He (the rich man) cried and said, … “Have mercy on me. … I am tormented in this flame.”
The scrap metal dealer arrived by lorry. He bargained with my grandfather over the value of the metals that he was to take away. When they reached agreement, and the scrap had been loaded, my grandfather asked, “Have you got the forgiveness of your sins?” The dealer only laughed. “If you won’t believe in the Son of God, you will be lost for eternity.” Then came the scornful reply, “Then I’ll deliver the devil his coal in hell with my lorry.”
I had followed the conversation with both interest and dismay and wondered whether that man imagined hell to be a place where he could continue sinning at will, untroubled by God and preachers of the gospel.
Hell is still empty. The final judgment under Jesus Christ has still to come. The rich man about whom the Lord Jesus was speaking in our text from the Bible, was at an intermediary stage in the realm of the dead. But he was suffering torment already there. What he refused to accept during his life, that God is holy and righteous, he knew now all too well, and it lay infinitely heavily and tormentingly on his soul.
It is a depressing prospect for everyone who simply will not believe in the Son of God, and on whom “the wrath of God abides” (cf. John 3:36). But whoever puts his faith in Him and accepts Him as Saviour and Lord can know that on the cross, on my behalf, Jesus Christ bore the wrath of God that I deserved.