Matthew 25:7 ‘Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.’
March 12, 2017 by David Farmer 0 comments
This Weeks Focus Passage: Matthew 25:7
‘Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.’
These individuals were quite evidently deceived, perhaps even self-deceived, but deceived nonetheless. Like their counterparts in 7:22, they may have spoken of the many things that they had done, claiming, even believing, that they had done them “by His name,” that they had been living lives, doing ‘mighty works’ in the name of religion; in the name of Christianity and for the church. They were, in a word, religious but lost. They had a name that they lived, but it did not truly belong unto them. There is a term given for anything that is ‘in name only.’ It is nominal. A dictionary definition proposed for ‘nominal’ is, ‘1. Of or like a name. 2. In name only, not in fact;’ not in reality. Analogous to this concept, perhaps, would be the situation of what is known as ‘fool’s gold.’ What it is, in fact, is iron pyrite; it is not real gold at all. It only looks like gold, and ‘fools’ many into thinking that it is truly gold, but it is not true at all. This is a case of looking upon the outside, but ignoring the inside, or the heart, but God looks upon the heart as He looked upon the heart of Simon Magus (Acts 8:18) and inspired His apostle, Peter, to see into this magician’s heart, and thus be able to honestly declare to Magus:
Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right before God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray the Lord, if perhaps the thought of thy heart shall be forgiven thee. For I see that thou art in the gall of bitterness and in the bond of iniquity.
To employ the metaphor provided us by Christ Himself, we must have oil in our lamps on the occasion of our Lord’s return; when the Bridegroom comes for His Bride. The reality is, that if any have no oil in their lamps, they never did have any oil in their lamps. John Bunyan has provided us with a beautiful picture, as he so often has, in his Pilgrim’s Progress. When his pilgrim, or Christian, has found his way to the Interpreter’s House, he is regaled with many wonderful pictures, or metaphors, or illustrations, of biblical truth. We may well refer to these as soteriological realities. So many of the ‘Dreamer’s’ pictures are illustrative of biblical realities surrounding the doctrine, or doctrines, of salvation, that we can scarce refrain from making use of them. He was, at the very least, a marvelous allegorist. He was, at the very greatest, an incredible preacher of truth. While he is believed to be speaking of the one used by God to bring Bunyan to the knowledge of salvation through the blood of the Lamb of God, his ‘Evangelist’ being Gifford himself, the fact of the matter is that John Bunyan was not only an extremely gifted allegorist, but he was, more importantly, a wonderful preacher. It has been recounted that the marvelously astute theologian and preacher among the Puritans, John Owen, of well-deserved fame among the Independents, himself said of Bunyan, if I may paraphrase, ‘If I could preach as that “tinker” preaches, I would happily surrender all of my supposed theological learning.’
At any rate, there is a scene in the Interpreter’s House witnessed by our Pilgrim, that demonstrates marvelous truths that challenge, if not surpass, every bit of our understanding. This account is related by the Interpreter to the inquiring Pilgrim making his way to the Celestial City. Bunyan, as the Dreamer, informs us:
“Then I saw in my dream, that the Interpreter took Christian by the hand, and led him into a place where was a Fire burning against a wall, and one standing by it, always casting much water upon it, to quench it; yet did the Fire burn higher and hotter.
Then said Christian, What means this?
The Interpreter answered; This Fire is the Work of Grace that is wrought in the heart; he that casts water upon it, to extinguish and put it out, is the Devil: But in that thou seest the Fire notwithstanding burn higher and hotter, thou shalt also see the reason of that. So he had him about to the back side of the wall, where he saw a Man with a Vessel of Oil in his hand, of which he did also continually cast (but secretly) into the Fire.”
Upon inquiry being made by Christian, ‘What means this?’ the Interpreter made it known to the Pilgrim that “This is Christ, who continually with the Oil of his Grace maintains the work already begun in the heart.”
This is indeed what we have in Christ’s parable of the Ten Virgins, as it is called. The five had oil in their lamps because of the abiding Presence and Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ by His own Holy Spirit. The unhappy case of the five virgins that had no oil in their lamps are an extremely sad picture of those who have not the Holy Spirit in their hearts. It is one of the most unhappy realities of spiritual truth; that there have been, and are, many that imagine they are saved when, in fact, they are lost. There are great numbers of men, women, and young people in the churches that name the name of Christ, that have been deceived by their leaders, their preachers, their elders, their examples, into thinking that because they have had some sort of ‘experience;’ some sort of desire to give up many of their sinful practices; to attempt to reform themselves, that they have actually experienced the grace of God and His regenerating power. The unpleasant truth is that they have been attempting to reform themselves; they have actually been attempting to save themselves. These are they who come to Christ as those came to Him as He spoke in Matthew 7:21, as He well said of them,
Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy by thy name, and by thy name cast out demons, and by thy name do many works?
Must we be reminded here that Judas Iscariot did these very things as one sent out by Christ Himself. Let me conclude with the observation of one who has very wisely spoken, or written, when he said of this teaching; “Preparedness is essential, for the time is coming when getting ready will no longer be possible; the door will be shut.”
David Farmer, elder
Fellowship Bible Church
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