The Republican Debate last week was a reminder that many people in our time have lost their hope in Jesus, hope in government, hope of peace and hope of prosperity. This is an End Times scenario with Gog – Iran launching a war against Israel via Hamas, Magog – Russia in a war with the West; and Russia’s ally China in an economic and deadly fentanyl war with the US. The good news was two candidates advocating recovering the truth foundation of Christian faith our freedom and democracy were built on. ( my current book topic).
Our Readings remind us:
- Joshua publicly put his hope in the God of his ancestors
- Believers have the hope and security of eternal life
- Relationship with Jesus is how to be included in the Heavenly Banquet or Kingdom
Lucille and I had the Joshua Reading at our wedding. We wanted to make a public commitment to serve the Lord. This is what we all do in baptism and what our lives should reflect.
2. Paul reminds believers to live in hope and not fear death
Paul reminds us that Christians should not be fearfulor in deep grief at funerals. Unlike others, we have the hope of eternal spiritual life in Jesus Christ. Our hope is that when we die, we die 'in Christ' and are raised to a new life of joy with Him in heaven:
- Hope connects us to Jesus in a relationship of love. This relationship of love is the 'oil' that the Foolish Virgins in the Parable did not have.
- Those who do not have this 'oil' of relationship or love are shut out of the Heavenly Kingdom.
- Those who have faith and hope in Jesus are spiritually linked to Him.
- They live their daily lives "in Jesus" through Bible reading, prayer and worship.
- In the Apostles Creed we say we believe in "the resurrection of the body".
- The Church is the spiritual body of Christ – those in relationship with Jesus
- Christians believe that at death we go to be with Jesus in a celebration of love like a wedding banquet
- Christian funerals are a celebration of a life and hope
- Our mourning is about our loss of our relationship.
- Our mourning is a sign of our love for the person who has died. We have hope of joining them at the banquet
3. Relationship and Hope in Jesus includes us in the Banquet
The Parable of the Virgins is a teaching on who is and who is not included in the Heavenly banquet. As usual Jesus is using a common life situation to explain a deep spiritual truth. This hard spiritual truth is that everyone is not included:
- Shocking to the ears of modern people who blindly assume everyone gets into Heaven.
- In the Parable the difference between those who are included and excluded from the wedding banquet is based on who brought extra oil.
- What does the oil stand for?
- Clue is Bridegroom who says "I don't know you" to those outside the locked door (Matthew 25.12b).
- They do not have a personal relationship with Jesus
- We develop our relationship with Jesus through Bible reading, private prayerand worship experiences
- Extra oil represents a deep love relationship with Jesus.
- Oil is a form of stored energy, or stored fire - the fire of our love for Jesus.
- We experience that fire of love in the Holy Spirit
- Our experience of the Holy Spirit is evidence that we have the oil or love relationship with Jesus required for admission.
Each of us must decide which god to serve, which god to develop a personal love relationship with.