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We older people sometimes have weird dreams. I frequently dream I am back in college and I have completely forgotten or neglected one of my courses till the semester is almost over. Then I panic trying to catch up.
Many people live that way. They wait till the last minute before the deadline to complete a task. They may have known for a long time what was needed and planned to do it … someday. But they postpone and procrastinate then rush like crazy to finish the job. Sometimes last-minute complications come up, and the job is never done.
The purpose of this study is to consider some young ladies who had to prepare for a deadline, but they did not know when the deadline would be. Some were ready, but some were not.
The story we will consider is the parable of the ten virgins (Matthew 25:1-13). Note the following lessons we can learn.
Verses 1,5 – The ten virgins went to meet him, but his coming was delayed.
Verses 6,10 – Finally his coming was announced and he came. He kept his promise to come, but the girls did not know when he would come. The five wise virgins entered the feast because they had the wisdom to be prepared regardless of when he came.
Verse 13 – Jesus is compared to the bridegroom, and we are told that He too is coming. (John 3:29; Matthew 9:15)
Matthew 25:31-33,46 – Jesus will come and all nations will be gathered before Him. He will separate them right and left. The righteous will receive eternal life and the wicked eternal punishment.
Like the bridegroom in the parable, Jesus will come. When He comes, He will declare the eternal rewards of all mankind.
(1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; Revelation 20:11-15; Romans 2:1-11; 14:10-12; 2 Corinthians 5:10)
Verse 10 – The only ones who entered the feast were those who were ready when the bridegroom came.
Verses 11,12 – Those who were not ready could not enter.
Verse 13 – The application: “Watch” – Be ready, watchful, prepared for when Jesus comes.
Luke 12:42-47 – The servant knew his master’s will but did not prepare. The master will come when he is not aware, and the servant will be beaten with many stripes. The servant who is blessed is the one who, when the Lord comes, finds the servant doing what the Lord said. (2 Thessalonians 1:7-9)
The only way to prepare for Jesus’ return is to do what He says. This requires us to obey the gospel to be forgiven of sins (Mark 16:15,16; Acts 2:38). Then we must live a faithful life (Matthew 28:18-20).
Most people realize that success in life requires preparation. Examples: Giving a speech, athletic competition, or a school test. Likewise, preparation is necessary to please God. And preparation requires work: we must do what is required by the one we seek to please.
Verse 1 – Like the five wise virgins, the foolish ones had taken lamps and gone to meet the bridegroom.
Verses 2-9 – But they lacked something the others had: they failed to bring extra oil in case of a long wait.
The foolish virgins were condemned, not because they practiced evil, but because they did not practice enough good. What they did was good, but it was not enough.
Matthew 28:20 – Jesus said those who are baptized should be taught to observe all Jesus’ commands.
James 2:10 – Whoever shall keep the whole law and yet stumble in one point, he is guilty of all. If a man does not commit adultery but does commit murder, he is still a sinner. (Acts 3:22,23)
Some people attend church meetings regularly but say it doesn’t matter what church you attend or how you worship. Others say worship matters but church organization and work do not matter. Others treat their family and neighbors well but are not baptized.
God says we must obey all. This does not mean we are hopeless if we sin. It means we must repent and work to correct our sins; and in matters of degree in God’s service, we must grow. But we must never be satisfied with partial preparation. We must not excuse or overlook some instructions because we are obeying others.
We can be lost without actively practicing evil. All we have to do is neglect to practice what is good. Is your lamp burning brightly?
Some say that people who did not obey the gospel during this life will be given the opportunity to obey and be forgiven when Jesus comes.
Some practice baptism for the dead saying it will give people a chance to be saved after death.
Others can’t explain how it will happen, but they believe people who die unsaved must somehow be given a chance for salvation.
Matthew 25:10-13 – The five prepared virgins entered when the groom came, and the door was shut (verse 10). The ones who were not ready tried to gain entrance later, but it was too late. The door would not be opened.
Luke 13:23-27 – People who worked iniquity will try to enter after the door is shut, but Jesus will not open.
2 Corinthians 5:10 – Each individual will be judged for deeds done in the body. There is no chance to change our destiny after death. When we die, all that is left is judgment for our lives.
Jeremiah 8:20 – The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved. There is a season to be saved: in this life. Afterward, it will be too late.
Do not be misled by false hopes of forgiveness after Jesus arrives. The time for mercy is now. After this life we face judgment.
(2 Peter 3:4,7,9-12; Hebrews 9:27; 2 Thessalonians 1:4-10; Matthew 25:31-46; Luke 16:19-31)
Verses 6,10 – The bridegroom delayed (tarried) then came when some were unprepared.
Verse 13 – The lesson is to watch because we do not know the day or hour when the Son of Man is coming.
Note that none of the virgins knew when the groom was coming. The wise were not wiser because they knew and the others didn’t. They were wiser because they were prepared for whenever he came!
Matthew 25:13 – This is exactly the application the parable makes. (Compare 24:36.)
1 Thessalonians 5:1-3 – Concerning the times and seasons, we know only that the Lord comes as a thief in the night: unexpected. (2 Peter. 3:10; Luke 12:40)
Some have claimed they had superior wisdom and knew when Jesus would return.
Hobart Freeman was head of Faith Assembly headquartered near Ft. Wayne, IN, when we lived there. He said Jesus would come in his lifetime. He is now dead, but Jesus has not come.
Others have claimed they could read “the signs of the times” and know when Jesus would come. But neither the wise virgins nor the foolish ones knew when the groom would come. So today, no one on earth knows when Jesus will return.
This conclusion follows from all we have learned. We must be ready when He comes, we cannot get ready after He comes, and we don’t know when He will come, so we must get ready now.
Matthew 25:13 – The five foolish virgins eventually got ready, but it was too late. They waited too long. Since we don’t know when Jesus will come, we must be ready whenever He comes. The wise virgins were wise because they were prepared for the bridegroom to come no matter when he came.
Psalms 119:60 – I made haste, and did not delay to keep Your commandments. Many people know they are not right with God, yet they still postpone obedience.
Luke 12:40 – Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. How much clearer could Jesus say it? You don’t know when He’s coming, so get ready!
Acts 2:41 – Three thousand were baptized the same day they heard the gospel.
Acts 8:12 – The Samaritans were baptized when they believed.
Acts 16:33 – The jailer was baptized the same hour of the night that he believed.
Acts 22:16 – Saul was warned not to wait but to arise and be baptized and wash away his sins. (24:14ff)
In school, if you know when a test is scheduled, you may wait till the day before to study. But what if there is a “pop quiz”?
“The present is the only time in which any duty can be done or any grace received” – C. S. Lewis. Today is the only day you have. Yesterday is gone. Tomorrow may never come. You have assurance of nothing but today.
Jesus says He will come when people are unprepared. So you must get ready now. Are you ready?
2 Corinthians 6:2 – Behold, now is the accepted time; behold, now is the day of salvation.
Verses 3-10 – At first, all the virgins were ready: all had their lamps burning. But the groom delayed coming. This is what the foolish virgins were unprepared for. The difference between the wise and foolish virgins was a matter of staying prepared.
Luke 12:43-46 – The servant who will be punished is the one who becomes unfaithful because his master delays his return. The one who is rewarded is the one who continues serving till the master comes.
The Bible clearly warns about the need to stay prepared. Yet time and again people ignore the warning. They begin to serve God, but they fall away and cease being ready. Why should we ignore lessons so clearly taught in Scripture?
Patience (longsuffering) is the determination to continue despite hardship no matter how long we must endure.
Romans 2:7 – Eternal life is for those who by patient continuance in doing good seek for glory, honor, and immortality. Many seem to think it is enough to begin: they are baptized, enter the church, serve awhile, then quit or give half-hearted partial service. What we need is to continue to do good.
James 5:7-8 – It is not enough to begin a crop. A farmer must be patient till the harvest. So we must be patient till the Lord comes.
When members fall away, sometimes other members seem surprised. But Jesus warned it would happen. In fact, half the virgins failed to stay ready.
* If husband, wife, son, or daughter is faithful, some think God will accept them too.
* If they are part of an active, hard-working congregation, some think they will be saved.
* Catholic Indulgences
“Even when the guilt of sin and the eternal punishment sometimes due to it have been removed..., a temporal punishment may still remain … and this debt is cleared by grant of an indulgence … The Church has recourse to the infinite merits of Christ, … and to the merits of saints who have done penance more than sufficient to pay the temporal punishment due to their own sins … their actions had a penitential character which availed for others if not needed for themselves” – Catholic Dictionary, p. 441.
So, the doctrine says the good deeds of others can be credited to you, so you get out of purgatory sooner. It’s like having the “get out of jail” card.
Matthew 25:8-10 – In order to get ready at the last minute, the foolish virgins wanted the wise virgins to give them some of their oil. But then the wise virgins would not have enough for themselves. Some things cannot be shared.
2 Corinthians 5:10 – Each will be judged according to what he has done in the body. (Romans 14:12) Righteousness before God cannot be credited to the account of anyone other than the one who does right. Each must do his own righteousness.
Ezekiel 18:20 – The righteousness of the righteous will be upon him, and the wickedness of the wicked will be upon him. Each person is accountable for his own deeds.
God will not reward or punish you for what others have done. If others in your family or in the church are righteous, that will not help you unless you obey. To be saved, you must serve God faithfully yourself.
What about you? Are you like the wise virgins or the foolish ones?
You can receive the reward of eternal life only if you prepare and stay prepared by faithful service. You do not know when Jesus will come. If you wait until He has come, it will be too late to be saved.
James 4:14 – You do not know what will happen tomorrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapor that appears for a little time and then vanishes away. Not only do we not know when Jesus will come, but we also do not know when we will die. But we must obey while we are still alive.
The choice is up to you, and you must decide in this life. Are you ready if Jesus should come now? If you once were ready, have you remained ready?
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2021; www.gospelway.com
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.