— Brother Phil Enlow: Somehow, as I read about these foolish virgins, I just can’t get away from the simple thought, they didn’t get that. Somehow, they thought they could be Christians, getting ready for the coming of the Lord, and all it was…see, they had their religion externalized. It’s stuff I do and stuff I believe and stuff I profess to believe. But…human nature is so relentless at wanting its own way, it will deceive you into thinking that I can do Christianity my way. Now, I’m not your judge. But is this truth?
( congregational amens ).
And, why would God speak words? Why would He want words like this to be spoken? Because His love reaches out. How many times did He reach out to Israel and say, why do you want to die? Listen and live.
I’ll tell you, if anybody who is lost in the judgement, you’re gonna get to that point over the body and blood of Jesus Christ. That body that was broken for you, in bearing your sins, you’re gonna do it by spitting on that. I don’t want to sugarcoat it. That’s what it is. I’ll tell you, there has to come a time when we surrender.
You know, we’re talking about baptism lately, and I believe, maybe this plays into this. There has to come a time when we reckon…it’s just you and Him. How many of you remember that movie “The Encounter”? Yeah. That carried that theme. There were several lives that Jesus needed to have a personal encounter, and the issue in every life was different.
One man rejected it, in the end, and he perished. But others had to come to the realization…one of them was a woman who thought she was a fine Christian, but she’d never surrendered her heart. She didn’t belong to the Lord. She was trying to take from this and take from this and cobbled herself together a religion that made her feel okay, probably looked okay to most people looking on! But God was looking down here, and He said, you’re still running your life. It belongs to you. You have never given it to me.
I mean, think about it. In the condition we are, what if God took people who had unchanged hearts and deposited them in a new creation? How long do you think it would be pure and good? I mean, get real! We need a 100 percent miraculous transformation that only He can do. And the only possible answer to that is to say, Lord, I surrender my life.
Baptism is a symbol of death, where we are literally laying down our lives. It’s not mine anymore. As far as I’m concerned, it’s over. I’m burying that one. Lord, give me the new one.
I get that the process of becoming conformed to that is a process and that we’re very imperfect. Don’t let the Devil use that against you and say, well, I’m as good as they are. In the first place, you might be pointing at somebody who’s in the same condition you are! But even if you’re pointing at someone who genuinely knows the Lord but is flawed and God’s still working on them, there’s an eternal difference between somebody who’s had a brand-new heart put in here, and someone who hasn’t and who’s acting the part.
And I’ll tell you, there are young people that grow up, and we’ve watched some of them. They make their choice. They go. Thank God that sometimes God will take them out there in the briars and bushes and then, bring them back. Thank God! But, oh God, how much grief, regret could be spared. I pray that young people will listen to what Ricky said the other night.
But it’s not just young people. Do you believe Jesus was telling the truth in this parable? Is He picturing people who are just out in the world somewhere? No, He is picturing people who are still, at this late, dark hour…they’re saying, I’m here. Here’s my lamp, or my lantern, whatever it is, that represents my testimony. I am a follower of Jesus. I am here waiting. I am ready to do my duty right here as part of this custom.
But they weren’t ready, were they? What was lacking? They didn’t have the oil. They didn’t have the thing that would give light and reality to that testimony, that really enabled it to be real.
As I say, I don’t want to try to make something about every little detail, but you get what He’s getting at here. The tragedy, is not just the people of the world, the worst tragedy, in a way, is people who are professing at that hour to be followers of Jesus, and they get to the end and He says, I don’t know you.
It’s a time we need to look inside. And I’m very conscience as I do this that one of the things the Devil does is to focus people’s attention on themselves. And sometimes, he will take, oftentimes, he will take somebody and just beat them over the head, you’re not one of them, you’re not one of them, you’re not one of them.
The chances are, if that’s the case…the chances are he knows you are, and doesn’t want you to have any confidence in Him. He wants you to measure yourself by your performance, by the things you see wrong in yourself that are in need, and say, well, you couldn’t be a Christian because…this is not aimed at you.
We need to examine ourselves, but when I’m talking about examining ourselves, I’m talking about the heart. What does your heart really want? Are you trying to have Jesus and your life too? If you’re in a state of imperfection, which we all are, but you have given your heart to Jesus, you start looking at Him more than you’re looking in here, and you say, Lord…I see a need, but I know You’re the answer, and I refuse to be deterred from looking to You, because You are not only the author of my faith, You’re the finisher too. And You will finish what You started. My hope is no longer in myself. It’s in You. You have everything! You are everything I need!
But the foolish didn’t get that. They’re still thinking that they’re okay somehow, and they didn’t find out until it was too late. You know, throughout all of this passage, where the disciples asked Jesus about His coming and all of that, the one theme that comes out over and over again is, be ready!
There is never a suggestion that you could live your life and then, recognize things are getting to a point where I need to get ready, so now, I’m gonna get ready. It doesn’t work that way. What you’re really saying, if that’s the way you’re looking at it, is I’m in charge. I’m gonna do what I want to do in my own self-interest, and when things get bad, my self-interest is in self-preservation, therefore I’m gonna jump over in Jesus’ camp, and it’ll be okay.
Good luck with that. Do you see what’s really going on, who’s really on the throne of your heart? You see, there’s only one time that we have…I say one time…the key to coming to Him is listening while He speaks. Hear Him while He speaks. Several scriptures, that the exact wording doesn’t come to my mind…but one of them is, that we’ve heard so many times is in Hebrews 3, where the writer is so concerned with people who have heard about Jesus, but his burden is that they have stopped short.
Is that not the condition of these virgins? They’ve heard about Him. There’s a certain amount of attachment, but they’ve stopped short. Well, his example of that was the people in the wilderness. God did some amazing things to get them out of Egypt, to deliver them. You know, when they went out, they didn’t have a lot of choice, did they? God had plagued the Egyptians to the point where they said, get out of here, for heaven’s sake, we’re gonna die. And so, they went.
They got as far as the Red Sea, and they saw this impassable water, and they started complaining. And God brought them through that. Then, of course, they rejoiced. Oh, praise God. If you’d looked at them right then, you would have said wow, what an awesome group of believers!
Three days later…you know, one thing after another. What God was doing, was demonstrating the true condition of their heart. They did not understand. They did not really believe in Him. All they were doing was acting according to present-tense self-interest. I’m in charge! And every time there was an opportunity to turn in unbelief, that’s the direction that they went.
I’ll tell you, God is going to allow conditions to be such in your life, that it will prove whether your heart has ever been turned over to Him.
( congregational amens ).
I’ll tell you, if it ever is, you’ll wonder why you waited. Do you remember Brother Thomas’ testimony along that line? God had spoken to him so many times in his life, and he just kept right on going, and went from bad to worse, went through so many things. Then, when he finally just surrendered…why did I wait so long? It wasn’t the surrender to a tyrant who wanted to abuse him. It was the surrender to the source of all love.
Yes, we have hard times in this world, but there is an underlying peace. There’s an underlying assurance. There’s an underlying love that carries us through the darkest of times, because He walks with us to carry us through. Oh, it’s worth everything to be born again. It’s worth everything to give your heart and your life to Jesus.
I thought about another passage that we’ve used, we’ve heard many times over in Matthew 7, because this is an example of the same thing we’re talking about here. It starts out with a wonderful promise about prayer, ask and seek and knock and all of that.
But then down in verse 13, you get into another subject where Jesus says, “Enter through the narrow gate. For wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (NIV).
Then He goes on, and He talks about religious teachers. It’s obvious there’s a connection between the teachers and what they’re teaching, and how people are approaching the idea of being a Christian and serving God. You have churches today that are filled with people who have never been confronted in their heart level by Jesus Christ! And yet, there they are singing the hymns, going through the rituals, whatever their particular church is about.
Oh, thank God, there’s a remnant. He knows them that are His. He won’t lose them. But there’s a wide gate out there. And what that wide gate essentially boils down to is, you can have Jesus and your life, too. Let’s bring it down to the common denominator. I don’t care which form it is. You can have Jesus and a hope of heaven, and you can do it your way.
Well, lets see how that works out. You come down to verse 21 and you see what the real issue was. “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
See the difference between somebody who calls Him Lord and says and does, outwardly, the right things, but He’s not really in charge. There’s never been a real surrender. And so they have found a way, religiously, to feel good about themselves, and believe somehow, I’m okay, and yet, they’re still doing their thing.
If you are truly His, if you are truly one of those who is ready for that day, you’re not your own. You don’t own yourself. I don’t own myself. I’ve got a merciful, patient God who works with my heart. I wish I did everything always right. I don’t. He’s still working on me, but He is working on me. And there’s something down here that the bottom line is, yes, Lord, yes, Lord. I’ll tell you, that’s something He puts in there.
But if you’re always, no, it’s my life. No, I’m gonna do it my way, I’ll tell you, you’ve got a bad road ahead. But the scary thing is, when people can get to this place that He describes…well, in Matthew 7, I better finish that, “Not everyone who says to me, Lord, Lord, will enter the kingdom oh heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
So, here’s what Jesus said looking forward. “Many…” not a few, but, “…many will say to me on that day, Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and in your name drive out demons and perform many miracles?”
I mean, that’s beyond what people could generally say here. I mean, you see the level of deception that’s going on here, where someone could literally feel like, Lord, I’ve taught Sunday School all my life. I’ve done this…what do You mean I’m not one of Yours?
Well, the problem was they were saying the right thing, maybe even doing many…commendable things! But the heart has never been surrendered. Every time the voice of God would come, they would find a way to…yeah, but I can do it this way. Oh no, I can do it this way. I’m okay.
I’m not your judge. I can’t see your heart, but all I can do is put it out there, and let God take His Word and apply it where it needs to apply. That’s God’s job. He’s pretty good at it. Praise God!
“All that the Father gives Me will come….” Do you know who they are? The Word says in John 6, that everyone will be taught of God. Everyone who hears His Word and listens, everyone who listens to His Word…you get the idea of what He’s talking about there? It’s not just okay, I heard it. This is, I’m listening. I’m taking it in. I’m allowing it to change me. I am submitting to Your Word, to Your truth.
Everyone who hears it with that kind of a heart, they’re the ones that come. So you see, there’s perfect balance between God reaching out and man having to reach back and say, yes, Lord. There has to be that response.
But somehow, you’ve got a class of people here who came in thinking all they had to do was be religious. So they said all these things. Lord, we did all this. “Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me, you evildoers!”
The Greek word is ‘lawless.’ It means I’m not under anybody. I’m not subject to anybody, but me. There is nothing out here that can tell me what to do. That’s human nature. And boy, does that rise up in young people. But it rises up in all of us.
You know, I remember being at the age when I knew everything. And I didn’t need older people to tell me any stuff, anything anymore. I had it all figured it out. I don’t know that I ever quite got to that point, but you know the feelings that you have at a certain age. We all were that way, if you’re older.
But oh, God, we don’t know. We’re in a world that is under the deception of a wicked kingdom that is determined to use, abuse and destroy. And God’s heart is to reach out and to tell people the truth. Unless you repent, you’ll perish. Unless Jesus really is Lord, many people are gonna come to that day and discover, I never knew you.
He did not say, I knew you, and then you messed up and I stopped knowing you, I turned away from you. I never did. Jesus said, “I know My sheep. My sheep know Me.” And I know them. “I give them eternal life, and they shall never perish.” I’ll tell you, there’s so much hope and rest.
It’s not based, thankfully, upon my ability or any goodness in me. There is none. In fact, that’s the problem. We still want to assert that there is something worthwhile and good that we can bring into the Kingdom of God. We can help God out and serve Him.
And the reality is, the only way we can come is as a broken sinner, looking to Jesus and realizing my only hope is that He took my place. He got what I deserved. What put Him on that cross was my willful rejection of His voice, my asserting of my life, my will. That’s what put Him on that cross.
And I’ll tell you, if you’re gonna come to Him, there’s gonna have to be that time when you just say…we’ve said this expression so many times. I’m all in. I am 100 percent with Jesus. I come, not as someone who can present some righteousness to Him and think He’s gonna accept me, I come as a broken sinner on the ground that He has established. He will accept me. He will love me. He will give me a hope and a future and all the glorious promises that are in here, if I’ll just surrender.
But you see what that means. It’s not your life anymore. How many of you who have really come to that place would go back and say, no, I messed up. It should have been my life. I want to do my thing. I lost out.
We heard some wonderful testimonies this week of people who understood. They came to Him, and they know what it means. And you know how I feel about trying to make people do something publicly. I’m not totally…I don’t have any rule, but I know that you can bring people to an emotional state. It’s too easy to do that. And then, people feel like they’ve got to do something or they’ve got to conform to something if somebody else does it. This has got to come down to you and Him!
And folks, we need to pray that God will take His Word, and bring somebody so relentlessly, certainly to a place of confrontation. It’s a loving confrontation. It’s not a tyrant trying to ruin your life. It’s Someone who desperately wants to reconcile you to Himself…to rescue you from certain destruction.
But there’s a cost, and you need to count it. Which do you want? This is what it comes down to. Is it my life or His life? That choice, regardless of whether you just go out and do your thing in an open sense, or whether you sit here and profess something that you don’t have in your heart…that’s the choice. That is what the Gospel comes down to. If I come to Him and I truly repent of my…it’s not just of the stuff I did. I’m sorry I did it.
This is, I am repenting of my sinfulness, my nature, everything about me, Lord. I need a new heart. I need a new life. I need to be cleansed and forgiven! But I need You to come in and make me somebody different, and lead me down a different path. Lord, I surrender. I leave one life in the grave, and I take up another one by faith. I’m trusting in Your promise, Lord. That’s what it comes down to.
What is your choice? In terms of how this applies, who it applies to, that’s God’s business. I’m so thankful He’s faithful. I’m so thankful that He will…He’s able to work. He’s able to do more than we can imagine. But I just pray, this morning, that whoever this is for, that you’ll hear it.
There has to come a time when you surrender your heart to Him and you become His for time and eternity, by His power and His mercy alone. Oh, you’ll never regret it if you ever come down that road and you ever go through that door. Don’t stop short of that. You will regret it, bitterly, at a time when there will be no way to go back. The Lord wants to put out His Word today to stop that while there’s a chance.
These virgins were not ready. When the time came, there was no opportunity. Jesus didn’t say, wait and then get ready. He said ‘be’ ready. Are you? Praise God!.