The Ten Virgins

Scripture: Matthew 25:1-13
Date: 08/06/2005 
This sermon unpacks the parable of the ten virgins and a wedding. The bride represents the church. The wise and foolish women represent the people in the church - not all are ready. Only by having a living experience (reading the Bible with the Holy Spirit) will we be ready.
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Note: This is an unedited, verbatim transcript of the live broadcast.

“Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him. Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out. But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh.” --Matthew 25:1-13 KJV

Again I’d like to extend a special welcome to some friends who may be visiting here at Central for the first time from the ASI convention here in town. I know a number of the Central flock are there right now, and so I’m happy for a little exchange. Get some fresh faces here in the congregation and we’re very glad that you are here worshipping with us this morning.

I am going to be speaking to you this morning on a familiar passage of scripture. It’s the parable of the ten virgins that you find in Matthew chapter 25. Now this comes after the discourse where Jesus is talking about signs regarding His return. He emphasizes a number of points and helps us to view the second coming in a number of areas after He gives us some of these signs sort of as guidance and warning. This parable fits into that category. Now I know we read this story in our scripture reading, but I’d like to read through it again with you and then we’ll do a little expository study as we talk about this very important parable that applies to us in our day. “Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened unto ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish.” We’ll talk a little bit more about the wise and the foolish, but I’d like to begin by talking about the Jewish wedding. The Bible is really all about weddings. If you think about it the first thing you see in Genesis is before sin enters the world, God creates man and He says there’s something missing, and He creates woman. From the side of Adam his bride is born. There’s a marriage. It doesn’t tell a lot about the formalities of the ceremony. The guests were probably the angels, but the Bible begins with a wedding. Then if you fast forward to Revelation you’ve got the wedding of the second Adam to the church. The church is the bride. “Husbands love your wives even as Christ loves the church.” So many of the parables of Jesus take place in the context of a wedding. He’s got the parable of the great king who had a wedding feast for his son. Then you’ve got those who were invited to the feast, but they were too busy to come. I could go on and on talking about the verbage of a wedding. When Jesus said, “I go to prepare a place for you, and if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and receive you unto myself…” That’s all talking about the Jewish wedding because the way it worked is if there was an agreement between the families… weddings were arranged and if the parents of the bride and the groom came to some mutual agreement, then they would get permission for the groom and he would go to the bride and he would offer her a glass of grape juice. If she took that and drank it, that meant that she accepted it. Any of you ever been to a Jewish wedding and you’ve seen where they take a wineglass and they put it on the ground and they cover it and they stomp on it? It symbolizes that nobody else is to drink from this glass of wine again, that there has been some unison. That actually comes from the ancient wedding in the Bible. Then again, you remember where Jesus said, “Are you able to drink the cup that I must drink?” This is the language of the wedding, accepting the proposal. Then after she accepted the proposal, he would go back to his father’s house and he would prepare this wedding chamber, this honeymoon chamber. Some of you remember that Jacob went into that chamber after the week of feasting and his father-in-law stuck Leah in there instead of Rachel and he didn’t know until the morning. That was sort of a dirty trick, but… and I have mentioned before that when I get to heaven I need to ask him about that, how he could not know until the morning. But in any event… So he would go and he would pick up his wife, after the wedding chamber was over, he would pick up his wife and he would bring his best man with him and there would be a wedding party that came from the groom and the father’s house they would retrieve the bride and the wedding party from the bride’s house and he would bring her back. It was usually done in the evening because the days were often hot and they very seldom had their weddings in the winter. Even here we have most weddings in what month? June. See, you knew that. They are somewhat seasonal they say. Does that mean that there are more births nine months later? I’m just wondering. It’s a practical question, isn’t it? Anyway. And so this was the context of the Jewish wedding. So here he tells this parable that these virgins, these bridesmaids are waiting for the wedding party. Now the bride has been picked up by the groom. On the way back to the groom’s house where there’s going to be a feast. This is the one that you also read about there with the feast of Jacob and Laban when he married Rachel and Leah. And they were to join this procession and help illuminate the way; there was singing and musicians and everything. They never knew exactly when it would happen. Have you ever been to a wedding that started late? While they’re waiting for the groom to come back, there’s been some delay which is not uncommon. After he picks up the bride maybe everything wasn’t quite ready and on his way back they’re waiting and they’re waiting and there’s this delay. Now this parable is dealing with… Well, let me just ask you what some of the symbols represent. Who is the bride? The church of Christ. Who is the groom? Jesus is the bridegroom. The Bible talks about “blessed are those who are invited to the wedding of the Lamb.” And these bridesmaids are believers. They are part of the wedding party. Five are wise and five are foolish. You notice the Bible is very dogmatic about there being no middle road. It says you’re with me or against me. You’re light or darkness. You’re wise or foolish. It talks about the foolish man builds on the sand; the wise man builds on the rock. What is it that separates the wise and the fool is Jesus’ theology? Notice the similarities. Both know there is a storm coming. Both build a house. One builds on the sand, and He said, “He that hears these words of mine and does them is the wise man. He that hears these words of mine and does not do them…” They both hear the words. One is a doer of the word and one is only a hearer. That’s what separates the wise from the fool. You’ll find it’s not as different as you think in the parable of the ten virgins. Five are wise and five are foolish. But I want you to notice that key to this parable is what happens during a scheduled delay. Now this is probably one of the most important parts of the message, and I want to emphasize this. Jesus has gone to heaven. He said, “I will come again.” Matter of fact, He said, “I come quickly.” Many people have thought, “Well, the Bible must not be true because it’s been two thousand years. How can you call that quickly? I guess compared to a billion years, if you see things through God’s perspective, two thousand is quickly. Right? If you consider the next thing you’re aware of, if you die in the Lord, is the resurrection and your life is pretty short. The Bible tells us all through the Bible that our lives are just like a vapor, isn’t that right? Like grass that springs up and dries, it’s very short. So in that sense, even if you live a full life, He comes quickly when He comes for you, so to speak. So it is quickly. But the literal coming of the Lord, many think that it’s been delayed. Well, I want to tell you that God has said in His word that there is an apparent delay and that delay is scheduled. Let me give you a few scriptures that help illustrate that. I think He’s made it clear. For instance, if you look in Matthew 24:48, just before the parable of the ten virgins, “…if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’” Jesus is warning us that there would be a risk that some would think that He’s late. Isn’t that what he’s saying? “…if that evil servant says in his heart, ‘My master is delaying his coming,’ and begins to beat his fellow servants, and to eat and drink with the drunkards, the master of that servant will come…” Is He going to come? He will come, but he’s going to come “on a day when he is not looking for him and at an hour that he is not aware of, and will cut him in two and appoint him his portion with the hypocrites. There shall be weeping and gnashing of teeth.” You almost wonder if when Jesus shared that parable if He was looking back to the experience of the golden calf. You remember that story?

Exodus 32:1 Moses said I’m going up the mountain. I’m going to receive the encartified version of the Ten Commandments. The Lord had spoken the law, the people said, “All the Lord has said we will do.” He spoke it. Now Moses said I’m going to go receive the written transcript, and I will come back. He didn’t say when. He said I’m coming back. Well, forty days and forty nights went by and they didn’t think it would take that long for God to write a contract. It says, “Now when the people saw…” Exodus 32:1 “…when the people saw that Moses delayed” tarried, appeared to be late “coming down from the mountain, the people gathered together…” and we all know Moses is a type of Christ. It appeared he was late. What did the church, what did Israel do when he appeared to be late? They “gathered together to Aaron, and said to him, ‘Come, make us gods that shall go before us; for as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.’” They began to adopt the worship of the religions they had been saved from. Now is it just my imagination or is that happening again? In this delay that God has always foretold would happen, the restlessness of God’s people, spiritual Israel, they’re saying, “We’ve got to do something else because we’re getting bored waiting,” and they’re beginning to adopt the worship of the pagans. I wish I had a better amen than that for that point because that was a truth you just heard. Did Moses come back? You notice it said in the parable, Matthew 24, when the master came, the master of that servant came. Moses, did he finally come? Apparently late. Was he late? Did God say, “You know I didn’t know how long it was going to take to carve the Ten Commandments. I hadn’t prepared.” Or did he come right on time? He came when God wanted him to. Sometimes the Lord tests our faith by delaying. He tests our love by delaying.

1 Samuel 13, the children of Israel are preparing to go to battle with the Philistines under the time of King Saul and Samuel said, “Before you go to battle I will come and I will offer sacrifice and intercede in your behalf. Samuel was both the judge and the high priest of the nation at the time, but it tells us in 1 Samuel 13:8 King Saul “waited seven days, according to the time set by Samuel. But Samuel did not come to Gilgal; and the people were scattered from him” (Saul). And “Saul said, ‘Bring a burnt offering and peace offerings here to me.’ And he” the king, he’s not the priest. He’s not supposed to do this. He “offered the burnt offering. Now it happened, as soon as he had finished…” You notice he made a change in the worship style, didn’t he? Are you seeing a pattern here? That was not supposed to happen. That was not the way it was supposed to be done. The priest of God, anointed by God, trained by God was supposed to be the one who offered the sacrifice, not the politician. And “as soon as he had finished… Samuel came.” Did he come? He wasn’t late. What did Samuel say? You can jump down to verse 13 or 14, “Samuel said to Saul, ‘You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom…’” Saul, this was a test and you failed through impatience. You took the prerogatives of the priest. Keep in mind, there is another time in the Bible when King Uzziah, good king for the most part, he went into the temple of God to burn incense. He thought, “It doesn’t matter. King, priest, anyone can do it.” God said, “No, the Levites are supposed to do it.” When the priest tried to stop the king, he flew into a rage. He said, “I’m just as good as you. I can do it.” And leprosy broke out in his forehead and he became a leper. Does God care about how we worship? Does He have guidelines to follow? Does it matter? Is He particular? Notice what Samuel says to Saul. “You have done foolishly. You have not kept the commandment of the Lord your God, which He commanded you. For now the Lord would have established your kingdom over Israel forever.” God would have done with Saul what He did with David and made a name for him forever. “But now your kingdom shall not continue.” You will no longer be king and the Spirit was withdrawn from Saul because during a time of delay he became impatient and he lost his faith.

During a time of delay the wicked servant said, “My master delays his coming,” and he began to eat and drink with the drunkard and live like the world. During a time of delay the children of Israel became restless and they began to worship like the Egyptians they’d just been saved from. Could history repeat itself? Is Jesus warning us in this parable when He said, “and while the bridegroom tarried…” I’ve got a theory it was really the bride that was tarrying, but he was waiting for her. Isn’t that how it works? Really, he’s gone to pick up the bride so if he’s late what’s he waiting on? That’s right. He’s waiting on the church. 2 Peter 3:3 what does the apostle predict will be the state of things in the last days? “knowing this first: that scoffers will come in the last days,” mockers, scoffers, “according to their own lusts…” They’re not being driven by a desire to serve God, but by their own lusts and what do they say? “Where is the promise of His coming? …all things continue as they were from the beginning…” He’s not here yet! He’s never coming. Mocking the delay. Do you hear that happening? Now I don’t think these scoffers are in the world. Have the people in the world always mocked the second coming? I think it says there’s going to be scoffers in the church that will say, “You know, maybe this business about the imminent return of the Lord, you know, we should just get comfortable. Don’t make too much of it.” When you start hearing them say, “Peace, peace. Just get comfortable in the world.” That’s when sudden destruction comes. I think that God’s people, like those virgins, they need to live in a spirit of expectation. When Seventh-day Adventists cease to believe in the imminent advent of Jesus we’re in big trouble. It ought to be a defining influence in everything we think and say and do that Jesus said, “I will come again.” We are mobilized y that. We want to be ready. We want to get the world ready because He says, “I’m coming back.” And when we cease to believe that, that’s a harbinger of bad things to come. Habakkuk 2:3 I’m submitting to you that I think that this delay is scheduled. You know when you travel by plane, show of hands, how many of you have flown commercially before? Come on. Fess up. I just want to see if you’ll answer any question. How many of you have noticed that sometimes the plane leaves late, doesn’t pull away from the gate when it said it’s supposed to depart, but you still manage to arrive on time? Have you ever had that experience? Many, many times I have sat next to somebody and they’re not used to flying and here it is fifteen minutes late and they’re finally pulling away from the gate and these dear people, they say, “I guess that means we’re going to arrive fifteen minutes late. I hope I don’t miss my plane.” I tell them, “Don’t worry about it. They have scheduled a delay in the times that you’ve been given.” The times that you get for departure and arrival include time at the gate, taxi time, and your descent and pattern time. It is built in and they can usually accelerate a little bit in the air and still get you there in time. It’s when you get the one hour delays you’re in trouble. Fifteen minutes you don’t really have anything to worry about. It’s part of a schedule. It’s built in. The time in which we’re living is right on schedule, this apparent delay.

I told a lot of people, it’s on tape, back during this Y2K fiasco. Y2K was the mother of all false alarms. I’m still mad because some company talked Amazing Facts into upgrading our phone system so it wouldn’t all crash during Y2K. I feel like we got ripped off. Noting would have happened. Ask me how I feel. I told a lot of people. Do you think Jesus is coming? December 31, 1999, is that going to be the end? I said, “No, I’m worried about what’s going to happen after that.” There was this millennial fever, and I was concerned that in the delay afterward the church would get drowsy. That’s what you’ve got to worry about.

Now before we get to the church sleeping, let’s talk about some more of the symbols here. What does every one of the virgins have in their hand? They’ve all got a lamp. What is that lamp a symbol of? It represents the word of God. Psalm 119:105, “Your word is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.” Is that plain? That’s a very plain symbol. If that’s not enough Proverbs 6:23 “For the commandment” the commandment is the word of God “is a lamp, and the law is light…” The word of God is this lamp. It’s a lamp unto our feet. It’s a guide for us. But you know the Bible by itself, without the Holy Spirit, does nobody any good. A lamp without any oil does not shine. It just becomes a porcelain paperweight. Isn’t that right? In the same way, the Bible, in order for it to benefit you it must be read and then the Holy Spirit must illuminate your mind. Let’s face it. Are there people out there that read the Bible that aren’t safe? Are there critics of the Bible that read the Bible? Does the devil read the Bible? Will it save him? So it must be read, Jesus said, spiritual things are spiritually discerned. Again Christ said, “The words that I speak to you, they are spirit and life.” Without the Holy Spirit to illuminate the word, what you’re doing is you’re walking out, it’s like walking around with a flashlight and no batteries, today’s vernacular. You’ve got a lamp and no oil, it doesn’t do you any good. Nobody is illuminated by that.

Now I’ve already told you what the oil represents. What is the oil? Oil represents the Holy Spirit. You can read in the book of Zechariah. I want to give you scriptures for these. Zechariah 4:3, he talks about the two olive trees that are by the throne of God. It also mentions this by the way in Revelation 11, one at the right of the bowl and the other at the left. You go down to verse 6 when he’s defining this. He said, “This is the word of the Lord to Zerebubal not by might or by power but by My Spirit,” says the Lord. that oil flows into the lamp and it illuminates it. Olive oil was principally the oil that they used in their lamps and they used this in the temple. I think it’s interesting, it’s just a footnote, can’t prove it, but some theologians insist that Jesus did not die on cedar tree wood, but He was crucified on olive tree. That’s interesting parallel, if you think about it, because Gethsemane where He wept and sweat blood was an olive grove; it was an olive press. If He was crucified on an olive tree, and you might be thinking, “Do they get that big?” Go to our parking lot. You can easily crucify a person on an olive tree. That’s why in the Bible it sometimes refers to it as a tree. They didn’t use finely hewn lumber for their criminals. They pretty just hacked down a tree, and nailed the person on a tree. Interesting to think about Jesus may have actually died on an olive tree, a symbol for the Holy Spirit. That’s where the oil came from.

Now what is it that separates the wise virgins from the foolish… You’ve got to be careful when you preach this sermon. You’ve probably all heard the story about the young minister who was making an appeal after he preached on the ten virgins, and he said, “Those of you who want to join me by saying I don’t want to be caught sleeping with the five foolish virgins when Jesus comes, let’s stand.” Nobody stood up. He didn’t realize what he had said until afterwards.

The difference between the two of them is that you have reserve and thinking ahead and preparation with one group. They were preparing for a possible delay and the others were not. Now I’ve actually got a picture here that are taken from what Bible answer I want you to see. I’ll talk about the oil reserves in a second, Sherle. Let’s show this picture of the little lamps. This is actually a vessel that they use for holding the oil and you’ll see there’s a little wick trimmer. This is the very old one that they dug up in the middle east and you see the little wick trimmer? They would take that hook that they’ve got hanging there by the vessel there on the left and they’d use it to pull the wick out and they could use it to adjust the wick and then there would be a cork that would go on that bottle and they kept a reserve of olive oil so if their lamp, it’s like spare batteries if you’re traveling for your flashlight. If your lamp started to go dry, you could dump some extra oil in. those are what the lamps looked like. It was important to have a reserve. I want to talk about an oil reserve for a second. I thought it was interesting just this week they again said on the news oil prices have reached an all time high. I heard yesterday sixty dollars a barrel. It used to be twenty-five dollars a barrel. You know at the pump it’s going to show up soon. Two of the last five or six National Geographic magazines the cover article, one was “The end of cheap oil.” Some of you may have seen that, and the one most recently was talking about fuel, looking for alternate fuel because they said that we’re going to run out of oil. The leaders in the world, we’re so oil dependant now, they’re beginning to wonder what are we going to do to power the world in generations to come? Will there ever come a day when these oil supplies are depleted? Well, obviously there must be an end to it somewhere even if it is more than some people suspect. It’s important to have reserve for something important. When I fly my plane… it’s one thing if you run out of gas in the car. I’ve got a little idiot bell that goes off; it’s sort of annoying. In my car it’s nice, it’s got a little computer and it gives you an estimate of how many miles you have left. I’ve never run out of gas because it’s treating me like I’m a fool; the bell goes off and you’ve got ten miles left, you’ve got five miles left. One time I got to where it says you’ve got zero left and I still made it to the pump; I was running on hopeful fumes. But in the airplane, I’ve got a reserve there too; you don’t want to play with that. You can’t just pull over and park. Sometimes it is deadly not to have a reserve. Some of you men know if you’ve ever ridden a motorcycle or one of these quads, most of these motorbikes and I think even the jet-skis and stuff, they’ve got a little valve down there and you run your gas normal and then if it runs out you flip it on reserve. How many of you men know what I’m talking about? if you ever rode a motorcycle you know that. Only the men on the front row rode motorcycles evidently. That’s your “A” students. I took off one time… Our cabin up in Covelo we’ve got some of these quads and I just, I take off all the time. I never worry too much about gas because it’ll sputter and choke and then I always flip it on reserve and I drive back home. I always have enough there in reserve. I never get that far away. Well, one time after filling it up I forgot to flip it back to normal and I left it on reserve. I ran out on my reserve. I had a long walk. You remember at times like that how important it is to prepare a reserve. When we fly as a family sometimes we’re going strange places and we are depending upon the hospitality of others that are inviting us for our food. I have learned to bring a reserve. When you travel sometimes it’s not there when you think it’s going to be there, and sometimes you can’t eat it, and you’d better have a backup plan or you’re just plain hungry. Now if in things like gas and food we think about reserve, in flashlight batteries we think about reserve, how much more important is it going to be to have a reserve of God’s Spirit to get us through the delay at the end of time? Because if you don’t have it when you hear the friend of the bridegroom say, “Behold the Bridegroom is coming!” and there is this great awakening and there is a great revival those who neglected to bring to store, they’re caught off guard. I want to talk about what that means and how to get it.

What separates the wise virgins from the foolish virgins? It’s some thought ahead and they prepared. They had a deeper reserve. It’s like where Jesus says in Luke the wise man who builds the house, he not only builds on the rock, in Luke He says he digs deep until he gets the rock. Because if you build on the sand on top of the rock you’re going to have the same problem as the foolish man. You’ve got to get down deep. Hebrews 5:13, there’s a point here that I think is connected, “For everyone who partakes only of milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, for he is a babe. But solid food belongs to those who are of full age, that is, those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” By reason of use, I think one of the things that separates the wise from the foolish, you know why the wise virgins are wise? They probably had realized the danger of running out. They had a reserve. By reason of use. Do you know you retain what you use? If you read the Bible and you don’t share it you forget it. If you study doctrines and you don’t share it, you won’t know how to defend it. The best way for you to share with someone else the Christian truths is to use them. God gives you the truth to use it. The lessons of faith and all that instruction is not just to tickle your intellect, it’s to use it. I think one of the things that separates the wise from the foolish is the wise have used it before and so they’re prepared.

Then of course one of the characteristics of the foolish virgins, outwardly they’re almost identical, aren’t they? Notice the similarities. It says that they’re all virgins. Do they all have lamps? They’ve all got Bibles; is it enough to have a Bible? From the book Christ’s Object Lessons, and this is on page 408, “Without the Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of truth unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart.” Have you ever gotten into a Bible study or debate with somebody who evidently knew the scriptures but they didn’t have a Christian attitude? That’s not uncommon to have people know how to argue the Bible but they don’t have Christ. “One might be familiar with the commands and the promises of the Bible but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home the character is not transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit men will not be able to distinguish truth from error and they’ll fall under the masterful deceptions or temptations of Satan.” Why did Noah make it through the flood? Because he built a boat? Well, that’s part of it, but you know why I say he made it? How long was he on the boat? About a year, almost a whole Jewish year. Did God in part of preparing for the end… Oh, by the way, was there a delay for Noah after he got on the ark? He boarded the ark, God shut the door and then seven day delay, but then the rain came. You know one reason Noah survived? There was storage. They stored away food for themselves and also for the creatures and that’s why they survived. If Noah hadn’t done that there’d be a whole lot more extinct species right now because they would have eaten them. Right? But he stored away prepared for the storm and there’s a storm coming God wants us to prepare.

Alright, now I want get to Luke 12:35. Let’s put that one up. Talking about the lamps again, Jesus said, “Let your waist be girded and your lamp trimmed and burning.” That’s the belt of truth that girds our waist, and the belt is where you hang the sword of God’s word and your lamps burning. Now when… How many of the virgins were sleeping? What percent? Fifty percent? A hundred percent. Were the wise virgins saved? Are you still with me? I know it’s getting warm. Don’t go to sleep. Not now, I’m going to talk about it. You’ll feel really bad because we’ll get a camera shot of you. Right when I’m talking about the foolish virgins sleeping, and they’re going to do a zoom on you. That’s it. Take that boom around there; find someone sleeping for me. I’ll probably get sued. Better not do that. But all of them actually slept. You know what that tells me. Even God’s people… Do Christians sometimes snooze at critical moments? Did the apostles frequently fall asleep when they should have been awake? Here they are on the mount of transfiguration with Jesus and Moses and Elijah appear and what were the disciples doing? Jesus took them up there to pray. They drifted off to sleep when they should have been praying. Again in the Garden of Gethsemane Jesus said, “This is a critical moment. Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.” Three times He came and He woke them up and said, “Pray with Me. Pray with Me.” Third time He comes, He says, “You may as well sleep now. The hour is come.” Right? Three times they went back to sleep. They kept hitting the snooze button on their alarm. You know what Jesus said? The spirit is willing; the flesh is weak. When did He make that statement? When the church was sleeping and these were the apostles. Were they saved? Well, with the exception of Judas, yeah. So sometimes even God’s people go to sleep when they should be awake. I’m not telling you that to make you comfortable. I’m telling you that to give you hope because some of you know you’ve been asleep and God wants us to wake up and get ready. What does it mean to be spiritually awake? Peter said, “Be sober, be vigilant because your adversary the devil is going around like a lion seeking whom he might devour.” We are to watch unto prayer. When Jesus told the disciples to wake up He said, “Watch and pray lest you enter into temptation.” Here under the subject of being awake at the end of time, Mark chapter 13 when Jesus talks about the second coming He specifically warns us to stay awake. Verse 35, “Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning lest, coming suddenly, he find you sleeping. And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” “…lest, coming suddenly, he finds you sleeping.” That’d be terrible, to be asleep and be left behind when we should be awake. What are people doing when they’re sleeping? What do you do when you sleep? Snore, I heard someone say. That wasn’t the point I was fishing for. What are you thinking when you’re asleep? Are you thinking nothing? You’re dreaming. There you go. Some dreams you remember, but you’re always dreaming. Your mind is almost always something’s going on there, no matter how wacky it might be. But are dreams reality? So when people are sleeping, even when the church is sleeping, they are not occupied with what’s really happening around them, are they? Can it be sometimes we’re in a dream world and we have to be woke up and say, “Hey, this is not reality.” We get so distracted with the things of the world, it’s a dream and we’re not in touch with reality. Luke 9:32, “But Peter and those with him were heavy with sleep…” But finally when they saw Moses and Elijah they were “fully awake”. We need to have that wake-up experience. Isaiah 56:10 You and I as Christians are not only to be watching and sober and vigilant for our own souls, but we’re to be watching for others. The Bible says we are to be watchmen on the walls, in Ezekiel. Here in Isaiah 56:10, “His watchmen are blind, they are all ignorant; they are all dumb dogs, they cannot bark…” They’re talking about watch dogs that are mute. They can’t speak. “…they cannot bark; sleeping, lying down, loving to slumber.” What good is a watch dog that sleeps all the time? What would you do with your watch dog if your house was ransacked by a thief and you get up and you see the condition of the house and there is your German Shepherd on the front porch snoring, you know how they do, kicking and having a dream pretending they’re running? Well, that’s the condition of the church. Mute dogs, sleeping when we’re supposed to be alert because Jesus is coming.

One of the other characteristics is… their friends, “Oh, good. We’re glad you brought reserves. Give us some.” But they had only brought enough to get them back to the groom’s house and if they shared with them there would not be enough for both of them and they would both be left in the darkness. So it was just a practical thing. They said, “You should have thought ahead. You have to buy your own oil.” Now that might sound selfish but there’s a biblical truth there. You are not saved by virtue of the preparation of those around you. You are not saved by virtue of the relationship others around you may have with Jesus. You’re not even saved if you happen to be in a church that is baptized in the Holy Spirit; you could still be destitute. In the church of Pentecost there was still an Ananias and Sephirah. In the twelve apostles there was still a Judas. You must have your own relationship with the Lord; you now need to obtain that oil. Christ said that He is the one who would go to the Father and send the Spirit. By the way, when they said go and buy from them that sell, He says, “Come and buy without money and without price.” Christ has paid the price so you can get that oil reserve now. But I have a theory that there is going to come a great awakening among God’s people. The voice of the bridegroom, that may be the hundred and forty-four thousand filled with the Spirit that cause a great revival preparing people for the return of the Lord. you know what’s going to happen at that time? The same thing that happened back in the days of Israel. Those who had listened to the preaching of Christ during His three and a half years of ministry, they came alive, but many of God’s people who had been in leadership in the church the Holy Spirit passed them by. I have a theory that those who have been in the church that have not taken advantage of the opportunities to dig deep, to build a reserve, to store up the word so they could work for the Lord during this time of the outpouring of the Spirit, they’re going to find that when the time comes and they realize their lamps are going out, they’re not going to be able to get it then. This message is tied to the last two messages I did on the unpardonable sin. Through continued neglect of God’s offering of His Spirit, we can finally get to the place where we are incapable to receive it. It is a dangerous thing to believe that we can choose when we want to repent and do it at our convenience. Repentance is a gift of the spirit and when you hear that voice speaking to you, you must embrace it then. Have you ever been traveling and you’re going by a gas station and you’re out in some desert and you know it’s a long way between stations and you think to yourself, “Well, I’ve got a quarter of a tank and it’s a little expensive here, and I could probably make it home. I don’t want to stop. I’ll try and find another station along the way.” and then you find out there is no other station. Anyone ever been there before and you regret that you did not fill up when you had an opportunity. Friends, don’t think that you can fill up later. Now you’re at the pump; fill up. It’s always a smart thing to do. Even though it might seem inconvenient to pay a little more now, do it now. The devil always wants to say, “Oh, see how far you can get.” It’s always amazing to me… When we were in Africa we had drivers that would take us back and forth to the meetings, and some of the taxi drivers there, you’d be driving along and you’d hired a taxi and all of a sudden the car stops in the middle of this traffic in the capital of Ghana and you’re going, “What’s the problem?” The driver says, “Car no more go.” “Why?” “No more gas.” Did you know that you might run out of gas? They just wait until they run out and then they get a jug and they go walk off to the gas station and they get a little more gas. It was always kind of surprising to me that you wouldn’t want to fill up to avoid having to walk to the gas station. You want to fill up when you have the oil. Amos 8:11, “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God, “That I will send a famine on the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the Lord. They shall wander from sea to sea, and from north to east; they shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord, but shall not find it.” Do you mean there could come a time where the Spirit will not illuminate the word? It’s just not there; you can’t get it. That’s why you’ve got to get it now when it’s available. Amen? And again, Ezekiel 14:20, he says, “though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in it, as I live,” says the Lord God, “they would deliver neither son nor daughter…” It didn’t matter if you were the child of Noah, or you’re the child of Ezekiel (and Daniel, of course, had no children. He was a eunuch.) But it doesn’t matter if you’re a relative you can’t be saved… I’ve met people before, they said, “Well, I know I don’t go to church, but my uncle is a pastor.” As though God is going to save them because their uncle is a pastor. God has no grandchildren. You must have a relationship with the Lord. Amen? “…though Noah, Daniel, and Job were in” the land “they would deliver neither son nor daughter; they would deliver” by their own souls “by their righteousness.” Of course that’s a righteousness that comes to them through Jesus, but it’s a personal relationship that they’ve got. Character is not transferable. No man can believe for another. You must have your own personal relationship with Jesus. Do you know the Lord?

Who is getting into the wedding? Who do you normally invite to a wedding? I want to ask you who do you put on your list of invitations? Tell me. Friends and family, right? Do you ever go out on the street? Karen kind of elbowed me one time. I was doing an evangelistic meeting after we had announced our marriage and I invited everybody in the church. She said, “Doug, you’ve got to pay to feed them! We don’t know who some of these people are.” I was inviting everybody; I was happy. But you know typically you invite friends and family, right? Who are Jesus’ friends? John 15:14, “You are My friends if you do whatever I command you.” Who is His family? One time Jesus said, “Who is my mother and my brethren?” Matthew 12:50, “whoever does the will of My Father in heaven is My brother and sister and mother.” That’s who His family is. Remember? The wise man hears the words of Christ and he does them. The fool, he builds on the sand. He hears the words and he doesn’t do them. So you want a wedding invitation, you need to be friends or family. And how do you identify who His friends and family are? Those who really follow Him. It’s not just saying, “Lord, Lord,” but they that do “the will of My Father in heaven.”

And here’s the good news: you’ve been invited to the wedding. Christ paid for a wedding invitation for you. He’s provided one for you. Will you attend? The saddest thing is, the foolish virgins at least wanted to go. Luke 14 tells a parable, “A certain man gave a great supper and invited many,” and this supper is a wedding feast, “and sent his servant” during the time of the feast and he invited those. “‘Come, for all things are now ready.’ But they all with one accord began to make excuses. The first said to him, ‘I have bought a piece of ground, and I must go…’ …another said, ‘I have bought five yoke of oxen, and I am going to test them.’” “Still another said, ‘I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.’” I don’t know why any of those would be adequate excuses. They’re all kind of lame excuses. “So that servant came and reported these things to his master. Then the master of the house, being angry, said to his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and bring in here the poor and the maimed and the lame and the blind.’ And the servant said, ‘Master, it is done as you commanded, and still there is room.’” You know that’s good news, friends. There’s room at this wedding. The foolish virgins are not left out because there wasn’t room. They’re left out because he said, “I don’t know you.” There’s plenty of room. He said, “There’s still room.” He said, “We’ve done… and there’s still room.” “Then the master said to the servant, ‘Go out into the highways and hedges, and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.’” That’s our work, to fill the wedding feast, amen? “For I say to you that none of those men who were invited” that neglected that invitation will come. Wouldn’t it be something of an insult if you were invited to Princess Di’s wedding back in her day and, you’d think that’d be an honor to go to a wedding of royalty, and to say, “You know, I just bought a new cow. I don’t think I can go.” And this is the Lord, it’s the wedding feast of Jesus and the church. It’s the climax of the plan of salvation. Heard about a young man who was being asked by his family to do the seating at a wedding. You’ve seen that. They instructed him to ask as he brought people in, and he’d take them by the arm and “Are you with the party of the groom or are you with the party of the bride?” He’s about thirteen years old and they later heard him saying, “Whose side are you on?” was his translation of that question, but it’s really not that question. In the wedding that we’re dealing with is only the wise and the foolish, is those who have their lamps burning and those who let them go out and it’s a question of whose side are you on? The Bible is all about being invited to a wedding. Do you know the Lord? The Bible tells us the good news is those who had their lights burning, they went into the feast and you could hear the music and the joy coming out of the windows. Those who had neglected, later they came to the doors and they were not granted admittance because they did not know the Lord. Do you know the Lord? Revelation 19:7, “Let us be glad and rejoice and give Him glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and His wife has made herself ready. And to her it was granted to be arrayed in fine linen, clean and bright, for the fine linen is the righteous acts of the saints. Then he said to me, ‘Write: `Blessed are those who are called to the marriage supper of the Lamb!'” Blessed are those who are called. Friends, what a terrible thing it would be to have that invitation to the wedding, to have the oil provided, the lamps, everything you need, the garments, God has provided everything for you to be there, but through neglect or indifference to be shut out and have that door shut. The Bible says they are left in outer darkness. The door is shut and there is weeping and gnashing of teeth. That’d be so sad to be excluded from that joyful experience.

It begins, the Bible, with a wedding and it ends with a wedding. Jesus is the groom. The church is the bride. And He’s inviting you to be there. Don’t you want to be there, friends? You know what? I was thinking about why the foolish virgins couldn’t get inside. It says at midnight, the darkest hour, the bridegroom’s friend said, “The bridegroom is coming.” At midnight the wise virgins said to the foolish virgins, “You’d better go buy from those that sell.” Do you think they found the stores open at midnight? When they came to the door, they probably couldn’t find any oil, but they went to the wedding feast, said, “Let’s see if we can get in. We were supposed to help illuminate the way to the groom’s house.” That’s your job as a Christian to let your light shine and illuminate the way to the groom’s house. When they got to the door their lamps would illuminate their faces. They didn’t have porch lights. That’s why he looks out and all he sees is dark and he says, “I don’t know you.” That Holy Spirit is not only illuminating the word, it illuminates you. He identifies us by our light. I want to have the oil of God’s Spirit. I want my light to shine, don’t you? You know, I’ve made a change. I hope you don’t mind, but I wanted to sing the song, it’s 580. I thought it’d be appropriate to sing “This Little Light of Mine”. Don’t you think that fits? I hope that’s okay with our pianist. “This Little Light of Mine” why don’t you turn in your hymnals? I think it’s 580. Is that correct? I’m going to let it shine. Let’s stand together and sing this song and it’ll also be an appeal.

This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine This little light of mine, I'm going to let it shine Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

Everywhere I go, I'm going to let it shine Everywhere I go, I'm going to let it shine Everywhere I go, I'm going to let it shine Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

All through the night, I'm going to let it shine All through the night, I'm going to let it shine All through the night, I'm going to let it shine Let it shine, Let it shine, Let it shine.

Would you please close your eyes for a moment? Close your eyes, please. Bow your heads. If the Holy Spirit has spoken to you and He’s saying, “You need to do what you can to get that reserve,” we’re living during that time of delay. We are right on schedule, friends. Jesus is not late. It’s not enough to have a lamp. It’s not enough to be there in the crowd with those who are waiting. We need to have something inside that will illuminate our lamps, that will illuminate our lives. Would you like to ask the Lord to help you receive that reserve of the Holy Spirit? Is that your prayer? Do everything you can to dig deep and to ask God to fill you to overflowing. Is that your prayer? Raise your hand if that’s your desire, friends.

Father in heaven, Lord, we’re so thankful for the simple truths that we see in this parable that outwardly they may look the same, but it’s possible to have a profession and not to have the Spirit. Lord, we know that soon we’re going to hear that call. The friend of the bridegroom will say, “Behold, the bridegroom is coming. Go out to meet him.” I pray, Lord, that we will have that reserve, that we will be filled with Your Spirit, we will have an experience that will sustain us, that our lamps will still be burning and that we might help illuminate the way for others to the great wedding feast. Bless us, Lord, that we might be a people that are faithful and that we might count what a wonderful privilege it is to be invited to the wedding supper of Your Son. Lord, we ask that we can be in that bridal party, and rejoice with You for eternity. Be with each member. Fill us with Your Spirit. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

You may be seated. I would like to also remind you before we exit that I think there will still be room tonight at the ASI Convention if you’d like to go. They always have an inspiring meeting and I’d encourage you to visit there this afternoon and beyond.

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