Author Topic: Rich man and Lazarus  (Read 2623 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #60 on: September 27, 2022, 11:35:17 PM »
We also approach wealth from a modern, Western view. Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh (Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels) suggest that there was a “limited good” understanding in the first-century Mediterranean world. They write concerning this parable in Matthew 25:14-30:

Because the pie was “limited” and already distributed, an increase in the share of one person automatically meant a loss for someone else. Honorable people, therefore, did not try to get more, and those who did were automatically considered thieves. Noblemen avoided such accusations of getting rich at the expense of others by having their affairs handled by slaves. Such behavior could be condoned in slaves, since slaves were without honor anyway.
 
The third slave buried his master’s money to ensure that it remained intact. This, of course, was the honorable thing for a freeman to do; was it honorable behavior for a slave? Later rabbinic customary law provided that since burying a pledge or deposit was the safest way to care for someone else’s money, if a loss occurred the one burying money had no responsibility.
[p. 149]

They have further thoughts on the “limited good” in an earlier section:

An honorable man would thus be interested only in what was rightfully his and would have no desire to gain anything more, that is, to take what was another’s. Acquisition was, by its very nature, understood as stealing. The ancient Mediterranean attitude was that every rich person is either unjust or the heir of an unjust person (Jerome, In Heiremiam 2.5.2; Corpus Cristianorum Series Latina, LXXIX, 61). Profit making and the acquisition of wealth were automatically assumed to be the result of extortion or fraud. The notion of an honest rich man was a first-century oxymoron. [p. 48]

In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook.

I believe that there is some truth to the limited wealth idea. When a Walmart comes into an area, it's likely that some smaller shops will close. They can't compete. The $500,000-$1,000,000 being spent each week at the Walmart is money that isn't available for the mom and pop store. There is a limited amount of money that is available to spend in each community. When a business takes more of it, there's less for others.

"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Tom Eckstein

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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #61 on: September 28, 2022, 01:36:34 PM »
Just fyi everyone, my take on Luke 16:19-31 above was NOT meant to suggest that most LCMS pastors (or most pastor on this forum) view Luke 16:19-31 as though one finds favor with God based on one's economic status.  I was simply trying to point out that some (many?) lay people view Luke 16:19-31 as though it were suggesting that salvation is based on your earthly financial situation and this confuses them.  Therefore, I think it's important for pastors to help them understand Luke 16:19-31 in light of the wider context of Luke's Gospel and point out that Jesus' story is actually stressing that one's financial situation has NOTHING to do with one's salvation but that we must ALL become beggars before God and trust in Christ who is witnessed to by Moses and the Prophets - and the RESULT of faith in Christ is that we will be moved to give of our wealth to those in need because we have been set free from the evil delusion that our earthly wealth (or lack of it) is a sign of how we stand with God.


And yet you use an economic term for poor people to describe salvation.

The reason I use "beggars" in the spiritual sense is PRECISELY because such a use shows that our earthly financial status has NOTHING to do with our standing before God.  Being rich or poor is not what merits God's favor.  We must all "beg" like the Tax Collector and say:  "God have mercy on me, a sinner!"

Too many people today read Scripture as though being financially POOR means that you are automatically one of God's favored people just as in Jesus' day they wrongly believed that being RICH meant you were one of God's favored people.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2022, 01:48:27 PM by Tom Eckstein »
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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #62 on: September 28, 2022, 01:46:38 PM »
Just fyi everyone, my take on Luke 16:19-31 above was NOT meant to suggest that most LCMS pastors (or most pastor on this forum) view Luke 16:19-31 as though one finds favor with God based on one's economic status.  I was simply trying to point out that some (many?) lay people view Luke 16:19-31 as though it were suggesting that salvation is based on your earthly financial situation and this confuses them.  Therefore, I think it's important for pastors to help them understand Luke 16:19-31 in light of the wider context of Luke's Gospel and point out that Jesus' story is actually stressing that one's financial situation has NOTHING to do with one's salvation but that we must ALL become beggars before God and trust in Christ who is witnessed to by Moses and the Prophets - and the RESULT of faith in Christ is that we will be moved to give of our wealth to those in need because we have been set free from the evil delusion that our earthly wealth (or lack of it) is a sign of how we stand with God.

I think your point goes too far concerning the Lukan narrative. Dave Benke has made some salient points above concerning Luke and the poor. Luke’s narrative makes clear that wealth is or can be problematic for the journey of discipleship. The story of the rich man and Lazarus is preceded by the “Parable of the Dishonest Manager” where Jesus says, “make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.” The rich man clearly did not do that, which is why he was not received into such dwellings. This section of Luke also parallels Jesus’ “Parable of the Rich Fool” in chapter 12, which may also be a subtle reference to Pharaoh and his storehouses. The point is that wealth is a danger to faithful discipleship. Luke writes just before “The Parable of the Rich Man and Lazarus” that the Pharisees were lovers of money and then has Jesus condemning divorce, which was one of how the said group climbed the ladder of social status and acquired more wealth. The point isn’t that if you are rich, you are bad, but that wealth is a challenging thing to be reckoned with as followers of Jesus and should be dealt with intelligently and shrewdly. I should hasten to add that two chapters later, Luke has Zacchaeus (the rich) repaying those he defrauded as an act of repentance, with Jesus declaring that salvation has come to his house. Economic Jubilee is occurring alongside true repentance, hearkening back to Jesus' sermon in the synagogue in Luke 4.

Peace,
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I don't deny that Scripture warns about the danger of loving money.  My point is that one does not have to be rich to be guilty of loving money!
In addition, one reason Jesus warned about wealth was that the erroneous theological view of his day was that riches were a sign that you had merited God's favor.  This false theology is refuted by Jesus' story in Luke 16:19-31, but many Christians today miss this.  In fact, I would argue that today many people are guilty of the same theological error of Jesus' day - except in the REVERSE!  For example, in Jesus' day the Jews would have assumed that the rich man in Jesus' story was the GOOD GUY because his wealth was a sign he had earned God's favor.  However, many people today see Lazarus as the GOOD GUY precisely because he's poor and NOT because he is a believer who trusts in God as His "helper" (the meaning of Lazarus' name).  In other words, just as in Jesus' day, many today do not have a CHRISTOLOGICAL reading of Luke 16:19-31!

Even in Luke's version of Jesus' "Sermon on the Mount" where Jesus says "Blessed are you who are poor" many wrongly view this as referring merely to those who are ECONOMICALLY poor while ignoring Jesus' words in Luke 6:22-23 which clearly show that such people are financially poor PRECISELY BECAUSE they trust in Jesus and seek to be faithful His Word.  In other words, Jesus is NOT saying that financially poor people in general are blessed but that those who experience poverty, hunger, etc. in this life because they follow Christ are blessed because they have the security of being in God's eternal kingdom through faith in His Son.  But I've heard too many sermons who view Jesus' words as though He were a Marxist engaging in class warfare!
« Last Edit: September 28, 2022, 03:04:09 PM by Tom Eckstein »
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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #63 on: September 28, 2022, 03:00:45 PM »
We also approach wealth from a modern, Western view. Bruce Malina and Richard Rohrbaugh (Social-Science Commentary on the Synoptic Gospels) suggest that there was a “limited good” understanding in the first-century Mediterranean world. They write concerning this parable in Matthew 25:14-30:

Because the pie was “limited” and already distributed, an increase in the share of one person automatically meant a loss for someone else. Honorable people, therefore, did not try to get more, and those who did were automatically considered thieves. Noblemen avoided such accusations of getting rich at the expense of others by having their affairs handled by slaves. Such behavior could be condoned in slaves, since slaves were without honor anyway.
 
The third slave buried his master’s money to ensure that it remained intact. This, of course, was the honorable thing for a freeman to do; was it honorable behavior for a slave? Later rabbinic customary law provided that since burying a pledge or deposit was the safest way to care for someone else’s money, if a loss occurred the one burying money had no responsibility.
[p. 149]

They have further thoughts on the “limited good” in an earlier section:

An honorable man would thus be interested only in what was rightfully his and would have no desire to gain anything more, that is, to take what was another’s. Acquisition was, by its very nature, understood as stealing. The ancient Mediterranean attitude was that every rich person is either unjust or the heir of an unjust person (Jerome, In Heiremiam 2.5.2; Corpus Cristianorum Series Latina, LXXIX, 61). Profit making and the acquisition of wealth were automatically assumed to be the result of extortion or fraud. The notion of an honest rich man was a first-century oxymoron. [p. 48]

In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook.

I believe that there is some truth to the limited wealth idea. When a Walmart comes into an area, it's likely that some smaller shops will close. They can't compete. The $500,000-$1,000,000 being spent each week at the Walmart is money that isn't available for the mom and pop store. There is a limited amount of money that is available to spend in each community. When a business takes more of it, there's less for others.

Brian, above you wrote:  "In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook."  Although Jewish beliefs were not monolithic in Jesus' day and some DID have a correct view of wealth as an undeserved gift from God and that one should give freely to the needy out of faith in the coming Messiah, the fact is that the Pharisees viewed their wealth as a sign that they had been blessed by God for their obedience - and thus their shock at the reversal in Jesus' story in Luke 16:19-31.

In a good article on this linked below it says:  "The Pharisees believed that being rich was a sign of being spiritual. The wealthier a person was, the more he was thought to be favored and blessed by God, a reward for his righteous conduct. In contrast, poor people were believed to be sinful and under God's judgment because of their unrighteous conduct ... This parable isn't about money, though Jesus tells it in response to the Pharisee's ridicule of his view on money. No, this parable is about believing in God and obeying his laws and commandments, which teaches us how we should manage his provision, including wealth, as well as other principles necessary for godly living ... The rich man was not unrighteous because he had wealth; he was unrighteous because he chose to live for himself and disobey God's instructions, ultimately leading him to reject God. Lazarus was not righteous because he was poor; he was righteous because he depended on and trusted in God for his provision."

https://www.christianstewardshipnetwork.com/blog/2022/7/7/the-danger-of-wealth
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Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #64 on: September 28, 2022, 03:57:43 PM »
It looks like I may have preached the passage differently from many of those discussing it here. My treatment is below, starting at 28:45.

https://youtu.be/v-bGUNLH9HY
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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #65 on: September 28, 2022, 05:21:15 PM »
Wealth gives one the notion that he's really important and that those who are poor are not.  It is natural (that is, according to our fallen sinful nature) to measure one's worth by one's possessions.  God's not impressed with one's wealth.  Everything belongs to him anyway and whatever wealth we boast of will be destroyed by moths and rust or stolen by thieves.  True wealth is not in the stuff we have, but in the people we see.  The rich man wasn't rich.  It only looked that way.  Lazarus was rich because God was his help and when you have God who owns everything in the world, then you are wealthy.  There's nothing wrong with being rich, but it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  There's nothing virtuous in being poor, but those who are poor in spirit have the kingdom of heaven. 

Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #66 on: September 28, 2022, 09:38:50 PM »
Just fyi everyone, my take on Luke 16:19-31 above was NOT meant to suggest that most LCMS pastors (or most pastor on this forum) view Luke 16:19-31 as though one finds favor with God based on one's economic status.  I was simply trying to point out that some (many?) lay people view Luke 16:19-31 as though it were suggesting that salvation is based on your earthly financial situation and this confuses them.  Therefore, I think it's important for pastors to help them understand Luke 16:19-31 in light of the wider context of Luke's Gospel and point out that Jesus' story is actually stressing that one's financial situation has NOTHING to do with one's salvation but that we must ALL become beggars before God and trust in Christ who is witnessed to by Moses and the Prophets - and the RESULT of faith in Christ is that we will be moved to give of our wealth to those in need because we have been set free from the evil delusion that our earthly wealth (or lack of it) is a sign of how we stand with God.

And yet you use an economic term for poor people to describe salvation.

The reason I use "beggars" in the spiritual sense is PRECISELY because such a use shows that our earthly financial status has NOTHING to do with our standing before God.  Being rich or poor is not what merits God's favor.  We must all "beg" like the Tax Collector and say:  "God have mercy on me, a sinner!"

Too many people today read Scripture as though being financially POOR means that you are automatically one of God's favored people just as in Jesus' day they wrongly believed that being RICH meant you were one of God's favored people.

Other experts, as I quoted earlier, state that people in Jesus' day thought that being RICH meant you were corrupt (or the heirs of corrupt ancestors). [(Jerome, In Heiremiam 2.5.2; Corpus Cristianorum Series Latina, LXXIX, 61).] One only got rich at the expense of others.

I have never heard anyone state that the rich were God's favored people. Much more often I heard them follow the thinking of the "other experts" above, that the rich got rich through devious and probably illegal means. Most often I've heard resentment towards the rich - and the few wealthy people I know have felt and heard such resentments - even in churches.

I have never heard anyone state that the financially poor were God's favored people. Much more often I've heard them complain - asking God to bring more blessings their way. 

In other words, I do not find that your interpretation above fits either the exegetical folks I read nor the reality that I have experienced.
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

Tom Eckstein

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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #67 on: September 28, 2022, 09:41:04 PM »
Wealth gives one the notion that he's really important and that those who are poor are not.  It is natural (that is, according to our fallen sinful nature) to measure one's worth by one's possessions.  God's not impressed with one's wealth.  Everything belongs to him anyway and whatever wealth we boast of will be destroyed by moths and rust or stolen by thieves.  True wealth is not in the stuff we have, but in the people we see.  The rich man wasn't rich.  It only looked that way.  Lazarus was rich because God was his help and when you have God who owns everything in the world, then you are wealthy.  There's nothing wrong with being rich, but it's easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than it is for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.  There's nothing virtuous in being poor, but those who are poor in spirit have the kingdom of heaven.

BINGO!
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Tom Eckstein

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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #68 on: September 28, 2022, 09:52:16 PM »
Just fyi everyone, my take on Luke 16:19-31 above was NOT meant to suggest that most LCMS pastors (or most pastor on this forum) view Luke 16:19-31 as though one finds favor with God based on one's economic status.  I was simply trying to point out that some (many?) lay people view Luke 16:19-31 as though it were suggesting that salvation is based on your earthly financial situation and this confuses them.  Therefore, I think it's important for pastors to help them understand Luke 16:19-31 in light of the wider context of Luke's Gospel and point out that Jesus' story is actually stressing that one's financial situation has NOTHING to do with one's salvation but that we must ALL become beggars before God and trust in Christ who is witnessed to by Moses and the Prophets - and the RESULT of faith in Christ is that we will be moved to give of our wealth to those in need because we have been set free from the evil delusion that our earthly wealth (or lack of it) is a sign of how we stand with God.

And yet you use an economic term for poor people to describe salvation.

The reason I use "beggars" in the spiritual sense is PRECISELY because such a use shows that our earthly financial status has NOTHING to do with our standing before God.  Being rich or poor is not what merits God's favor.  We must all "beg" like the Tax Collector and say:  "God have mercy on me, a sinner!"

Too many people today read Scripture as though being financially POOR means that you are automatically one of God's favored people just as in Jesus' day they wrongly believed that being RICH meant you were one of God's favored people.

Other experts, as I quoted earlier, state that people in Jesus' day thought that being RICH meant you were corrupt (or the heirs of corrupt ancestors). [(Jerome, In Heiremiam 2.5.2; Corpus Cristianorum Series Latina, LXXIX, 61).] One only got rich at the expense of others.

I have never heard anyone state that the rich were God's favored people. Much more often I heard them follow the thinking of the "other experts" above, that the rich got rich through devious and probably illegal means. Most often I've heard resentment towards the rich - and the few wealthy people I know have felt and heard such resentments - even in churches.

I have never heard anyone state that the financially poor were God's favored people. Much more often I've heard them complain - asking God to bring more blessings their way. 

In other words, I do not find that your interpretation above fits either the exegetical folks I read nor the reality that I have experienced.

First of all, even though some of the rich in Jesus' day were viewed as evil because of their openly sinful lives (e.g., the Tax Collectors), others, like the Pharisees, viewed their wealth as a sign that God had blessed them because of their pious lives and they also viewed poverty and illness as a sign that one was being punished by God for some sin - and this false theology obviously influenced many other Jews, and thus the disciples' question to Jesus in John 9:2, "Who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"

Second, I don't deny that people today view the rich in terms of being greedy, evil people. In fact, that's exactly my point!  Many Christians today have the same false theology as the Pharisees - except in the REVERSE!  Today people see riches as a vice (as long as it's someone else who has more than you!) and poverty as a virtue ("God loves us oppressed people who are victims of those evil 1%").  People today often read Luke 16:19-31 through the lens of that false theology and totally miss the point!

So, even though Scripture clearly teaches that the "love of money" is evil (an evil that even POOR people can be guilty of!) and that we should help the truly needy, the point of Luke 16:19-31 is NOT that the rich man was evil simply because he was rich and that Lazarus was good simply because he was poor.  The point of Luke 16:19-31 is that the rich man ended up in hell because of his failure to trust in Christ and His Word even though his riches suggested to people that he was the GOOD GUY and that Lazarus end up in "Abraham's bosom" because He trusted in Christ as His helper even though his poverty suggested to people that he had been cursed by God because of some horrible sin.
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #69 on: September 28, 2022, 10:01:51 PM »
Brian, above you wrote:  "In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook."  Although Jewish beliefs were not monolithic in Jesus' day and some DID have a correct view of wealth as an undeserved gift from God and that one should give freely to the needy out of faith in the coming Messiah, the fact is that the Pharisees viewed their wealth as a sign that they had been blessed by God for their obedience - and thus their shock at the reversal in Jesus' story in Luke 16:19-31.

In a good article on this linked below it says:  "The Pharisees believed that being rich was a sign of being spiritual. The wealthier a person was, the more he was thought to be favored and blessed by God, a reward for his righteous conduct. In contrast, poor people were believed to be sinful and under God's judgment because of their unrighteous conduct ... This parable isn't about money, though Jesus tells it in response to the Pharisee's ridicule of his view on money. No, this parable is about believing in God and obeying his laws and commandments, which teaches us how we should manage his provision, including wealth, as well as other principles necessary for godly living ... The rich man was not unrighteous because he had wealth; he was unrighteous because he chose to live for himself and disobey God's instructions, ultimately leading him to reject God. Lazarus was not righteous because he was poor; he was righteous because he depended on and trusted in God for his provision."

https://www.christianstewardshipnetwork.com/blog/2022/7/7/the-danger-of-wealth


I read no sources from which he based in his conclusions.
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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #70 on: September 28, 2022, 10:03:13 PM »
Here's a sermon  I preached on Luke 16:19-31 back in 2013.  You can hear how I "flesh out" the points I've been trying to make in my posts.

http://files.concordiajt.org/2013Sermons/060913Sermon.mp3
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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #71 on: September 28, 2022, 10:42:32 PM »
Brian, above you wrote:  "In contrast to thinking that the man was wealthy because God blessed him, the common thinking in the 1st century Mediterranean world was that he was a crook."  Although Jewish beliefs were not monolithic in Jesus' day and some DID have a correct view of wealth as an undeserved gift from God and that one should give freely to the needy out of faith in the coming Messiah, the fact is that the Pharisees viewed their wealth as a sign that they had been blessed by God for their obedience - and thus their shock at the reversal in Jesus' story in Luke 16:19-31.

In a good article on this linked below it says:  "The Pharisees believed that being rich was a sign of being spiritual. The wealthier a person was, the more he was thought to be favored and blessed by God, a reward for his righteous conduct. In contrast, poor people were believed to be sinful and under God's judgment because of their unrighteous conduct ... This parable isn't about money, though Jesus tells it in response to the Pharisee's ridicule of his view on money. No, this parable is about believing in God and obeying his laws and commandments, which teaches us how we should manage his provision, including wealth, as well as other principles necessary for godly living ... The rich man was not unrighteous because he had wealth; he was unrighteous because he chose to live for himself and disobey God's instructions, ultimately leading him to reject God. Lazarus was not righteous because he was poor; he was righteous because he depended on and trusted in God for his provision."

https://www.christianstewardshipnetwork.com/blog/2022/7/7/the-danger-of-wealth


I read no sources from which he based in his conclusions.

In his book The World of the Early Christians, Kelly writes that material wealth is highly valued in the Tanakh and that the Hebrews sought it and believed that God promised to bless them with it if they followed his commandments and that biblical writers portray God as enabling men such as Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Solomon to achieve wealth and that this wealth was considered a clear sign of divine favor.

In this article, The Morality of Wealth (https://www.jtsa.edu/torah/the-morality-of-wealth/) Rabbi Herman Abramovitz writes:  "In short, the Torah displays no trace of animus or ambivalence on the subject of the patriarchs’ financial prowess. While they are not without their shortcomings, wealth does not diminish their moral stature. On the contrary, the Torah highlights it as a sign of God’s favor."

Also, The Talmud (Babylonian Talmud, Yuma 22b) states that one who becomes a leader/administrator involved in community affairs becomes wealthy as a divine reward for serving the public honestly and dependably.

Many commentaries I've read (by both conservative and liberal Christians) mention how SOME Jews of Jesus' day viewed wealth as a sign of God's favor and poverty as a sign that one had sinned.  I don't have time to check their sources now, but they're there.

The point is that SOME (not ALL) Jews of Jesus' day - especially the Pharisees! - viewed wealth as a reward for one's piety and poverty/illness as a curse from God because of some sin.  Obviously, not ALL wealthy people in Jesus' day were viewed as pious because some wealthy were open sinners, such as the Tax Collectors.  But the Pharisees believed that the Tax Collectors would not enter heaven whereas the Pharisees believed they HAD merited heaven by their works (including their charity!) - and their wealth was a sign of this.  Jesus was dealing with this false teaching.

We even see this false theology as early as the Book of Job where Job's friends view his negative circumstances (including his loss of wealth!) as a sign that he had sinned against God.

In any cases, there is much information out there that confirms what I've been writing.
« Last Edit: September 28, 2022, 10:44:29 PM by Tom Eckstein »
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Re: Rich man and Lazarus
« Reply #72 on: September 28, 2022, 11:14:35 PM »
Here's a sermon  I preached on Luke 16:19-31 back in 2013.  You can hear how I "flesh out" the points I've been trying to make in my posts.

http://files.concordiajt.org/2013Sermons/060913Sermon.mp3

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« Last Edit: September 29, 2022, 08:17:24 AM by Donald_Kirchner »
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