Saturday, February 26, 2011

The Wise and Foolish Virgins

Matthew 25:1-13

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.

I have been pondering this topic of the race for many months now and I see how many things in the Bible tie into it. If you want to read my post on The Race, click the link. Paul compared our Christian life to a race. He said he was pressing on to win the race and receive the prize. Later in his life, he said he had fought the good fight, he had finished the race, and he knew the prize was awaiting him. He told us in Hebrews 12 how to run that race, how not to get tripped up.

This is important because I know that a lot of Christians don't view their lives as a race. Rather they view Christianity as a ticket to heaven, a "Get Out of Jail Free" card, and that is the extent of their relationship with God. They hear about God's saving grace and sit back and don't ever find out anything else about Him and His plan. They sit around and don't ever do anything, telling themselves and others that they aren't saved by works (which is true). They don't ever take the time to enter into relationship with God, they don't even know him. They are like a bride that had a wedding, but doesn't want to live with the groom.

I heard something recently that was great -

"Between conversion and resurrection is discipleship."

Salvation is not the end, it is the beginning. How is your race going? Are you a disciple or a convert? Are you moving forward or regressing? I don't believe you can remain stationary in this race.

That is why I want to bring up this parable of the virgins. This story tells us of the consequences of running the race well, or not running well.

The general belief is that the wise virgins are Christians, but the foolish are not. I don't agree. Another view is that they are all Christians, but the wise virgins are the ones that get raptured, the foolish ones do not. Again, I don't agree. There are just too many things in the Bible that indicate that the WHOLE church is raptured. And that is a topic for another post.

I believe that all 10 are Christians. First, because they are virgins, they are pure. When we get saved, we are made new, pure, clean. We are made the righteousness of Christ (II Corinthians 5:21). We didn't deserve or earn our salvation (Ephesians 2:8).

Next, notice that all 10 virgins have oil in their lamps. Oil in the Bible represents the Holy Spirit. They would not have the Holy Spirit if they were not saved. Now most who read this (and I did before, too) assume that the foolish virgins didn't have any oil (because of verse 3), but notice in verse 4 that the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. The vessel was apparently a separate container, so that they could keep their lamp full. And this is confirmed in verse 8 when the foolish say their lamps are going out. This tells me they did have oil at one time, but no reserves. Their lamps were lit, but they were going out. So they all started out with oil. They are all Christians that started out filled with the Holy Spirit.

Why did 5 of them get into the wedding and 5 did not? And what is the wedding? Revelation 19 tells of the marriage supper of the Lamb and the wife that has made herself ready. Verse 9 says, "Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!" I take this to mean there is really a literal wedding and marriage feast. And so only those that have made themselves ready get to enter. How do we make ourselves ready?

By keeping our lamps full of oil. This is walking in the Spirit (Romans 8:6, Galatians 5:16-26). Obeying the voice of the Spirit. Yielding in everything to the Spirit. Less of me, more of Him. This is a day-by-day, moment-by-moment decision. We don't just decide one day and then every day after that we are set. Again, it's not about starting, it's about finishing. There are many, many examples in the Bible of people that didn't finish well--Samson, Gideon, King Saul, Solomon, to name a few. These are to show us how NOT to live. (Romans 15:4)

Revelation 19:8 tells us that the bride is dressed in fine linen, clean and bright, and that linen is the righteous acts of the saints. So, you can't just sit still, you have to act! That is the only way you move forward in this race.


You cannot just make up your own acts. This is what got Abraham in trouble. He had a son of his own will, Ishmael. That was not God's plan. Romans 14:23--whatever is not from faith is sin. What is faith? Faith is responding to God's grace. Is your action a response to God's grace, or is it an action to gain something from God, to get God to move? This is how you determine if it is of the flesh or of the Spirit. If it's in response, it's of the Spirit. If it is to gain, to make God pity you and do something for you, it is of the flesh. These works of the flesh will be burned up (I Corinthians 3:5-17). To obey is better than sacrifice (I Samuel. 15:22). You must be filling up with God's Word in order to know what His Spirit is asking of you. Remember my post on fruit? It fits perfectly with this post, click here to read.

Now, this does not mean that some of us attain perfection. Remember what Paul said in Philippians 3:12, "I have not achieved perfection." This is THE apostle Paul talking here. He wrote two-thirds of the New Testament, but he said he had not achieved perfection?!? None of us ever will. But notice his next statement, "I press on to possess that perfection." None of us will be complete and perfect until Christ comes back (Philippians 1:6). But we press on. This includes repenting when we fail (I John 1:9).

This is where it is helpful to know the difference between spirit, soul, and body. Our spirits are complete, they are made perfect. It is our soul that takes a lifetime to be regenerated, transformed, and sanctified. Our bodies on the other hand will be made perfect, in an instant, when Christ returns.

So those that sit around and say you're not saved by works, you are right. But that is justification and that is your ticket to heaven. However, your sanctification takes an effort on your part. It is the Holy Spirit that does the work, but you have to yield to it. This seems to determine whether you get in to that wedding feast or not.

Now is your chance. It's never too late. You can start moving forward in this race. You can fill up with oil. You can be ready for when the bridegroom comes!

So then, is this wedding one of the prizes that Paul referred to? Could it be one of the rewards? I don't know. This brings up an interesting question that may rattle you a bit. If you are like me, you have been taught your whole life that if you are a Christian you are part of the Body of Christ and the Bride of Christ. But Revelation 19 and this Parable of the Virgins seems to indicate otherwise. But don't listen to me, dig in and be like a Berean--search the scriptures daily to see if these things are so (Acts 17:11).


Justine said...

This needed to be two posts. I got halfway through and had so much to think about that I had to stop. Will read the rest tomorrow. You have some amazing insights, but I want to check it out. 1711 all the way.

Shannon said...

Criticism well received, thank you. :) I actually have so much more to say! Ha! There will be many posts on this topic.

Justine said...

Well, I finally finished it. Decided to read the passage in my Bible and have my Bible next to me to look up scriptures. Worked better that way. Thank you for some great insights and ideas. I am off to study a bit on the bride of Christ.

man with desire said...

Are you the kind of foolish virgin about whom Jesus speaks in the previous allegory? In other words, are you a person who wants to be a Christian, perhaps attends church meetings, but does not have any "oil in his lamp", in other words, no spiritual life in your heart? Are you, in other words, only a nominal Christian, do you have external Christian habits in your life, but have really not been born again and experienced a living faith?
It really is possible that if God has not had the chance to awaken us, we are just these kinds of people. We can have all the external signs of Christianity, we may have turned away from certain sins, and we might think that we are on our way to Heaven, even though we are in fact going just the opposite direction. This is possible if we have not yet seen our true condition and the need for salvation in the light of God.