates: Hope, Walker, MI - 1955; Doon, IA - 1963; Professor to the Protestant Reformed Seminary - 1965
Emeritus: 2001Website: www.sermonaudio.com/search.asp?speakeronly=true&currsection=sermonsspeaker&keyword=Prof._Herman_Hanko
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