Saturday, March 2, 2013

Are We Prepared

Mat 24:44  Therefore you also must be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect. Mat 24:45  "Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom his master has set over his household, to give them their food at the proper time? Mat 24:46  Blessed is that servant whom his master will find so doing when he comes. 

Let me give you my synopsis of Matthew 24-25.  Jesus is not telling us what is going to happen just before he comes back so that we will know that his return is near and be ready.  It seems he makes that clear when he says that no one knows the day or the hour.  I believe he is describing the church age beginning with the destruction of Jerusalem and the Temple so that we won’t be surprised at the great upheavals of the age; neither should we be surprised that many are not ready to see Jesus.  But his main point is that his people should be ready and he gives us some idea of how to be prepared.   

The parable of the five virgins teaches us that a large number of religious people that call him Lord and are expecting his return will nevertheless not be ready when he does return.  The above verses come immediately before this parable and I think help us see one way the five wise virgins were prepared while the five foolish weren’t.  Much is made of the oil that each girl had and that it represents the Holy Spirit.  Certainly a biblical tenet is that Christians alone have the indwelling and sealing presence of the Holy Spirit and if you don’t have this you are not ready to meet the Lord either at death or at his 2nd Advent.  But I am not sure that this is necessarily what we are to take away from this parable. 

If you read the next two parables you find that in both cases the ones who are prepared to meet the Lord and are accepted by him are those that are living in such a way that demonstrates they are Christians.  With this in mind the above verses set up the stories of chapter 25.  Who is the one ready for the coming of the Lord?  It is the one who is serving faithfully in his master’s household. 

In this way we understand that the one who is biblically waiting for and ready for the Lord’s return is not necessarily the one who is praying for it real fervently.  It certainly isn’t the one who has sold everything and is standing on the hill top, hands uplift, just waiting for him and even less is it the one who is trying to spot signs of his return so he can pinpoint the general time.  (No such signs exist in my opinion)  Those ready for his return while they are praying for it, yearning for it and looking for it, are those who are busy with the Great Commission and being faithful over whatever the Lord has given them to do.  The great distinction between these ten virgins had already taken place before the bridegroom appeared.  And as you read the three parables in chapter 25 it become more and more clear that it is the new nature that is given to each believer.   

While none but those whose sins are forgiven through faith will gain glory, the New Testament when it refers to the judgment of those who stand before him always makes the distinction whether they lived a life in obedience to Christ.  We know that it isn’t those works that gain heaven but they are proof that you have been redeemed by the blood of Christ because the Holy Spirit has given you a new heart. 

James Boice offers another aspect of all this in his commentary on the Gospel of Matthew.  He says that just as the coming of the Lord revealed a difference between the true saint and the mere professor, so each time the Lord visits us in chastening, trials and tribulation we either show ourselves one of the Lord’s or not.  We either bow to his will and providence or we buck up at it in complaints and bitterness.  Andrew Fuller put it like this, “A man has only as much religion as he can command in trial”. 

Are you ready for his return?  You answer that question every day of your life not so much by how you anticipate his return but how much your life reveals your love for the One your heart longs for.

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