The Cry of the Fake Church
There is nothing worse than the Lord Jesus Christ answering, “I do not know you.” Jesus knows His sheep, and His sheep know His voice (Jn 10:3, 14). Many claim to belong to Christ’s church, but in their hearts, they do not love God (Jn 5:42), nor do they prepare for His coming (1 Tim 6:5; 2 Tim 3:5).
Jesus warned His disciples of hypocrites in the visible church (Mt 6:2, 5, 16). The reality, of fake Christians in the body of Christ, is valid, today, as it will be on the day of our Lord’s return. He taught His disciples about this reality, in two separate but related parables, in His Olivet Discourse (Mt 25).
Ten virgins, an image of the full number of the church (10 is the number of completeness), wait as a bride, for the coming of her bridegroom. All in the church know of Christ, and His return on the clouds of heaven (Mt 26:54; Mk 14:62). The virgins wait in the house of the Lord. All ten have lamps, which is symbolic of their being witnesses, ready to meet the Lord.
What sets apart five of the ten is the oil in their lamps. Five have oil, and five have no oil in flasks. When the bridegroom came with a shout, the virgins arose, trimmed their lamps and went out to meet their Lord.
The five virgins, who had no oil, sought it from those who had it, but to no avail. They were told to go and get their own. They departed for this purpose. Simply put, they had not prepared. They waited, in vain, for the Lord they secretly hoped would not come.
The bridegroom, although delayed from the virgins’ perspective, came and went with the virgins, prepared with oil. The wedding banquet began, and the door was locked. The foolish virgins, fake Christians, came to the door of the Lord’s house and cried, “Lord, Lord, open up for us (Mt 25:11).”
It is at this point in Jesus’ parable that we hear His voice say to the foolish ones, “I do not know you.” It is hauntingly similar to our Lord’s sermon at the Mount of Beatitudes (Mt 5–7), where He taught, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father, who is in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, “I never knew you. Depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness (Mt 7:21–23).’”
There are many who claim to be Christians. They numerically complete the visible church, but they do not have the oil (symbolic of spiritual things) in them for the day of Christ’s return. Spiritual things can only come from the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 2:14–16), who gives this life-giving oil to the true believers, who faithfully prepare themselves for Christ’s return.
As a bride prepares, in exacting detail for her wedding day, so the true church prepares for the coming of the Lord with lamp and oil, that is, with its visible and invisible witness (made visible at Christ’s coming). How does one prepare for salvation (wedding feast)?
Believers in Jesus are busy people. They occasionally nod off, succumbing to spiritual slumber, but they are ready for the shout, “Behold the bridegroom! Come out to meet Him (Mt 25:6)!” Fake Christians do not care about Christ’s glorious appearing. They are asleep, spiritually, dreaming bigger dreams for their life in this world. Their sloth, exposed on that day, will cause them to mourn with the unbelievers. It will not matter. It is too late.
Christian, examine yourself. Are you a virgin (pure, holy) in the visible church? You are identified by your lamp, but you know your lamp (witness) is worthless without oil (spiritual life/fruit). Be all the more vigilant, as you know the day of Christ’s coming for His church is near. No one knows the day or hour (Mt 24:36, 50; 25:13), but you are commanded to be ready (Mt 24:44).
If you truly belong to Christ (Jn 10:26; 1 Cor 3:23), you will not be unprepared when the shout is heard. The tears of joy at His coming will be wiped away, as you see your beloved Lord face to face. O how different is the cry of the true church from the fake church on that day. Are you ready?
Spokane Valley, Washington
December 13, 2021