I’d like to read a couple common Bible stories – one of which is a true story, and the other a parable – which are used quite often, sometimes together, to prove a point.
But I’d like to take this point a wee bit further than it generally is taken 🙂
The first one is the story of the ten lepers, which you can read in the NKJV below:
11 Now it happened as He went to Jerusalem that He passed through the midst of Samaria and Galilee. 12 Then as He entered a certain village, there met Him ten men who were lepers, who stood afar off. 13 And they lifted up their voices and said, “Jesus, Master, have mercy on us!”
14 So when He saw them, He said to them, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And so it was that as they went, they were cleansed.
15 And one of them, when he saw that he was healed, returned, and with a loud voice glorified God, 16 and fell down on his face at His feet, giving Him thanks. And he was a Samaritan.
17 So Jesus answered and said, “Were there not ten cleansed? But where are the nine? 18 Were there not any found who returned to give glory to God except this foreigner?” 19 And He said to him, “Arise, go your way. Your faith has made you well.”
I think we’re due another story 🙂 (NKJV)
“Then the kingdom of heaven shall be likened to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Now five of them were wise, and five were foolish. 3 Those who were foolish took their lamps and took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps. 5 But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.
6 “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming;[a] go out to meet him!’ 7 Then all those virgins arose 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, ‘No, lest there should not be enough for us and you; but go rather to those who sell, and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding; and the door was shut.
11 “Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, Lord, open to us!’ 12 But he answered and said, ‘Assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you.’
13 “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.
Now, this story is often used to press a point: not everyone makes it. We have to be ready, with lamps burning, in order to be brought away with the Bridegroom.
But there’s another point I’d like to make – not an entirely different point, just taking the original point to a different level.
If you’ll go re-read the story of the lepers, you’ll find something: all of the lepers asked for mercy. Not just the Samaritan. Every one of them. What’s my point?
Good question. If we look at the story of the ten virgins again, we’ll find that all of the women were virgins. All of them had stayed pure waiting for the Bridegroom, but not all were ready with lamps burning bright. Translation: we can stay pure, waiting for Christ to return, but not actually be picked up by him.
Oil in the Bible represents the Holy Spirit a lot, and I think that in this case, it represents when we are on fire for the Holy Spirit and being filled with Him constantly. If we’re living a stagnant life of waiting for Jesus to come back or looking like the world six days a week, we’re not on fire.
Let’s read another passage, which can be found in Matthew 7 (NKJV):
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’
Note that this passage is not referring to those who don’t live for Him. It’s referring to those who actually have prophesied in His name, cast out demons in His name, and done many wonders in His name.
And if some people who actually do those things (like every one of us was commissioned to do in Mark 16) don’t make it, who out of us will?
(Note: this passage refers to those who practice lawlessness. In other words, we can do mighty works in His name, and not be repentant, which causes a problem. But that’s another post I might get around to one of these days)
Now, my goal is not to plant a seed of doubt in your heart for you to think that you might not make it – that’s not the idea.
Nor is the idea to operate out of a spirit of fear to make you flip out, run to church, get extra-involved in charitable works in hopes you might make it, and live in fear for the rest of your life.
In fact, that’s the exact opposite of what I want to happen.
The idea is that you actually have an intimate relationship with Him (not the church), are filled with the Spirit, and have deliverance of what is oppressing you – yes, you.
The idea is that you take your eyes off of what can be physically seen, take your mind off of what can be physically understood, and focus on a God that cannot be seen with your eyes or understood with your mind. Rather, He can only be known and revealed through being continually filled with the Holy Spirit (as the original verb tense was anyways, but that’s another blog I might write someday).
If we continue, as the body of Christ, to know Him and make Him known only through the tangible, or what can be seen, touched, and understood … we’re truly missing out.
I’m probably overdue to wrap this thing up, so I’ll leave you with this: seek the Lord – not out of a motive of religion or works or because it’s the best thing to do. Seek Him for Who He is and what He’s done for you. Soak in His presence, and listen to His voice.
My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me. – John 10:27 NKJV