Summary: We need faith in our Savior for ourselves if we expect to be ready for his return.
Just about every house in America goes through a familiar ritual. This ritual takes place every day of the week. Some of you may be very familiar with it. I call it the "Are you ready yet?" ritual. As the time to leave the house draws near parents begin asking the question, "Are you ready yet?” A spree of responses follows. You hear: "I just need to brush my teeth." You hear: "I still have to get my lunch." And sometimes you even hear: "I can’t find my shoes!" Eventually, one of two things happens. Either everyone is ready and you leave, or you leave and someone is putting on their shoes or putting up their hair in the car.
Preparedness. The need to be ready is something that none of us will ever escape on this side of heaven. In a nutshell, my friends, this is what our text for today is all about. Jesus says it is of the utmost importance that we are organized spiritually. BE PREPARED! Jesus says. 1) Because Some Things You Can’t Borrow, and 2) When Life Seems A Snore.
1) Because Some Thing You Can’t Borrow
Jesus is talking about the last days: our days. He’s talking about what the “kingdom of heaven will be like.” The Kingdom of Heaven: how the Gospel will work among people, how the precious seed of God’s Word will affect hearts and lives, how it will save some from this fallen, condemned, sinful human race; and how others will fail to enjoy its benefits, offered freely to all. The Bible does speak of Judgment Day as a terrible day of wrath and mourning. But Jesus speaks to us as if it were a day of joy: a day to meet the bridegroom. He compares the work of the Gospel to ten virgins, or bridesmaids, who go out to meet the groom. In Jesus’ day, wedding parties did not meet at the church: they met at the home of the bride. The groom came to her parents’ house to pick her up. When he took her into his house, the wedding and the marriage officially began. All ten were brides maids were invited, all ten were part of the wedding party. All ten were looking forward to the joyous occasion. But there was a difference between them.
What made the difference? Why were some considered foolish and others wise? It wasn’t because half were true Christians, and the other half were hypocrites. Rather, it was for this reason: The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. They took the lamps: but no oil. The lamp was an important part as they waited to meet the groom. But without the oil, what good was the lamp? They had a little bit of the oil in their lamp, but no oil to spare. How long would the lamp burn without the oil? Not long enough.
What lamp and oil did the wise virgins have? The lamp is the Christian life that’s kept aglow by the oil of faith. It is burning with the Holy Spirit’s flame, and warming others with the glow of love and kind deeds that shine out as we proclaim that Jesus Christ is Lord. The lamp is important, oh so important, but without the oil, it flickers, and goes out before it’s time.
So many Christians get so caught up with the lamp and it’s light, that they forget the oil that keeps it aglow. The zeal to do mission work, to build/maintain church buildings, the desire to help others, the warmth to serve: it all comes from the oil of faith. What good is a heap of offerings without faith? They are a stench before God. What good is a litany of prayers without faith that God will hear and answer them? They’re nothing but vain babbling. What good is a multitude of deeds without the oil of love and faith in the Holy Spirit? It’s nothing but empty, dead actions. It’s the inward work of the Holy Spirit – the fire of faith in Jesus -- that makes the outward things in our lives glow.
How do we get such faith, such oil that fuels our lives with the bright glow of love? “Faith comes from hearing the message…” Scripture says. “If my words remain in you,” Jesus says. When we come to hear the Gospel, when God puts out his Word to us, he’s putting the oil out for purchase: free of charge. When God’s Word is set before you, don’t just browse. Don’t make worship and catechism class and family devotional time and Bible class just a window-walk through the shopping mall of God’s grace, where you look but don’t leave with anything. And don’t just let your wife or child or husband or mother or father walk away with the goods. Take some yourself. Take God’s Word to heart, store it up in that one jar we have to carry our Savior home with us: the temple of our hearts. The wise thing is to make sure that the faith is there, the inward cleansing of the heart, the Holy Spirit’s fire. All the other stuff flows from that, and is kept lit by it.