A friend at church told me that he has been asked to explain the rich man and Lazarus. Another friend overhead and said that he too has been asked about that passage several times.
Summary of the account: A rich man and a poor man named Lazarus both die. Lazarus ends up in the good part of Sheol (called Paradise in Luke 23:43), and in a very honored location right next to Abraham. The rich man ends up in the bad part of Sheol where he is in torment. The rich man sees Lazarus at Abraham’s side. A discussion (debate?) ensues between the rich man and Lazarus. The rich man keeps talking about Lazarus coming back from the dead so that his brothers might repent and thereby avoid going to the bad part of Sheol. Abraham keeps talking about believing what the Scriptures say about Christ as the only way to avoid eternal condemnation.
What the rich man said: “I beg you therefore, father, that you would send him to my father’s house, for I have five brothers, that he may testify to them, lest they also come to this place of torment” (Luke 16:27-28).
Abraham responds: “They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them.”
The rich man counters, “No, father Abraham; but if one goes to them from the dead, they will repent.”
Abraham repeats himself, “If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.”
The rich man thinks that the way to escape torment is to repent.
Abraham says the way to escape torment is to believe in Him whom Moses and the prophets wrote about, that is, Jesus Christ.
Isn’t that what John 1:45 says, “Philip found Nathanael and said to him, ‘We have found Him of whom Moses in the law, and also the prophets, wrote—Jesus of Nazareth, the son of Joseph.’” Nathanael came to faith in Christ minutes later (John 1:46-50).
Many people think that the man in torment, not Abraham, had it right. Abraham is preaching salvation by faith alone in Christ alone. The rich man is preaching salvation by repentance.
Certainly Abraham had it right and the rich man did not.
John 3:16 says what Abraham said. So do Eph 2:8-9; Acts 16:31; John 5:24; and Rev 22:17. There is no verse in the Bible that says that if someone repents he will avoid eternal condemnation. Only believing in Jesus results in the new birth. Repentance may be preceded or followed by faith in Christ. But it is faith in Christ, not repentance, which is the condition of everlasting life.
If you get your theology from unsaved people in hell, chances are good that it is wrong. If you get your theology from Abraham in Paradise, then you can be sure that your theology is correct.