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Open or Shut?

Pastor and author Brian G. Hedges says that spiritual watchfulness or vigilance is “our most neglected spiritual discipline.” Spiritual watchfulness involves—through self-examination, prayer, and accountability—actively guarding our hearts against sin. He urges us to keep our focus on the Lord: “Our goal in keeping our hearts isn’t to keep them empty, but to make room for Christ to dwell in our hearts through faith (Eph. 3:17).”

Watchfulness is the main point of Jesus’ parable about the virgins or bridesmaids (v. 13). A wedding in that culture would begin with the bridegroom and his friends picking up the bride at her home. The marriage ceremony would take place, then the entire wedding party would return to the groom’s home for a banquet and celebration (reception). The exact schedule was uncertain. The bridegroom’s arrival time was not known, and the bridesmaids grew sleepy while waiting (v. 5). To remain ready, they needed enough oil for their lamps (vv. 3–4). And the main difference between those who were ready and those who weren’t was wisdom (v. 2). Why didn’t the wise ones share their oil? Because, in this case, responsibility was a personal issue (v. 9).

The consequences of being “sleepy” were real (vv. 10–12). Those who weren’t ready wouldn’t enter the wedding feast, which here refers to the kingdom of God (Rev. 19:9). Christ is our Bridegroom. He will say, “I don’t know you,” to unredeemed sinners (Matt. 7:21–23).The results of eternal exclusion will be devastating. Payment for their sins will have been available through the blood of Christ, but by not trusting Him for salvation they will lose everything.

>> What about you? Are you ready? The only way to be assured of your salvation is to trust in the name of Christ (John 1:12–13). Those of us who are saved must remain vigilant. The Bridegroom could return at any time!

BY Brad Baurain

Dr. Brad Baurain has worked as a writer and editor for Today in the Word since 1993. Currently, he serves as associate professor and TESOL program head at Moody Bible Institute. Brad has the unique privilege of holding a degree from four different universities (including Moody). He has also taught in China, Vietnam, the United States, and Canada. Brad and his wife, Julia, have four children and reside in Munster, Indiana.

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