The Home Stretch

by APC on May 30, 2019

Our Race

In our walk with God, we’re in a race to the finish line, which is our salvation. Like any race, the last stretch will be the hardest. Even though the race is hard, and wrought with much difficulty, we still have hope we’ll make it to the finish line! This study will take a look at the last course of our spiritual journey, known as the home stretch.

The 10 Virgins

Jesus tells a parable about 10 virgins in Matthew 25—5 wise and 5 foolish. Five virgins took extra oil for their lamps and 5 did not. The 5 that didn’t take extra oil weren’t ready, and missed out on the coming of the Bridegroom. The difference between being wise and unwise was the oil. The virgins in this parable were symbolic of church believers and our readiness to see the King when He comes. Five (exactly half) of the virgins initially had oil, but  lost it in the end, and therefore, lost their salvation. At the close of the parable, Jesus told the foolish virgins He knew them not (revealing He once had a relationship with them).

The parable conveys the urgency to the church of being ready in the last days (which is now) before the coming of the Lord. What’s confounding to us when we look at people in the church, is that many will fall away right before His return. Even though the Antichrist will “wear out” the saints (Daniel 7:25) and contribute to this falling away, there are other factors at play. Those who let their oil run out (become affected by the cares and pressures of this life) will lose their connection with the Lord. As pressures surmount, the oil will leak out. We must keep our oil in the home stretch of this race!

The 4 Soils

Jesus conveys the importance of our salvation in another parable about 4 types of soil. In this instance, Jesus reveals the interpretation (Matthew 13):

  • The first seed fell to the wayside and the fowls ate it. This represents people who allowed the enemy come in and steal the Word from them
  • The second seed fell on stony places and didn’t have any roots or deepness. These people received the Word gladly, but persecution came and they became offended and forsook their relationship with the Lord. These people are likened unto the 5 foolish virgins
  • The third seed fell on thorny soil and thorns choked their growth. These people are likened unto those who don’t abide in the vine, are unfruitful, and are cast into the fire (John 15)
  • The fourth seed fell on good soil and bore fruit. These individuals received the Word of God and flourished in their walk with Christ! These are likened unto the 5 wise virgins

If we fail from now until the rapture in our Spiritual journey, we’ll either be 1) offended or 2) distracted by the cares of this world. The 10 virgins all knew Christ, all were living in the last days, but 5 let their oil run out. They became either sidetracked or offended.

What We Need to Guard

If we’re going to stay on the home stretch, we need to guard our heart (emotions), mind (thoughts), mouth, and love for money.

Our Heart

The word heart shows up 884 times in Scripture. There are different kinds of hearts: proud, lowly, heavy, broken, hard, etc. We need to have a meek and soft heart in our journey with Him (Psalms 51:10–11). Guarding our heart (emotions) is critical because drives our actions in life (Proverbs 4:23). Instead of letting our heart run wild, we’re called to set our heart (affections) on things above (Colossians 3:1–6).  It’s important to trust in God with our whole heart and lean not unto our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5).

Our Mind

The word mind appears 132 times in Scripture. It’s imperative we keep our mind in check and in alignment with the Spirit. If we’re after the flesh, we’ll only seek the fleshly things. We need to seek after the Spirit (Romans 8:5). Everything we do and think should be done in lowliness of mind; we should also think about and put others before us (Philippians 2:2–5). The mind of Christ is all about encouraging, saving, putting others first, etc. and this same mind needs to be in us. The peace and love of God will keep our hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Philippians 4:6–8).

Our Mouth

The tongue is the most unruly member of the body and can defile our entire existence (James 3:5). We cannot be taken or consumed or driven by the words of our mouth (Proverbs 6:2). Instead, we need to be swift to hear and slow to speak (James 1:19). Truth must always flow from us; we need to be mindful we don’t gossip or tell lies (Proverbs 18:8).

Our Love for Money

We cannot forsake giving to the Lord in our tithes and offerings (Malachi 3:8). God won’t tempt us, but God will test us: tithing is a test to see if we believe God or not. We cannot believe the lie that we’ll have more money if we hang onto resources that were never meant to stay with us in the first place. We need to be content with what God has given us and trust in giving (I Timothy 6:8). The people (the 5 virgins) who are strong and know their God will do exploits (Daniel 11:32).

Strategy to Keep Our Oil

If we want to be in the group that makes it (5 wise virgins), we need to follow 3 easy steps. We need to remember the joy of the Lord is our strength (Nehemiah 8:10). In order to get that joy, we need to stay in God’s presence (Psalms 16:11). Finally, we need to enter into His gates with thanksgiving and into His courts with praise (Psalms 100:4). God wants His people to love, be conformed to His image, let their light shine, etc. In this home stretch, the saints should become more fervent in their walk with God. It’s important  we don’t let our oil run out.

Adapted from Wednesday Night Bible Study on May 29, 2019 with Guest Teacher, Pastor Melder