What separates the wise Christian from the foolish? One thing more than others. The foolish build their house upon the sand. The wise build on rock. They will hear Jesus’ words and obey them (Matthew 7:24). The Apostle Paul testifies to this when he wrote his Second Letter to Timothy. In 3:15 we read: “…and how from infancy you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)
It is not sincerity that saves us. There are millions of sincere fools. What saves is the wisdom that comes from God in the person of Jesus Christ. His Word makes us wise. It will save, but only if we believe and obey. This is illustrated in our Lord’s parable of “The Ten Virgins.” In Matthew 25:1-2 we find five virgins were wise, while five were foolish. The five who were foolish were shut out of the wedding hall due to their inadequate preparation. (They ran out of oil for their lamps.) To them, the Lord said, “I tell you the truth, I don’t know you.” (25:12)
The wise took a flask of oil in case the bridegroom was delayed. That was what happened. The wise were prepared, they met the bridegroom with their lamps trimmed and burning; therefore, they were rewarded. Wisdom is its own reward.
We could easily miss the larger point if we do not consider the parable’s full context. Jesus answered his disciples question about the sign of His coming and of the end of the age. The two chapters together, 24 as well as 25, constitute Matthew’s account of the Olivet Discourse. (See also Mark 13 and Luke 21). Those who swallow the “any moment rapture” Kool-Aid–as I once did–are in grave danger of falling into the foolish category, since they reject or do not know the Scriptures or the power of God (Matt. 22:29).
What do I mean? In Matthew 24, Jesus alerts his elect (i.e. the wise) that there will be great deception prior to His Coming. “Watch out that no one deceives you,” is repeated throughout his discourse. However, the elect cannot be deceived. The foolish are easily deceived, since they are not prepared for his delay. They are not trained to obey Jesus’ clear teaching on the last days. In fact, many believe the popular lie that Christ will come at any moment, so how can they be prepared for his delay? Christians, influenced by Western Church culture, are conditioned to attribute all miracles, signs and wonders to the real Christ. They are susceptible to the great delusion despite Jesus warning, “At that time, if anyone says to you, ‘Look, here is the Christ!’ or, ‘There he is!’ do not believe it. For false Christs and false prophets will appear and perform great signs and miracles to deceive even the elect–if that were possible.” (24:23-24, cf. 24:26). The modern “signs and wonders movement” plays into this future deception.
The ten virgins heard the bridegroom was coming. Five were wary of the claim and prepared for a false alarm. They knew he was coming for his bride, but grabbed the extra oil anticipating a delay. How many false alarms from false prophets will be given shallow Christians before they give way to cynicism and deception. Five foolish virgins believed and invested everything in the lie. They were sincere, but sincerely wrong.
How can anyone study The Olivet Discourse yet maintain a Pre-Tribulational View of an imminent return of Christ? One has to go through mental contortions to come away with “no more signs are necessary before Jesus returns.” The entire content of Jesus’ words to his disciples is about maximum preparation for the Bridegroom’s return (cf. Matt. 24:25). Fools paid no attention to the signs before the Flood, and so they perished. The wise will know and remain firm in their belief, therefore, they will be saved (Matthew 24:13, Daniel 12:10).
Lord, reveal wisdom to your saints before it’s too late. Amen.