This Little Light of Mine 2/21/99

Matthew 25:1-13
Page 1451 Come Alive Bible

Jesus Christ was a master story teller. He utilized everyday common events to illustrate uncommon truths. Once He used the common event of a wedding to teach.

We have the advantage of knowing where the story is going from the beginning. It had an immediate application to His presence with the people to whom He was speaking. Messiah had come and they were unsuspecting.

It has application to our day also. Jesus is coming again. Are we prepared?

Consider the customs of a mid-eastern wedding. It has been our good fortune to see several. There are several stages to such a wedding. In a village near Bethlehem we saw the phase of the wedding utilized in this parable.

The bride and her party were walking along a narrow street celebrating. Some were playing a tambourine, some flutes, all were singing, giggling, and smiling. They were on their way to the place of the rendezvous with the groom. They were wearing their most colorful clothes. It was a happy group.

Friends of the bride stay with her and celebrate the coming of the bridegroom. This may go on for some time. Villagers in that land are not time conscious like we are.

Reflecting this attitude one once said to me, “With so many centuries why be concerned with minutes?”

The bride and her entourage know about when, but not exactly when the bridegroom will come. It is his big moment and he often tries to get the most out of it. By the time he gets there the bridal party may be exhausted. In this parable they were even asleep.

There were ten friends with the bride when the groom came at mid-night. All ten had oil lamps. However, only five had oil in their lamps. That is about as impractical as having a flashlight without batteries.

Having failed to prepare for the event by purchasing oil they tried to borrow from those with oil. To do so would have meant no one would have had enough. They were sent to purchase oil. In going to do so they missed out on the party. Bummer!

This is the setting for teaching an important lesson. Three sad sayings are involved in this celebration.

The ten virgins represent the church. Five had oil which is symbolic of the Spirit of God. The other five did not. This depicts some “profess” Christ don’t “possess” Christ. That is, they have all the external trappings of a believer but internally they have never really been born again. They have lamps but no oil. They have church membership and maybe even activities in the church but have never been saved. They are among the legion who will say, “Lord, Lord…” only to hear Him say, “I do not know you” (Vs. 12).

This parable seems to be directed toward those who are content with hearing the word but don’t do it.

Jesus doesn’t just solicit a confession of faith, but a conduct of faith.

He desires not only a profession of faith, but a practice of faith.

There are many to whom the preaching of the gospel is as music in the ears —- of a corpse.

Talk without practice is an enticing form of temptation. It is tempting to others to model the same external motions without internal change. It is tempting to talk about repentance without repenting. To say “I believe” without believing. To speak of Christ as Lord without submitting to Him as such.

May it not be said of us: “having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away!” (II Timothy 3:5).

Jesus said of His followers “You are the light of the world.” In our spiritually darkening world we need to let our little lights shine.

In America annually 2,000 new churches are started. Unfortunately 6,000 close each year.

Every week 50,000 people walk out of church never to return.

For the church to survive and perform as the Lord has instructed there must be love within the body.

A man long shipwrecked on a deserted island was found by a rescue party. They said, “Get the others and let’s go.”
“Others, what makes you think there are others?”
“There are three houses, what are they?”
“Well,” he said, “one is my residence and one is my church.”
“What is the third?” they asked.
“Oh, that’s my former church. I got mad and moved my membership.”

Individually and collectively we must let our lamps be trimmed and full of oil.

It is not pushing this parable too far to identify the “oil” to the Holy Spirit in the life of individuals and the church. He is the empowering agent within each.

Daily resupply your oil. This is done through prayer and Bible study —- daily. The Holy Spirit is a renewable resource Who renews us.

God is patient but He is also punctual.

It was too late and they resorted to impossible appeals: “Give us some of your oil.”

There are things you can’t borrow. You can’t borrow on the spiritual account of your parents or friends. Your faith must be your faith.

In the parent child spiritual relations there are two common errors.

One is the parents feeling their children will share their beliefs and faith spontaneously without them modeling and teaching them.

A second is the child thinking he or she will get by on the faith of the parents.

The parable teaches us there is a time when opportunity has passed us. We live with deadlines but fail to realize the importance of being ready for the ultimate deadline —- no pun intended. That deadline being death.

History is replete with stories of unusual death occurrences.

Attila the Hun, the fierce Mongolian warrior, died an unusual death. He wasn’t given to overeating and drinking but on one occasion in 459 AD he did. That night in his drunken stupor he developed a nose bleed and drowned in his own blood.

Aeschylus, a Greek playwright around 500 BC died a most unusual death. An eagle dropped a turtle on his head and killed him. Eagles were known to drop turtles on rocks to open them. One eagle mistook Aeschylus’ bald head for a rock and cracked it.

Sir Francis Bacon was one of the most influential men in all history. He was a statesman, philosopher, writer, and scientist. He died stuffing snow in a chicken.

While watching a snow storm in 1625 he began to wonder if snow could preserve meat like salt. He went outside and tried to stuff a chicken with snow. He never got the chicken frozen but he froze instead.

Jerome Irving Rodale, founding father of the organic food movement, creator of “Organic Farming and Gardening” magazine made an appearance on the “Dick Cavett Show” in January 1971. In that interview he said, “I am going to live to be 100 unless I get run-down by a sugar-crazed taxi driver.” Part way through the interview he dropped dead. The show was never aired.

Jim Fixx, author of the best selling “Complete Book on Running,” and father of the modern running craze was visiting Greensboro, Vermont when he walked out of the house to go jogging and died instantly.

I hope you and I live to be 140 and are having so much fun they have to dispatch us with an overdose of chocolate. However, the day will come when time will run out and the door will be shut.

Now is the day of salvation. Don’t put off till tomorrow what you should have done yesterday.

Today the door is open. Take full advantage of the day to prepare to enter it.

The parable concludes with one of two responses that are applicable to each of us. There is an appeal by the unprepared maidens for admission to the celebration. This remorseful plea is comparable to the inevitable day when the Lord shall have no valid appeal for admission to heaven. “I never knew you.”

There is another potential response to a different plea found in concluding the next parable regarding faithfulness: “His lord said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant; you were faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord'” (Matthew 25:21).

There is a legend that Satan was interviewing three apprentice demons just before sending them to earth. He asked the first what he would do to keep people from making a decision for Christ.
“I will tell them there is no God.”
“That’s good but only a few will be foolish enough to ignore the many evidences there is a God.”
The second said, “I will tell them there is no hell.”
“Good, but not good enough. People know justice demands there be such a place.”
The third demon said, “I will tell them they should trust Christ, but there is no reason to hurry. Take your time, do it later.” “That is genius,” exclaimed Satan, “that will damn millions.’ I want to ask two questions using the same words.

Are you a Christian? Here the word Christian is used as a noun meaning have you trusted Christ as Savior.

Again: “Are you a Christian?”

Here the word is used as an adjective meaning is your conduct that which the behavior of a born again person should be?

It is not too late to respond in such a way as to answer “Yes” to both. There will come a time it will be to late.

The clock is running on the opportunity to obtain oil. Let me illustrate this. I have a calling card that allows 15 minutes of free conversation. At intervals a voice comes on saying you have a certain amount of time remaining. When the 15 minutes is up, it is up. There is an abrupt stop.

In essence, our Lord has given us each a calling card called a time in which to call on Him.

The parable concludes with an encouraging exhortation: “WATCH,” that is, be faithful, be prepared.