Thursday, August 28, 2008

Shut In or Shut Out?


Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. Matthew 25:1

There were ten of them. One half of them were wise and one half foolish. You know about these ten, don't you? If not, I would encourage you to read about them in the first thirteen verses of Matthew 25. I've been thinking about them a lot this week, primarily because they were mentioned quite a bit in the sermon we had on Sunday, and partly because this is a favorite parable of mine.

Soon my granddaughter Selena will be learning about opposites, as young children usually do. She'll learn up/down, over/under, big/little, and so on. I think of this parable as an illustration of two opposites. Only these two opposites are the most important that any of us will ever encounter. You see, these ten virgins all had lamps, but the key factor was the oil that needed to be in the lamps. The five wise had it; the others didn't. The oil represents salvation, or as some refer to it, the Holy Spirit within. So what we have here are five virgins who had true religion burning in their hearts and we have five who had only the outward profession. The latter were hypocrites. Hypocrisy is ever present in the Church at large. That's why this parable should make us look within, as the Apostle Paul exhorts us in 2 Corinthians 13:5.

About opposites, think on these from this parable: Besides wisdom/foolishness, we have oil/ no oil; we have grace/no grace; we have forgiven/unforgiven; we have converted/unconverted, we have mercy/judgment. Shall I go on? But more scary than any of the others--we have shut in and shut out (verses 10-12).

Think about it, please. Your soul depends on it: Is your profession real or are you a hypocrite? Do you have oil in your lamp or is it empty? Are you wise or are you foolish? And finally, when the Lord Jesus comes to claim His own, will you be shut into the marriage feast or will you be shut out for all eternity? It all depends on where you stand with Jesus. Are you really His?

Ahh, I must again quote my dear Mr. Ryle:

"True Christians shall alone be found ready at the second advent. Washed in the blood of atonement, clothed in Christ's righteousness, renewed by the Spirit, they shall meet their Lord with boldness, and sit down at the marriage supper of the Lamb, to go out no more. Surely this is a blessed prospect.

"They shall be with their Lord: with Him who loved them and gave Himself for them; with Him who bore with them, and carried them through their earthly pilgrimage: with Him whom they loved truly and followed faithfully on earth, though with much weakness and many a tear. Surely this is a blessed prospect.

"The door shall be shut at last: shut on all pain and sorrow; shut on an illnatured and wicked world; shut on a tempting devil; shut on all doubts and fears; shut to be opened again no more. Surely we may again say, this is a blessed prospect."

4 comments:

Mimi said...

Maxine,
this was a beautiful post today...and it really has some good meat to think about...we need to KNOW if we will be on the inside or outside when Christ comes .
thank you for this post...

Susan Kelly Skitt said...

I look forward to that Marriage Supper of the Lamb! Praise God, He has filled my cup and it runneth over! I pray that others will come!

Cami said...

I've been rereading the "Emily" books by L.M. Montgomery, author of Anne of Green Gables. You may know that Montgomery was a pastor's wife, and she quotes Scripture a lot in her books, as well as teaches so many good moral lessons through her stories. But something I reread (and hadn't remembered thinking about the first time) had to do with this parable...Emily was thinking that the virgins who had oil should have shared. I thought, now, this isn't really in keeping with the message of the parable - but I've decided to think on it more for my own life's application; am I sharing all of the Spirit of God that I can in other lives while I can? Others that do not have the Spirit; are not encouraging to be around, people I can't really have fellowship with? If I share my "oil" while it is still "day," will it cause them to want their own?

Vicki said...

Oh, my friend! This is a most profound post, one that beckons each of us to examine our faith, to see if we truly are in the faith or only only parroting familiar words we've heard. In an age of easy believism where the gospel is not clearly proclaimed in all its depth, it's also 'easy' that we might have missed the crux of the Gospel...that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us! Though our sins be like scarlet, they can be washed clean as snow! Aw, but we have we received His forgiveness? Have we received His Life in exchange for our own? We can't just tack on Jesus like a period at the end of a sentence - He needs to be our all in all.

I'm so thankful for the Blood of Christ that washed me clean and placed me into *Him* for eternity. We were all first born into Adam, and so need to be born (again) into Christ! Forgive me for rambling, but OH how we need this Oil in our lamps! Let us cling to Jesus, the Light of the world, the One who fills us and makes us His, the moment we turn from our former life and surrender to Him.

Love you, sister. Keep writing. What a blessing!