Is the story of The Rich Man and Lazarus literal?
The problem with this position is that the story is given to Pharisees. An even greater problem is that it knows nothing of faith or the cross or of God. Salvation in the story is by poverty.
One day the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. And being in torment in Hades, he looked up and saw Abraham a long way off, with Lazarus at his side.
“‘Son,’ Abraham said, ‘remember that during your life you received your good things, just as Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here, while you are in agony.
Salvation by Poverty?
The other glaring problem is "Abraham's Bosom." How could Adam, Abel, Noah, or even Abraham himself go to Abraham's Bosom? Imagine Abel. He dies and is in a conscious state somewhere that nobody told him about. Cain dies and Abel suddenly sees him being tortured by God by fire? God never warned that. The hope of Adam was deliverance from death not bodiless bliss. If that's the case, rejoice at a child's death.
What God very specifically said to Adam was
- You shall surely die
- For you are dust, and you will return to dust
That is the curse. The Lord calls death "the last enemy" because it was the first enemy. Death was conquered and will one day be no more. There is no hint of a fiery torture chamber wherein God metes out unending pain. The Pharisees called it "Abraham's Bosom" because they were "the children of Abraham." They make no explanation of Adam, Abel, Noah, etc. as they placed their fate on being the children of Abraham. Another contradiction to their doctrine of chambers.
Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not begin to say to yourselves, ‘We have Abraham as our father.’ For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones.
"We shall not all sleep." Who cares if death means eternal bliss?
What was the punishment for not taking the Lord's Supper "worthily?" Death, which is referred to as sleep in 1 Cor 11:29-30. Now, what kind of punishment is "eternal bliss in the presence of God?" if that is what death is? It would be a stupid warning. (BONUS! This does not happen today, that age has closed. Unless you know "many" dead from not taking the Lord's Supper correctly).
For he who eats and drinks in an unworthy manner eats and drinks judgment to himself, not discerning the Lord’s body. For this reason many are weak and sick among you, and MANY sleep.
The doctrine of God torturing most of his creation with merciless fire is an abominable heresy. It means that anyone you know who dies outside the Lord is now being tortured by the Lord without end, without mercy. Not only that, you should rejoice that this is the case. It is pure justice, right? It is God's righteousness, correct? There is no mercy we can have. God has none for them, why should we?////
When an unbeliever dies, no matter anything else, those who hold to eternal fiery torment by God should rejoice and praise God that the deceased is being tortured by God, without hope. That is the conclusion RC Sproul had to come to. It's horrifying and an indictment of God's character. But to be consistent, he had to say we should rejoice in seeing billions in God's torture chamber.
Further, if you feel any sympathy for the deceased, it is sin. It is a condemnation of God's justice (in that paradigm). The "obedient" believer, to have the mind of God, must rejoice in God's justice, without mercy.
Luke 16 is not an affirmation of a never-mentioned torture chamber, it is a condemnation of a hypocritical Pharisaical doctrine. They preached to the people that poverty was good for them (they themselves being rich). The Lord was not revealing truth to the Pharisees, he was exposing their hypocrisy.
The Lord references that hades will not prevail in Matt 16. That is simply the state of death. The context of Matthew 16 is the profession of faith made by Peter, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.”. The grave will not hold in (prevail) against such a profession. Gates do not attack anything.
The Lord is partly quoting Isaiah 38:10 ("gates of Sheol/Hades"), words spoken by good king Hezekiah. He was facing death. He was anticipating being in a state of death in Sheol/Hades. He wasn't rejoicing over it! Professed Christians today have parties when someone dies because he/she is supposedly in bliss beyond our comprehension. So, isn't mourning them an act of selfishness and even stupidity?
If my mother was whisked off to the Italian Riviera, with only bliss and happiness and perfect health waiting for her and the only condition is that she couldn't talk with me until I arrived some years later, would I weep in despair? Would I wish her back?
Why do men suppose the Gates of Hades in either context is a place of Satanic warfare? Men teach that Satan has some sort of HQ in Hades whence he attacks us. Mythological nonsense. But it's the same mythology behind the idea of God-run torture chamber.
What would the Gates of Hades mean in a two-chamber construct? Is it the good side or the bad side that won't prevail? The bad side is just people being "justly" tortured by God. The good side is awesomeness and comfort. The resurrection becomes a footnote. What's going to not prevail and over what?
The Lord concludes his scathing indictment of the Pharisees by saying they would not believe "even if one rose from the dead." The resurrection is the conquering of death, not someplace called "Abraham's Bosom." And there is no teaching in the Acts or Epistles of some chamber of hell being brought to heaven. To date, there has been only one resurrection. Some have come back from the dead, but not into immortal bodies. The resurrection is yet future (1 Cor 15).
I won't lay it out again, but if the Lord was in some bodiless state in Abraham's Bosom, he is now, at least, a dual being. Adding in the "spirit" going back to the Father, he becomes triune on his own. That makes the Trinity now a 5-part God. No. The Lord was in the heart of the earth as he said he would be. Period.
Death is like sleep. This is clear in both the OT and NT. The resurrection isn't an asterisk on a reward. It is not a non-event of little significance. It is the undoing of the curse. It is everything.
For to him that is joined to all the living there is hope: for a living dog is better than a dead lion. For the living know that they shall die: but the dead know not any thing, neither have they any more a reward; for the memory of them is forgotten.