I want to preach to you this morning on the subject "The Cry from Hell". We're turning to Luke chapter 16, Luke chapter 16 - the very well known passage that is often preached as a gospel message. The story about the rich man and Lazarus. I've been seeking the Lord in the last week, as is my custom, for the message that He wants me to bring today, and I feel, very much, this message burning upon my heart. Luke 16 and verse 19:
"There was a certain rich man, which was clothed in purple and fine linen, and fared sumptuously every day: And there was a certain beggar named Lazarus, which was laid at his gate, full of sores. And desiring to be fed with the crumbs which fell from the rich man's table: moreover the dogs came and licked his sores. And it came to pass, that the beggar died, and was carried by the angels into Abraham's bosom: the rich man also died, and was buried; and in hell he lifted up his eyes, being in torments, and seeth Abraham afar off, and Lazarus in his bosom. And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime receivedst thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith onto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead."
Let's bow in a moments prayer, as we seek God's blessing: Lord, we have been singing, and we make it our prayer, 'Jesus fill now with Thy Spirit, hearts that full surrender know, that the streams of living water from our inner men may flow.' Lord, we pray, breathe Thy breath upon us, come and meet with us and speak by Thy Holy Spirit we implore Thee, oh our God. In Jesus' name, Amen.
The two verses that I want to take as my text this morning are verse 27 and 28, "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment".
The cry of hell. Not all of you this morning will hear that cry. Not all believers hear the cry from hell. We read within the word of God about faith. The word of God says that without faith it is impossible to please God. And often when we hear the word of God preached, preachers often talk about the 'eye of faith'. That simply is an expression to describe how we in our minds eye, trusting that the word of God is true, can see forward into time and talk and think about the things that are written within the word of God. How we from our hearts, and if I can say this, even imagine the things that will come to pass and even the things that are in the realms of glory, that we cannot see with the naked eye. We know the Lord Jesus Christ by the eye of faith, don't we? "Him having not seen, yet we love", we have never seen the physical shape and body of the Lord, we have never touched him, yet we know Him, perhaps - or we ought to know Him - more intimately than those that we know best down here on earth.
There is the eye of faith. But what I want to talk to you this morning about is not the eye of faith but the 'ear of faith'. Not the ability to see things that are eternal, to see things that are biblical, that the Lord has spoken of, that have been, that are, that will be to come. But the ability to have your ear put to the ground of God's eternity and be able to hear the cry of hell.
Can you hear it? That ear of faith needs to be cultivated. It is cultivated through the word of God, reading the word of God we hear the cry from hell -- but if, my friend, you are not reading the word of God, you will never hear that cry! That ear of faith is cultivated through prayer and through meditation upon the word of God, through studying it, through thinking of the implications of what our blessed Lord Jesus Christ says, claims and teaches. The Lord Himself said in Matthew 11:15, "He that hath an ear to hear, let him hear".
I know that not all of you will hear that cry this morning, but I pray that one or two will hear it. Maybe some of you hear it already -- do you hear what the cry from hell is? Christian friend, I believe that the battle today in Christianity, one of the great battles, is the battle for the heart. Solomon says in Proverbs 4:23, "Keep thy heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life". Your heart is the seat of affections, it is the place where your feelings are felt, where the ear of faith beats, where it hears, where the drum is of that hearing. It is the place where the eyeball and pupil of the eye of faith can be seen -- there is the place where you feel your Christianity -- in the heart!
Can I ask you, do you feel your Christianity? Oh, I know that some of you, the heckles are up now - 'feeling your Christianity'? Now listen, I know that our Christian faith is not a belief that is feelings-based. But let me say this: that our Christianity ought not to be feeling-less. There is a grave difference, and God deliver us from a feeling-less Christianity that is cold, that is unmoved, that has no heart, that cannot be touched. If Christ is touched with the feelings of our infirmities, ought we not to be touched so with those of our brothers and sisters and those in humanity who are damned? Do you remember what the prophet said? Ezekiel 36:26, "A new heart also will I give you, a new spirit will I put within you. And I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh and I will give you a heart of flesh". God the Spirit was changing and telling the Jews: 'Your religion is now to turn from being a religion of the head, to a religion of the heart'. A religion of rules, to a religion of reality! Do you know that? Can you feel your Christianity my friend? Now I know when you get saved you base it upon fact -- Christ died for me, I have put my trust in Him and His word tells me that whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. There is the Scriptures; then there is fact about what the Scriptures say; and then comes, and my friend must come, feeling. You've got to have it.
Do you feel for the lost? Do you feel, do you hear, do you see their torment? I know you've heard about the story of the young boy, Burns, as he was walking down the street in Scotland, hand-in-hand with his mother. And as she was looking in the shop window, you heard him say, "Mother, mother can't you hear the tramp, tramp of Christless feet into eternity?". He had the ear of faith. Do you have it? In Isaiah 66 and verse 8, Isaiah makes this account, "As soon as Zion travailed she brought forth her children". Only a heart that is soft, only a heart that is breaking, only a heart that is after God's own heart can hear the cry from hell.
What is it? Is it 'Lord, be merciful onto me a sinner'? Is the cry, 'Lord, forgive me'? Is the cry a sound of weeping and wailing and gnashing of teeth? Is it a cry of worldly, sinful men and women cursing God to His face in God's hell? Is it the intellectual, questioning the justice and the fairness of Almighty God for them to be in such a place? No! It's not. It is not the cry of repentance, it is not the cry of penitence, it is not any of these cries of torment, although some of them may be there. The cry that we hear before us today can be summed up in two words, in verse 27, verse 28: "Send!", "Send!, Lest!".
Read those verses again, "Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment". It's amazing isn't it? That the cry from hell is exactly the same as the cry from heaven. Isn't that amazing? "Send!", "Send!", "Whatever you do Abraham, if you can't bring that water to my tongue, if you can't send Lazarus across the great gap, I know the realities of hell too much to know that now I am damned and I cannot be saved, but whatever you do Abraham: send somebody home!".
God sends us. Do you remember what He told Isaiah? In Isaiah 6, when Isaiah was touched by his sinfulness, his inability before God, and God said, "Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?". The triune Godhead, it is His clarion cry, "Send!". It is the cry of Jesus Christ to His disciples as He ascended to heaven to His Father again, He said, "Go ye therefore and teach all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Ghost". But does it not stagger you, that it's the cry of the triune Godhead, it is the cry of the Lord Jesus Christ after His crucifixion for the sins of men and women of this world, but it is also the cry of the damned. "Send somebody home! Send someone to my five brothers, to my sister, my mother, my father, my child - send them - so that they won't come to this place!".
Silence is often said to be a sin, when we do not tell others about the Lord Jesus Christ and when we're walking along life's pathway, whether in work - whatever we do, outside, inside - when we do not speak a word for Christ, when we have an opportunity, and that is so. But the sin of silence is not the only sin - there is the sin of deafness. Deafness to the groans of a damned soul. Deafened by materialism, deafened by selfishness, deafened by worldliness, by neglect of the means of hearing, word and prayer and fellowship. But oh, however it has come, there is a deafness within our souls to that cry from hell, that we will go and send someone to save.
I wonder is there anyone here that wants to hear that cry. If you do there's three things that you're going to need. The first thing is: you will need compassion. That simply means that you will need to feel as the Saviour felt. See, when you look at the lost and you see them - do you see them as the Saviour did, as sheep without a shepherd? Do you look at them like He did in Matthew 23:37, "Oh, Jerusalem", can you see the tears tripping Him? "Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets and stonest them which are sent unto thee. How often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings and ye would not". Do you feel like that at times? Are you moved, are you touched by their waywardness, by their sinfulness, by the disease of sin that is in them destroying their life and destroying their eternity? Does it move you to tears? Does it move your heart?
We have compassion on a drowning child, don't we? We can watch, and we can see it in trouble, and we can't do anything about it, perhaps. We're watching, and as the head goes below the water time after time, and again, and then it ceases to come up and it goes down for good, and it drowns. Then we see at the funeral a little casket, small, dainty, pathetic - and we weep. But my friend, do we have compassion enough to hear the cry from hell? Which is a greater cry! Which is a greater plea! 'Send someone, whatever you do -- you have a chance, you're on Earth now, you have years before you to live -- will you do something!' That's what they are all saying now, on Lord's Day morning in hell, if you could put a megaphone in that's what you would hear! "Send, send!".
You need compassion, but secondly you need travail. We don't hear too much about this today. We find it in the person of Paul in Romans chapter 9, if you want to turn to it. Romans 9 and verse 2 and 3, where he says this, concerning his kinsmen according to the flesh within his own society of the nation of Israel. He says, "I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart, for I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh". Do you see what he is saying? 'I almost wish that I could be damned, that I could take their place, that I could go to hell and they could be set free, in order that they might be saved'. We need to travail like Jacob, until we prevail with God. We wrestle with Him, wrestle before Him, until we have a name like his name, that says that we are a prince, because we prevail with God and we prevail with men.
I read recently the biography of 'Praying Hyde'. Some of you may have heard this story before. But Praying Hyde was on the mission field and he stayed on the mission field until he could do no more, through health. He was sent back home and he was sent to the doctors. When he went into the doctors, the doctor examined him, sent him away, and then he came back to get the results of what was wrong with him. The doctor sat him down and he said, "Mr Hyde, do you have any pains in your heart?" He said "Yes I do". He says, "Mr Hyde, your heart has displaced itself. Your heart ought to be here, but it has moved over in the cavity of your chest, and that can only happen through one thing -- agony." He was called 'the apostle of prayer' and his prayers led to thousands being taken into the kingdom of God, into the church of Jesus Christ in the land of India. But he was a man that travailed. He was a man that lost his health for God.
Do you know what the cry is today? A 'save-yourself Christianity'. Whatever you do, don't harm yourself. Be careful. Watch that you don't overdo it. Don't become too fanatical. But my friend, if you've heard the voice from hell, you know what the Lord Jesus Christ meant when He said, "Whosoever will save his life shall lose it, and whosoever will lose his life for my sake will save it". Have you lost your life for Christ? You know this is the irony of the Scriptures, and we find it right throughout the word of God; that He turns the ideals and the philosophies of the world upside-down. If you run around in this life trying to get as much for yourself, make as much for your name, and do everything down here; the reality is eternally speaking that you will lose everything. If you lose everything down here, your reputation, your name, your bank balance, whatever God calls you to lose -- if you lose it, you'll save it up there!
It still pains me that I don't feel the cry from hell enough. I remember talking to an evangelist friend of mine and saying, "I know this verse, that them that weep, them that travail in tears shall bring their sheaves back with them in joy". I said to him, "How can I weep for souls? I don't want them to be crocodile tears, I don't want to work something up within my soul that's not real. How can I weep for souls? I don't want to be weeping for a dead loved one and pretend that I'm weeping for souls". Do you know what he said? "David, when Jesus Christ the Son of God weeps in you for souls, you will weep". When Jesus indwelling us, the hope of glory, the indwelling Christ begins to move, begins to weep for souls by His Spirit within us. That is the philosophy of prayer, isn't it? That He puts within us the desires of His heart, that He might bring them to a reality in our lives.
Can a child be born without pain? You know it's the same thing in the spiritual as in the natural, that's why Paul said in Galatians 4:19, "My children, my children of whom I travail in birth pangs again until Christ be formed in you". Do you have compassion? Do you travail?
The first message from hell was this: "Send!". The second message is this: "Lest!". There are two things that I want to say with regard to this little word: "Lest". "Lest" speaks of consequences: "Lest they come to this place of torment". It speaks to me, as I read that verse, as a preacher of the Gospel, as a Christian, it speaks to me of Ezekiel 33 -- and you can turn to it now. Ezekiel 33 and verse 8, and you will see there God's prophet speaking of the watchman. The watchman was to stand on his turret, and he was to look across the horizon, and whenever he heard the tramp, tramp of the horses hooves, or he heard the trump of battle of the enemy, he was to shout a warning, he was to put his trumpet to his mouth and blow and warn them of the judgement that was to come. God told Ezekiel, "Listen my boy, if you don't warn them, I will require their blood at thy hand". Then you get these clever-clogs that come and say, "Oh, but that was the Old Testament, that's not applicable now". If you look to Paul in Acts chapter 18 and verse 6, he preached the Gospel and it says, "and when they opposed themselves and blasphemed", it says, "Paul shook his raiment and said unto them 'Your blood be upon your own heads, I am clean. From henceforth I will go onto the Gentiles'".
Paul believed it -- do we have blood upon our hands? Do we? Do we put the trumpet to our mouth and cry? Do we feel like Paul, "Woe is onto me if I preach not the Gospel"? I read an atheist once who said this, "You Christians -- you see if I believed what you believe about hell, I would crawl on my hands and my knees across broken glass to the four corners of the world to warn people of it". I read a poem once, that spoke of the consequences for you, if you don't tell people that they need Christ, it's called "My Friend":
"My friend I stand in the judgement now,
And feel that you're to blame somehow.
On earth I walked with you day by day,
And never did you point the way.
You knew the Lord of truth and glory,
But never did you tell the story.
My knowledge then was very dim,
You could have led me safe to Him.
Though we lived together on this earth,
You never told of the second birth.
And now I stand this day, condemned,
Because you failed to mention Him.
You taught me many things, it's true,
I called you 'friend' and trusted you.
But I've learned now that it's too late,
You could have kept me from this fate.
We walked by day and talked by night,
And yet you showed me not the light.
You let me live, and love, and die,
And knew I'd never live on high.
Yes, I called you 'friend' in life,
And trusted you through joy and strife.
And yet on coming to the end,
I cannot now call you 'my friend'."
There are consequences for us and there are consequences for them. Can you hear their cry my friend, this morning, can you hear it? "Send someone, please send someone! Lest my loved ones, my children, my countrymen -- Lest they come onto this torment!". You know, this is the cry of God's heart. And if I am to be faithful to God's word, I will preach this message until you feel that cry in your bosom. Did you know when you tune a stringed instrument, two stringed instruments - one's in tune and you tune the other to it. And you pluck a certain note on that stringed instrument, without touching the other it will resound and echo the same note in unison. If you hear the cry of hell in your heart today, you will hear it because it's in the heart of God.
I want to finish today, by reading an account from Amy Carmichael, she was a missionary in India. She writes this of her experience one night, and I'm quoting it. In a village of India, Amy Wilson Carmichael wrote:
"I could not go asleep. So I lay awake and looked; and I saw, as it seemed, this: that I stood on a grassy sward and at my feet a precipice broke sheer down into infinite space. Back I drew, dizzy at the depth. Then I saw people moving single file along the grass. They were making for the edge. There was a woman with a baby in her arms and another little child holding onto her dress. She was on the very verge. Then I saw that she was blind. She lifted her foot for the next step - it trod air. Oh, the cry as they went over!
Then I saw more streams of people from all parts. They were blind, stone-blind; all made straight for the precipice edge. There were shrieks as they suddenly knew themselves falling, and a tossing up of helpless arms, clutching at empty air. Then I saw that along the edge there were sentries set at intervals. But the intervals were far too great; they were wide, there were unguarded gaps between. And over these gaps the people fell in their blindness, quite unwarned, and the gulf yawned like the mouth of hell.
Then I saw, like a little picture of peace, a group of people under some trees, with their back to the gulf. They were making daisy-chains. There was another group. It was made up of people whose great desire was to get more sentries; but they found that very few wanted to go.
Once a girl stood alone in her place, waving the people back; but her mother and other relatives called, and reminded her that her furlough was due. Being tired and needing a change she had to go and rest for a while; but no one was sent to guard her gap, and over and over the people fell, like a waterfall of souls.
Once a child caught a tuft of grass that grew on the very brink of the gulf; it clung convulsively and it called, but nobody seemed to hear. Then the roots of grass gave way, and with a cry the child went over. And the girl who longed to be back in the gap thought she heard the little one cry and she sprang up and wanted to go, at which they reproved her; then they sang a hymn. Then through the hymn the pain of a million broken hearts rung out in one full drop, one sob. It was the Cry of Blood."
"Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldst send him to my father's house: for I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment."
Preach The Word.
This sermon was delivered at The Iron Hall Assembly in Belfast, Northern Ireland, by Pastor David Legge. It was transcribed from the tape, titled "The Cry From Hell" - Transcribed by Andrew Watkins, Preach The Word.
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