Bride And Bridegroom

Thursday, August 14, 2014, 11:37 p.m. – the Lord Jesus put in mind the song “Arise and Shine.” Speak, Lord, your words to my heart. I read Matthew 25:1-13 (NASB).

“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.”

The Kingdom of Heaven

The kingdom of heaven is embodied in Jesus Christ. It includes his life and ministry on the earth, his death and resurrection, his ascension into heaven, his sending of the Holy Spirit to indwell the lives of his followers, the life of the church, the gospel of our salvation, the hope of eternal life with God in glory, the promise of Jesus’ return, his judgments on the earth, his coming again to receive his bride, and his kingdom reign on the earth, as well as eternity spent with him, the Father, and the Spirit. When Jesus was on the earth he preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” He was speaking of himself. The Messiah they had been waiting for, and had been promised, had arrived, so they were to turn from their sins, and they were to turn to God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Jesus said: “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter” (Matt. 7:21).

To enter the kingdom of heaven is to enter into relationship with Jesus Christ via faith in him whereby we receive the hope of eternal life with God, we become members of his body, the true church, we are indwelled with the Holy Spirit, and we empowered for life and ministry of the Spirit of God to live holy lives pleasing to God. This faith reveals itself in our lives by us cooperating with the working of the Spirit of God in our lives in transforming us away from lifestyles of living for self and sin, to lives committed to walking by faith in the power of the Spirit within us, in living and walking in Christ’s righteousness and holiness.

This is God’s grace to us in delivering us, not only from the penalty of sin – eternal damnation – and not only in giving us the hope of heaven, but also in setting us free from slavery to sin and the control of Satan over our lives, and in freeing us to walk daily in Christ’s righteousness and holiness - all in the power and working of the Spirit of God within us. When we come to faith in Christ, we are crucified with Christ to the sins which once enslaved us. His grace teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled and upright lives while we wait for his return. In fact, Jesus died so that we would no longer live for ourselves but for him who gave himself up for us. [See: Ac. 26:16-18; Ro. 6-8; 2 Co. 5:15; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 4:17-24; Tit. 2:11-14; & 1 Jn. 1-5.]

The Virgins

A virgin in this context is to be defined as an unmarried woman. In Bible times, when a couple was engaged they were considered the same as married only without the consummation of the marriage. So, the implication here is that these women were engaged to be married, or were married in the sense that they had been promised to their bridegroom, but they had not yet consummated the marriage. These would be like people today who have professed faith in Jesus Christ and who are anticipating the hope of eternal life with God/Jesus Christ in glory. Half of them are foolish, and half of them are wise.

I believe this goes back to the scripture from Matthew 7 where it is recorded that Jesus said that not everyone who calls him Lord will enter the kingdom of heaven but only those who do the will of his Father who is in heaven.

This is not the only time Jesus said something like this. The apostles taught the same thing. It is not enough just to make a profession of Jesus Christ as Lord of our lives. He has to BE Lord of our lives. Jesus said that if we say we love him but we do not do what he says, then we do not know him or the Father. The apostle John said similar words, as recorded in 1 John. He also said that if we say we have fellowship with God but we continue to live lifestyles of sin (walk in darkness) we lie and we do not live by the truth. James said that genuine faith reveals itself through our deeds. In other words, coming to Christ means we have a radical change of heart and mind away from living for sin and self to walking according to the ways of God in the power of the Spirit within us. Jesus said his sheep listen to his voice, he knows them, and they follow him.

The foolish virgins are representative of those who have made a profession of Christ as Savior but they do not have the Spirit of God within them, because their profession was surface only or it never took root. They think, perhaps, that they can get to heaven on the coattails of others, such as claiming they were born into Christian families, or they were regular in church attendance, or they were baptized as infants, etc. Yet, we must individually make that decision to make Jesus our Lord. No one else can do this for us.

Or else, they may have been like the person in the parable of the sower who immediately received the good news of the gospel with joy and with enthusiasm but it never really took root, so his faith was temporary, and when affliction and persecution arose because of the word, that person immediately fell away.

The wise virgins, nonetheless, realized that coming to Christ means we die to sin so that we can live for righteousness. We don’t and can’t do this in our own flesh. This is the working of the Spirit of God in our lives, but we must cooperate with that work by yielding our lives over the control of our Lord Jesus and his Spirit within us, and by choosing to leave our lives of sin behind us and to walk in his holiness - set apart (unlike; different) from the world and set apart to God and to his service. As well, this can only be accomplished through God’s saving grace to us via Jesus’ shed blood on the cross for our sins and via his resurrection. We can die to sin because he died for us, and we can live for righteousness because he credited his righteousness to our accounts when we trusted in him to be our Lord.

Behold the Bridegroom

One day Jesus Christ is coming back for his bride. Those who were wise will be received into the kingdom of heaven, because they truly put their faith in Jesus Christ. Those who were foolish will realize that they are not prepared to meet their bridegroom. They thought they could just live how they want, live for self and sinful pleasure, and count on God’s grace to get them into heaven, perhaps because someone gave them a false hope of salvation and promised them heaven without even knowing if they had genuinely turned their lives over to Jesus Christ.

They may even try to reason that they did all kinds of things for God, but he is going to say he didn’t know them, because they never truly trusted in Jesus Christ with their lives. The door will be shut for eternity, and they will have no more opportunity to enter in. So, we need to make sure we are in genuine relationship with Jesus Christ, and that we are not counting on a false hope of heaven based upon a lie. Not one of us knows the day when Christ will return. We must be ready for him whenever he comes back and not think we have tomorrow. We may not.

Arise and Shine / An Original Work
March 6, 2014 / Based off Isaiah 60

Arise and shine; your Lord has come.
Allow His light to flow through you,
For many walk in wickedness.
Show them the way to life anew.
Arise and shine. Your Lord loves you.

Lift up your eyes, and look about.
Some do believe, while others doubt.
Believe in all God’s promises.
The many will, In Christ, find rest.
Lift up your eyes, and you’ll be blessed.

Arise and shine; salvation comes
To all who trust in Christ, God’s Son.
Forgiven of their sins, they’ll be,
When they repent on bended knee.
Arise and shine, so all will see.

Lift up your eyes, and see your Lord.
He will revive his church, forlorn.
Though humans have forsaken you,
They will find Christ, and walk in truth.
Lift up your eyes; God honors you.
You know, even without understanding all the symbols in this parable exactly, the overall message is pretty clear. These foolish virgins thought they had a relationship with Jesus Christ, i.e. that he was their bridegroom. They thought they had answered his call to come to him. But in the end Jesus told them he never knew them. They were never one of his. From all outward appearance, they seemed to have made all the same preparations as the wise virgins, at least up to a certain point. They all had lamps. The lamps may have even contained oil. They all had wicks that they trimmed. They all seemed ready to go when the Savior called, but the foolish ones were missing an essential ingredient. They didn't have the sustaining power of the Spirit of God in their lives, so when their human belief system ran out, they had nothing.

It all goes back to what Jesus said as is recorded at the beginning of chapter 24. The temple was to be destroyed. Outwardly it had all the right appearance, but there were things going on inside which were unseen. So much of their beliefs were based off rules and regulations of humans, not of God. They thought if they did all the right things that God would be pleased. He said they honored him with their lips but their hearts were far from him. To top it all off, they rejected Jesus Christ as their Messiah and Lord. The virgins, when they realized they did not have enough oil wanted to take some from those who did. They were looking to humans to satisfy what only the Spirit of God could satisfy in their lives.

The next parable in chapter 25 is the parable of the talents. It operates on the same idea, I believe, of the wise servants and the foolish ones. The talents could be merely the knowledge of God as revealed in his creation (Ro. 1), or it could be they were given the gospel of Jesus Christ, and that was the #1 talent. Some received more. Perhaps it was because they truly received the first by faith. The foolish servant buried what he had been given instead of making it fruitful. This parallels the virgins who did not have the everlasting oil, but were relying upon their own human strength and abilities to get them into heaven. They were lazy and wicked because they were operating in the flesh of humans instead of in the power of the Spirit in their lives.