by Mike Ratliff
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps.” (Matthew 25:1-4 ESV)
Jesus is coming back soon. If that statement brought a surge of joy into your heart then more than likely, you are actively preparing for His return and are looking forward to it with eagerness. However, there may be some of you who reacted with a sense of dread or foreboding. If that is the case, then I pray that you will pay special attention to the truths from God’s Word we will look at in this post. There may be some of you who reacted to that statement with skepticism or doubt. For you, I pray that God will open your heart to the truth as we study His Word.
“Stay dressed for action and keep your lamps burning, and be like men who are waiting for their master to come home from the wedding feast, so that they may open the door to him at once when he comes and knocks. Blessed are those servants whom the master finds awake when he comes. Truly, I say to you, he will dress himself for service and have them recline at table, and he will come and serve them. If he comes in the second watch, or in the third, and finds them awake, blessed are those servants! But know this, that if the master of the house had known at what hour the thief was coming, he would not have left his house to be broken into. You also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect.” (Luke 12:35-40 ESV)
Of course our Lord did not mean that we must deprive ourselves of rest and sleep or that we must keep our eyes peeled on the sky looking for Him to appear in the clouds 24/7. What this means is that we must be actively pursuing holiness in our lives as we obey Him in all things. We seek God’s glory through us. We pray for our Lord’s Kingdom to come in fulfillment. At the same time, we actively pursue God’s will and pray that it be done here in our lives as if we were in Heaven with Him now. We understand that all we have comes from God. Since we are pursuing holiness we are actively putting sin to death within us. We seek forgiveness from God and those we have offended. We also forgive those who have trespassed against us. In fact we ask God if He would only forgive us as we forgive others. We ask God to lead us not into temptation as He delivers us from evil.
Pray then like this: “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread, and forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil. (Matthew 6:9-13 ESV)
If we are to actively seek the holiness of God in our lives then we must learn this prayer our Lord taught and what each phrase really means. It teaches us to live our lives by praying continually with this prayer actively working in all of our members. If we walk through each day step by step with this prayer working in us then we will live out Romans 12.
I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. For by the grace given to me I say to everyone among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think with sober judgment, each according to the measure of faith that God has assigned. For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness. Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse them. Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep. Live in harmony with one another. Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly. Never be conceited. Repay no one evil for evil, but give thought to do what is honorable in the sight of all. If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all. Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God, for it is written, “Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.” To the contrary, “if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him something to drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals on his head.” Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good. (Romans 12:1-21 ESV)
If we will surrender to our Lord’s will here and do this then we will be actively preparing for our Lord’s return. On the other hand, if we live for self and pursue only what our flesh desires then we are not watching for our Lord’s return. Instead, we are in that group that does not really believe He is coming back any time soon. In our hearts we say, “Where is the promise of His coming?” We are like the five foolish virgins who did not take enough oil for their lamps.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. (Matthew 25:1-13 ESV)
What is this saying about those who do not watch and prepare for our Lord’s return by living obedient, holy lives? He does not know them. They are not His. The growing apostasy of the Church is a sure sign that the end of this age is fast approaching. What happens at the end of this age? Our Lord returns! Do we know when that will be? Jesus said, that no one knows the day or the hour. He is coming when we do not expect Him. Therefore, we must be about doing what He told us to do. That would be to be prepared for His return along with obeying the Great Commission.
And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” (Matthew 28:18-20 ESV)
The end of the age commith and will be upon us soon. Are you watching as you prepare or are you living for self or for the moment? Come soon Lord Jesus! Soli Deo Gloria!