The Parable of the
Wise and Foolish Virgins
The Mandates of Matthew 25 Page 2
Strangers on the Earth Part II
From the Main Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
In this Parable (Matthew 25:1-13), Jesus presented a picture of what in our times is a very unrealistic situation. There were Ten Virgins waiting for the bridegroom. (They were not bridesmaids, as some teach.) The implication is that all ten were scheduled to be married to him, and the context indicates that this was something they all wanted. This, of course, is something that would very rarely, if ever, happen in reality today. However, in ancient times events like this did happen when unmarried men became kings, or a new queen was being chosen. See Esther 1.
As we know, the bridegroom took his time arriving, and all the virgins fell asleep. Then a cry was raised telling them that the bridegroom was coming, and they all woke up. They all had lamps, to light their way to meet him, we presume. They all began to trim their lamps. (That is, trim the wicks in the lamps to make them burn brighter.) But five of them found that their lamps had gone out because of lack of oil. They asked the other five to give them oil, but the five that had oil refused, citing their own shortage. So the five without oil rushed off to buy it. When they got back, the door was locked and they couldn't get in to the wedding. When they knocked, the doorkeeper denied knowing them. They were totally locked out.
What, spiritually, is going on here?
What is the Oil?
It is widely understood that oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit. Having "oil in your lamp", in the sense of the Parable, is being continually filled with the Holy Spirit. So a big part of the message of this Parable is that we must be continually filled with the Holy Spirit if we want to be ready. This is widely recognized. But there is much more than that in this Parable.
What Were They Locked Out Of?
Contrary to what is often thought, the Foolish Virgins are not locked out of the Marriage Supper, AKA The Wedding Feast, of the Lamb. That event occurs at the end of the Great Tribulation (Revelation 19:7-9). If they were locked out of the Marriage Supper, it would be Judgment Day for them and that's all. They would have lost their salvation. But note that they were able to go out and buy the oil after the bridegroom came. That is to say, they were able to get filled with the Holy Spirit after the bridegroom came. This tells us that it is divine protection during the Tribulation that they are really locked out of. If they had lost their salvation, they could not have gone out and bought the oil.
Here we find a reference to something this writer has noticed about Jesus' use of references to His coming. In phrases like "When the Son of Man comes, will He find faith on the earth?" (Luke 18:8), Jesus usually was not just talking about His actual appearance. He was talking about all the events connected with it, including the entire Great Tribulation. In the context of Luke 18:8, He was questioning whether there will be Christians living at the beginning of the Tribulation who have the faith to pray the way they should. And in the Parable, it is the beginning of the Tribulation that the Foolish Virgins aren't ready for.
As shown in the "Seal of the Living God" page, Christians who are ready will be divinely protected from God's wrath during the Tribulation. The Wise Virgins in this Parable get "the seal". The Foolish Virgins don't.
Note again that the Foolish Virgins have to go out and "buy" the oil. As stated in the "Three Switches" page, this is one of only two places in the Bible that Christians have to "buy" something to meet their spiritual needs, and both are in the context of being ready for the Second Coming. The very fact that they can "buy" it after the Bridegroom comes proves that they will be in the Tribulation when they do. They will repent and get filled with the Spirit after the Tribulation begins. This, again, is a reference to the fact that the Tribulation will be as much a great chastisement of the lukewarm Church as it will be judgment on the unsaved world. But, again, getting filled with the Spirit will cost them something. Like maybe their lives. That will hurt!
But They Were All Asleep!
There is another major truth in the fact that they were all asleep. This means that none of them, not even the Wise Virgins, were really expecting the Second Coming. Yet the Wise Virgins were ready. Here Jesus is emphasizing something which is communicated elsewhere in this site: Although you should be expecting the Second Coming, you absolutely must be prepared spiritually. That is to say, expecting it, and that includes having a Scripturally accurate idea of what will happen, will definitely help, but being spiritually prepared is absolutely essential. The Wise Virgins were prepared spiritually. They were staying filled with the Holy Spirit, and living lives of obedient faith, even though they didn't really expect the Second Coming. The Foolish Virgins were not. They were like the Unfaithful Servant.
Underlying this is a serious possibility, and a very important truth: The serious possibility is that there may be a brief warning that the Tribulation is about to begin. That is, it may be announced that the comet or asteroid that will collide with the earth is coming, from as little as a few hours (most likely) to as much as several months (extreme maximum) before it happens. This is a real, scientific possibility. Revelation 6:15-17 also suggests that there will be such a warning, as does Luke 17:31. The people in these passages appear to have a little time to seek protection. But very little time. So Christians who have heard this Message may know absolutely when the Great Tribulation is at hand.
The very important truth is that you cannot wait until the last minute to get ready. For one thing, this warning is by no means certain, only possible, though the Scriptures do seem to suggest it. Even if there is a warning, when the warning goes out, it will already be too late to get ready. You must be ready before the warning is sounded. It will be that warning, if it happens, that defines the moment after which it will be too late. That is shown in the Parable. If you are not ready then, you will go into the Tribulation without divine protection. The great chastisement will be upon you!
Getting Filled With The Spirit
So the questions are: how do you get filled with the Holy Spirit? And more than that, how do you stay filled?
Here we must emphasize something that may be opening a can of worms, but it is necessary for the good of all the readers to set forth exactly what the Bible says and shows about this issue:
There is absolutely no real Biblical basis for the doctrine held in some Protestant denominations that you are automatically filled with the Holy Spirit when you accept Christ. The teaching that says you are is an insidious falsehood. It has been the cause of many Christians never really becoming filled with the Holy Spirit.
What The Bible Really Says
Every Christian is familiar with story of Pentecost in Acts 2. First, note that every person in that room was a true believer, or they wouldn't have been there, but none was filled with the Holy Spirit when they entered the room. Furthermore, there is a verse in that chapter that says something about becoming a Christian that few modern students of the Word have ever given the significance it deserves. After having preached his Pentecost sermon, St. Peter was asked by the crowd what they should do. His reply, in Acts 2:38, constitutes, not only the first, but the most explicit and complete, however brief, statement in the entire Bible as to what is required for a person to be saved:
and let every one of you be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins,
and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit."
This verse has been deliberately arranged in three sections in this page to illustrate something:
Becoming a Christian
is a three-step process!
This, of course, is not what is taught in most Churches, but it is what the Bible plainly shows. This writer came to this conclusion while pondering a question that some of the readers have surely encountered: How do you explain the situation of people who tell you that they have said the "Sinner's Prayer", or gone forward at altar calls, or something similar, or any combination of these things, many times, and nothing happened? In other words, they had tried to become Christians, and it didn't work. If you have done as much personal evangelism as this writer has, you have surely heard people say this. This writer has heard all kinds of theological hair-splitting over this issue. But it is simply explained in the light of Acts 2:38: These people did not fulfill the Biblical conditions for becoming Christians. There is not one passage of Scripture that, taken in context, really supports the belief that simply "accepting Christ" makes you a Christian! Anyone who really thinks it does is ignorant of the Scriptures!
What the Bible say, again, is that becoming a Christian is a three-step process, as follows:
Repentance - and it has to be real - which means seriously accepting the truth that you are a sinner, accepting belief in salvation through faith in Jesus Christ, and deciding to turn from your sins to live a life of obedient faith in Him. True repentance includes a conscious decision to believe.
Baptism. In water, by full immersion, in the site of witnesses. Baptism must follow repentance, and no other form of "Baptism" is really Scripturally acceptable.
Receiving the Holy Spirit. Note that the Book of Acts makes Water Baptism a prerequisite for this (Acts 8:12-17 and 19:1-6). St. Paul also implies as much (Romans 6:3-5). There are exceptions, but in those cases, (Acts 9:17 & 18, and 10:44-48) there is a clear reason for it. And in both cases, Water Baptism immediately follows.
If you, as a Christian, have not been able to receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit, ask yourself if you have fulfilled the first two steps above.
In some cases, the Baptism of the Holy Spirit will automatically follow Water Baptism. However, it is also shown by Scriptural precedent that you may have to have elders of the Church who are already filled with the Holy Spirit lay hands on you in order for you to receive the Spirit. (See, again, Acts 8:14 -17 and 19:1-6.) It may also be necessary for you to fast and pray to receive the Spirit (Luke 11:13).
If you disagree with this doctrine, you are really disagreeing with the Bible; and this writer does not use this expression lightly, as some Christians do. You can disagree with him about many things about which he would not dare to say this.
It must be noted that God does make exceptions to this rule. There are Christians who do receive the Baptism of the Holy Spirit before they are baptized in water. This writer happens to be a case in point. The most obvious reason why God does this is apparently, believe it or not, to compensate for erroneous teaching. God is more concerned with human need than He is with even His own rules. But we shouldn't expect exceptions. We should abide by His rules.
If you are not sure that you have the Holy Spirit, or have tried to receive the Spirit and have not been able to, try following the steps above. Most people who consider themselves Christians have obeyed the first one, but many have not obeyed the latter two. This writer knows of real cases where Christians who had not, did so, and their lives were transformed.
It is also unfortunately true that some people who call themselves Christians, and have been baptized, have never really, in their hearts, repented of their sins at all. They want to have their sinfulness and Christ too. That won't work. All that such people really have is religion, and that can be misery. If you haven't been able to receive the Holy Spirit, have you really repented?
Staying Filled With The Spirit
It isn't enough to get filled with the Spirit. You must stay filled, and there are a number of critical do's and don'ts for maintaining a Spirit - filled life.
What Not To Do
One thing you must be careful not to do is to live a Christian life that is focused on the manifestation of Sign Gifts. Too many Christians are doing this, and thinking, for example, that the fact that they "speak in tongues" or "receive prophecies" regularly is proof that they are living Spirit-filled lives. Christians with that attitude should take a close look at Matthew 7:21 - 23. You are probably familiar with this passage, which is part of the Sermon on the Mount. As in the Parables of Matthew 25, Jesus is talking about Judgment Day, and some "Christians" get a nasty surprise:
21. "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.
22. "Many will say unto Me in that Day, 'Lord, did we not prophesy in Thy Name, and in Thy Name cast out demons? And in Thy Name work many wonders?'
23. "But I shall say unto them, 'I never knew you. Depart from me, you workers of iniquity.' "
There is a clear message here: Sign gifts are no substitute for true obedience. The "Christians" who get rejected obviously think they are obedient. You can be living a life in which you are frequently speaking in and/or interpreting tongues, giving "prophetic" utterances, think you are healing the sick, and even actually believe you are casting out demons, without really being obedient otherwise. This writer knows real cases in point. He has known Christians of this type who were very proud and obnoxious about it. He has also known one particular case of such a Christian who was so rebellious and disorderly that he was frequently kicked out of Churches. Christians who are like that don't know it, but they are in big, big trouble, spiritually.
Special Note: The words "prophesy" and prophecy", as used in the Bible are often general terms that include all forms of Holy Spirit - inspired utterances: i.e. prophecy, tongues, interpretation, word of knowledge, and even spontaneous praise. See I Samuel 10: 10 & 11; those "prophets" were Old Testament Pentecostals!
Make obedient faith the focus of your Christian walk, not sign gifts.
As shown elsewhere in these pages,
The real essence of true obedience
is loving your fellow Christians.
Not manifesting sign gifts!
Don't Quench The Spirit
While we should not, as stated above, live Christian lives that are focused on sign gifts, there is a mistake commonly made in the opposite direction. Remember that in the Bible it is stated that you can go off the straight and narrow, so to speak, to the right or left (Joshua 1:7). The opposite mistake is to reject sign gifts altogether. This idea is also often coupled with the unscriptural idea that we automatically receive the Holy Spirit when we get saved, mentioned above. The overall effect is that Christians who are taught and believe these errors tend to live defeated, fruitless lives. And they often, unfortunately, consciously consider such the Christian norm!
Part of this error is the doctrine that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit ended with the deaths of the Apostles and/or with the assembly of the Bible into one Book. But if the Gifts of the Holy Spirit ended then, it would mean that God has changed. One of the things that God emphatically states about Himself in the Bible is that He does not change (Malachi 3:6):
"For I am the LORD, I change not;
therefore ye sons of Jacob are not consumed."
The New Testament says the same thing about Jesus (Hebrews 13:8):
"Jesus Christ the same yesterday,
and today, and for ever."
And just as God does not change, neither do His gifts (James 1:17):
"Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above,
and cometh down from the Father of lights,
with whom is no variableness,
neither shadow of turning."
In the Bible, events that can be regarded as Sign Gifts go all the way back to Abraham! At least! Any miraculous Divine intervention in human affairs can be regarded as a Sign Gift. To say that the Sign Gifts, or Gifts of the Holy Spirit generally, have ended is tantamount to saying that God has changed. It is in the same class with saying that miracles never really happen. And that, by the way, is exactly what some people who hold this view say. (Harold Camping of Family Radio, for example.) Do you believe that? Do you want to?
You may notice, in I Thessalonians 5:19 & 20, right after St. Paul says, "Do not quench the Holy Spirit", he says "Despise not prophesyings". "Prophesyings" are Sign Gifts, and despising them, by the context, is quenching the Spirit. The same truth applies, by logical extension, to all other Sign Gifts. If you reject them out of hand, you are wittingly doing the same to the Holy Spirit.
If you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, and have the power of God in your life, you must be open to whatever God wants to give you. Remember that He will not give you anything that is not for your good and for the good of the Church as a whole. There is nothing wrong with speaking in tongues, for example, as long as you don't make it the focus of your Christian life. In fact, St. Paul said, in effect, that it is spiritually good for you (I Corinthians 14:4).
The thing to remember about Sign Gifts is that we are not supposed to follow signs. The signs are supposed to follow us (Mark 16:17). This means that when they are needed, they will just happen, frequently in answer to prayer. Beyond prayer for specific needs, we should not go looking for them, and do not need to. If we do go looking for them, we are looking to be deceived. But on the other hand, if we reject them out of hand, especially in the sense of not believing in them at all, we are robbing ourselves of grace and mercy we could receive. This is particularly true when people teach and/or believe that God does not heal. This falsehood robs hurting people of healing that they might well receive if they believed. See Matthew 13:54-58. This is also true of people who don't believe that a Christian may need a demon cast out of him. If you don't believe in Sign Gifts at all, and you want the Holy Spirit, you have to repent of some doctrinal error first.
Don't Harbor Grudges and Resentments
When a Christian has really become filled with the Holy Spirit, and has acquired some real spiritual maturity, the devil knows he can't get to him or her with a big direct temptation. The Christian will reject it out of hand. So what he does is attack with little, seeming innocent, and usually subtle temptations. Watch out for them! One of the most effective of these is to get other people to do things to the Christian that annoy him. Not out-and-out persecution or opposition, understand. Satan is more subtle than that. Rather, just minor nuisances are what he uses. When these things start to be a continual bother, the Christian will often, without realizing it, start to harbor bitterness (Hebrews 12:15), anger and resentment. And before he knows it, the Christian has grieved the Holy Spirit away. And then comes a big temptation, and the Christian falls.
If you want to stay filled with the Holy Spirit, do not let yourself be drawn into harboring grudges and resentments. They are the devil's left jabs of minor temptations to set you up for the right hook of the big one. As stated in the "Gold Tried In Fire" page, unforgiveness is a major reason for unanswered prayer, and it is also a major reason for a Christian not staying filled, or being able to get filled, with the Holy Spirit. You must forgive every wrong done to you, unconditionally, from the heart. Note, however, that the Lord doesn't want you to forgive a person who wrongs you to his face unless he repents. See Matthew 18:15-17 and 34 & 35.
In fact, if you have been trying to get filled with the Holy Spirit, and have not been able to receive Him, ask yourself if you are harboring grudges and resentments. If you are, you must repent of that before you can receive the Spirit.
The opposite situation will also be a hindrance to being filled with the Holy Spirit. If you have wronged someone, and know it, you must do whatever is necessary in the way of apology, and where applicable, restitution, if you want to be and/or stay filled with the Spirit. See Matthew 5: 23 & 24. If the person doesn't forgive you, forgive him or her for that. From the heart!
In all cases, pray for the person in question.
Don't Get Mad At God!!!
A major related problem is that Christians, especially, but by no means only, younger ones (in the Lord), will tend to get mad at God when things don't go the way they want. This writer used to do that, until he learned to know better. It is one of the worst spiritual mistakes a Christian can make. If you are angry at God, you are, in your heart, accusing Him of wrongdoing. This happens to be the sin of blasphemy, and in a particularly serious way, at that. When you do this, you are actually putting up a wall of sin between God and yourself that keeps Him from helping you.
In Chapter 8 of the Book of Romans are some of the greatest Promises of God in the Bible:
"And we know that all things work together for good
to them that love God,
to them who are the called according to His purpose."
"What shall we then say to these things?
If God be for us, who can be against us?"
"Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us."
Do you believe these Promises?
So you may say, but if you get mad at God;
If you want to be ready for the Second Coming, if you want to be filled with the Holy Spirit, if you want your prayers answered, and if you want victory in your Christian life generally;
Never! Never! Never let yourself get mad at God!!!
If you have been doing that,
A Christian who wants to stay filled with the Holy Spirit must learn to turn to God in all circumstances. If things are going wrong, if you are sick or have serious needs, it's time to pray (James 5:14 & 15; Hebrews 4:16). If things are going great, it's time to praise the Lord (James 5:13). If things are really bad, take Job's attitude (Job 1:20-22 & 2:10). When things are just okay, it's time to work at getting closer to Him (See Psalm 5).
Understand this: If you are not filled with the Holy Spirit, and if you are you will know it, you have no Biblical grounds to even be sure that you are Born Again (Romans 8:9-11):
9. "But ye are not in the flesh, but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwell in you. Now if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of his.
10. " And if Christ be in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the Spirit is life because of righteousness.
11. " But if the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwell in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your mortal bodies by his Spirit that dwelleth in you."
So understand this: If we take this passage to mean exactly what it says, being filled with the Holy Spirit, as far as salvation is concerned, let alone being ready for the Tribulation, is literally a matter of life or death. Being filled with the Holy Spirit is not an option. If you want to be ready for the Tribulation, get filled with the Holy Spirit and start staying filled with the Holy Spirit.
This is the first major step of overt obedience that the Lord requires. But it is just the First of Three Mandates. We will discuss the exact nature of the Second Mandate in the following page;
The Parable of the Talents
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Contact Author, William D. Brehm