An interesting title for a very eye opening subject. Will the rich actually get to heaven or are they destined for hell. The rich dominate everything this world has to offer. They get the best health care. They get the best houses. They get the best automobiles. They get the best food. They have the world’s power in their hands. They even have the best seats in every church. They have whatever their souls desire. So, do they also get heaven as well?
There are quite a few scriptures that deal with wealth which do not give credence that the rich will ever enter in through heaven’s gates easily. Let us take a look at them, and let the bible tell us what riches will do for and to you. Solomon wrote about riches by saying this: Work not to be rich. (Prov. 23:4). Solomon was verily rich, but he didn’t work to get rich or did he ask to be rich. Abraham was rich, but he did not work to be rich. Riches were a gift to both these men. (Eccl. 5:19) Solomon later wrote that he who makes haste to be rich will not go unpunished. (Prov. 28:20). Consider these warnings about riches. (Prov. 1:19; Prov. 20:21; Prov. 28:11). Solomon prayed that he would not be rich or poor, but somewhere in between. He said feed me with food that is convenient for me. If I am poor I will steal, and if I am rich I will deny God. (Prov. 30:7-9).
The psalmist David wrote the the little a righteous man had was better than the riches of many wicked. (Ps 37:16) In fact, the word rich and righteous have little in common. The rich man seeks only to gain more riches while a righteous man seeks only the righteousness of God. Later the same writer spoke on this vain when he said for us not to trust in riches if riches should come upon us. (Ps. 62:10) How often do people judge themselves so much better than the poor all because of their wealth. It is hard to resist such a thought or act.
In the new covenant Jesus comes warning very strongly about riches. Jesus said, how hardly will the rich enter into heaven. Camels will go through a needle’s eye before a rich man enters into heaven. (Mt. 19:24) The rich have their consolation right here on earth (Lk. 6:24) In the parable of the sower, Jesus explaining his parable to his disciples said that riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. (Mt. 13:21). Jesus told the rich ruler to give all his riches to the poor, and to take up his burden (cross) and follow him. That would be hard to do for any man, but Jesus required it of this rich man. (Lk 18:20-22).
Jesus said quite a lot about rich people, but none more clearer and frightening was his story about the rich man and Lazarus. (luke 16:19-31) The rich man had only good things happen to him, and the righteous man was poor, sickly and of all things was a beggar. The rich man was sent directly to hell and the righteous man was sent to Abraham’s bosom (a waiting place for the righteous). The rich man begged for one drop of water, and that Lazarus would be sent back to teach his brethren because they were destined to follow the rich man into hell. Abraham gave him neither water or messengers but a stern reprimand when he said, they have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them. That even a risen dead man would not convince them otherwise. If this was not a wake-up call for the rich men and women of the world then nothing would be. Today, false messengers of God scoff at this as only a fable with not an ounce of truth to verify it. In other words, they are calling the Son of God, Jesus Christ an unmitigated liar.
The apostle Paul warned a young preacher named Timothy about riches affecting preachers. (1 timothy 6:3-9) How prophetic was this message for this day in time. How many preachers preach just for money. They seek the fortunes of this world, and not the world to come. Paul tells Timothy that preachers who preach for money will strive over words, and using misleading arguments to get lots of money in their own pockets. These preachers think that riches are godliness, and for true Christians to withdraw themselves from them. He tells Timothy that preachers having food and raiment should be contented because the rich fall into temptations and lusts that lead to their destruction. That the love of money is the root of all evil that causes a preacher to error from the faith, and not only preachers, but all men.
It was a lesson in preaching that Paul wrote to the Corinthians when he was speaking of the paying of preachers. Paul stated that though a preacher was worthy of hire, that he found it to be a hindrance to the preaching of the gospel. He stated that he preached the gospel without any charge of money. (1 Cor. 9:18) A statement that most preachers will dare not utter from the pulpit or even in private. It was not that Paul condemned money being payed to preachers (1 Cor. 9:14), but rather that money can get in the way in the preaching of the gospel. A lesson that he also stated to the Thessalonians when he said that he worked night and day that he would not be an expense to any of them. (2 Thess. 3:8).
Such was the message that Jeremiah the prophet warned against when he said that the priests were ruling with their money and prophesying falsely. (Jer. 5:30-31). Such warning was even clearer, if that is possible, by Micah the prophet when he said their leaders, priests and prophets were using their abilities for money. (Mic. 3:11)
Greed and teaching God’s word do not go hand in hand. Jesus said of John the Baptist, what came you out to see? A man in expensive clothes? You see this in kings houses. (Lk 7:24-25) Elders were prohibited from leading if they were greedy for money. (1 Tim. 3:3) Peter warned that there would be false teachers out of greed who would exploit you and mislead you. (2 Pet 2:2-3)
James gave one of the most damning observations of riches when he told them to weep and howl for the miseries that were soon to come upon them. Riches that were gained by giving little to their workers. Wages that were due to the worker, but never given so that the rich would get even richer. A practice that led the poor to an early grave though the poor man does not resist them. (james 5:1-5). Do not rich men oppress you James wrote, yet you give them places in high regard in your worship services and poor men lowly places. (james 2:3-7).
The book of Revelations speaks of the kind of rich that doesn’t even know how poor they truly are. Not only poor are they, but wretched and blind and naked. (Rev. 3:17). The bible compared the word of God to gold and silver that is tried with fire seven times. (Ps 12:6) It compared a righteous man in the same manner. (Ps 66:10; Isa. 48:10; 1 Peter 1:7) ) There is a land of promise that was given to all the blessed saints of God that is rich in gold and silver and precious stones. A city of Gold where God is the light and one lives and abides forever. My hope is, and my desire to God would be, that you seek for that heavenly place that only comes by losing your life in this world and winning everlasting life with God Almighty. (Matt. 16:24-26) In the words of the Lord Jesus, you can not serve God and wealth. (Matt. 6:24)