— Brother Phil Enlow: I don’t know, lately I’ve been thinking about…you know, a word for God’s people to help us in our battles. But I don’t know, I keep coming back to something that I feel like is necessary. And I want to go back to a passage in Matthew 25, that really, from which the name of the ministry that we are a part of was taken.
And I feel like there’s a need for the Lord’s Word to be spoken plainly, because it’s one thing to come and participate and sing the songs and do all of that, but I’ll tell you, that’s not enough. There’s something else the Lord must accomplish, and that is highlighted in this particular passage. And I’m just, for right now, going to read it.
And this was…in the context, Jesus was talking about His coming, the end of the age, some of the things that were gonna happen, and He gave little snippets of, this is a picture of it, this is a picture of it, and so forth, different aspects of that coming, and this is one of them.
It says, “At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom.” (NIV). Now, just to stop and say, this was Jesus taking from a custom of the time. When people had weddings, there were certain rituals they went through.
I remember being overseas and observing some of these and they’re quite different from ours. I remember one time, in India, in a hotel, waking up to what sounded like gunfire. It turned out to be firecrackers. And part of the tradition there was that the bridegroom would arrive on a…this was a Saturday morning. And he would arrive with a wedding party and they would shoot off firecrackers as he arrived. Well, I’m glad that’s what it was!
But, in this case, there was a custom where some young maidens would gather and would escort the groom to the wedding feast. And so that’s what He’s…He’s taking off on that. He’s gonna draw a certain lesson from…from that custom, okay?
But in this case, of the ten, “Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him! Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out. 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.”
( coughing ).
Excuse me. We’re getting there. Thank the Lord. All right? “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut. Later the others also came. Sir! Sir! They said, Open the door for us! But he replied, I tell you the truth, I don’t know you. Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.”
And so, there are many, very sobering things that the Lord communicated to His disciples about the time of His coming. And, I want to avoid trying to make something out of every little thing. I think we can go to an extreme in some of that and I undoubtedly have in the past. But there are some very clear lessons.
One of them is the sense of being ready, that, when the Lord…the events that will overtake the end of the age, and especially the coming of Christ, will be a total shock to this world! It will be, as Jesus said in one place, when people least expect it. And we know that the condition of the world is not going to be a good one.
He pictures that in many places, where the days of Noah, for example, are given as an example. And you know, we know what that period was like when God said that the imaginations, what people were thinking, what they believed to be true, what they lived for, every bit of it was darkness. It was against God. Their imagination was, in His words, ‘evil.’
And it wasn’t just occasional mess-ups, this was, “…evil continually.” (KJV). This was a direction. This was a deliberate choice that had been made by people to reject what they knew about God, and to simply live for their own earthly desires, and as far as they were concerned, that’s what life was about. That’s all there was. And so, if they even heard Noah and his warning, they obviously dismissed it. And, you don’t even get the sense that there was any interest, any movement going on. So, I think that alone is a picture of the end of the age.
And we talk about darkness being...that being a time of darkness. It certainly is. You know, in the New Testament Paul warns of a time when, “…because they refused to love the truth…” (NIV). See, that’s the reasoning. That’s what’s behind this. This isn’t God saying, oh, I’m done with you. This is men making a choice, saying I will embrace what I want to embrace. I reject You. There’s a deliberate choice being made. I want that to get very clear today. There is a choice.
But what is God’s response? Finally, it is to take His hands off. Now, how many people can be saved if God’s not involved?
( congregational response ).
Zero! See, we are dependent upon His influence, His strength, His grace, His working with the heart. When we say no to that, there’s nothing left. That’s a condition we’re watching unfold in the world. I mean, how many of you, who are in my generation, could have imagined the world and the climate…the moral climate in which we live today? It was absolutely unthinkable!
I mean, we were worried about things like chewing gum in school. I mean…I’m exaggerating a little, but that was the truth! That was one of the big deals! You got sent to the principal’s office if you did something like that. And you know, there were obviously more than that to that age but…the idea that it’s not only that there is evil, but that it is being celebrated. And woe to anybody that says different! We are in a different moral climate and it is the result of men rejecting what they know about God and saying I will do what I want!
( congregational amens ).
And so, this is part of the picture that He paints and He says it’s gonna be like the days of Noah. And so, I guess the burden that I have and the concern is for people here! Because we’re going to see and we are seeing, as time unfolds, we are seeing people make choices.
( congregational response ).
And on the one hand, I don’t want to stress over it, as if somebody makes a choice then it’s my fault. If that were the case, Jesus was a total failure. How many thousands and thousands and thousands of people followed Him, celebrating His miracles, who utterly rejected what He said, and went on as they were? But see, Jesus wasn’t stressed out about it, was He? He knew that everyone that the Father had given Him was going to come.
Now, you can go to the…I don’t know…this is not organized, and I’m sure it will sound that way. But, I don’t want to paint the picture that God just arbitrarily picks people. There’s a reason. There is something going on. There is an interaction between a human heart and God, where, yes, we’re dependent on Him, but He is, “…not willing that any should perish…” (KJV). He wants everybody to come. There is a reaching out of God’s heart to a human heart. It’s not about external stuff. It’s about the heart.
And I’ll tell you, when the heart says no, there comes a time when God steps back and says, I will leave you to your delusion. It is a fixed belief that just absolutely has such control over a person, they’re absolutely sure they’re right, and they’re wrong. Did not Solomon, with his gift of divine wisdom, say that “There is a way….” It seems right.
I mean, you know, if you talk to somebody and you can’t convince them. They’re sure that they are right! And yet, looking on, you know…my God, you are in delusion! You have no clue what’s going on. You’re headed down a path to a cliff…surely, it must sadden God’s heart. I know it does…to see the course of people.
You know, it says about the rich, young ruler who turned and walked away. Jesus explained that he was gonna have to give away his riches. Now that was not a blanket kind of thing, but for him it was. For him it was the issue of his life, his heart, his will, everything about him was wrapped up in his possessions. And the idea that in order to have eternal life he had to give that up, well, I’ll choose this. What a foolish choice!
But it’s the choice everyone makes, in one form or another, if they say no to Him. Here’s a God who has fashioned us for an incredible purpose: that we should know Him, who is the source of life, who is the source of love, who is the source of everything that is possibly good in the universe…and He longs to share all of that, to leave us with our uniqueness, our individuality. He doesn’t squelch that and make robots out of us. But He…but when His life is joined to our uniqueness, it makes something that is incredible! That’s where He’s going!
But that’s what the human race, in its fallen, deluded condition, is saying, no, to. And I started to talk about the fact that I believe God’s burden is about people that are here. We see, from time to time, people will just walk away…and what’s going on? It’s, I want to live my life. It’s my life!
You know, that’s the issue. Whose life is it? You know, you can do all kinds of things and you can dress up the issue any way you want to…but when it comes right down to it, it’s a question of ownership. And the human race is so natured, that it will take the life that it finds itself in possession of, and say, well, this is my life. I feel all kinds of desires arising within me so my purpose is to simply gratify those, to follow my heart, to do as I please. And that becomes the guiding principle of their lives.
But many times people will come in and be exposed. They might grow up in it. They might just come in, and they are exposed to the truth, that you were not created to be your own god. It doesn’t work that way. There’s a bad end, and we see the fruit of people seeking to be their own god in the condition of the world and the wickedness that’s here.
And God’s voice, I believe, is still going out, yearning, to reach out to people who are making choices and don’t understand…lest they…I mean, there’s no one that’s gonna be able to say, on that day, God, you just picked me to go to hell. I didn’t have a chance. And He’s gonna point back, do you remember, do you remember, do you remember, when I spoke to you and you made excuse and you sidestepped it and you found a way to do what you wanted to do?
But one of the ways that people respond to the Gospel, if you will, is to be exposed to it and to walk away and say, it’s my life, I will not stay where that voice is being proclaimed. I will go out. I will do my thing. Oh my, they have no idea! “…When they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them…and they shall not escape.”
That’s how serious this is. This is not about religion. It’s not about the Bible Tabernacle or Midnight Cry Ministries, or all these things. You know, we have our ideas and our external…we externalize stuff. Did not God say to Samuel, men look on the outward appearance, don’t they?
See, we go by what we see on the outside. But God looks at the heart. We probably…I’m sure we have people here that are pretty flawed. God’s still got a lot of work to do on you. He does on me, for sure. But you know, if your heart’s given to the Lord, He’s gonna take care of all that.
( congregational amens ).
But you might have somebody else, and if you look at them, you say, oh, aren’t they a wonderful Christian? But they’ve learned to act the part. They’ve constructed this external persona, if you will, and it’s kind of like a mask they put on. Now, if they suddenly were to take a trip to Las Vegas you might see something different, if nobody else was around. But you know what I’m talking about. What we’re about here is not a matter of conformity to a religion. It’s got to go way beyond that.
You know, as I was thinking about all this, I guess my focus came back to the virgins because they…I don’t know how long this is gonna go, but I’m just gonna look to the Lord. But here you have people who by all profession, all appearance, in a time of great darkness, were nonetheless all together. As far as anybody could tell, they were all waiting for the bridegroom. Anybody looking on could not have told the difference.
And that is a scary thought. It’s not just those “bad people,” those foolish people out there who reject the Gospel and go live for their lusts. There are people sitting in church pews, who profess to know the Lord, who profess to be walking with Him, ready for His coming, expecting to be received, only to find out at the end, they really weren’t ready.
And how easy is it, for what we do here, to never get beyond the external? Now, I’m partly thinking about young people growing up. And I understand that there has got to come a time—there’s got to come a time when it becomes personal.
I understand that when you’re young, for the most part, you’re gonna be going along with, you’re gonna be adopting what your parents tell you…if they’re a part of all this. You’re gonna be, in a sense, performing a part, and that’s all right, until God gets to that point. But there’s got to be a point, where you make a choice. Is it my life or is it His? Because there is no middle ground.
And the problem, I believe, with these people right here, these foolish virgins, they thought there was a middle ground. They didn’t understand. And I’ll tell you, it’s got to be something more than just, yay, Jesus, aren’t You wonderful, and all that. Yes, He is. Thank God! But do you know why? Do you know what it’s about, on a personal level?
You know, you can go along and you can sing the songs and hear about Jesus and all of that, without it ever really dawning on you what it means to be lost. Have you ever had the sense, in the depths of your heart, not just externals, but in your heart, oh, my God, I’m lost? If something doesn’t change, I’m gonna be lost.
That has to happen. It doesn’t have to be any particular kind of experience. It could be very quiet. It could be very demonstrative, very dramatic. The outside is not what matters. God is only looking for one thing. He’s looking for someone who comes face to face with the fact that you’re not ready. It’s still your life. You might be acting the part of a Christian and even professing to believe all of this, but your heart’s never been surrendered. He has never really come in.
You know, part of my reading, I guess, in the last couple of days, had me in Isaiah 53. What an amazing prophecy God gave through His servant, Isaiah, looking forward to the time of Christ. It was that prophecy, you remember, the Ethiopian eunuch was traveling back from Jerusalem to Ethiopia, and God sent Phillip on a special mission just to talk to that man. He was reading the scriptures, did not understand it. Do you know we need God to explain it to us? You can’t just unravel the scriptures with your mind. How many of you know that?
( congregational amens ).
God’s got to reveal it and take those words and impress them down here, not just here. They’ve got to become real. And he’s reading about this man, who’s suffering and what he’s suffered about, and his question was, is he talking about himself or somebody else? Who’s he talking about?
And so, there was the wide-open opportunity for Phillip to begin to explain. He’s talking about Jesus. He’s talking about something that just happened. Do you know why He died? I mean, it talks about a man who was despised, rejected by men. He suffered a horrible indignity…a death full of indignity. Humiliation, I guess, is the word I was looking for. Couldn’t have been anything worse, from a human standpoint that was inflicted upon Him.
And what was the reaction of the natural people around Him, as to why this was happening? Did they understand it? No! They thought He was getting what He deserved. This is a bad guy. God is making sure that He’s taken care of.
But do you know why He died? He died because of you. He died because of me.