Ready Or Not Here He Comes

Sun, Dec 15, 2019
Teacher: Tom Blackford
Duration:27 mins 23 secs

Message text

Ready Or Not Here He Comes
Matthew 25:1-13

Good evening. It is good to see each of you that have returned this evening. We are going to continue our studies on the parables of Jesus. Before we begin I would like to tell you a story.
This story is about two neighbors who were talking in the back garden over the fence. The first one of them said, “I went to a wedding this weekend, but I don't think the marriage will last.” Her friend asked, “Why do you think it won’t last?” The first one said, “Well, when the groom said ‘I do, the bride said, ‘don’t use that tone of voice with me.’”

I guess the point of the story is that relationships will last only if both parties look out for each other and treat each other right.

Tonight we will look at a parable from Matthew 25. In Matthew 25 we find a series of parables from Jesus on the subject of preparedness. We find “The parable of the Ten Virgins” verses 1-13, which we are going to look at tonight. In verses 14-30 we find “The parable of the Talents”, which we are going to look at next time. Finally in verses 31-46 we find “The parable of the Sheep and goats”.

In Matthew chapters 24 and 25 Jesus talked to His disciples about a time which was coming, when the city of Jerusalem would be totally destroyed and He talks about His final coming, His return, the first event being a type of the second. In Matthew 24:4-5 Jesus warns them, “4. ... "Take heed that no one deceives you. 5. "For many will come in My name, saying, 'I am the Christ,' and will deceive many.” Then He says in Matthew 24:13-14 “13. "But he who endures to the end shall be saved. 14. "And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in all the world as a witness to all the nations, and then the end will come.”

In verses 37-39 of Matthew 24 He talks about; “37. "But as the days of Noah were, so also will the coming of the Son of Man be. 38. "For as in the days before the flood, they were eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage, until the day that Noah entered the ark, 39. "and did not know until the flood came and took them all away... ”

He talked about “Two men will be in the field”, and “Two women will be grinding at the mill; one will be taken and the other left,” in verses 40-41.
Jesus also spoke of “Faithful and wise servants who did their duty while their master was away.” He also spoke of “Evil servants who were thinking that their master was delayed and so because of this delay they were careless and positively wicked in their conduct.” Jesus says that when He does come “These evil servants will be punished”.

In short He’s telling them that He would arrive unexpectedly and He would find many people who weren’t prepared for it.

On December 26, the day after Christmas, 2004 the whole world was shaken by the events of a Tsunami. It was devastating. People’s homes were wiped out and many people lost their lives. It was a disaster on a global scale, to such an extent that people are still years later trying to put their lives back together. Waves, some 100 ft high, killed an estimated 227,898 people in 14 countries.

I don’t know if you were aware of this but a lot of the countries affected by the Tsunami were warned years before to have some sort of warning system built, so that the people could have some sort of chance to be prepared. Sadly as we saw on our television screens, these countries didn’t take that advice.

Jesus isn’t talking about a Tsunami coming. He’s talking about His coming, but this time it isn’t to dwell among us like He did before, this time He’s coming to destroy this earth and everything on it. It’s not going to be a global disaster, it’s going to be a time of Universal Judgment, where souls will either live with Him forever or be destroyed with the devil and his angels in hell.

I. Let’s read the parable together. 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.”
A. When we were younger we used to play a game called “Hide and Seek”. I remember I thought it was great fun. The idea was that some of our friends would run and hide somewhere and whoever was “it”, would cover their eyes and count to some number, I think it was 50 and then shout out in a loud voice, “Here I come, ready or not!” Then the person would go off hunting for their friends.
B. In a sense that’s what Jesus says to His followers. He says, “Ready or not I am coming!” Jesus isn’t now talking about how His followers were to be prepared for the “Destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70”. He’s telling the whole world to be ready because He is coming back sometime in the future.
II. What I want to do this evening is to see if we can learn some lessons about ways in which we can be ready for His return. Jesus is going to share with us 3 things, which, “We cannot do.”
A. The 1st thing we cannot do is this; “We cannot neglect preparation and be ready at His coming.” Jesus wastes no time in getting straight to the point after sharing this parable. He says in Verse 13, “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour”. The key word in that verse is the word “Watch.” What does it mean to watch?
B. In what way are Christians to watch for Christ’s return? It certainly doesn’t mean what His disciples were doing in Acts 1:7-10 when Luke tells us that “7. And He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or seasons which the Father has put in His own authority. 8. "But you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be witnesses to Me in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.'' 9. Now when He had spoken these things, while they watched, He was taken up, and a cloud received Him out of their sight. 10. And while they looked steadfastly toward heaven as He went up, behold, two men stood by them in white apparel,”.
1. What did the two men say? Acts 1:11 – “Men of Galilee,” they said, ‘why do you stand gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, who was taken up from you into heaven, will so come in like manner as you saw Him go into heaven.”
2. I think that is one of the most unfair questions in the Bible. You see “watching” doesn’t mean intently looking up into the sky 24 hours a day, every day waiting for a first glimpse of His glorious appearance.
3. It also doesn’t mean that we are to talk about nothing else but His coming. Christians must “watch” with more than their eyes and their tongues.
4. That’s what Paul meant when He said in Colossians 3:1-2 – “1. If then you were raised with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ is, sitting at the right hand of God. 2. Set your mind on things above, not on things on the earth.”
C. To “watch” is to have some forethought of the future. It means to take some prior precautions, to make some preliminary preparation, and to continue in that preparation. Why is this preparation so important? Look back at our parable, this was the very thing the foolish virgins failed to do.
III. Matthew 25:1-3 “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them.”[para]
A. Verse 8 tells us that after the bridegroom arrived, “The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’”[para] In other words they had their lamps, and they began to wait eagerly, but they didn’t have enough oil.
1. It never entered their minds that the bridegroom might delay and it’s because of this that Jesus called them “foolish”. We notice they weren’t ungodly or immoral. They weren’t even hypocrites. They were simply foolish because they didn’t allow for the possibility of delay.
2. In short, when the bridegroom returned they were unprepared. One of the most inescapable lessons from life is the necessity of being prepared. Practically everything that is done requires preparation.
B. This is true of reading, writing and arithmetic. It’s true of buying and selling, sowing, and reaping. There are certain things in life, which cannot be done at the last minute.
C. If you ever go on vacation or take a trip you will understand just how much preparation is needed before you go. Preparation is essential for knowledge.
1. Just ask Mark and he will tell you that if only the students studied and worked as hard throughout the whole year as they do the night before final exams, they would all ace the exams. In other words the time of examination is not the time to make preparation.
2. When the foolish virgins realized they didn’t have enough oil, they asked the wise virgins for some of theirs. Their answer is in Matthew 25:9-10, “’No,’ they replied, 'there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’”[para]
D. Folks, it is necessary for everyone to make their own preparations for the greatest examination and the greatest journey in life. On Judgment Day it will be too late to make up for any previous neglect of preparation, just as we know it would be foolish of us to think that we can buy oil after the shops are closed.
IV. That brings me to the 2nd thing we cannot do. “We cannot borrow our way out of this neglect.” When I read this parable I can’t help but sympathize with the foolish virgins. I mean, they are in a tough spot even if it is their own making. We might wonder, why didn’t the wise virgins give to the foolish virgins?
A. Were they just being heartless to refuse to share their oil with others at a time of distress? The answer is quite simple; you cannot borrow something, which must be bought.
1. Our characters are like that. Our characters cannot be loaned from person to person. It is something that must be developed individually. We cannot pass our character on to someone else when we die.
2. How many times do we hear people calling upon the faith of another person? You hear people say these things all the time. A gospel preacher said that his granddad was an elder of the church for 45 years. His mother was a godly woman who spent her whole life teaching Sunday school and giving to the needy. He said; “My dad was a deacon, and his dad was a deacon and my great granddad was a deacon before him.” He said that people talk about this as though he inherited some of their faith.
3. Folks, what Jesus is teaching us here, is that obedience to God is another thing that cannot be borrowed.
B. Hebrews 9:27 – “And as it is appointed for men to die once, but after this the judgment,”
1. Romans 14:10-12 – “10. But why do you judge your brother? Or why do you show contempt for your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ. 11. For it is written: "As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to Me, and every tongue shall confess to God.'' 12. So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
2. You see each one is accountable individually. We live our own life, develop our own character, work out our own salvation and we each have a personal relationship with Christ and God the Father.
C. The husband can’t stand for his wife and the wife can’t stand for her husband. You can’t appeal to God on Judgment Day that your mother went to church for 50 years. You can’t say, “My father was a great man of faith.”
1. Can people be an influence, a guiding light, a great example for others? Of course they can and we are called to do so.
2. All the faith and dedication in the world on the part of parents isn’t enough for their children. All the hope and enthusiasm of a child cannot suffice for an indifferent parent. I hope and pray that our kids become Christians one day. I hope and pray that they will understand just exactly what being a follower of Christ means.
3. As a parent I realize that they can’t stand before God on the basis of my faith. They can’t go to heaven and say to God, “My daddy was a preacher”. They have to have their own faith. They need to make decisions about what to do with God’s commandments. I can’t make them understand. I can’t make them do right.
D. That’s because God requires personal submission to His commands. Your submission to God is your submission. Your faith needs to be your faith. You see it takes courage to become a Christian. It takes even more courage to stay faithful to God’s commands. Courage is not limited to the battlefield or when the Browns play the Steelers. Courage is not limited to bravely catching a thief in your house.
1. The real tests of courage are much deeper and much quieter. They are the inner tests, like remaining faithful when nobody's looking, like enduring pain when the room is empty, like standing alone when you’re misunderstood.
2. Those are the inner strengths and courage.
V. Let’s look at the 3rd thing we cannot do. “We cannot recall lost opportunities.”
Matthew 25:10 – “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.” What a sad picture this is, isn’t it?
A. When the bridegroom came, the foolish maidens were out trying to buy oil for their lamps. On returning they found that the marriage feast had already begun and the door was shut.
1. They missed their one chance. They didn’t seize their one great moment.
2. Folks, every day brings us opportunities that we must not neglect. Opportunities to help others are all around us. These opportunities are not just in India or Africa. They are right here on our doorstep.
3. Today may very well be a day when we have an opportunity to enter an open door to do good.
B. Galatians 6:10 – “Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” If we fail to go through that door when it is open, it may soon be shut.
1. It will shut us out from the joy of serving and shut us in with a selfish heart.
2. The truth of the parable is that the failure of the foolish virgins was final. Jesus says in verses 11-12 – “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.'” The door was shut and it was shut forever. How much those girls desired to enter. How long they had looked forward to the wedding! They were near to the reception, so near in fact that they could hear the inexpressible joy inside and yet they were so far away.
VI. Centuries have passed after this parable was told by Jesus and taught by many, and the question always arises, “When will Jesus come again?”
A. It was a sad picture back then, when thousands of people lost their lives in Jerusalem because they didn’t take Jesus’ advice, and it’s also a sad picture, which is still to come.
1. We shouldn’t be asking the question, “When will Jesus come again?” That’s the wrong question. The real question we should be asking ourselves is, “Are our lamps trimmed and burning?”
2. That’s why Jesus says in Matthew 25:13 – “Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour in which the Son of Man is coming.”,
B. Jesus will return folks and we know that because He said so. We know that there are some religious groups who use His coming as a form of scare mongering trying to get people into becoming followers of their ways.
1. There’s no denying the truth. He is coming and many religious groups have tried time and time again to predict His coming and time and time again they have been made to look foolish, but still they go on predicting.
2. As we just read Jesus tells us in Matthew 25:13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour”.
3. Nobody knows when He is going to return, so it’s not even worth the effort to try and figure out when He is coming back. That’s not the question of the Bible. The question of the Bible is, are we ready?
C. If you are ready, then you will be willing to be patient and you will be willing and ready to stand firm until He does return.
1. James 5:7-8 – “7. Therefore be patient, brethren, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, waiting patiently for it until it receives the early and latter rain. 8. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand.”
VII. When you go on a vacation or a long trip that takes many days, after awhile you find yourself missing things about the place where you live. Missing family, friends, your brothers and sisters here in Chardon. You get uneasy and you feel uncomfortable, homesick. Let me ask you, do you ever get homesick?
A. Paul did and he talked about it in Philippians 1:20-23 – “I eagerly expect and hope that I will in no way be ashamed, but will have sufficient courage so that now as always Christ will be exalted in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose? I do not know! I am torn between the two: I desire to depart and be with Christ, which is better by far.” [para]
1. I wonder, do we ever get homesick like Paul did for heaven? Paul goes on to say in Philippians 3:20 – “But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ.”[para]
2. The world began with the Word of God and when Christ returns this present world will end with the Word of God. That’s the truth and that’s a promise. It’s not my promise. It’s God promise.
B. 1 Thessalonians 4:14-18 – “14. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so God will bring with Him those who sleep in Jesus. 15. For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16. For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18. Therefore comfort one another with these words.” Those are words of both encouragement and warning. I pray that we do a better job of listening then those who lost their lives when Jerusalem fell.

I’ll wind this up with a story you may have heard about the day when Forrest Gump dies and goes to Heaven and he is at the Pearly Gates, met by Peter himself. Remember this is a story.
Peter says, “Well, Forrest, it’s certainly good to see you. We have heard a lot about you but I must inform you that the place is filling up fast, and we’ve been administering an entrance quiz for everyone.
The quiz is short and you have to pass before you can get into heaven”.
Peter then asks him the 1st question.
“Forest how many days of the week begin with the letter T?
Forrest says, “How many days in the week begin with the letter “T”?
That one's easy.
That’d be Today and Tomorrow.”
Peter’s eyes open wide and he exclaims, “Forrest, that's not what I was thinking, but I’ll give you credit for that answer.”
He says “Here is your 2nd question.”
“How many seconds are there in a year?”
“Now that one’s harder,” says Forrest, “But I guess the only answer can be twelve.”
Astounded, Peter says, “Twelve? Twelve? Forrest, how did you come up with twelve seconds in a year?”
“Shucks, there’s got to be twelve: January 2nd, February 2nd, and March 2nd.”
Peter interrupts him and says, “Hold it, I see where you're going with this, and I’ll have to give you credit for that one, too. Let’s go on with the next and final question.”
“Can you tell me God’s first name?”
“Sure” Forrest replied, “Its Andy.”
“Andy!” Peter raised his eyebrow, “Ok, I can understand how you came up with your answers to my first two questions, but just how in the world did you come up with the name of Andy as the first name of God?”
“That was the easiest one of all,” Forrest replied. “Andy walks with me, Andy talks with me, Andy tells me I am his own.”
Peter opens the Pearly Gates and said, “Run, Forrest, run.”

Many, many people have their own ideas about what Judgment Day will be like. God isn’t going to give us a quiz like that... but there will be an examination. We all know that any examination needs preparation. It’s entirely up to each of us how much preparation we’re willing to put in.

2 Corinthians 5:10 – “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things done in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.” There is really only one way to be sure that we are ready for the Day of Judgment when Christ returns and that is to be ready every day.

If you’re a Christian this evening, I don’t know how much oil you’ve got left burning in your lamp, it’s not for me to judge. If your oil is running a little low then maybe you need to ask God to help you. Or as the children’s song says, “Give me oil in my lamp keep me burning, give me oil in my lamp I pray, give me oil in my lamp keep me burning, burning, burning, keep me burning to the end of day.”

If you haven’t obeyed His commands, then you’re not prepared and you need to get prepared. You need to study His word and do what His word tells every one of us to do. You need to repent, turn from the ways of the world and turn to God and follow His ways. You’re here this evening, which tells me you have some belief in God.

You also need to believe the Bible where it says that Christ is who He claims to be, which is the Savior of the world. You need to confess that Jesus is Lord and be baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. After you’ve obeyed His commands and you continue to obey His commands, which is called faithfulness, it’s then that you are starting the preparation process. You are doing what God requires you to do in preparation for His return.

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Reference Sermon
Mike Glover


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