Lucia's Blog: PREPARING FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD
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Isaiah 55:8-9

Isaiah 55:8-9

Sunday, April 5, 2020

PREPARING FOR THE COMING OF THE LORD

"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose 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, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.'"
Matthew 25:1-13 



Godliness in the Bible is literally the fear of God and the devotion that grows out of that fear. The proverb says, "The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge" (Proverbs 1:7).  "It is a terrifying thing to fall into the hands of the living God" (Hebrews 10:31). Jesus teaches us the fear of God by describing a place of everlasting punishment that is called hell. The fear of God is clean (Psalm 19:9).  There is nothing evil about fearing God.  So let's talk about the coming of the groom, the second coming of Christ, and how to be prepared for His coming to avoid going to that place of eternal punishment, hell.

Few doctrines in the Bible are more hated, ignored, feared, or are so unpopular and which make people more uncomfortable, than the doctrine of eternal punishment (hell).  For many, the thought of eternal punishment (hell) and burning in hell for eternity is extremely repugnant to the human mind.  Most people shy away from the concept of hell.  Many pulpits ignore or refuse to preach about eternal punishmentletting many live in disobedience to Christ without the fear of eternal consequences.  They would rather talk about heaven than the certainty of judgment. They seem to forget that for justice and righteousness to exist, there must be a Final Day of Judgment.  God has declared in His Word the following.
“It is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”  (Hebrews 9:27).  
This world of darkness is filled with lots of lawlessness and wicked men that get away with every form of crime.  Often, we Christians get discouraged because apparently the wicked always wins and prospers (Psalm 73, Mal. 3:14-15).  Indeed, our world is lawless and imperfect, and the wicked usually are not punished for their crimes or lawlessness.  The righteous seem to suffer most.  Take, for example, our Lord Jesus, who suffered severely and was crucified at the hands of wicked men; the persecution of the early church (many faithful Christians died at the hands of evil men for righteousness), etc.  For justice to prevail, there must be a Final Day of Judgment!  

Our Lord Jesus Christ has declared that He will sit on His throne of glory and separate the righteous from the wicked.  He will do this as the shepherd divides his sheep from the goats.  Both will be judged according to their works (righteous and evil works).  Then the dreadful sentence will be executed accordingly.  The anguish and torment of the wicked in hell will be eternal!  Indeed, the nature of the doctrine of hell is terrifying to the human mind.  But, despite the concept of everlasting torment, many find it revolting, ignoring that such a doctrine came from the lips of Jesus, our Lord.  Jesus spoke more of hell and its horrors and dreadfulness more than the prophets and apostles ever did.  He continually warned and still is urging men of the devastating dangers of going to hell.  To ignore and disregard the clear teachings of Jesus (His doctrines) is to deny Christ Himself! 


I.   HELL:  THE GREAT & ULTIMATE SEPARATION:

After death, judgment follows.  There will be no second chance for salvation (Heb. 9:27).  There is a great contrast between those who die in the Lord, the saved (the obedient and righteous), and those who die lost without obeying the Gospel of Christ.  “And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us” (Luke 16:26).  There is no opportunity for obedience after death!!!
“When the Son of Man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate people one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats. 33 And he will place the sheep on his right, but the goats on the left. 34 Then the King will say to those on his right, ‘Come, you who are blessed by my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world... 41 Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels. 46 And these will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life (Matt. 25:31-34, 41, 46).  

The Bible describes the penalty of hell as “the second death” (Rev. 20:14), which conveys the ultimate separation from God.  In the New Testament, this is stressed in several passages.

  • The Parable of The Ten Virgins:  (Matthew 25:1-13)
"Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose 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, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 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. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour.'"
    •   The Necessity of Preparedness:
In Matthew 25:1-13, in the parable of the virgins, there were “ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.”  They were expected to be prepared and ready to go out to meet the bridegroom when His approach was announced.  Those virgins represent those in God's kingdom who are pure and should be “pure” (1 John 3:3).  The “lamps” were small earthenware vessels with flaxen wicks.  They represent the Christians' faithfulness (Matt. 5:16).  The ten virgins in this parable represent Christians.  Jesus' message in this parable is the necessity of preparedness.  

According to verse two of this parable, there were wise and foolish Christians in God's kingdom (2 Cor. 13:5).  The foolish virgins brought their lamps without extra oil.  They were foolish because they should have brought extra oil for their lamps in a separate vessel.  They did not know the time when the groom would come.  Though all the virgins made some preparation, in fact, these foolish virgins did not prepare enough.  You see, the wise virgins brought extra oil in a separate vessel and were prepared for a delay.  In this parable, the extra oil represents the active, living faith of Christians (Eph. 2:10; James 2:14ff).  It is their perseverance and active living faith!  Those who strive to make their election sure are the wise ones (2 Pet. 1:10).  

“But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept.”  The problem here was not that these virgins drifted off to sleep while waiting for the groom, but that they were not prepared to go out and meet Him as soon as His coming was proclaimed.  The coming of the groom represents the second coming of Jesus, our Lord (Heb. 9:28).  
“For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a cry of command, with the voice of an archangel, and with the sound of the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first”  (1 Thess. 4:16).  

The “cry” represents the cry of command mentioned here.

The difference between these two groups of virgins is evident in Matthew 25:8:
“And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.”  

Though the foolish virgins made their request, the answer was “no.”  That is exactly what will happen on Judgment Day.  No one will be able to share their preparation or their faithfulness (i.e., their “oil”with others, their neighbors, no matter how desperately and eagerly they may want to do so.  Each one of us will be judged according to the record of our own lives, works (2 Cor. 5:10).  We will not be able to transfer our “righteousness” to another (Ez. 18:20).  And though we indeed ought to share with those in need, some things cannot be shared (reputation, character, dedication, obedience, faithfulness, righteousness, godliness, holiness).

In the coming of the groom, the second coming of Christ, only those who had adequately prepared will be able to go to the wedding feast.  Then, the door will be shut!!  These words imply finalityThe door is shut for those who rejected the opportunity to prepare correctly to meet God in judgment (death, coma, sudden death, brain injury, and such).  
“For he says, 'In a favorable time I listened to you, and in a day of salvation I have helped you'”  (2 Cor. 6:2).  

Once the doors (opportunities to obey and be right with God) are shut for the wedding feast, they will not be opened again!!  What a tragedy to be shut off from such joy and participation!!

Though the lost might desperately plead, his anguish will not sway (affect) the divine justice of God at His time of judgment (Matt. 7:21-23).  “I do not know you.”  Since the foolish virgins did not care enough about the wedding and did not make adequate preparation, the groom refused to recognize them as His kin or friends.  It is vital to make proper preparation before the Lord returns or before our death.  It is impossible to prepare after our resurrection, for there will be no open door or opportunity.   In Matthew 7:23, Jesus said, “I never knew you” to Christians whose faith did not remain active and living.  A Christian can and will fall from grace if he allows his faith (his faithfulness) to die!  Even if one appears to be faithful as the foolish virgins did by not abandoning their post, that does not mean that his heart is right with God.  God will not count us as one of His acquaintances, and part of His household is He finds us unprepared on the Day of Judgment.  We must be faithful servants of God always!!

Therefore, unprofitable servants will be “cast out” and will hear the final verdict from the Lord, “Depart from me”  (Matt. 25:41).  Those who willfully reject and disobey the Gospel of Christ “shall suffer punishment, even eternal destruction from the face of the Lord and from the glory of His might”  (2 Thess. 1:9).  

Final judgment will take place to manifest the glory of God to all mankind by demonstrating His righteousness and mercy (2 Thess. 1:3-10).  It will be an entirely fair judgment (Rom. 2:11, Ps. 98:9).  Mankind will not have a second chance after death (Luke 16:24-26).  The book of Hebrews connects death with the devastating consequences of judgment.
“And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment”  (Heb. 9:27). 

Therefore, in light of the final judgment, Christians should be able to forgive each other freely, for we know that all record of wrongs will be settled on that dreadful day of judgment and will be made right.  God will avenge us and will repay (Rom. 12:19).  God's delay return is because He is longsuffering, patient, not wanting that anyone should perish but that everyone comes to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).   The Lord is patiently and kindly inviting all sinners to repent.  Therefore, it is our duty as Christians to bring the message of salvation (evangelizing) and so help all men not to perish in hell eternally (Rom. 10:14-15).


II.   GOD'S GOODNESS AND THE CROSS:
"But now the righteousness of God has been manifested apart from the law, although the Law and the Prophets bear witness to it— 22 the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. For there is no distinction: 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus."  (Romans 3:21-26)

To thoroughly understand the concept of hell, one must understand God's scheme of redemption, the redemptive work of Jesus (Romans 3:21-26) Christ, and the necessity of judgment. The apostle Paul affirmed that God, the Father, has manifested His righteousness in sending His Son.
 “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, 25 whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith. This was to show God's righteousness, because in his divine forbearance he had passed over former sins. 26 It was to show his righteousness at the present time, so that he might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus” (Rom. 3:21-26).
“Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered. 9 And being made perfect, he became the source of eternal salvation to all who obey him”  (Hebrews 5:8-9)  

The holiness and justice of Deity demand that sin be addressed.  The fact that there is a deserved reward for good and evil is a shred of evidence that “there is a God that judges in the earth”  (Psalm 58:10-11).  The question at stake is:  How can a just and righteous God keep rebellious men from going to hell?

Without a Redeemer, all mankind would have been condemned to hell.  But God in His undeserved grace to us revealed a scheme of redemption and reconciliation (Gen. 3:15) by sending a blessed Redeemer, His Son, Jesus Christ.  We can escape the eternal punishment of hell by obeying God (Matthew 7:21-27; 25:32-46) and have our sins removed through His plan of salvation, thus becoming justified, sanctified, and righteous to enter Heaven.  It is the only way to escape the punishment for sin. God, in His lovingkindness and mercy, provides faith and grace, but one can lose salvation (go to hell) if he rejects both.  

Jesus provided the connection or link between man and God (Hebrews 4:14-16, I Timothy 2:5-6). He opened the door to a reunion with God (Hebrews 6:18:20).  Jesus is the way by which mankind can return or come back to the Father (John 14:6). Jesus provided the means of reconciliation and pardon.  Jesus is our High Priest, who offered His own blood in the heavenly holy place (Hebrews 9:1-14, 23-26). The offering of His blood before God was as vital as His deathWhen Jesus died, it was not for any sin He had committed.  And though He was tempted in every respect as we are, yet He was without sin and did not sin, not even once!! (Heb. 5:8-9; 1 Peter 2:22)

God did not put our sins upon Christ, but rather the penalty of our wrong.  If Jesus had died only and had not been raised and completed the sacrifice, we would still be in our sins and be condemned to hell for all eternity (I Corinthians 15:17, Hebrews 1:3).  Christ's sacrifice offered a single sacrifice for sins.
“For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” (Hebrews 10:10-14). 
“Without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins” (Hebrews 9:22). 

 Hell is not just eternal separation from God, it is eternal torment.  We are reconciled to God "in Him" and "through Him." But, this reconciliation to the Father has conditions.  God's intent or purpose for mankind's redemption is reconciliation through the blood of Christ, being the mediator, bridge, between man and God.  Yet, one must be in the faith and continue in the faith.
“14 For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility 15 by abolishing the law of commandments expressed in ordinances, that he might create in himself one new man in place of the two, so making peace, 16 and might reconcile us both to God in one body through the cross, thereby killing the hostility. 17 And he came and preached peace to you who were far off and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access in one Spirit to the Father"  (Ephesians 2:14-18).  

Because of sin, man had alienated himself from God because of his wicked works (Colossians 1:21-23).  "Reconciliation" is the process by which an enemy becomes a friend, resulting in peace. 

II Corinthians 5:18-20 says,
"But all things are of God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ, and gave unto us the ministry of reconciliation; to wit, that God was in Christ reconciling the world unto himself, not reckoning unto them their trespasses, and having committed unto us the word of reconciliation. We are ambassadors therefore on behalf of Christ, be ye reconciled to God."
Though all sinners deserve to be lost eternally, the Lord has provided a way to “escape the judgment of hell” (Matthew 23:33).  No man can ever argue against the love of God in light of His unspeakable gift at the cross!!

 So, Jesus came to destroy the works of the devil. Satan’s downfall would be hasty and final (Luke 10:18). Satan and his angels will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire, the second death. Jesus will destroy the works of the devil in Satan's final end in the lake of fire.  And though Jesus destroys the works of the devil, mankind still has to obey the plan of redemption or salvation to avoid going to hell (Romans 6:16-18, I Corinthians 10:12-13, Romans 6:12-14). 

Sadly, for those who reject the Truth, the Gospel of Christ,
“There no longer remains a sacrifice for sins, 27 but a fearful expectation of judgment, and a fury of fire that will consume the adversaries. 28 Anyone who has set aside the law of Moses dies without mercy on the evidence of two or three witnesses. 29 How much worse punishment, do you think, will be deserved by the one who has trampled underfoot the Son of God, and has profaned the blood of the covenant by which he was sanctified, and has outraged the Spirit of grace? 30 For we know him who said, 'Vengeance is mine; I will repay.' And again, 'The Lord will judge his people.” 31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God'”  (Heb. 10:26:31).


CONCLUSION:

The Doctrine of Hell is very controversial today. It is under fire.  It is rarely mentioned in modern times.  It is challenged from all sides.  There are many skeptics (Christians and non-Christians) who repudiate the concept of everlasting punishment.  They dare to ask why would a loving God send people to hell.  They reject Jesus' teaching on hell because a just and merciful God could not do such a thing.  They lean toward the arguments of the atheist who claims that if there were a God, He could not be so unjust.   Many denominations, such as the Jehovah's Witnesses, Seventh-Day Adventists, and Worldwide Church of God, have rejected the doctrine of the eternal punishment of the wicked.  Even some among the churches of Christ have advocated this erroneous concept.

The Bible is crystal clear about the consequences of our choices here in this life. There is a right way and a wrong way to live, and we must stop to reflect frequently.  We will spend eternity, either in Heaven or in Hell.  This reality is presented in Romans 6:23:
“For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  

This is made clear in the parable of the talents.  
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master'” (Matt. 25:21, 23).

 That joy is heaven!!
“But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed?'  And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place, there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’”   

That place of darkness, weeping, and gnashing of teeth is hell!  There is no third alternative It is either heaven or hell.  The way of heaven “leads to life (heaven)” (Matt. 7:14).  The way of hell “leads to destruction (hell)” (Matt. 7:13).  And each one of us will either spend eternity in heaven or in hell.  For, “we shall stand before the judgment seat of Christ” (Romans 14:10).  The truth is that since God raised Jesus from the grave, He has given us the assurance that God will make mankind accountable on that Final Day of Judgment (Acts 17:31).  So, heaven and hell are real rather than some theorized possibility or folktale.  God wants all men to be with Him in heaven (1 Tim. 2:3-4; 2 Peter 3:9).  Yet, Jesus has stated that most of mankind will end up in hell (Matt. 7:13-14).

The Lord Himself taught the doctrine of hell and eternal punishment.  He spoke more about hell than heaven.  It was also acknowledged and endorsed by the early church.  It was later defended by many theologians of the Middle Ages and the Reformation period.  However, after the 20th century, a new wave of “clergymen” within the ranks of “Christendom” began to deny this fundamental tenet of Bible doctrine.  Today a significant part of people no longer believes in hell.

Knowing that someday we all will die and will be raised to stand before the Judge of all in judgment and receive our eternal reward, heaven or hellhow seriously do we acknowledge this?  Are you ready for death, resurrection, and final judgment? Man has only one earthly life and death.  After judgment, men will receive their eternal destinies.  The righteous will receive eternal life, a state of bliss in the presence of God.  On the other hand, the wicked will receive eternal punishment, suffering, and sorrow, separated from God.  How much worse could it be?  Judgment will be fair and just!

It will be based on Truth (Rom. 2:2).  Men will be judged without partiality (Rom. 2:11; 1 Peter 1:17).  Judgment will be inescapable (Rom. 2:3).  It will be universal (Rom. 2:6, 9, 10; 10:14-12).  It will be individual (Romans 2:6; 14:12).  It will be thorough.  All aspects of life will be examined (Rom. 2:7, 8, 9, 10, 16; 2 Cor. 5:10; Eccl. 12:14; Jeremiah 17:10; Luke 12:2).  And it will be final!  The rewards given on that day will be eternal and unalterable (Rom. 2;7; Matt. 25:46).

 The price of hell is too high!  Hell will be forever, and man does not have to go there.  But they need to faithfully obey God now!  There is a deadline, and that is the Day of Judgment (2 Peter 3:10-12).  We have no idea when that day will arrive.  The eternal home of our soul and the souls of men is at stake!! Therefore, we must endeavor to be watchful and ready for that final deadline.  The Bible plainly teaches that there will be a day of reckoning, and we can be sure of this.  There will be a day when each of us will be audited and called upon to answer for our life (Rom. 14:11-12; Matt. 25:31-46). On that day, “God will bring every work into judgment, including every secret thing, whether good or evil”  (Eccl. 12:14).  How will you stand in that day?  Are you prepared for the final deadline?

May we never miss heaven, the grandest and most glorious place ever conceived.  May we be found faithful and profitable servants by our Lord and not be cast into the outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.  May we teach the lost the Gospel of salvation that they may obey the Truth and be ready for Judgment Day. 

Luci


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