One Minute to Midnight

Matthew 25:1-13 (ESV) Ten Virgins

1 “Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose 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, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.

The church age began with Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell upon 120 people all gathered in one place. You all know the story—Jesus told his followers to stay in Jerusalem to watch and pray, because he was leaving a comforter, a Guide, a friend who would be with the Church until He came back again.

It is through the Holy spirit that the church was built, grew, and it is the Holy Spirit who will remain with us until that moment when Jesus comes back to catch us up in the clouds, to pluck us out of this present darkness, and into his marvelous light.  Some people call this gathering together the Rapture, which comes from the Greek word Harpazo. Others refer to it as the Second Coming, but we will learn today that these two events are separate in nature and in time.  

Today’s scripture is the parable of the ten virgins. To understand this parable, you must understand the Jewish wedding of Jesus’s time. Marriages were arranged between the fathers of the bride and groom. When an agreement was reached it was called the marriage covenant or the Betrothal. The Groom would return to the  father’s home  and he would begin building the house for the couple. When the father said the time had come, the groom took his wedding party and marched to the bride’s home. They made a lot of noise so that the bride and her wedding party would know it was time.  In fact, people on the streets would respond to the noise by yelling out, Behold, the bridegroom cometh! It was at night, and everyone in the wedding party was required to have a light. Each virgin had to be sure her lamp was filled with oil before she went to sleep.  The wise virgin carried extra oil, the foolish did not. 

Why was extra oil needed? Because no one knew the day nor the hour when the groom would come, and the light had to remain lit until they arrived home.   In our parable the foolish virgins let their oil burn out, and when they arrived at the gate, they were turned away with the most chilling words they would ever hear. I never knew you.

Oil represents the Holy Spirit, and we live in the age of grace where we have been so blessed to be able to have the Holy Spirit reside within us. He has always been with us. It is the Holy Spirit who urges us to receive the grace that saves us from our sins. It is the Holy Spirit who helps us to grow in sanctifying grace. In order to keep our lamps trimmed and burning, we must pay attention to them.  In order for Christ followers to remain ready for Jesus’s return, we must maintain a relationship with God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. It is this relationship that provides the light that is needed for the journey home.

Jesus is coming soon. How can we know we are ready? Saving faith in Jesus Christ will manifest itself in every aspect of our lives. The fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22) will begin to show. A desire for greater holiness and less sin will be apparent. And a consistent looking for His coming will mark our lives. One of the best passages articulating what saving grace and faith look like in a believer’s life is Titus 2:11-14, “For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say ‘No’ to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, while we wait for the blessed hope — the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good.”

Preachers have spouted false doctrine for years, but the time to sort out the truth from the lie is almost at an end. I’ve told you before if you do not believe the words we speak in the Apostle’s Creed then you are not a believer. Preachers today are teaching falsehoods  that are so antithetical to the gospel that if I were them I would be afraid God would strike me dead just like Ananias and Sapphire when they hid their money from the Lord.

Some preach Jesus was not born of a virgin.  This preaching is not new—it began roughly 100 years after Christ died. But it is not the gospel, never has been, never will be. Others preach Jesus was not resurrected.  It is not the gospel.  Others preach that the Bible was written for a different time, a different culture, and we who preach that God’s Word is forever faithful and forever true are not keeping up with the times, and if we would just listen to the Holy Spirit, He would (or they refer to Him as “it”) show us he is creating a new movement. If someone says that to me one more time I am going to throw up in my mouth.

I know a little bit about the movements  of the Holy Spirit, and there have been several over the past few hundred years. Do you know what each of these movements had in common? They were not bringing a new understanding of the Holy Scriptures to the world, No, instead, they were movements of divine grace to bring people out of the dark world of sin, and into the light. Each and every time.

Regarding the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming, in the Rapture the Church is caught up to be with Christ. We go to be with Him. In the Second Coming Jesus comes to establish His kingdom on this earth. He comes to be with us. With the Rapture there will be a shout and the sound of the trumpet and those who believe will be caught up. With the Second Coming the Eastern sky will split in two and every person  shall see Jesus, descending on a cloud because that is the way he left. He will step onto the Mount of Olive’s and that mountain will be divided into two. 

The time for playing church is over. It is one minute until midnight, and Jesus is coming soon. I have given many altar calls since I have been here, but none so important as this one. I can’t tell you when Jesus is coming, but I can tell you he is. I can’t tell you if you are ready. Only God knows your heart. 

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