Thursday, May 11, 2023

Nostalgia in Hell (Luke 16:19–31)

“Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things …” (Luke 16:25).

The Scriptures tell us that the condemned of this world will drink the “wine of God’s fury, which has been poured full strength into the cup of His wrath” (Rev. 14:10). Mixed with this drought of divine wrath will be the tortuous memories of the lost, a clear remembrance of their former life on earth, as well as their present apprehension of the blessed state of those in heaven.

In a sermon on Luke 16:25, the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Edwards developed the doctrine that the condemned will remember their former life and be aware of the blessedness of those in heaven (and hate them for it). While this parable is not to be taken literally, some general points can be derived from its message. First, the lost will remember what good things they enjoyed in this world, but this will only serve to torment them further. “While they enjoyed the good things, they ‘felt nothing of the fiery wrath of God.’ Now it is the reverse. They will remember the ‘bottle of liquor,’ ‘friends,’ ‘comfortable habitation,’ and how they were ‘a great deal better off than many of the godly.’ Of particular poignancy will be their recollection of ‘opportunities’ and means they had for obtaining salvation when ‘God waited to be gracious unto them.’ They remember how they were warned ‘that if they got into hell they should never get out.’ Especially, they will remember their sins, including thinking that hell was a mere ‘dream.’ ”

These memories will be the occasion of great lament and sorrow—not a sorrow that leads to repentance, but a tortuous, despairing sorrow of opportunities forsaken—now lost forever.

To aggravate this woeful condition will be the ever-present awareness of the happiness of those in heaven. Revelation 14:10 speaks of the torment of those in hell. As the Angel of the Lord takes His mighty sickle and begins to sweep the earth, the condemned will face its crushing blows while they see the saints gathered and enrobed in the splendor and glory of the Lord. They will see others enter the wedding feast while they remain outside, wailing and gnashing their teeth. As the song and celebration of the wedding sounds throughout the heavens, these “songs of the blessed will make their wailing and moans the louder and more bitter.”

God says that if you repent of your sins, He is faithful to forgive you and remember them no more. If you have confessed your sins to the Lord, He has forgotten them and so should you. Do you have any past sins that you are unable to forget? If you have not confessed, do so today and find peace in Him.