Online Text Sermon - The Door was Shut, Matthew ch.25 v.10
|Preacher||Rev. Maurice Roberts, Inverness|
|Sermon Title||The Door was Shut|
|Text||Matthew ch.25 v.10 |
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"And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut" (Matthew 25, 10).
Especially the words at the end of the verse: "And the door was shut."
Let me begin by explaining to those who may not know this chapter too well that in chapter 25 of Matthew, Jesus Christ is telling us what will happen at the end of the world. You might say, "What does it matter what is going to happen at the end of the world because we are not going to be there." That is wrong! At the end of the world, the Bible tells us that everybody is going to be there. Probably, we will all be dead; but everybody that has ever lived is going to come out of the grave again. People don't just disappear when they die - they are going to be raised up again out of their graves. This is why the end of the world is important for you and for me: because everyone is going to be there. Everybody who has ever lived will be at that meeting; there will never be another meeting like it. Obviously, we have never met our great, great, great grandparents - they have been dead a long time. We have never met Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. The probability is we will not meet our great, great, great grandchildren - we will be dead and gone before they live. However, at the end of the world, the Bible says, everybody is going to meet - just that once. Jesus Christ is telling us about the end of the world and that is why it is important to us all to understand: it has very important meaning for us all.
What does Jesus Christ tell us about the end of the world? I am going to look simply at the first few verses of this chapter - we call it a Parable, a story if you like. A Parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. Jesus tells us three Parables or stories in this chapter. I should point out to you where these three stories are to be found. The first one is from verses 1 to 13. We call that Parable 'The Parable of the Ten Virgins' - virgins being unmarried girls. The next Parable is from verse 14 all the way down to verse 30. We refer to that as 'The Parable of the Talents' - these were sums of money or pieces of money. Then there is a third Parable, beginning at verse 31 right down to verse 46. We refer to that as 'The Parable of the Sheep and of the Goats'. All of these stories are Parables dealing with the end of the world: the time when the world will come to an end. They all deal - more-or-less - with the same subject. We, therefore, can't speak about all three of them because of time constraint. I am going to talk about the first of these three Parables, verses 1 to 13, especially, looking at verse 10 which is my text: "And the door was shut" (text).
1. TEN VIRGINS - BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH
2. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN HE COMES BACK?
We will now look at The Parable of these Ten Girls or Ten Virgins. 'Virgin' is not such a common word today; it means a girl who is not married and such girls come into this story or Parable. Let me explain the meaning of this Parable as a whole. I want to take the different parts of it first of all and explain bit by bit what these things mean. As I have already said, a Parable is an earthly story with a heavenly meaning. We will never benefit from it if we don't understand what that heavenly meaning is. What I am going to do now is explain the different pieces and elements within this Parable - what we call the interpretation or meaning of it, the spiritual significance of it.
1. TEN VIRGINS - BEHOLD THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH
Firstly we are told about ten virgins in verse 1: "The kingdom of heaven be likened (or compared) unto ten virgins" which took their lamps and went forth to meet the bridegroom. These Ten Virgins represent professing Christians - those who claim to be the people of God in this world. The reason Christ calls them Ten Virgins is because the Lord's people are pure and unspotted from the world. The Lord's people are not perfect but they try to keep themselves pure: they don't love sin as other people do. This, therefore, is a fitting and suitable way to compare the Lord's people - those who wish to live pure lives, not liking to defile their bodies with sin. They don't wish to be like the world; rather, they would be different from the world.
Note that the Ten Virgins have lamps. These little lamps were not torches with batteries in as we have today because there were no electric lamps in these early days. It was a little stone or metal shape and the oil was put inside it. The lamp had a wick and oil, which made a small flame like a candle and would give a little light. These lamps represent the profession of the Christian faith. All these Ten Virgins professed to be Christians - that is the point. They had these little lamps and Jesus Christ in the Bible is called the Light of the world. Those who follow Him are also compared with lamps. Jesus said about Christians, "Ye are the light of the world" (Matthew 5, 14) and that is what is represented here by these lamps, the light of the knowledge of God. Sadly, people who neither have a Bible nor read one and who don't hear sermons or come to church are spoken of in the Bible as living and dying in darkness. They don't know God, they don't know the way to God, they don't know the way to heaven. Tragically, many people in this world are living and dying in darkness. The Lord's people - those who are professing Christians - they have light and the light is their profession of the knowledge of God.
We are told in verse 1 that they "went forth to meet the bridegroom." We all know that the bride is a lady on her wedding day and we know that the bridegroom is a man on his wedding day. We see photographs of them: the bride with her lovely white or pink dress on and the bridegroom with his black suit. They come together and they have a wedding service when rings are exchanged and they are now married. They belong to one another as man and wife. What is meant by "bridegroom" here? The bridegroom is Jesus Christ, the Saviour of the world. Why is He called the bridegroom? There is going to be a wedding in the end of history, when time and the world come to its end. There is not going to be a big explosion when everything will be blown up - there is going to be a wedding; God has fixed the date of the wedding. The wedding will be between Jesus Christ our Saviour and those who love Him - the Church we call it. When we talk about the church we don't mean the building with a steeple and a bell perhaps and some ornate windows; that is not the church, it is simply a building. The church, according to the Bible, is all those men, women, boys and girls, who in the course of time and history, have come to trust in the Lord Jesus Christ as their Saviour. At the end of history, they are going to be married to Christ.
Marriage is a very lovely thing because there is love on both sides: love in the heart of the bridegroom for his bride and love in the heart of the bride for her bridegroom - it is a very beautiful thing. It is the most beautiful thing in the world where people love one another. The Christian faith is such a wonderful thing, because it teaches us to know that Jesus loves those who love Him. He loves us with an everlasting love and He will take us at last to glory and to heaven. So that is meant here when we are told they are waiting to meet, or going out to meet, the bridegroom. The bridegroom hasn't yet come - and Jesus Christ hasn't yet come. He came the first time to live and die for us but it is the second coming of Christ which is referred to here. He will come the second time at the end of the world; it is called 'His glorious appearing'. I hope you all understand that. We look back two thousand years and we see that Jesus came into the world the first time when He came to live for us, to die for us and to suffer on the cross for us. He then rose from the dead and returned to heaven, which is where He is now: on the throne of God in heaven. He is Lord of all. All the world belongs to Him and He is proving it by overruling everything for the good of His people. However, the Bible says that He is going to come back and that is what these Virgins are waiting for: they are going to go forth to meet the bridegroom. It is a lovely picture of the church as it is in this present life, isn't it? People who want to live for God and who don't want to live like the world; people who want to be pure because they want to please Jesus Christ and to keep themselves pure for the wedding. They know He is coming again so they are waiting - day-after-day, year-after-year - longing to see Him when He comes.Ten Virgins
We are told in verse 2 that five of the Ten Virgins were wise, and five were foolish. In verses 3 and 4 we are told why they were wise or foolish: "They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps." Let me explain: they all had lamps - but half of them had no oil for the lamps. If you have a little oil lamp, you must take a bottle of oil with you because the oil in the lamp will not last for ever - it will burn out. If you are wise, you will take extra oil to replenish the lamp before it goes out. The foolish ones took their lamps but no extra oil in their vessels. This refers to the difference between a true Christian and a merely apparent Christian; the difference between one who is really a Christian and somebody who only appears to be a Christian. Many people claim that they are Christians: they go to church, they believe the Bible, they can say their Creed and sing like others. However, not everybody who does all that is a real Christian. A real Christian is someone who has oil in his vessel with his lamp. The lamp is the profession of Christianity, the oil is the grace of God, the power of God, to make us good and holy. That grace must be in our hearts. There is a difference between common grace and saving grace. Common grace is what everybody has, more or less. Some people have a lot of common grace; some people are very decent, respectable and nice, but they are not real Christians. Some people know a great deal about religion and could give you lectures on the subject but they are not necessarily real Christians. They have the lamp of profession but they don't have the oil of grace in their lives: they don't have the Holy Spirit living within their hearts. They have never been born again. They don't know what it is to have experienced the saving change of life, to turn their back on the world and turn their faces toward heaven. I have heard it put like this: these foolish ones have a profession of Christ but they have no possession of Christ. That is a neat way of putting it.
What happens next? "While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept" (verse 5). To tarry means to wait where you are, to stay where you are. If somebody tarries it means they don't move, they delay. We are told that Jesus Christ, Who is the bridegroom is not in any great hurry to come back - He is waiting. How long is He going to wait? We don't know. The Bible tells us that He is going to come again but that no one knows when. I think you can understand why. The Bible tells us our duty is to watch, wait and pray while we wait for Him. We don't know when our Lord is going to come back. The bridegroom is in heaven; He is tarrying, He is waiting there. For all we know, He may wait there for a long time, or, He may return tomorrow morning. The fact is, the Bible deliberately does not tell us - our duty is to be ready for Him when He comes. The bridegroom has been tarrying for about two thousand years already. He tarried all the years of the Roman Empire, He tarried all the years of the Middle Ages, He tarried at the Reformation, He has tarried all the years since the Reformation. For nearly two thousand years, our Lord has been tarrying in heaven. Why is our Lord waiting? Why doesn't He come? Because things have to happen before He comes. Our Lord told us that certain very important things have to happen. For one thing, our Lord is going to take the Gospel to every nation under the sun. We mustn't be selfish - we in Britain have been very, very blessed; we have had the Bible for centuries and the Gospel for fifteen hundred years at least, and maybe more, far more than other nations. Jesus, in His love, is sending His missionaries all over the world: Africa, India, Burma, China, New Hebrides. There are churches and converts there. People are coming to know Christ all over the world - that is why He is waiting. He is waiting till all His church is made up, till the very last one of those whom God has chosen is brought to faith in Christ and then when that happens, the bridegroom will come - He will finish His tarrying.
Notice what happens when He tarries. This is very important: "they all slumbered and slept" (verse 5). That is another way of saying that the Christian went into a state of spiritual sleep - all of them did. The false Christians, represented by the Foolish Virgins, fell fast asleep. They lost a sense of what and who they were and where they were going. They drifted into all kinds of error. I'm afraid this is exactly what history shows! If you know anything about the history of the church, you will see that Christians and Christian churches were once wonderful churches but have now fallen fast asleep. They don't now really believe anything; they don't know what the Gospel is. They are living very much like the rest of the world. What has happened to them? They have slumbered and slept, they are dozing; they have lost a sense of who they are and what they should be doing. Even more surprising in verse 5, we are told that they all slumbered and slept, even the good ones. This can happen to the best of Christians if we are not careful. We can be lulled to sleep by the spiritual darkness and sleepiness of the world round about us. It is a terrible thing when iniquity abounds, the love of many true Christians goes into decline. There is a lesson for us there - a sad thing.
Notice that in verse 6, something very important happens: "at midnight there was a cry (or a 'shout') made, Behold the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him." This now is the end of the world - it has come after all these hundreds of years. We don't know how many years because the Bible has not given us the date. We know neither the day nor the hour, says Christ. The word 'Behold' means - look up and see; He is on His way: He is coming. When our Lord returns, every eye will see Him - everybody who ever lived will see Him because the dead will be raised. The righteous that love Him and the wicked that hate Him, will all see Him. The righteous will rejoice, and the wicked will mourn and say to the mountains and to the hills 'fall on us and hide us from the One Who comes down to judge the world.' It is a midnight cry. I love that phrase, don't you: 'a midnight cry'? Midnight is when most people are sound asleep in their beds. It is a time when you are not expecting something very urgent to happen. Jesus says, "In such an hour as ye think not the Son of man cometh" (Matthew 24, 44).
Some people have tried very hard to work out when Christ will come again. Indeed, I have been studying that very subject for my own personal benefit in the past few days. I managed to light upon some useful books on the subject, which I was reading. It is an amazing thing that especially in Britain and America, in the early years of the nineteenth century, there was tremendous interest in trying to work out the date of Christ's return. It is worth knowing that many people in America thought that 1844 was very definitely the year of Christ's second coming. Many of them were so convinced of the date that they paid off all their debts and they forgave all their creditors, they wound up all their businesses and sold their houses. They gathered together in a room, rather like this, and had a Prayer Meeting. They longed for the coming of Christ. They sat looking up into the sky. They thought that any moment there would be a flash of lightning and the Lord would appear in all His splendour to come down and take them to glory. But it didn't happen! At midnight, there was no cry. When the cold streaks of dawn light showed themselves in the eastern sky, it was known as the 'great disappointment'. They had no right to do that! We don't know the date! You can never work it out no matter how many computers you have, or how brilliant you are, or how well you know the Bible. No one will ever work out when Christ will come back. What we do know, my friends, is that we had better be ready for Him when He comes. We had better be watching and waiting. We had better be converted Christians - that is the lesson.
2. WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN WHEN HE COMES BACK
In the time that is left, I would like to look at two things. I want to tell you what is going to happen when He comes back: what is going to happen to the Christians and secondly, what is going to happen to the non-Christians.
(a) THE INTERPRETATION
When our Lord returns what is going to happen to the Christians and what is going to happen to the non-Christians? Look at verse 10 which is my text: "The door was shut."
What happens is this. The Lord Jesus Christ appears in the glory and all these Virgins wake up because they hear the shout - the shout of the Archangel: "Behold, the bridegroom cometh" (verse 6). They all wake up - they have been asleep. Those who were not true Christians, those who only had the lamps, discover to their horror that their lamps have gone out. However, those who were the true Christians, they knew what to do: they could add the oil to their lamps and they would burn brightly again. That is the difference between the true believer and the false Christian, at the end of the world. What the false Christians said to the true Christians was this - "Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out" (verse 8). "No, no!" said the true Christians, "we haven't enough to spare for others. You go the shop and buy for yourselves." So these five foolish ones immediately scurried off to the shop to buy oil for their lamps. When they got back, they discovered that the wise ones had gone in already, "and the door was shut."
What is that door? It is the door into heaven, of course: the door of grace, glory and opportunity to be saved and to come to Christ. It was firmly shut and these foolish Virgins then begin to shout to the Lord Who is on the other side of the door. They say, "Lord, Lord, open to us" (verse 11). He says to them, "Verily I say unto you, I know you not" (verse 12) - you are none of my people! Our Lord continues, "Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (verse 13).
Thus far, we have the interpretation and now I have two things to do. I have to show you what is going to happen to the Christian when the door is shut and then what is going to happen to the non-Christian when the door is shut.
(b) WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE CHRISTIANS?
We are told at verse 10, "While they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut" (text). Isn't that a wonderful statement: "they that were ready went in with him". That is what is going to happen to Christians - real, truly converted Christians. Jesus will say to them, "Come this way. Come ye blessed of my Father. Come through the door into glory, you faithful men and women, you who were truly converted: you love the Bible, you love My people, you love Sabbath and churches and worship. You did what you could to witness for me in this life. You brought up your children for me; you told your families about me. You were not ashamed of me; you lived the Christian life before others - you are the light of the world. It is time for you to be rewarded, says Christ, "Come. Welcome into heaven, into Paradise and into Glory. Welcome to My Father, and to the angels and to the Holy Ghost. Welcome into heaven - the wedding feast is spread for you." That is what is going to happen on the other side of the door. The door of opportunity to be saved is now shut: no people will be converted after that. The door of grace and glory will be shut and the Lord's people will be on the inside. What is going to happen to them? The door will be shut on all the nasty things that the Christian has had to put up with in this life - things like sickness and death, bereavement, loneliness - there is a lot of that in Christian lives. There is a lot of having to walk on our own. People won't talk to us, they cross the street and don't want to know us: "You wouldn't want to talk to him, he's one of those Christians you know. He goes to that little church and they are ever so serious about it all. They preach about heaven and hell; they are strange people. You mustn't talk to him, he's very strange" - which is another way of saying that he is a Christian and he loves God - so they don't want to talk to you. Whereas Christ says, "Come into heaven my dear people, you who have kept the faith, you who have been faithful unto death - "Come ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you before the foundation of the world." You widows who waited patiently many years without husbands, and kept the faith; you mothers who brought up your children and fathers who kept family worship in your homes and did whatever you could to serve Him; you faithful Elders who stood at the door and welcomed the people into my house, dear deacons who did your work diligently and honestly, who were scrupulously honest about everything you did; you dear Sabbath School teachers and helpers of every kind, even those who gave somebody a glass of cold water to help His cause - "Come, and welcome, into My heavenly Father's house - the house of many mansions."
Outside the door, they will leave everything they do not want; all that hated them will be outside: their persecutors, detractors and slanderers - all that spoke evil of them will be on the outside. What will happen to them? They will be admitted to the wedding feast. A feast is a wonderful thing and a royal feast is amazingly wonderful. Think of the food spread on the table of a royal feast. However, a royal feast is nothing compared with a heavenly feast. Oh, to be in the presence of God Himself - at the table which God has spread: to sit with God and with Christ and with angels in all the glory of heaven itself in the palace of Christ and of His Father. What a wedding! That is not the best thing of all. Who cares for food when there is something still more important? What is going to happen to these people on the inside - these Christians? I will tell you. They are going to be married to Jesus Christ and that is the best thing of all. A bride eyes not her garments but her dear bridegroom's face. The important thing on her wedding day for a young lady is not whether they have a nice meal or not. She doesn't care much about the meal, she's not worried about food, it's her husband, it's the one she loves and in whose home she is going to be for ever. So with Christians: they don't care about anything else: angels are wonderful but we are not interested in angels - it is Christ our Husband to Whom we are to be married and enjoy in everlasting glory, in Him and with Him. So you see what a wonderful thing it is to be a Christian. That is why we go to church; it is to know these things.
I feel so sorry for the world out there. What are they doing? They are not coming to the house of God, are they? Clearly not, or they would be here. What a lot they are missing, these people. What are they doing - watching television: one more miserable football match, one more miserable soap opera, when they could be having heaven and God and Christ and glory made known to them. No wonder the world is unhappy - they need to know these things. Let's tell our friends and families about these things; let's tell them about the wedding supper of the Lamb: Jesus the Bridegroom is going to come again and open the door to glory. All our troubles will be over if we belong to Him.
(c) WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN TO THE NON-CHRISTIANS?
What is going to happen to the non-Christians when the door is shut? I don't need to invent anything - it is all written here for you to read. They went to buy and the door was shut. Notice the word "afterward" at the beginning of verse 11 - after the door was shut - these other foolish virgins come and say, "Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not." That is what is going to happen my dear friends to those who are not truly converted: Christ will call to them from the inside and they will have to hear it and they will have to listen to His dreadful, menacing voice, "I don't know who you are! You are not my people!" You see this is the number one priority of your life.
Do you realise friend, it is not enough just to come to church and listen to a preacher; you have got to have personal dealing with Christ. Is it really worth it? I know your house is important to you and your job, but nothing is as important as coming to know Christ. That is why I say to you as I close, you must seek Him with all your might because you will never find Him if you don't. If you do seek Him and plead for mercy, you will find Him. If you find Him, you too will become one of these wise Virgins, having oil in your vessel with your lamps. When the cry at midnight goes up, "Behold, the bridegroom cometh" (verse 6), you too will be one of the blessed ones who will go in with Him to the palace and to the marriage supper of the Lamb.
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