The enigmatic Parable of the Ten Virgins seems loaded with potential secrets on the end times, but few of us are sure we understand it. The wedding feast at the Lamb’s Second Coming, the oil that is needed to enter the feast or Kingdom, the "virginity" and the mysterious “go buy” command that throws us for a loop on our ideas for the oil...what does it all mean? What are we missing when we are confused about this and other parables of Jesus? Find out and puzzle no more on what you need to do to enter the kingdom of God.
Several readers of my book have emailed me recently asking for help on the Parable of the Ten Virgins from the Olivet Discourse (Mt 24-25). Here's one letter:
Hello Tim, the subject of the 10 virgins keeps being forefront in my thoughts – for the last 6 months or so (& also with an old gentleman at my church to whom I have become closely bonded).
A few weeks ago as I was listening to a reference to Matt 25 & as I read v.9 (Matt 25:9 - “But the wise replied, There will not be enough for us and for you; go instead to the dealers and buy for yourselves”.), I suddenly thought of Rev 13:17 “So that no one will have power to buy or sell unless he bears the stamp (mark, inscription), [that is] the name of the beast or the number of his name.”
I understand this to confirm that the wedding feast happens BEFORE the beast insists on his mark being used, because I can't accept that the 5 foolish virgins would have the mark of the beast, plus the wise ones would have acquired their oil a short time before.
This is a great example of the kind of uncertainty conveyed all the time about the difficult words of Jesus such as the parables. Many have to admit they do not know what to make of many of Jesus' parables, even after considering them carefully for a long time. This kind of impenetrability points to something fundamental being missed. In this article, we will explore one key to understanding the difficult words of Jesus that help with the parables especially.
Two Extremes of Parable Confusion
We can identify two different approaches that the confusion can come from. The first or literalist approach wonders if the details inside the parables are literal examples that will transpire when the event portrayed in the parable comes about. One parable, of Lazarus and the Rich Man, is not even considered a parable according to this way of thinking, but a literal depiction of the afterlife (Luke 16:19-31). (If so, then it teaches if you ever end up in hell, you should ask for some water for your tongue like the rich man did to bring yourself great relief!)
The idea above comes from the literalist camp. The idea is that maybe the “go buy” advice in the parable will play out literally with the actual event. Under that assumption, either the wedding feast must commence before the Great Tribulation when the Mark of the Beast that controls buying and selling is rolled out or the wise virgins are cruelly telling the foolish virgins to go take the Mark of the Beast (so they can buy oil)! In other words, is one of the hidden intents of the Parable of the Ten Virgins to tell us that the timing of the Wedding Feast of the Lamb is pretrib?
At the opposite extreme is the symbolic approach. This approach poses that everything in the parable can be a symbol for something else. In this view, some or all aspects of the parable have been carefully chosen to convey some secret meaning that the astute must figure out. Consequently, this paradigm has produced every imaginable meaning for the many parts of this parable, and other parables, too.
You probably have heard many such interpretations for the Parable of the Ten Virgins alone. Some say the oil represents the Holy Spirit. Others object and say, no, you cannot buy the Holy Spirit and so they suggest it means something else, say, wisdom or "keeping Torah." (Note that this last example is a mix of literal and symbolic. “Buy” is taken literally, but the thing bought is taken symbolically!)
Parables – Making the Bible Hard On Purpose
But do not let this confusion get you down if you have suffered from it, too. It actually is by design. People struggling with the parables might take comfort in reviewing what Jesus plainly stated about the purpose behind his use of parables (Mt 13:10-13):
Matthew 13:10-17, 34-36, 51 (HCSB) — 10 Then the disciples came up and asked Him, “Why do You speak to them in parables?” 11 He answered them, “Because the secrets of the kingdom of heaven have been given for you to know, but it has not been given to them. 13 For this reason I speak to them in parables, because looking they do not see, and hearing they do not listen or understand. 14 Isaiah’s prophecy is fulfilled in them, which says: You will listen and listen, yet never understand; and you will look and look, yet never perceive. 15 For this people’s heart has grown callous; their ears are hard of hearing, and they have shut their eyes; otherwise they might see with their eyes and hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn back— and I would cure them. 16 “But your eyes are blessed because they do see, and your ears because they do hear! 17 For I assure you: Many prophets and righteous people longed to see the things you see yet didn’t see them; to hear the things you hear yet didn’t hear them. ...34 Jesus told the crowds all these things in parables, and He would not speak anything to them without a parable, 35 so that what was spoken through the prophet might be fulfilled: I will open My mouth in parables; I will declare things kept secret from the foundation of the world. 36 Then He dismissed the crowds and went into the house. His disciples approached Him and said, “Explain the parable of the weeds in the field to us.”...51 “Have you understood all these things?” “Yes,” they told Him.
Clearly, this passage reveals that the goal of the use of parables in place of plain explanations was to add a layer of obfuscation to Jesus' teachings.
But there is another implication of this passage that is hard for us to accept. Yes, only the apostles really fully understood everything that Jesus was teaching because he took them aside privately and made the meaning plain. The rest outside this inner circle were mostly left confused or with only partial understanding. And that includes us today.
We all want to believe that we, like the apostles, are the inner circle who can understand Jesus just fine. However, we simply do not have a record of everything that Jesus taught and explained to the apostles. Therefore, as we see with the Parable of the Ten Virgins (which has no record of its private explanation) most Christians are left in confusion and division as to the meaning.
The Culture of the Parable's Audience
To make matters worse, in reality, we are confused today on some basic things that Jesus' hearers understood just fine. That is because, like any speaker, Jesus used cultural references that his audience was familiar with. If you do not understand these cultural references, you will come to very strange conclusions about what Jesus was teaching. And this cultural factoring is exactly what is overlooked by the two aforementioned camps, making it an important key to understanding.
If we factor in this historical context, we can catch up to the first-century hearers of Jesus and no longer be at such a disadvantage. Then, we can search out all the sayings of Jesus and the consensus of the entire Bible to unlock the parables. Let's not forget that Jesus' original hearers did not have the NT nor their own personal copy of the OT. That represents quite a disadvantage compared to us. With these two factors of historical and grammatical context addressed together, we can successfully understand this Parable of the Ten Virgins and all parables of Jesus.
Part of the grammatical-historical method of interpretation is, of course, paying attention to the historical context. You need to find out what the passage of the Bible meant to the historical audience it was originally given to. They had their own culture and ideas that played into what the speaker said and how the audience interpreted his words.
"Depart From Me, I Never Knew you!" - Jesus
Jesus predicted that he will tell many sincere believers to basically "get lost" instead of welcoming them into the Kingdom. So...who are they and what did they miss or do wrong? In this study, get those answers and the one requirement for salvation Jesus taught (that Christianity misses) so that you can make sure you don't hear these dreaded words yourself!
The Biblical context is important as well. Some of the parables cannot be understood in a vacuum. You need to read the surrounding, related or similar parables or sayings of Jesus to fill in the gaps. In this case, Jesus gives four parables to explain to his disciples how and why they should be prepared for his coming: the homeowner and the thief (Mt 24:42-44), the good and wicked servants (Mt 24:45-51), the ten virgins (Mt 25:1-13), and the talents (Mt 25:14-30). If you only heard the Parable of the Ten Virgins and not the others, you may come to some very strange conclusions on what the missing preparation (a lack of oil) represents. (More on this later.)
The Parable of Ten Virgins Updated (For 21st Century Western Ears)
To help break through the cultural barrier, I'm going to do something that some might consider heretical. I will attempt to update this classic parable for our modern day, Western, high-tech, consumer culture.
Imagine Jesus was alive today and trying to teach us the important message of being prepared always for his coming. What slice of life would he employ to illustrate and emphasize this lesson? That's hard to answer. I had to rack my brains to find anything with elements close to those in Jesus' story (and naturally gained a greater appreciation for how elegant his parables were). So with my apologies to Jesus, here is my modern rendition of his parable:
The Parable of the Two Shoppers
Then the kingdom of heaven will be like two friends who took their credit cards and went out early to get in line at the mall on the morning of the latest iPhone release. One was foolish and one was wise. When the foolish took his credit card, he did not take much cash with him. But the sensible one took plenty of cash with his credit card in his wallet. When the hour came and the store opened up for business, they announced that the credit card communications network was down and only cash would be accepted. When the foolish man heard this, he asked his wise friend to loan him some cash. The wise man replied, “No, I did not bring enough cash for both me and you. Go instead to the ATM and withdraw cash for yourself.” When the foolish man returned with cash in hand from the ATM, the line was gone and the product had already sold out. Then those who were ready with cash went home joyfully with their iPhones in hand. Later the foolish man came to the store manager's door and knocked, “Manager, you must have one more back there for sale.” But he replied, “No, in fact, we do not know when to expect anymore--except it will be after Christmas.”
Therefore be ready, because you do not know ...
I will admit I am not completely happy with my modern parallel because it lacks the unknown time element. The ideal modern scenario would be one where your money runs out with time just as the oil ran out for the virgins as the night progressed. This emphasizes being fully ready for however long time goes.
That weakness aside, it is at least modern and understandable. If you heard such a parable from a prophet of God teaching on the Kingdom of God, you could instantly recognize the scene and deduce the lesson he's trying to convey. It tells you that you have one chance to make it to the kingdom and if you really want it, you must be ready to be there by making all diligence in righteousness (Heb 11:6). Just as a person who really wants that latest must-have hot gadget for Christmas would make sure nothing can go wrong in his attempt to buy it the day it comes out.
Now, upon hearing a modern slice-of-life parable like this, how tempted are you to read into its specific elements secret meanings? Is the number of two friends significant? Does the cash mean something special? Could cash be the Holy Spirit? (Some might argue that today, given how they think credit card usage is usury and wrong.) Does ATM stand for something special?
Not very tempting areas of inquiry, right? Why not? Because you are familiar with all these concepts and you understand them all to be normal parts of a common modern situation. You don't see them as a contrived situation that would never happen but put there to encode secret meanings and messages. You instead recognize there is one point being made about being diligent in your efforts to enter the kingdom.
The Parable of the Ten Virgins' First Century Eastern Culture
What most do not realize is that, likewise, the setting of the parable that Jesus used was not contrived by him. It is not an allegory that he invented. He was using the actual common everyday scenario that his audience would readily recognize and relate to.
This insight should be a revelation for people currently in either of the two camps above. They imagine he concocted elements of this story to symbolically or literally paint an accurate end time setting. Why? Because the setting of the parable, a party of ten virgins going to a wedding in the night at an unknown time after sleeping together seems highly irregular and therefore contrived to our Western 21st Century ears.
However, it is not contrived. It turns out to describe the normal wedding customs of Palestine at that time. This is one case where the use of good commentaries is extremely beneficial. They are great for shedding much-needed insight on the life and times of Jesus and his audience who the parables came to:
There was a wedding in the village. A wedding story with no mention of the bride seems very odd to us, but different times and different lands have different customs. Just possibly she does receive a mention, but if so, only in passing; some authorities for the text of Matthew 25:1 say that the ten maidens "went to meet the bridegroom and the bride." The ten maidens do not appear to have been bridesmaids, or even specially invited guests; they were girls of the village who had decided to form a torchlight procession and escort the bridegroom and his party to the house where the wedding feast was to be held. They knew that, if they did so, there would be a place at the feast for them, so that they could share in the good cheer. To this day there are parts of the world where a wedding feast is a public occasion for the neighborhood, and all who come find a welcome and something to eat and drink.
— Hard Sayings of the Bible
The setting for this parable was a typical Jewish wedding ceremony. In Israel, as well as in most other parts of the ancient Near East, a wedding was the most celebrated social event. Virtually everyone in a village or in a neighborhood community of a large city would be involved as a participant or as a guest. It was a time of great happiness and festivity.
A Jewish marriage consisted of three parts, the first of which was the engagement. Most often arranged by the fathers of the bride and groom, the engagement amounted to a contract of marriage in which the couple had little, if any, direct involvement. The second stage was the betrothal, the marriage ceremony at which the bride and groom exchanged vows in the presence of family and friends. At that point the couple was considered married, and their relationship could be broken only by formal divorce, just as if they had been married for many years. If the husband happened to die during the betrothal (think: engagement), the bride was considered a widow although the marriage had not been physically consummated and the two had never lived together. The betrothal could last for many months, sometimes a year, during which time the groom would establish himself in a business, trade, or farming and would make provision for a place for the couple to live.
At the end of the betrothal period the wedding feast would be held, and it was in the feast and its related celebrations that the entire community became involved. This festivity, which could last a week, began with the groom's coming with his groomsmen to the bride's house, where her bridesmaids were waiting with her. Together the bride and groom and their attendants would then parade through the streets proclaiming that the wedding feast was about to begin. The procession was generally begun at night, and lamps or torches were used by the wedding party to illumine their way and to attract attention.
At the end of the feast period, a close friend of the groom, who acted much like a best man, would take the hand of the bride and place it in the hand of the groom, and the couple would for the first time be left alone together. The marriage would be consummated and the couple would henceforth live together in their new home. It was that third part of the marriage rite that Jesus used as the framework for this parable.
The parable is not an allegory, as many interpreters have claimed. Every small facet of the story does not carry a mystical meaning that is subject to speculation and imagination. Nor does every part of the parable have application to Christian living, as devotionalists frequently maintain. Still less is the parable a confused and clumsy teaching effort on Jesus' part, as some liberal interpreters suggest. The fact that details such as the bride's identity and the place where the virgins slept are not mentioned has no bearing on the point Jesus was making. For His purpose, the story was clear and complete.
—MacArthur New Testament Commentary – Matthew 24-28
The Parable of the Unprepared Wedding Crashers
I think much confusion over this parable comes because of the wedding setting itself. On the one hand, it is odd to have ten virgins, no bride and no set time for the wedding so it seems contrived. On the other hand, it is reminiscent of how we are told that we will be the bride of Christ or how the saved will attend the marriage supper of the lamb. With that concept in our mind as we read this, we easily read into it more than is intended. We imagine it to be an actual portrayal of our own future wedding with Jesus and how it comes about.
But in doing this we are making the mistake of taking things out of context. “Let the Bible interpret the Bible” is not a foolproof or complete approach, especially the way many Christians use it to draw (and justify) any sort of connection between verses they like. It takes skill and wisdom to apply it correctly and not come to false conclusions that seem justified because they came about purely by connecting verses. Therefore, before we pair up Biblical passages like these two wedding references, we first need to understand what we are dealing with using the cultural background. In doing so in this case, we would have realized that this parable is about uninvited guests who would have been welcome to “crash” a wedding if they had been prepared when it started. This is not the same thing as what we picture ourselves as, the ones invited to the marriage supper or to marry the groom (Rev 19:7, 9). That realization might have helped avoid that confusion on the purpose of the parable that I myself had when I first read it in my teens. (Many people I have spoken to have mistakenly thought that with no bride mentioned, the ten virgins were the ones to marry the groom! Some even think the parable is condoning polygamy--yikes!)
The true parallel to draw from the parable is that we need to be always ready for our entry into the kingdom at an unknown date in the future, just as the first-century Jewish people had to be prepared if they wanted to respond to the announcement of a wedding feast in their town. That is the admonition of the parable, tacked on by Jesus at the end of its torch procession story. Thus, whether there will be buying and selling when that day comes or what the requirement that the oil represents is, is beyond the scope and intent of the parable.
In fact, everything beyond the central admonition already covered is outside the purpose of the parable. It would be adding to or reading into Scripture to allegorize parts of the story for further meaning. As you study the parables carefully using historical-grammatical interpretation, you will find this to be typical of all of Jesus' parables. Most are used to make a single point that the realistic or uncontrived story is used to illustrate. (Even the Parable of Lazarus and the Rich Man was not completely imagined by Jesus but borrowed heavily from Egyptian and Jewish ideas on the afterlife.)
By the way, this also means that this parable does not necessarily end with the rapture. With the focus on the rapture in Christian eschatology, it's natural to conclude that this must be where it ends. The mention of a wedding feast coming right after the preparation cut-off reinforces this idea as the rapture is followed by the wedding feast of the Lamb and his bride in Revelation 19. However, again, the parable does not teach what the actual preparation cut-off event is. That's beyond its scope. We have to look to other passages for that detail. If you understand that the rapture comes 3½ years after the Great Tribulation begins and that God saves his people on the earth through it in a single prepared place (Rev 12), then you can see that the preparation cut off cannot be the rapture. The cut-off must be at the last moment that people can make it to the safe place on earth. Jesus identifies this last chance event as the Abomination of Desolation.
The Meaning of the Oil — In Context
There are several parables that repeat the same warning about the cost of being a casual or foolish believer. In this case, it is interesting to note that while the parable does use the extra torch oil to remind us about making our own preparations to always be ready for the Kingdom, it stops short of telling us what these preparations are.
This is probably why so many are tempted to allegorize the meaning of oil into something like the Holy Spirit, wisdom, Torah, salvation, etc. The parable indeed does seem very incomplete on its own at first. In a way it is. But the purpose of the parable is not to teach us how to be ready, or what is needed to be ready, but rather the importance of being ready at all times for an event of an unknown time that ruthlessly bans latecomers.
By the way, the nature of our readiness is covered in other parables. Even the previous parable to this one sheds much light (Mt 24:45-51). It tells us to be doing our master's will until he comes, rather than backsliding into wickedness. If there is any doubt on what Jesus' will is, all you need to do is consult the rest of his many words. My favorite summary verse is found in Luke 8:21 which says:
“My mother and brothers are those who hear God's word and put it into practice."
And, again, this is where we have the advantage over the first-century hearers of the Parable of the Ten Virgins. Not only did they not have a New Testament, but they also did not have much access to the Old Testament either. Only the rich or the synagogues had the money to buy the skins and the time of a scribe needed to make a copy of the Hebrew Scripture. Without this, they had less chance of making sense of a lot of what Jesus taught. (But then, as now, the important points on salvation or how to enter the kingdom did not require a Ph.D. to understand or follow.)
What at first seems to be a carefully contrived allegory of great import for students of end-time prophecy, turns out to be as simple as its last verse, “be alert for you know neither the day nor the hour [time].” It's ironic that despite hammering this message so many times in the gospels so clearly, people completely forget the reason for being prepared is that we do not know when Jesus is coming back or when we are going to have our lives cut short. Instead, they come up with other unintended messages from the parable, often twisting it into a rapture date setting prophecy.
Jesus was a master teacher and used a common and familiar scenario to drive home a single point. He wanted to emphasize once again as he had done in other parables the importance of always being ready for his coming which will come at a time we do not know far in advance. He did this powerfully by portraying the haunting disappointment of the backslidden who are refused entry into the kingdom when it comes.
The only real question left from the parable is whether we will be among the wise or the foolish on that day (or the day we die)? Will we switch our focus to living by God's will and words (essentially "love your neighbor as yourself" - Mt 7:12) or will we allow ourselves to get distracted, backslide and default back to following our own will (selfishness, self-serving, all with self-justification)?
If you want to get better at understanding and doing Jesus' instructions for those who consider him their Lord, check out my article on rapture requirements or my supporter study on the three keys to finally understand the Sermon on the Mount.
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Thank you for such a helpful exposition on this parable. I’ve been wondering why Jesus never mentioned the bride and elaborated on who the virgins are.
I used to have the understanding that this parable was full of hidden secrets pertaining to the end time. Later I came to the conclusion that Jesus told it to teach a single important point; be diligent and do everything you can to be ready for the coming of the bridegroom. And like you wrote, all the details of the parable are beyond the scope. They are only there to clarify the point of the parable.
Again, thank you for the article and God bless you!Reply
I’ve been reading and studying the so-called Day of the Rapture, is supposedly on September 23, which is in two days. What are your thoughts of this Star-alignment in regards to this Highly Important time and is it Truly the Day of The Rapture????Reply
Wow! Brother Tim is a teacher in the body of Christ. Rightly dividing the Word. Thanks a lot for breaking the bread of life.Reply
“Let the Bible interpret the Bible”… Tim, It doesnt mean to draw any sort of connection as you’d like between verses. It is used to refer to when verses in the Bible explicitly give an interpretation of other verses, then that is the proper interpretation! Examples would be Jesus interpreting his own parables, Hebrews interpreting various OT verses, …Reply
Jeff agreed, and it takes skill, wisdom and care to hold to that rule, but most Christians don’t know what you do, Jeff, and they justify false doctrines because “I only let the Bible interpret the Bible!” Hence my article’s statement of this method not being “foolproof.” =)Reply
Thank you for that explanation of this parable…I’ve always been confused by it. You have made it a lot clearer.
However, I now have a question regarding your reply to Elke about salvation. How can one tell whether one has ‘gone byond the pale’ so to speak re one’s salvation…everyone (or at least most people I should think), have wobbly moments (or months or years) in their faith, especially when going through periods of what is variously known as ‘the dark night of the soul’, or ‘desert times’, when one can seriously feel that one may have somehow ignored or disobeyed God or direspected Him or thinks perhaps that one has lost one’s way, or many other scenarios. And in those times, one really does have to ‘walk by faith’ , not sight or at least the sensing/sensation of the Holy Spirit, and maybe God not speaking to one in such plain ways. One can think, have I so completely strayed from the path that I am irrecoverable, or is it just that God is teaching me new and deeper ways of relating to Him.Reply
Jean, I know I am saved because I know my heart since I was a boy that I love God and today I know he just wants me to submit to his law of love in faith and love him and my neighbor as myself which I wholeheartedly agree with and know is best for all. So I don’t doubt my salvation because of moments of weakness, failing, disobedience like you list because my heart is still the same as evidenced by feeling bad after and wanting to do better. Again, salvation is not about performance! But if you do become a supporter and read the article, you’ll learn that Jesus taught that performance does factor in elsewhere: reward/glory level once you are in the kingdom.Reply
Hi Tim. I would sincerely like to know: Do you believe or does the Bible say that one can “lose” one’s salvation through Jesus Christ if you “backslide”. I have always thought and been taught “Once saved, always saved.”
I feel restless about the whole body of Christ (along with many of my family and friends) who seems to be in a slumber. I think I understand the whole parrable. But the words of the Bridegroom “I do not know you.” is very alarming and frightening if you are indeed not so save as you thought. I am earerly awaiting your response.
Elke, salvation depends on faith which is a matter of choice, which can and does change, such as when you get offended like Jesus’ disciples did when he said they must eat his flesh (John 6:61,66). Until you are glorified in the resurrection/rapture with a new eternal body, you are not truly saved or “born again” yet. You can always turn back before that point, so once saved always saved as Christianity teaches it, is false.Reply
Thank you, Tim!
That explains my puzzle too, and I agree with you. Indeed, when Jesus comes back and judge, those receiving rewards are not those who believe, or those who preach or perform miracles. The only thing that count is the good works one have done, which as you’ve said, is loving your neighbours.Reply
First, salvation is not some future event. We are not “truly saved” or “not born again yet” is not the gospel. Jesus says in John 3:16 that those who believe will receive eternal life. John says in 1 John 5:13:
“I write these things to you who believe in the name of the Son of God so that you may know that you have eternal life.” (NIV)
Eternal life is not a believer’s future hope, but their present reality.
The believer already has eternal life.
Many people think eternal life living forever but that is not true.
We (believers and unbelievers) will all live forever since spirits don’t die.
Eternal life is the very life of God.
Every believer has the very life of God in them on account of believing in Jesus unto salvation.
The only thing a believer lacks today is a glorified body but everything else has been made available to the believer on account of believing in Jesus unto salivation.
We need to be careful in teaching that a believer is not “truly saved” because they do not have a glorified body yet. That is not true and that is not the gospel.
We need to differentiate between salvation and salvation of our bodies.
Just because one does not have a glorified body does not mean one is not “truly saved”. This is a great error.
Second, saying a believer can lose their salvation by turning back is like saying your parents can stop being your parents because you’ve disowned them or they’ve disowned you. Impossible.
DNA says otherwise.
The believer has the very DNA of God. T
The day a beliver goes to hell is the very day God goes to hell.
Because they are one in spirit with God.
A believer can NEVER lose their salvation.
You cannot lose by works that which you did not gain by works.
You cannot lose by your own strength that which you did not gain by your own strength.
You cannot reverse what God has done. Not even God Himself can reverse what He has done.
The same way a King in the Old could not reverse His word once He sealed it, is the same way God cannot reverse that which He has sealed with His Holy Spirit.
The same way you cannot reverse water baptism once you partake of this ritual, you cannot reverse the actual baptism into Christ by the Holy Spirit the ritual represents.
God is not in the business of childing and unchilding His children.
As a matter of fact, backsliding as it is taught in religious circles today is not biblical.
You will never find anywhere in the Epistles or any of the Apostles talking about a believer loosing their salvation or needing rededication.
A believer does not need rededication. A believer needs to renew their mind.Reply
Those who believe will receive eternal life…if they continue believing and obeying (Lk 6:46).Reply
“A believer can NEVER lose their salvation. (…) You cannot reverse what God has done. Not even God Himself can reverse what He has done.”
“You will never find anywhere in the Epistles or any of the Apostles talking about a believer losing their salvation.”
I beg to differ! Paul and Yeshua have both explicitly warned about making decisions which could cost you your salvation/eternal life.
BY SINNING AGAINST THE HOLY SPIRIT YOU BRING ETERNAL DAMNATION ON YOURSELF. If you don’t believe me, there’s lots of proof for this in the New Testament. Please, check out these admonishing words of Jesus:
In his letter to the Hebrews Paul said that one can lose their salvation by backsliding into their old, sinful ways. One cannot “apply for salvation” a second time if you didn’t treat God’s gifts of forgiveness and eternal life the way they ought to be treated. Here’s biblical proof for you:
I hope this helps you recognize your error, James. ?Reply
Tim and Elke, I am glad to see Tim drawing a distinction between salvation and the kingdom. This is already prefigured in Exodus, where Israel (as many as obeyed Moshe) were saved from Egypt/Pharaoh’s rule, but all but 2 failed to occupy the Promised Land, through their disobedience/unfaithfulness. A new generation, untainted by that disobedience, had to grow up and continue the required obedience before Israel could move on. (Even so, by the persistent faith/faithfulness of the daughters of Zelophehad, who “died for his own sins” in the wilderness, his family and his name retained a stake in the Promised Land.)
“Know” in the Scriptures often means “recognise, accredit”, and I believe it is possible, and likely for very many people, to be saved from hell but not recognised as having status in the Kingdom of Heaven. (In both Hebrew and Greek, the word translated “kingdom” actually basically means “ruling family, royal family” and it is not difficult to understand that status in this family is based on faithful application of the Constitution and derived laws of the redeemed society, during our living in the here and now, in preparation for the Millennium. In other words, the Torah.)
Hebrew has several words highlighting different aspects of “faith”, while in the Greek they all get steamrollered and flattened by “pistis” which then translates invariably into English as “faith” when actually one of the other facets might be intended. Prime example, Habbakuk 2:4 which Paul quotes no less than 3 times in his letters (if we include “Hebrews” as his writing). You’ll probably recognise it as “The just shall live by faith” (e.g. Romans 1:17), which almost no one reads as they should: “The justified one will find life through his faithfulness”. A vast difference… and clearly supporting the “Kingdom” teaching.
Are you running from hell, Elke, or seeking for a glorious reward (and by the way, I have a Janse van Rensburg ancestor)? If you crossed the sea by walking on the Way prepared for you, you are “saved”; but are you refusing to get in there and tackle the giants? “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life” – you’ve used the Way to escape, now use the Truth to navigate by, so that you may find that Habakkuk 2:4 Life.Reply
“God saves his people on the earth through it in a single prepared place (Rev 12)”
There is reason to believe this place will be the Northern Cape in South Africa, from Cape Town, north, to the Kalahari…
Helizna, Christians always find “reason to believe” there will be a safe place right where they live. But Scripture tells us exactly where there is one place safe from the Antichrist and one place where “survivors” of Wormwood are “gathered” (Rev 6:12=Joel 2:31,32).Reply
I’m enjoying re-reading your older articles by following the Recent Comments page.
RE: “Will we keep our focus on living our life according to God’s standards or will we allow ourselves to get distracted, backslide and default back to following the standards of men (our own included)? ” at the end of the article.
There are many opinions and beliefs about “God’s standards”.
10 commandments, Torah, grace and / or love only etc.
What do you mean by “God’s standards”?
Just like Sue, I am using the comments to review previous articles. In this one, I am convicted that although we yearn to “know the future”, we are given only one day at a time to live out His love to this world. We are often so clueless about our mortality. A ‘quick trip to the market’ seems routine, but ended in a fatal accident for a neighbor recently. I might live to see Judea and Jordan, but only by His grace, His direction and His spirit in me, one step at a time. Thanks Tim, for instruction that promotes discernment. Its an exciting yet humbling time to be alive.Reply