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Conscience is something, in a sense, apart from man. It has been put in him by God; it is a reminder of the voice of God within him, an inward monitor, and a man cannot really manipulate his conscience. He can go against it, but that is not manipulating it. It is possible, as this Apostle says again in writing to Timothy, for the conscience to be seared “with a hot iron”. But nevertheless it is true to say that the conscience is an independent witness.
Martyn Lloyd-Jones (God’s Sovereign Purpose)

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« Sunday School Lessons: Luke 17 | Main | Sunday School Lessons: Luke 15 »
Saturday
May022009

Sunday School Lessons: Luke 16

Luke 16

16:1He also said to the disciples, “There was a rich man who had a manager, and charges were brought to him that this man was wasting his possessions. 2And he called him and said to him, ‘What is this that I hear about you? Turn in the account of your management, for you can no longer be manager.’ 3And the manager said to himself, ‘What shall I do, since my master is taking the management away from me? I am not strong enough to dig, and I am ashamed to beg. 4I have decided what to do, so that when I am removed from management, people may receive me into their houses.’ 5So, summoning his master's debtors one by one, he said to the first, ‘How much do you owe my master?’ 6He said, ‘A hundred measures of oil.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and sit down quickly and write fifty.’ 7Then he said to another, ‘And how much do you owe?’ He said, ‘A hundred measures of wheat.’ He said to him, ‘Take your bill, and write eighty.’ 8The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness.

This parable is very easily misunderstood. Unless you read it with discernment, it can appear as though the Lord is commending a dishonest and conniving person! In this parable, Jesus uses the example of a worldly man to teach a difficult lesson. It can be helpful to remember that, as in all parables, the examples are used to teach a larger, spiritual lesson.

To whom is Jesus speaking? His disciples. Are they honest or dishonest? (discuss sin natures; so he is talking to sinners who have not always done right by their master)

Every man according to the laws of most countries is considered innocent until proved guilty. But the Bible teaches that we are all guilty—really guilty!—and the only way we can ever be considered innocent is through faith in Christ and His Gospel.

READ vs. 1 In this parable, we have the rich man and the dishonest steward. What is a steward? (a person who is in charge of another person’s possessions or is ruling in place of another person. The steward is responsible to the person he serves.) READ vs.2 The rich man has heard that his steward is wasting his possessions and so he calls him to make account of his dealings. He asks him to get his accounts together and turn them in to him.

READ vs. 3-4

The steward knows he’s in trouble. “What shall I do?” He knows he’s going to get caught and he knows he has lost his job, so he tries to think of the best thing he can do for himself. He should have thought about his actions sooner, but better late than never. He doesn’t want to do hard physical work and he’s too ashamed to beg. He wants to help himself, so he tries to fix things in his own way. READ vs. 5-8 He goes around to the people who owe his master money and starts making deals. In this way, he returns some of the money to his master and improves his accounting and he also helps out the people by reducing what they owe in hopes that when he is without a job, they will be grateful to him and help him out. The master, who is a shrewd business man himself, sees how shrewd his manager has been and he commends him. Does this surprise you? This is a very shocking statement!! Who does the rich man represent? (GOD) And who does the dishonest manager represent? (Everyone. You, me, the disciples. All of us. Everything we have has been given to us by God to manage—our lives, our possessions, our influence, our relationships. We are required to be faithful 1 Cor. 4:2.) He is not commending him for the dishonest things he had done in the past, he is commending him for acting wisely for his Master and for himself. Remember, at this time, Jesus is talking to his disciples. They are being trained and taught to be stewards of the Gospel after He finishes his work. Just like this man, they are going to have to make an account to their Master someday. (So will we.) Just like this man, they will have to behave wisely with material and worldly things. He uses the example of the worldly man to illustrate how much consideration this steward had for his earthly life. He didn’t always act honestly, but he always acted in a way that protected his life and his livelihood. He was only worried about this life. This is a negative example to teach the lesson concerning the Kingdom of God and service to Christ. In the same way and with the same shrewdness, we should manage our money and do all that we can to promote—not ourselves, but the Gospel! We are called to ‘lay up treasures in heaven’ not on earth.

8b For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. 9And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings.

We are to use our money and our energy and our possessions and our talents wisely in the service of our Master. What we have is given to by God for his service—to help other people. Worldly wealth is not what brings us satisfaction, but it can be used to help others and further the Gospel. When we learn to use what God has given us wisely, even though we have not always done so in the past, we please God and lay up treasures for ourselves.

10“One who is faithful in a very little is also faithful in much, and one who is dishonest in a very little is also dishonest in much. 11If then you have not been faithful in the unrighteous wealth, who will entrust to you the true riches? 12And if you have not been faithful in that which is another's, who will give you that which is your own? 13No servant can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.”

READ 10-12 Jesus is teaching the disciples about faithfulness. If we are not faithful in the ‘riches’ of this world, then we will not be trusted with spiritual riches, the only true and lasting riches. The things that we have in this life are Gods. He gives them to us to use to help ourselves, help others, and to serve God. They are not ours. When we die, we will leave what we have behind. We cannot keep them. But if we use them wisely, we will lay up for ourselves treasure in heaven, which will never be taken away. READ vs.13 We cannot serve two masters—God and money. There is nothing wrong with money itself, it is how we use it that shows us whether money is our master or God.

14The Pharisees, who were lovers of money, heard all these things, and they ridiculed him. 15And he said to them, “You are those who justify yourselves before men, but God knows your hearts. For what is exalted among men is an abomination in the sight of God.

The Pharisees were there, too, listening. They heard what Jesus said and ridiculed him. The scriptures tell us that they were lovers of money. Money was their master. They used it to get what they wanted. They did not see themselves as dishonest stewards. They were always justifying who they were and what they did before men. What are some of the ways we’ve seen this in the Pharisees? Can you give an example from what we’ve studied so far that Jesus knew their hearts? We cannot hide from God. We will all give an account to God someday.

16“The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. 17But it is easier for heaven and earth to pass away than for one dot of the Law to become void.

The Pharisees believed in the Law and the Prophets, but they rejected John the Baptist and Jesus. They rejected the Good News of the Kingdom that Jesus was preaching. They rejected their Messiah and encouraged others to be like themselves. They heaped up so many hard rules and burdens on the people! Every one ‘forces’ his way into the Kingdom of God. Before, the Jews were called God’s people. The scribes and the Pharisees did everything they could to make it hard to please God and enter the kingdom. They kept the Gentiles (all non Jews) out. But now the good news was being preached (Luke 2-“it shall be for ALL men) and individuals—both Jews and Gentiles were pressing into the Kingdom. (through faith in Christ)

18“Everyone who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery, and he who marries a woman divorced from her husband commits adultery.

This verse seems a little out of place, doesn’t it? The meaning is very easy to understand if you just read the verse. (state the principle from the verse) So why do you think it is there?

The Rich Man and Lazarus is another parable that is only found in Luke. Most of the time, parables are made up stories that illustrate a spiritual principle, but in the case of this particular parable, many people think that Jesus was using real people who were familiar to the hearers. They think this may be the case because this is the only parable in which the characters are named.

19“There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day. 20And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, 21who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man's table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.

Here we have the description of the two men: The rich man, who is frequently referred to by the name of Dives, (although scripture does not name him) and Lazarus, the poor, sick beggar. This is not the Lazarus whom Jesus raised from the dead. These two men could not be further apart—the richest and the poorest.

22The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham's side. The rich man also died and was buried, 23and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

We cannot look beyond death to see what is happening with those who have died, but Jesus could. He described the scene in great detail. The poor man died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. Abraham’s side, or Abraham’s bosom is the place where believers who had died awaited the resurrection of Jesus. It is also called paradise. Believers before Christ’s resurrection awaited him there. (Eph 4:8-10) Now the bodies of believers to to the grave but their spirits go to heaven to be with Christ. (2 Cor 5:8) The rich man was in Hades, the place for those who were lost and tormented. He could see Lazarus and Abraham from afar. This increased his torment to see Lazarus at peace while he was in torment. Those who do not have faith in Christ are aware of their surroundings and are in constant torment. Some people teach that the lost go to the grave and cease to exist. But that is not the picture that Christ relates. The lost remain in Hades until the final judgment, when they are cast into hell with Satan and his fallen angels. Notice, too, the rich man recognized Lazarus. There is never a time that any man will cease to exist or forever lose awareness.

24And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’ 25But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish. 26And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

The rich man thought he could call Lazarus, his inferior, away from Abraham’s side to act as a servant to him—to bring him even one drop of water. The rich man has become the beggar and the beggar, the rich man. Both men were dead, but they were as separated from each other as they were from the living.

When one dies he either go to be with the Lord in everlasting peace and joy, or go to the place of everlasting loneliness and torment. When one has died, it is too late to change one’s final destination. (Hebrews 9:24-28)

(Born once; die twice Born twice, die once)

27And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father's house— 28for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

Since Lazarus could not cross the divide to him, the rich man asked that he be sent to warn his brothers so that they could believe and be saved from the torment that he was experiencing.

29But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’ 30And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’ 31He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’”

Moses and the Prophets spoke of the Messiah that would come and save His people. The angels had proclaimed it on the night of Christ’s birth. They had seen miracles and healings and might acts of God, but still some did not believe. Abraham tells the rich man that those who do not believe will not be convinced even if someone was raised from the dead. It is still the case today. Christ was raised from the dead, but still, most do not believe.

This parable is told in contrast to the Parable of the Prodigal Son. In that case, the sinner ‘came to himself’ and was saved and was received into the blessings of the Father’s house. In the case of the rich man, he was left in torment. It is a picture of the wrath to come for those who do not believe.

*These lessons are written for use with elementary aged students. You can find lessons for previous chapters here . All scriptures are taken from the ESV.

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