Summary: Jesus warns us to assess the genuineness of our faith and be prepared for His return. Do we look like the Church, but are devoid of the Holy Spirit? Instead of lives transformed by the power of Christ, are our lives more like performance art? Jesus is coming at any moment! Are you prepared?
Do you agree that in God’s master plan, there is no such thing as “coincidence”? A few weeks ago, your pastor asked if I would be willing to preach today. Not only did I tell him “Yes!” on the spot, but I also told him that I knew exactly what I wanted to preach. You see, God had already revealed this sermon to me the previous week while my son and I were backpacking in the north Georgia mountains.
There is no such thing as “coincidence”. Today’s message was foreordained. Your presence here this morning is also not coincidental. God has aligned every detail this morning to accomplish His purpose.
Join me as we go to the Lord in prayer… [OPENING PRAYER]
When my son and I arrived at the trailhead for our backpacking trip, we needed to check in and register for a backcountry permit. However, I wasn’t expecting all the questions the park ranger had for me. She asked things like...
“Are you prepared for rain?”
“Are you prepared for sudden, cold weather?”
“Are you bringing a first aid kit with you?”
“Do you have something to make fire?”
“Do you have a way to purify water?”
“Are you carrying some means of shelter?”
“Do you have sufficient food and provisions?”
At first, I thought she was just kidding around, but she kept asking questions and was watching me intently as I responded. I quickly realized after the first couple of questions that she was dead serious. When she was satisfied with all my responses, she wrote the words “ALL PREPARED” on our permit. She was satisfied that we were sufficiently prepared to face the challenges of this particular hike.
Those questions and the words “ALL PREPARED” on our permit stuck in my mind during our hike that weekend. I realized that the park rangers would not give us a backcountry permit and would not allow us on the trail if we weren’t prepared. Then in my mind, these facts started taking on a spiritual context. I realized that the same is true of our spiritual condition. When our time comes to die and stand before God, we must be prepared. If we’re not prepared, we won’t be allowed to go into Heaven. Our Heavenly “permit” will not be granted, in a manner of speaking.
The title of today’s sermon is “All Prepared”...the phrase written on our backcountry permit. Please turn in your Bibles and let's read Matthew 25:1-13…
1 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; 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.
To give you a little context, this parable is a small but important part of a larger sermon known as the “Olivet Discourse”, which starts at the beginning of Matthew 24 and concludes at the end of chapter 25. Jesus and His disciples are having a private discussion while sitting on the Mount of Olives... hence the name “Olivet Discourse”. The timing is after Jesus’ triumphal entry into Jerusalem during the week leading up to Passover. Jesus will soon share the Passover meal with His disciples (also known as the “Last Supper”) and then be arrested, tortured, and crucified.
During this discourse or sermon, Jesus describes to His disciples the various signs leading up to His return, the great tribulation, the manner of His second coming, and the gathering together of His elect, the Church (a.k.a. the “Rapture”).
The primary message of the Olivet Discourse is that no one knows the day or hour of Christ’s return, and so we should therefore watch and be ready. To expound upon that message, Jesus uses the parable of the ten virgins to draw our attention to our own spiritual condition, and make us consider whether or not WE are truly prepared. So, with that context in place, let’s dig in...