—what does it mean but that He [Christ] also first descended into the lower parts of the earth. - Ephesians 4:9
What is the Scripture speaking of here? It seems like such a mystery. But if we take a closer look at this verse it reveals something that is often not seen. When Jesus died on the cross, we are told, He first descended into the lower parts of the earth. He went to a place called Hades or hell, located in the center of the earth, the realm of the dead. Christ, after the cross, went first to the depths of Hades to set those who died in faith free (Ephesians 4:8), because those whom were righteous, according to faith, went to heaven (Hebrews 11).
We find this truth in the story of a beggar, named Lazarus and a certain rich man. This was not a parable, which some may believe, as Lazarus was mentioned by name. In Luke 16:19-31 the story contrasts their lives; the rich man was clothed in purple and lived luxuriously. While the hungry beggar lay at the rich man’s gates as the dogs licked his sores. Both men had died and went into Hades, where there were two compartments. On one side Lazarus was being comforted, in what was then called, Abraham’s bosom; whereas the unrighteous rich man, separated by a great gulf, was tormented in the heat of the flames.
In concern for his five brothers, the rich man asked if Lazarus could be sent to warn them of this place of torment. If someone was sent from the dead surely they would listen and repent. Abraham told him God had sent Moses and the prophets for them to listen to. The sad reality was if they failed to listen to them, they would not be convinced even if a person rose from the dead. Can you imagine, Jesus rose from the dead but people still have a problem believing! We too need to be concerned for the salvation of those we love; while we are living we need to warn them.
But he said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded though one rise from the dead.’
For more from Raul Ries, please visit Somebodylovesyouradio.org!