The parable of the ten virgins, as read in Matthew 25:1–13, is one of the stories Jesus told that shows us very clearly that not everybody who thinks they are going to be saved will actually be saved. That should cause solemn contemplation for all of us. You see, all of the virgins, at the beginning of the evening, thought they were going to the wedding supper, but they did not all get there.
It is a common belief among many churches that we are all going to the same place, but the Bible teaches differently. We need to face up to the fact that there really is a heaven to win and there is also a hell to shun. Read Revelation 20:15: “And if anyone was not found having been written in the book of life, he was cast into the lake of fire.” Not everybody is going to the same place. This verse identifies one place. The other place is identified in Revelation 21:27: “There shall in no case enter into it [that is, the holy city] any thing that is defiled or the one doing an abomination or the person who lies, rather, those who have been written in the book of life of the Lamb.” An abomination is something that is abhorrent and, in this case, especially something that is abhorrent to God. God abhors everything that is impure, unclean, polluted, or unrighteous; three things are mentioned in this text.
So, Revelation 20:15 says that if you are not written in the book of life, you are going to be cast into the lake of fire. Revelation 21:27 says that nobody who has not been cleansed from his pollution or defilement will enter into the city; only those whose names are written in the book will enter.
In this article, we will first study how to get your name in the book, and, second, what to do so that it does not get blotted out of the book. There will be many people who come up to the end, thinking that they are going to be saved.
“To the marriage supper of the Lamb will come many who have not on the wedding garment—the robe [Christ] purchased for them with His lifeblood. From lips that never make a mistake come the words, ‘Friend, how camest thou in hither not having a wedding garment?’ (Matthew 22:12). Those [thus] addressed are speechless. They know that words would be useless. The truth, with its sanctifying power, has not been brought into the soul, and the tongue that once spoke so readily of the truth is now silent. The words are then spoken, ‘Take them out of My presence. They are not worthy to taste of My supper’ (cf. Luke 14:24).” The Upward Look, 301.
Jesus described this for us in the Sermon on the Mount. This is a verse of Scripture read in almost every meeting of a Prophecy Seminar, because this is a verse that was written especially for those living in the last days. “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter into the kingdom of heavens, but the one who does the will of My Father who is in the heavens. Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name? In Your name we have cast out demons, and in Your name we have performed many miracles.’ And then I will confess to them, ‘Never at any time have I known you.’ ” Matthew 7:21–23.
Can you imagine what a shock that would be? These are Christians! They have called Jesus “Lord.” They come up to the Day of Judgment and say, “Lord, we know that we are saved, because we have the Holy Spirit. We were prophesying in Your name. We were working miracles in Your name. We were casting out demons in Your name. We know that we are saved.” But He says, “No. I have never known you.”
Have you ever considered that many people will receive much light and power in the last days from the devil? You see, these people have the light and the power. They could work miracles. They could prophesy. They could cast out demons. But Jesus says to them, “Then I will confess to them, ‘Never at any time have I known you, depart from Me you who practice lawlessness.’ ” In other words, you who break My law, you are not a subject of My kingdom because you break My law.
Oh, if we could just grasp the full force of that, we could, in the Christian world, quit arguing about which day to go to church and a lot of other things. Some Protestant churches today are so mixed up that they cannot figure out whether or not they should hire homosexual pastors. We could quit arguing about all kinds of things that are going on in the Christian world today if we would just realize that Jesus said, “When I come again, if you have been breaking My law, you are going to be rejected.”
In Luke 13, we read about Jesus going through the various cities and villages teaching, making His way towards Jerusalem (verse 22), and then it says, in verses 23–28, “And a certain one said to Him, ‘Lord, are there few who will be saved?’ And He said to them, ‘Struggle to enter through the narrow gate, because I say to you, many will seek to enter in and will not be strong enough. From what time the Master of the house has risen up and shut the door, and you began to stand outside and to knock on the door, saying, “Lord, open to us,” and, answering, He will say to you, “I do not know you, where you are from.” Then you will begin to say, “We ate before You, and we drank, and You taught in our streets.” And He will say to you, “I do not know you, where you are. Depart from Me, all those working iniquity.” There will be weeping and gnashing of the teeth, when you see Abraham, and Isaac, and Jacob, and all the prophets in the kingdom of God.’ ”
All those outside the wedding banquet will be wondering at those that have on the wedding garment without spot and wrinkle. But they, all the people that said, “You cannot keep God’s Law,” are going to be outside. They are going to see the people that, through the power of the Holy Spirit, did keep His Law.
First Shall Be Last
“They shall come from the east and the west, from the north and the south, and shall sit down in the kingdom of God. But, behold, they are last who shall be first, and the first shall be last.” Verses 29, 30.
This has always been a very scary passage of Scripture to me, because I had the great privilege of growing up in a Seventh-day Adventist home. But the Bible says, “The first shall be last.”
So, how do you know that you will not meet with disappointment? Oh, you have to have your name in the book. How do you get your name written in the book?
Luke 10:17 is one of the few verses in the New Testament that has a textual variation, and the best scholars cannot figure out for sure which reading is right, but we will find out when the Lord comes. There are some manuscripts that say that Jesus sent out 70, and there are some manuscripts that say He sent out 72, but I have decided I do not need to be in that controversy. So, we read:
“They came back with joy, saying, ‘Lord, even the demons are subject to us through Your name.’ And He said to them, ‘I beheld Satan as lightning falling from heaven. Behold I have given you authority to trample upon serpents and scorpions and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall by any means injure you: [one of the most wonderful promises in the Bible] however, do not rejoice because the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice because your names have been written in the heaven.’ ” Luke 10:17–20.
Jesus said, “Do not be glad because you can work miracles. What you really need to be glad about is that your name is written in heaven.” You see, what your eternal destiny is makes all the difference.
As I have gone through the Bible, this is just one of the passages that talks about those whose names are written in the book of life. Another such text is Philippians 4:3 where Paul wrote: “And I entreat thee also, true yokefellow, help those women which laboured with me in the gospel, with Clement also, and [with] other my fellowlabourers, whose names [are] in the book of life.”
One of the important things that I have noticed is that the people written about in the Bible, whose names are written in heaven, are missionary workers. Do not ever forget that!
The Spirit of Christ is a missionary spirit. He left the throne of glory, laid aside His kingly robe, and laid down the scepter of absolute power. He laid aside His crown, and He came down to this world. Ellen White said, “Christ, at an infinite cost, by a painful process, mysterious to angels as well as to men, assumed humanity. Hiding His divinity, laying aside His glory, He was born a babe in Bethlehem.” The Upward Look, 90. It is a mystery that we will never fully comprehend, even in heaven!
In Luke 19:10, it says, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost.” The Spirit of Christ is the missionary spirit, and if we do not have the Spirit of Christ, we are none of His. (Romans 8:9.) We must never forget that.
If you have no burden on your soul for those that are lost, you had better start praying, because you do not have the Spirit of Christ. If you do not have the Spirit of Christ, you are not His; your name is not in the book. No one is written down in the books of heaven as a Christian who does not have a missionary spirit. (See Review and Herald, April 13, 1886.)
How do we get our names written in the book? “Therefore whoever shall confess Me before men, I also will confess him before My Father who is in the heavens. But whoever will deny Me before men, I also will deny him before My Father who is in the heavens.” Matthew 10:32, 33.
If you want your name to be written down, Jesus said, “You need to confess Me before men.” If you are living in the United States, and have lived in the United States all of your life, perhaps the full significance of that statement does not reach your mind, because you are living in a land where there is religious liberty, to the present time.
Peter denied Christ when Jesus was at His trial. Have you ever tried to figure out what in the world drove him to do that? It was fear; he was afraid. Millions of people, even today, are not confessing Christ because of fear. Sometimes these fears are quite justified. We have church members who, because they have confessed Christ and chosen to be His disciples, have been divorced by their spouses. Sometimes confessing Christ costs something. There are people who have been driven away from home because they have confessed Christ.
Cost of Confession
In thousands of cities in the Roman Empire, for 300 years after the days of Christ, when those in charge decided they wanted to get rid of the Christians, they would set up a heathen altar in the center of the city, put a fire on it, and place some incense off at the side. They would then require everybody in town to march past the altar, pick up some incense, and throw it onto the fire. As the people did this, they were to exclaim, “The Caesar is the Lord.”
This was done deliberately because the leaders knew that a Christian could not and would not say that. When a Christian would come by the altar, he or she would say, “Christ is Lord.” Then the Christian would be separated from the others and martyred. We will learn one day how many people were martyred because they would not deny the name of Christ.
Several years ago while I was in England, I was taken to Cardiff, Wales, where the remains of a Roman garrison have been made into a museum. An amphitheater was even there. The amphitheater was where the Romans played. That was where they had their sports, and the Romans had some very cruel sports. The Romans enjoyed watching leopards, lions, and other ferocious animals kill and eat human beings. That was part of their entertainment. One of the signs at the amphitheater recorded that, in 309 a.d., two Roman soldiers who had become Christians were killed.
When Jesus said, “If you confess Me before men, I will confess you in heaven,” that cost something. It has cost millions of people their temporal lives.
When you and I are willing to confess Jesus as our Lord and Saviour—that is what we do when we are baptized—then we are allowing Him to be the boss in our lives, and we are declaring that we will obey Him.
Jesus asked, in Luke 6:46, “Why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and you do not do what I say?”
We must confess Jesus as our Lord and as our Saviour from sin. Unless we are willing to maintain that confession, even if it costs us our lives, we are not yet converted. The Lord might allow us, just as He has allowed a number of other people, to come to a situation where we have to choose between whether we are going to confess Jesus and die or deny Jesus and live.
This was the experience of Peter. He denied Jesus so that he could live, but later on, as recorded in Acts 3, 4, and 5, he confessed Jesus boldly. He was beaten, but he declared, “We are still going to preach; as long as we have breath, we are going to preach.” (See Acts 5:42.)
A Spiritual Religion
Read Romans 10:8–13: “But what does it say? ‘The word is near to you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word which we preach) [quoting there from Deuteronomy]: Because if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus, and you believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart is belief unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession unto salvation. For the Scripture says, ‘Every one who believes on Him shall not be ashamed.’ For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek, for the same Lord is rich unto all who call upon Him. For ‘every one who calls upon His name shall be saved.’ ”
I love the Christian religion because it is the most spiritual of all religions. You do not become a Christian simply by going through a ritual or a ceremony. You become a Christian when, with your heart, your spirit, and your mind, you confess and say, “I choose for Jesus Christ to be the Lord of my life. He has promised to be my Saviour from sin.”
“If you make that choice,” the Lord says, “if you choose Me as your Lord and as your Saviour from sin, I am going to save you someday at the end of the millennium.”
One of the most wonderful promises in all of the Spirit of Prophecy is given at the end of The Great Controversy. Ellen White there tells what the devil is going to see. The devil is still fighting, but at the end, “He sees that his hellish plots have been powerless to destroy those who have put their trust in Jesus. As Satan looks upon his kingdom, the fruit of his toil, he sees only failure and ruin.” The Great Controversy, 669. He is going to see that all of his plots, all of his machinations, all of his temptations, all of his cruelties, all of his seductions, everything that he has put on the line to win the great controversy has been powerless to destroy one person who put his or her trust in Jesus.
If you have not already made the decision to surrender all to Him, I hope you make that decision today so that your name can be written in the book. If you have chosen Him as the Lord of your life and you trust Him to save you from the guilt and power of your sins, then your name is written in the book. Your name can be written in the book today, just like the thief on the cross. When confession is made, salvation is assured.
It is wonderful! I love to dwell upon this point; it is so wonderful because every single person could be saved. No one has to be one of the foolish virgins. Every single one of us could be saved.
After you make the decision to choose Jesus as your Lord and Saviour, there is something else you need to do.
Revelation 3:5 says, “Blessed is he who overcomes. He shall be clothed in white raiment and I will not blot his name out of the book of life.” This text implies that you could have your name blotted out of the book, but if you overcome, your name will not be blotted out. You will be given white raiment.
In Exodus 32:33, we read that the Lord told Moses, “The one who has sinned against Me is going to be blotted out of My book.” So, in addition to having your name written in the book of life, during the time of the judgment, your name must be retained in the book of life and not erased or blotted out. What can you do so that your name will be retained in the book of life and not blotted out?
Revelation 3:5 gives the answer to that question. If your name is going to be retained in the book of life, you must be an overcomer, a conqueror. There are three things you must overcome: (1) You have to overcome what the Bible calls the world. (See 1 John 5.) (2) You have to overcome the devil. (See James 4.) (3) You have to overcome the flesh, the sinful nature. (See Romans 6, 8; Galatians 5.) You have to overcome those three things.
After hearing Adventist preachers preach about those things, and then seeing their congregations become discouraged, saying, “What am I going to do?” I decided that I would not tell people to overcome, unless we had done a study on how to do it. I believe we all see from the Bible that we have to overcome if we are going to have our names retained in the book of life, but the question is, How?
The power to overcome, of course, comes from the Lord. You and I do not have power to overcome on our own. Only the Lord has power to overcome, and we must receive this power from the Lord if we are going to overcome. The Lord has plenty of power, and this is a great comfort to me.
Ellen White wrote that Jesus has made ample provision: “For all the natural weaknesses Jesus has made ample provision, that they may be overcome through His grace.” Testimonies on Sexual Behavior, Adultery, and Divorce, 91. [Emphasis added.]
“Christ was crucified to save the world. For his enemies, for a race in rebellion against God, our Saviour suffered the most excruciating agonies that human flesh could endure. He has made ample provision for sinners, that they need not perish. In the light of his death-agony on the cross, we may know that whosoever will truly repent and receive him as a personal Saviour will receive everlasting life.” Review and Herald, September 24, 1908. [Emphasis added .]
Do you know what the English word ample means? It means, “plenty.” It is not a situation where there is not quite enough; there is plenty. Jesus has ample power to save the person that is the most degraded, to save the person that is the most defiled, to save the person that is in the bottom of the pit of sin. Jesus has plenty of power.
Why, since He has plenty of power, is not everyone an overcomer? If there is plenty of power, why were there foolish virgins? Because the entire plan of salvation is a cooperative process. God is the only One that can make it happen, but God will not make it happen unless you and I cooperate.
[Bible texts quoted are literal translation.]
Pastor John Grosboll is Director of Steps to Life and pastors the Prairie Meadows Church in Wichita, Kansas. He may be contacted by e-mail at: email@example.com, or by telephone at: 316-788-5559.