This is our third article on the Parable of the Ten Virgins in Matthew 25. It’s part of an ongoing survey of our book The Kingdom, Power and Glory. As we said in our last issue, this parable is very controversial and many see it quite differently than we do, so be sure to use Acts 17:11 as you read:
These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the Word with all readiness of mind, and [then] searched the Scriptures daily, [to see] whether those things were so.
Notice here that the Bereans were “more noble than those in Thessalonica.” Why? Because, first of all, “they received the Word with all readiness of mind.” In other words, they were “open” to new ideas. But then, they “searched the Scriptures daily, to see whether those new things were so.” They always checked every-thing out with the Word.
This is exactly what we are to do with new concepts and ideas about the Word of God. Be open to receive, but always check it out.
Fear and Condemnation
Before we go any further on the subject of the “ten virgins,” we want you to be aware of something very important. The enemy hates this message of “overcoming.” He hates it more than any other subject because it reveals his total inability to defeat Christ. Therefore, he is going to try everything he can to put fear and condemnation upon us as we read and study this material. His goal is the destruction of all doctrine surrounding the future Kingdom of Heaven.
If fear is something you struggle with, first recognize where the negative feelings are coming from and realize they are not from God. There’s a big difference between conviction, which is from the Lord’s Love and will ultimately draw us closer to Him (John 16:8), and condemnation (guilt, reproach, accusations), which comes from the enemy and will push us further away from the Lord. Romans 8:1 assures us that “there is therefore, no condemnation to them which are in Christ Jesus.”
Scripture tells us that “Love casts out all fear” (1 John 4:18). Therefore, knowing that God loves us needs to be the foundation upon which any new Biblical truth is built (Jeremiah 31:3).
As far as God is concerned, it doesn’t matter how badly we’ve blown it in the past; it doesn’t matter what horrible things we’ve done; and it doesn’t matter how many times we’ve failed.
That’s what 1 John 1:9 is all about: “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.”
This is the basis of how we are able to overcome and the means by which we can become faithful. Over-comers are not perfect by any means. They simply are the ones who recognize their choices and know what to do. So, don’t let the enemy get to you by fear and feed you lies. This material is too important!
The Foolish Virgins Were Not Prepared
If you haven’t already read the Parable of the Ten Virgins, you might want to do so now (Matthew 25:1-13). Then, you will be able to follow along with what we are sharing a lot more easily.Because these ﬁve “foolish” virgins were not prepared for the long wait until the bridegroom came, they ran out of oil. This simply means they hadn’t re-ﬁlled their lamps. Proverbs 20:27 says, “The spirit of a man is the lamp of the Lord.”
The lamps of our human spirits are not meant to burn out; they are designed to run forever by continually being re-ﬁlled and refueled by the Holy Spirit. That extra portion of oil is something only the individual believer can secure himself.
At the end of the parable, the bridegroom turns to those who were listening and said, “Watch [be ready, be prepared], for you know not the hour that the Son of man cometh” (Matthew 25:13). We can see from this parable, and others like it, the importance that God puts on watching, being ready, and being prepared for His soon return.
The word preparation uses two different Greek words. One means “internal preparation” (Strong’s #2090, hetoimos) and the other means “external preparation” (Strong’s #2680, kataskeuazo).
The ﬁrst definition (hetoimos), “internal preparation,” is the one we are most interested in because it means a man’s self-preparation and readiness. It means “to be internally prepared or morally ﬁt.” (Luke 1:17; Titus 3:1; Ephesians 6:15).
The Dictionary of New Testament Theology says hetoimos “refers to something already existing in a state befitting its purpose.” Its use in Scripture seems to always be in association with man’s preparation and readiness to meet with his God.
In like manner, in the Parable of the Ten Virgins, those who were ready and prepared went into the Wedding Ceremony (Matthew 25:10). Those who were not ready, did not.
Internal preparation entails continually washing ourselves, putting off our sin and self, being re-ﬁlled with the Holy Spirit, and producing works of righteousness. It’s not enough to just put on “surface cosmetics,” perfumes, and oils; we must also allow the Lord to complete the inward beautification process that will ultimately produce the “fruit” that He is looking for in each of our lives.
God is building us according to His plans, not our own. Our job is to make the appropriate choices to allow Him to construct the temples of our bodies according to His will.
The second Greek word kataskeuazo, which has to do with “external preparedness,” means “human preparation for God’s saving act.”
Paul told the story of Noah, who God warned of future events and how Noah, in obedience, then prepared an ark. By so doing, he not only became an heir of righteousness, but also saved his family and members of the animal kingdom (Hebrews 11:7).
So like so many other principles in the Bible, the term “preparation” has two aspects. 1) God is preparing a suitable place for us in His kingdom. 2) But in the meantime we are preparing ourselves for His soon re-turn and our subsequent marriage.
Our engagement and betrothal is confirmed (sealed by the Holy Spirit when we ﬁrst were born again) and our future in the kingdom is assured, but until He re-turns for us, we must continue to remain faithful, steadfast, and obedient, making ourselves ready, ﬁt, and prepared!
The ﬁve foolish virgins were shut out of the wed-ding because they weren’t prepared. They weren’t sanctified. They weren’t partakers of Christ’s Life and thus, they weren’t overcomers. For them the race was over. They could have earned a place of sovereignty in the coming kingdom, but because of their foolishness, they will end up only being Christ’s subjects. David Wilkerson, one of our favorite pastors (who recently went to be with the Lord), said in one of his newsletters:
The battle you’re enduring now is not about this world, not about the ﬂesh, not about the devil. Rather, the warfare you’re facing is preparation for your eternal service in glory.
The Bride Is to Make Herself Ready Sanctification, therefore, is our bridal preparation! It’s how we continue to make ourselves ready, ﬁt, and prepared.
Let us be glad and rejoice, and give honor to Him: for the marriage of the Lamb is come, and His wife hath made herself ready.
Notice that the bride has made herself ready. She wears the ﬁne linen, white and pure, an attire of her own making. This is not the righteousness of Christ that has been imputed to her (the “garment of salvation” of Isaiah 61:10), but her own “deeds of righteousness.” Christ must not only be on us as a robe, but also in us as a life.
The truth is that we, the body of Christ today, are the Laodicean church of Revelation who think we are “rich and in need of nothing,” but in reality we are poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).
Look around us! Do we see a healthy church? Do we see vibrant Christian marriages? And do we see loving families? No! We see marriages falling apart, churches splitting and hopelessness everywhere.
As Christians, our hope has been deferred and our hearts have become sad and sick and depressed, just as Proverbs 13:12 tells us.
Thus, there is an urgent need for us to “put off” our sin and self and to “put on” Christ. Just saying the sinner’s prayer at some time in our lives and going to church occasionally does not secure us a place in the wedding celebration or a position in the coming Millennial Kingdom. Only obedience, faithfulness, and per-severance here and now does.
Thus, inheriting the Millennial Kingdom from the Lord and co-reigning with Him is conditional.
It is conditioned upon our own personal preparation here on earth. Did we use our talents wisely? Have we been overcomers? Did we produce righteous deeds? Were they done in the power of the Holy Spirit? Did we complete the task Jesus gave us? Did we ﬁnish well? Were we faithful?
Again, all believers will enter the Millennium and be “with the Lord,” but only the overcomers will inherit positions of responsibility there. Our diligence here determines our rule there (1 Corinthians 6:2).
Is it any wonder then that this doctrine of perseverance and longsuffering hasn’t gained more acceptance in the church?
Most of us don’t want to hear that we are expected to buffet our bodies, run the race, and that through much tribulation we will obtain the kingdom reign.
We would much rather hear that we will all inherit the kingdom, that we will all receive rewards, that we will all rule and reign with Christ, and that we will all attend both the wedding and the marriage supper of the Lamb.
We want to hear that there are no consequences to a careless Christian life. Unfortunately, that’s just not Scriptural!
Even though we like to think of ourselves as rich and in need of nothing, again in reality, we as the church today are poor, blind, and naked (Revelation 3:17).
Many of us have only sprinkled blood on the door-posts of our houses—we’ve only been born again (Exodus 12:7), but we have not totally surrendered our lives to Christ.
We have been delivered from the penalty of sin (justiﬁcation), but not from the bondage of sin (sanctification). And that’s going to affect our place, our position, and our inheritance in the coming kingdom. This is why we are so passionate about this message. Having a kingdom perspective here and now is of the utmost importance. It will affect every choice we make, determine every decision we come to, and influence every action we take. Our eternal destiny will depend upon these things!
A kingdom perspective will remind us that we are preparing our wedding garments now that we will be wearing there!
Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended; but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.
To be continued next month: new articles on The Kingdom, Power and Glory.
This article has been excerpted, in part, from Chuck and Nan’s new book The Kingdom, Power and Glory.