The Boy Scout motto is: “Be Prepared”. This is certainly good advice and advice that many take to heart concerning many realms of life. People make special efforts in life to prepare for their retirement years. People prepare for the unexpected in many areas by purchasing insurance to cover them in times of difficulty. Education is a form of preparedness, that of preparing for the financial means of caring for oneself and one’s family during life. On and on the list could go. However, the realm of greatest need for preparedness is that of the spiritual realm, preparing for eternity. It has been said that heaven is a prepared place for a prepared people. The prophet Amos said to Israel, “Prepare to meet thy God O Israel” (Amos 4:12). Just prior to His appointment with the cross, Jesus said to His apostles, “I go to prepare a place for you” (John 14:2). Let us consider three things about preparation.
First, consider the need for preparation. In the parable of the talents (Matt. 25:14-30) our Lord taught concerning the need for preparing. The lord in the parable had given talents to three individuals. They each knew that one day there would be a reckoning; they would have to face their lord with the results of that which had been put in their control. Let it be understood that each was given according to their ability (verse 15). God does not expect anything of us that we are not capable of doing. When the time of reckoning came, the first two had prepared for that day by trading with them and growing that which was originally given to them. They were praised for their good work and given a reward. It is the third man that best shows the need for preparation. He is not condemned for what he did, but for what he did not do. He failed to prepare for the day of reckoning. It is required of a man that he be obedient to the commands of God so as to be prepared for the day of reckoning when all shall “appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad” (II Cor. 5:10). The Lord said of the man who did nothing, “Thou wicked and slothful servant” (verse 26). That servant was “cast into outer darkness” (verse 30).
Secondly, consider that one must make the proper preparation. One who prepares for winter cold by servicing their air conditioner has made the wrong preparation. Jesus also instructs us concerning making the proper preparation when He said, “Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? And in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity” (Matt. 7:22-23). In this passage, those Jesus speaks of are condemned for both what they did and what they didn’t do. They were actively involved, but not according to God’s way. Paul said of his fellow Jews, “For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. For they being ignorant of God’s righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God” (Rom. 10:1-3). These people were zealous. They were active. But, they were not doing God’s things in God’s way. Jesus said, “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 7:21).
Thirdly, from the parable of the ten virgins (Matt. 25:1-13) we learn that we must make adequate preparation. Partial preparation is insufficient. There were ten virgins, five wise and five foolish. The difference between the wise and the foolish is that the foolish did not make adequate preparation. They had done some of what was needed, but they stopped short of being prepared for the bridegroom’s arrival. The end result was that those who had made adequate preparation entered in to the marriage and the door was shut. When the foolish who tried to finish with their preparation after it was too late appeared, they were told, “I know you not” (verse 12). King Saul was a good example of this same kind of conduct. He was told to go and destroy all the Amalekites and their flocks (I Sam. 15:1-3). He did go to Amalek and smote them (I Sam. 15:7). However, he brought back some of the sheep and oxen. His failure to do all that was required of him resulted in God rejecting him (I Sam. 15:23).
One day the Lord will return. God has “appointed a day, in the which he will judge the world in righteousness by that man whom he hath ordained” (Acts 17:31). Those unprepared or improperly prepared or inadequately prepared will not be allowed to enter into the gates of heaven. There is no excuse that will be accepted; there will be no court of appeals and there will be no extra time given to finish the preparation. The question for each of us is, are we prepared? (Send any questions or comments to: [email protected])
Robert Oliver is a long time columnist for The Sampson Independent.