Now there was a rich man, and he habitually dressed in purple and fine linen, joyously living in splendor every day. And a poor man named Lazarus was laid at his gate, covered with sores, and longing to be fed with the crumbs which were falling from the rich man’s table; besides, even the dogs were coming and licking his sores. Now the poor man died and was carried away by the angels to Abraham’s bosom; and the rich man also died and was buried. In Hades he lifted up his eyes, being in torment, and saw Abraham far away and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried out and said, “Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus so that he may dip the tip of his finger in water and cool off my tongue, for I am in agony in this flame.” But Abraham said, “Child, remember that during your life you received your good things, and likewise Lazarus bad things; but now he is being comforted here, and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you there is a great chasm fixed, so that those who wish to come over from here to you will not be able, and that none may cross over from there to us.” And he said, “Then I beg you, father, that you send him to my father’s house--for I have five brothers--in order that he may warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.” But Abraham said, “They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.” But he said, “No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent!” But he said to him, “If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be persuaded even if someone rises from the dead.”
Notice that the “rich man” in Hell didn’t seem to know anything about Calvinism, when he asked Abraham that someone be sent back from the dead in order to witness to his brothers so that they wouldn’t end up joining him in Hell. But why should he worry? After all, if they are Calvinistically elect, they’ll get an Irresistible Grace, right? In fact, the rich man seemed to think that his brothers were reachable. He seemed to think that his brothers didn’t have to go there, and the direction of their eternal destiny could change, and was within their grasp, should someone come back from the dead to witness to them. So are those in Hell blocked from knowing about Calvinism? Abraham’s answer was that his brothers already had the testimony of the prophets, and someone coming back from the dead wasn’t going to change things. So why didn’t Abraham instead give an answer about how if they are Calvinistically elect, that an Irresistible Grace will be more efficacious than the Prophets? No one in the After-Life, seems to know anything about Calvinism. Why is that?
John Calvin writes: “...because He mentions Lazarus by name, I judge that He is telling a true story.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol.II, James and Jude, p.116, emphasis mine)
Agreed. I believe that this was an actual occurrence, as real people were named (Abraham and Lazarus) and moreover, even Jesus’ parables were based upon real things (that people could relate to), such as people losing coins and celebrating upon finding it, and people holding wedding feasts, and inviting people to attend. The Jehovah's Witnesses are infamous for trying to dismiss this passage of Scripture because of how it proves life after death. (I like how it proves life without Calvinism.
Adrian Rogers comments: “In no other parable did Jesus use a man’s name. We have no real reason to surmise that this is a parable. It may be, and probably is, an historical event, but if it is a parable, the truth is the same, parabolic or not.” (Five Minutes After Death: Luke 16:19-31, emphasis mine)
Moreover, if someone wished to suggest that “Lazarus” was just a fictitious person, then doesn’t such a presumption also require that Abraham be a fictitious person too? Jesus says, “Now there was a rich man...”, but some people must answer, “No there really was not,” and that takes some boldness, if perhaps also some belligerence. Nevertheless, some will also argue that if this illustration is taken literally, then it would mean that a group of people could fit in one person’s chest. However, such an argument fails to realize that Heaven is also referred to as the “bosom of the Father.” (John 1:18, KJV) So “bosom” can also signify a place. Still, some will say that it’s ridiculous to presume that one drop of water could bring relief to a person on fire. However, it can also signify the extent of the suffering, if one drop of water could bring momentary relief to a parched tongue. Obviously, this person did not feel morally entitled to ask for more than one drop. Therefore, in Hell, there is still the pain of memory and the loss of self-esteem.
It’s funny how I am speaking of the specifics of Jesus’ story, and I’m told that I’m reading too much into it, and MEANWHILE a Calvinist comes along with the incident of Jesus raising Lazarus from the dead (different Lazarus), and reads into it, the concept of the spiritual regeneration of the spiritually dead, even though Lazarus was not lost, but already saved, and Jesus never mentioned that the point of raising him had anything to do with how Calvinists manipulate it.
One Calvinist responds: “But if you look carefully, you will also notice that Jesus said, They would not believe, even if one was risen from the dead come to warn them. In other words, we are all dead and only Jesus Christ can give us life.” (emphasis mine)
However, in the reference to “only Jesus Christ can give us life,” this is a subtle allusion to Irresistible Grace, but you should also notice that Abraham never mentioned Irresistible Grace or Preemptive Regeneration, to the rich man, as the solution. On top of that, the “rich man” considered that it was possible for his brothers NOT to come join him in Hell, especially if someone were to go to them from the dead. If you are paying attention, that means that those in Hell don’t know ANYTHING about Calvinism. So Calvinism isn’t in Heaven OR in Hell.
So here is what’s in the Calvinist playbook. Insist that it’s a parable, and then make up an explanation of what “the parable” means. Of course, that is also stealing from the Jehovah’s Witnesses playbook:
Watch Tower Society: “By what Jesus said about the rich man and Lazarus, did Jesus teach torment of the wicked after death? Is the account, at Luke 16:19-31, literal or merely an illustration of something else? The Jerusalem Bible, in a footnote, acknowledges that it is a ‘parable in story form without reference to any historical personage.’ If taken literally, it would mean that those enjoying divine favor could all fit at the bosom of one man, Abraham; that this water on one’s fingertip would not be evaporated by the fire of Hades; that a mere drop of water would bring relief to one suffering there. Does that sound reasonable to you? If it were literal, it would conflict with other parts of the Bible. If the Bible were thus contradictory, would a lover of truth use it as a basis for his faith? But the Bible does not contradict itself. What does the parable mean? The ‘rich man’ represented the Pharisees. (See verse 14.) The beggar Lazarus represented the common Jewish people who were despised by the Pharisees but who represented and became followers of Jesus. (See Luke 18:11; John 7:49; Matthew 21:31, 32.) Their deaths were also symbolic, representing a change in circumstances. Thus, the formerly despised ones came into a position of divine favor, and the formerly seemingly favored ones were rejected by God, while being tormented by the judgment messages delivered by the ones whom they had despised.—Acts 5:33; 7:54.” (Reasoning from the Scriptures, 1989. pp.174-175, emphasis mine)
Does any of this sound familiar? (1) Call it a parable. (2) Make up an explanation, and ignore the fact that your explanation is not what Jesus said about his story.
When Lazarus was raised from the dead (different Lazarus), indeed many believed, but not all. (John 11:43-53) When Jesus rose from the dead, and appeared to as many as 500 people at one time (1st Corinthians 15:6), it still not did result in universal repentance. When Paul saw the risen Jesus, and testified of Him, many believed, but not all. If men will not believe through God’s Word, then miracles can just as easily be dismissed, just as when unbelievers attributed Jesus’ miracles to the power of demons. (Luke 11:15) When a person says NO to God, subconsciously, their heart becomes just a little bit harder, making it easier to say NO again and again, until they are stiff-necked, and resistant to the power of miracles. (John 11:47) For these, it would make no difference if a man should come back from the dead. Hence, God warned: “Harden not your heart.” (Psalm 95:8, KJV)
Calvin writes: “But here Christ is only saying that those who are deaf and stubborn against the teaching of the Law cannot be corrected by the dead or brought to a sound frame.” (Calvin’s New Testament Commentaries, Matthew, Mark and Luke, Vol.II, James and Jude, p.122, emphasis mine)
In other words, according to Calvin, those who are Totally Depraved have a Total Inability to believe in the Gospel. First of all, the rich man in Hell believed, and was ready and willing to be sent back to become an evangelist. However, God did not give him such a second opportunity in life. Similarly, the demons also believe, and what good is that for them. (James 2:19) What is evident, however, is that believing is not nullified by Total Depravity. However Total Depravity does give rise to Total Inability when you harden your heart through persistently rejecting God’s Prevenient Grace, such as what is found at Isaiah 65:2: “I have spread out My hands all day long to a rebellious people, who walk in the way which is not good, following their own thoughts.”
Presumably, at some point in the rich man’s life, someone must have warned him about the reality of Heaven and Hell, but most likely he brushed it off by saying, “I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it.” The problem is that sin blinded him from having a healthy fear for when that day finally arrived. Sin kept him focused on the here & now, and the pleasures of today, while totaling disregarding tomorrow, and when tomorrow finally came, the here & now found him in Hell & torment. Previously, he must have said, “I’ll deal with that when it becomes a problem.” Well, tomorrow finally came, and now it is a problem, and his way of “dealing with it” is by begging Abraham to send Lazarus back to warn his five brothers not to be as foolish as he was, and end up in that dreadful place.