So, what of these three, Gary, Gary and Adam, and what's oil got to do with any of this? Their bodies died, and they live on, and the reason they live on is because they had all the oil they needed for their lamps. Our readings at church today were packed with how we prepare. Gary, Gary and Adam, believing Christians, lived the sinner and saint lives that Christians live -- Sinners because none of us are equipped to live lives as saints apart from Christ; and Saints because my baptized, believing friends lived in Christ and, as they lived, they prepared to meet Christ face-to-face on the day when it was their turn.
Jesus told a story about what the kingdom of Heaven will be like. He taught by way of a parable about ten virgins who were attendants of a bride, and they were waiting one evening for the bridegroom to arrive for the wedding celebration to begin. They had oil for their lamps in order to go meet the bridegroom when he arrived. All ten virgins had oil in their lamps. Five of them, though, were wise and also carried flasks of oil; five were foolish and did not. The bridegroom was delayed, and the attendants fell asleep. Then at midnight, they heard "Here is the bridegroom!" They all got up to light their lamps. Jesus tells us, "And the foolish said to the wise, 'Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out,' but the wise answered, saying, 'Since there will not be enough for us and you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.' And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. Afterward, the foolish virgins came also, saying "Lord, lord, open to us," but he answered, "Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.'" Jesus follows this lesson with the admonishment, "Watch, therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour." (Read Matthew, Chapter 25). Pastor told us this morning before Bible study that, during a particularly rough stretch last Tuesday, Adam had asked him, "Is today the last day?" Tuesday wasn't Adam's last day, but the flame of his lamp was still glowing yesterday morning when God's Holy Angels cradled him and took him to meet our Savior.
I've heard the parable numerous times, and I understand that it is a lesson about being prepared for our final day on earth and the promise of being with Christ for eternity. Today, though, there was this bit of the story to which I had never really given the attention it deserved. That is, "...go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves." The five foolish virgins left. They went away to buy their oil. He is telling us that the foolish invested their faith in a sinister, earthly dealer, who is always on the prowl hoping to convince a weak one into believing the lie that we have to buy what is actually freely given in order for us to enter into the wedding feast. That's why Jesus ends his lesson by telling us to be watchful and not fall into that trap.
Yes, I know how the naysayers would respond. I've already heard it too many times. "If there is a God who wants all people to be saved, then why would this good God allow the door to be shut in anyone's face?" The answer is: HE DOESN'T ALLOW IT!! In fact, He tells us in His word, "For God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us so that whether we are awake or asleep we might live with him." (Read 1 Thessalonians 5) I remember a line from a sermon several years ago, when my pastor stated, "You're either in Jesus' camp or your not." You can't have one foot on one side of the fence (just in case) and the other on the other side (not really believing His Gospel's promise). It.just.doesn't.work.that.way.
And one more thing, don't invite Jesus into your heart. That's an ugly place. It's an ugly place in every single one of us. Our hearts are ugly, stinking pieces of trash, and they get uglier and stinkier with every sin we commit. Why would we invite anyone there; especially God?! The only way we can have a clean heart is to ask that He GIVE it to us as King David did (Psalm 51). Here's the best part: In His infinite mercy, God answers that prayer. We keep praying it, and God keeps answering it. It is only by His grace we are saved, through the gift of faith. It is God who invites us; not the other way around. He takes the action; not us. He does this by way of Holy Baptism where He sends the Holy Spirit to cleanse us from all unrighteousness and bring us into body of Christ, our Lord and Savior. We don't have to buy anything. God provides the oil you need (His Grace, His gift of Faith, His Word, all in His Son, our savior Jesus Christ). Believe it, and just like Gary, Gary and Adam, you'll be ready.
Yes, and I will rejoice, for I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, as it is my eager expectation and hope that I will not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. ~ Philippians 1