"But 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. And 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.' " - Luke 16:25-26 ESV
This is a verse that gives us a peek into the pre-crucifixion afterlife. When Jesus ascended into Heaven things changed. The doors of Heaven opened not only for Him but for all the people that went before Him and would come after Him.
"And Stephen said: 'Brothers and fathers, hear me. The God of glory appeared to our father Abraham when he was in Mesopotamia, before he lived in Haran...
...Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.
And he said, 'Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.'
But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him. And the witnesses laid down their garments at the feet of a young man named Saul.
And as they were stoning Stephen, he called out, 'Lord Jesus, receive my spirit.' And falling to his knees he cried out with a loud voice, 'Lord, do not hold this sin against them.' And when he had said this, he fell asleep." - Acts 7:2a, 54-60 ESV
Stephen gave a long speech that I omitted but we see at the end of it Jesus standing up and receiving him into Heaven.
I think about that great gulf that was present for Abraham. We see a different kind of gulf in Stephen's account. Stephen saw what no one else there saw.
I have felt this gulf in my own life. After I got converted I tried to do the things I did before... I tried to like the things I loved before. I couldn't. I was still 'me' but a different 'me'. I had been moved to a different place. In one way it was a great thing because like Lazarus I had suffered in that other life and now I had a new one with a new start and better provisions.
It's funny how this nameless rich man does not ask to pass over to the other side. He just wants a provision from the other side. Abraham however does talk about it. He has compassion on the rich man. He does not want to exclude him. He just can't reach him. Stephen also has compassion on the people he is speaking to. He wants to reach them but knows that words alone can't do it. God must do it. God uses words but the words are there to trigger a faith decision and then God moves a person from one side of the gulf to the other.
The gulf Jesus crossed when He died and rose again is unfathomable. He now has the power to bring us to Himself.
I want everyone I have ever known to see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. I want everyone I know now to see Him. I want everyone I meet in the future to see Him. Words fail me many times. Like the blind man in John chapter 9 I just know that I was blind but now I see. I can't make others see... but Jesus can.
You may have looked at Him before but I plead with whoever is reading this to look at Him again. Read His words. Ask God to show you who Jesus Is. If you don't believe in God then just ask the question out loud to whoever might be listening. God will hear you. Jesus Is the One who bridges the gulf. He doesn't bring good people and shun bad people. He brings those who believe.