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Devotional - Salvation Is Not A Game - Parable Of The Ten Virgins

Discussion in 'Thoughts for Today' started by anthony wade, Mar 13, 2014.


  1. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep. “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. “Latethe others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’ - Matthew 25: 3-12 (NIV)




    I am grieved when I look out across Christendom and see the falseness God has warned us about growing within the Body of Christ. The abandonment of sound doctrine for the tickling of our ears. The trading of eternal rewards for temporal pleasures. Cries of "what's the big deal" as discernment dies a horrible death. The attacks upon those who would stand in the gap and sound the alarm. The Bridegroom is coming! Do we truly understand the gravity of that statement? We all like to shout out - "come now Lord Jesus" - but are we ready? This is not a game beloved. There is no second chance once the Bridegroom returns. We cannot blame our church. We cannot blame our pastor. We cannot blame the parade of false teachers we followed on television. We will either be found in Christ or He will say that He never knew us. Not found in ministry. Not found in our purpose. Not found in our church attendance records, tithing history, or political votes taken. We will either be found in Christ or we will be found wanting.



    So we come to the Parable of the Ten Virgins, given to us by our Lord and Savior to illustrate the importance of being truly prepared for the second coming. Let us unpack the verses to dig deeper into what God is saying to us today. Ten virgins went out to wait for the Bridegroom, who is representing Jesus in this story. Five were wise and five were foolish.



    The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.



    Oil is one of the representations of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. The foolish virgins had the lamp. They had the appearance of a relationship with Christ but no true power of God. Spurgeon describes it as follows:



    They thought that, if they had the external, it would be quite enough. The secret store of oil, they judged to be unnecessary, because it would be unseen. They would employ one hand in carrying the lamp, but to occupy the other hand by holding the oil-flask seemed to them to be doing too much,— giving themselves up too thoroughly to the work; so they “took their lamps, and took no oil with them.” They might just as well have had no lamps at all.



    They might as well have had no lamps at all! That is how useless dead religion is! That is how useless the show that masquerades as Pop-Christianity is today! They thought they had done enough. They held the lamp. They attended a church. So what if the doctrine wasn't quite right? So what if the whole Gospel wasn't preached? So what if they merely swept their sins under the rug instead of allowing the blood of Christ to wash them clean? What's the big deal? The big deal is they never gave themselves up thoroughly to the work. The big deal is that while they have all the trappings of religion, they have no relationship. Without the oil...they may as well have not bothered to bring the lamp at all.



    The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.



    On the other hand we have the wise virgins. They had relationship and religion. They had real power, not just the appearance of it. They were prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom. So much of modern seeker friendly theology is focused on this life and gaining material blessings and comfort now, that rarely do people hear anything about being prepared for the coming of the Bridegroom. What is interesting here is that both sets of virgins became drowsy and fell asleep. God is acknowledging that our walk can grow tedious. He knows that life can sometimes dull us with the mere passing of time. We can start out on fire for God only to watch as we get spiritually tired. The difference however is in what we have packed for the journey. What we have prepared ourselves for. Because one day, the trumpet will sound:



    “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’ “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps.




    At midnight. At the last hour we might expect. Here is the Bridegroom! Come out and meet Him! Alas, that is when it will become evident to us if we were truly ready or whether we had just been playing religious games:



    The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’“‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you.



    Beloved, we will not get into heaven based upon what other people have done. We will not get into heaven based upon our mother. We will not get into heaven because of our spouse. We will not get into heaven because of our pastor. What is in our other hand that we could not bear the thought of holding a jar of oil? What is it that we refused to let go of? Do we hold our pride and self sufficiency in our open hand; preventing the oil of the Holy Spirit from indwelling? Do we hold a secret sin? Do we hold the knowledge of being OK with the superficial changes religiosity asks of us while refusing to deal with the deeper changs that require true regeneration? Whatever it is - at this point it will be too late. We cannot borrow oil when we stand before the Bridegroom.



    Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’ But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived.




    During the building of the first transcontinental railroad, Chinese workers were the first to sell snake oil to their European counterparts. The claim was that when rubbed on sore areas, the snake oil would bring relief. The claim however was false and the relief was an illusion. Through history after this, a "snake oil salesman" was someone who offered remedies that were false in nature, fooling their customers into thinking they had bought something useful. We see here the wise virgins almost mock the unwise telling them to go buy the oil they needed. Why not? They had spent their walk buying snake oil to begin with. Buying a false conversion and a false salvation. Buying the lies of the snake oil salesman, who only wanted their money. A true man of God will always point you to God and a deeper relationship with Him. To the true oil of the Holy Spirit because it alone has the power to save. We cannot buy our salvation. We cannot buy it with money. We cannot buy it with service. When Simon the Sorcerer saw the true power of the Holy Spirit he offered the disciples money for the same power and Peter rebuked him harshly. We cannot buy it because it is a gift freely offered unto us. We must however be willing to accept it. We must do so expeditiously because as we see here; while they were off trying to buy more oil - the Bridegroom arrived!



    The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.




    There is a reason why I say this is not a game. Only those who are ready will be allowed to go in to the banquet. To the Marriage Supper of the Lamb. Only those whose names are found in the Book of Life. Only those who carry the oil of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. Look at the finality beloved. The door was shut. The world sells this notion that all doors lead to heaven but do not fall for it. The church can sell the notion that you can be saved without the oil but do not fall for it. The path that leads to destruction is broad for a reason - there are a lot of people on it. That's a lot of people who thought they were on the right road. That's a lot of people who sat in pews every week. That's a lot of people who were taught that they only needed to have a lamp. Without the oil however, the lamp is empty and meaningless.



    “Latethe others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’



    Herein lies the bottom line. Why it is that we who are charged with preaching the Gospel need to take that solemn privilege so seriously? Because the eternal destination of men hang in the balance. This life is but a vapor beloved. It seems long but that is an illusion. Eternity is a long time. Too long to be thinking we should have packed some oil for the trip. That we should have not listened to those who wanted to feed our flesh. We often talk about wanting to hear those words from Jesus as we stand before Him - "Well done my good and faithful servant." This comes from the Parable of the Talents, which not coincidentally is the next story following the Ten Virgins. We need to realize however that there is something else Jesus could say when we stand before Him and that is, "I do not know you." Can you imagine the disappointment and shock? Earlier in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus explains that some people who even cast demons out and performed miracles will not be known. The issue is not how good a show we can put on. Is there any substance behind the flash? Is there any oil in that nice shiny lamp? This is not about shaking our confidence in our own salvation because those who are born again, know that they know that they know. They know they are a new creation in Christ and the old person is gone. Not as vague theological concepts but way down on the inside. For those who may not be sure however:



    Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test? - 2Corinthians 13: 5 (NIV)




    The verse no one likes to preach from. But here is the real truth for us today beloved. Failing the test today still provides us with the opportunity to accept the free gift of salvation and be truly found in Christ. Failing the test when the Bridegroom arrives means we will be on the wrong side of the shut door. Here is a portion of the summary from Matthew Henry on the Parable of the Ten Virgins:



    As Christians we profess to attend upon Christ, to honour him, also to be waiting for his coming. Sincere Christians are the wise virgins, and hypocrites the foolish ones. Those are the truly wise or foolish that are so in the affairs of their souls. Many have a lamp of profession in their hands, but have not, in their hearts, sound knowledge and settled resolution, which are needed to carry them through the services and trials of the present state.




    Look at what we are supposed to be as Christians! We are supposed to attend upon Christ. That means we are supposed to wait upon Him as a servant! We are supposed to honor Him with our lives. Do we live lives worthy of the calling we have received? Lastly, we are to be found waiting for His return. It is OK if we get tired along the way - even the wise virgins got drowsy here. The key point tough was that they were nonetheless prepared for His coming. We are not merely to "profess" these things. We are to embody them. This is who we are supposed to be. Because sincerity indicates wisdom and hypocrisy indicates foolishness. Forget the outside! Forget the appearance! We do not need whitewashed tombs for Christians! Our wisdom or foolishness resides on the inside of who we really are. Deep in the affairs of the soul. Without the oil we merely have the lamp of profession in our hands and that will not gain us entry into eternal life. It simply will not.



    So forgive my tendency to over-seriousness. As Paul once said, woe is me if I do not preach the Gospel. The clock is ticking and the Bridegroom is arriving soon. It is time for us to look at the lamp we are holding. Is it merely a lamp of profession? Do we talk a good game? Are we clean and sparkly on the outside yet filled with the filth of this world on the inside? If we were to grow weary and doze off...will we be still ready should the arrival of the Bridegroom awaken us? If you are found in Christ today - help spread the Word before the door is shut to everyone else. If you are found wanting today, turn to Him fully and seek the forgiveness of your sins. Turn your lamp of profession into a lamp of confession. He is faithful to forgive. He is faithful to restore. Then when the Bridegroom comes, you will be counted amongst the wise and hear those words - "well done my good and faithful servant."





    Reverend Anthony Wade - March 13, 2014
     
  2. I'm ready.
     

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