The Bridegroom is coming.

Have you ever taken a “spiritual gifts test”? They have become quite popular in many churches. Basically, it’s a test where you answer numerous questions about your attitudes, beliefs and behaviors. At the end of the test, you are told what your main spiritual gifts are, thus helping you to know how to better serve the church you are in. I guess since I’m a curious person I’ve taken this test several times, each time in a different church or denomination. Since I’ve moved many times in my life and lived in many places, I’ve been everything from a Pentecostal to a Southern Baptist. That’s quite a range of different beliefs. Since I’ve taken the test numerous times, I began to notice an interesting phenomenon: My gifts changed according to the church I was attending at the time. At first this confused me, because I was pretty sure what my gifts are. I thought perhaps I was mistaken in what I felt God was calling me to do. But then when it kept happening, I saw a pattern. Please understand that I’m not trying to suggest that these tests are bad. They are not. But I do want to suggest that you take them with a pinch of salt. 

So what was the pattern I saw? The questions and therefore the different gifts were slanted towards the beliefs and doctrines of the particular denomination or even church that I was attending. For example, one church we attended, although they believed in the 5 fold ministry gifts and claimed to be Pentecostal, had taken every single question out of their test that related to prophecy. How did I know? Two reasons. I was familiar with the test they were using and they had been sloppy. Every question related to prophecy, although the number was there, was left blank. They couldn’t change the number because that would have changed the outcome of the test results, so they simply deleted the question. When I pointed this out to the woman who was leading the church growth class, she appeared shocked. They had a prophet as their leader and I guess there wasn’t room for any other prophets. Another church we attended had a pastor who also didn’t like the prophetic gifts. It was a charismatic church by the way. When he saw my results, which were slanted towards the prophetic, he told me point blank that those gifts were not needed at his church. I should have walked out right then and there, but I didn’t. Another church we attended simply changed the test so completely, that they made up their own version. Their questions focused only on certain gifts talked about in Romans 12:4-8, namely Shepherd, Exhorter, Teacher, Giver, etc. The gifts discussed in 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 which deal with the spirit realm, such as word of wisdom, word of knowledge, discerning of spirits, faith, speaking in various tongues, were conveniently left out of their test. These people were leaving nothing to chance.

So what is my point? Why am I sharing my observations? I am sharing this because the church is asleep and needs to wake up. Paul tells us plainly in 1 Corinthians 12:15-21 that each of the gifts represent different parts of the body of Christ. He tells us that the eye cannot say to the hand that it’s not needed. Nor can the head say to the feet, I have no need of you. But that is exactly what the churches have done. They don’t like certain gifts. They don’t like gifts that see, or hear, or perceive what’s going on, and so they silence them. It is now the hands and the feet that are telling the eyes and the ears, we have no need of you, be quiet. Consequently, the church is fast asleep! No one is able to call out sin, no one is able to correct or admonish people. No one is able to say, “this is what the Spirit is saying to the churches” because we don’t believe in “ears that hear” or “eyes that see”. If anyone tries to use those unwanted gifts, they are called critical and unkind. 

How do I know that the church is asleep. Because Jesus tells us so in Matthew 25:1-13 in the parable of the ten virgins. Jesus shares this parable right after telling His disciples about end time events and what would happen before His second coming. The Greek word used here is “tote” which translates as “at that time”. At the time of the end, the call will go out that the Bridegroom (Jesus) is coming. I’ve been hearing this since the day I became a Christian back in the 1970’s. He’s coming back soon, has been the clarion call for decades now. But then life happened, and I, like everyone else in the church, fell back asleep. Not that long ago, the Lord woke me up. He told me He’s coming soon. He told me to look up, that my redemption draws near. And He also told me that He still has things He wants me to write before He comes to get us. I’ve been pondering on this parable for days now and I noticed something I had missed in the past. Matthew 25:5-7 tell us “But while the bridegroom was delayed, they all slumbered and slept. “And at midnight a cry was heard: ‘Behold, the bridegroom is coming; go out to meet him!’ Then all those virgins arose and trimmed their lamps.” Did you see it? All 10 virgins arose, all of them woke up! Every single one of them. I also noticed that the cry came at midnight. It came at the last minute, when it was already too late. The 5 foolish virgins did not have enough oil and while they were busy getting it together, Jesus came and they were left behind. Do you see why it’s important for the church to wake up now, before it’s too late? 

If there were eyes that were allowed to see in the church, if there were ears that could hear and warn the church, perhaps more could be saved. Yes, I said saved. Jesus tells the 5 foolish virgins, left behind, “I do not know you”, verse 12. Maybe I’m a dreamer. Maybe I think that my feeble voice can make a difference. Only God knows. But I do know this. Someone in that parable was shouting, get up, get ready, be ready, He’s coming back. If you’re awake, if you see Him coming on the horizon, use your gifts. Warn people. Don’t let the leaders silence you. Don’t let a test silence you!

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