Bride, or Bridesmaids

In Matthew 25:1-13 we find Jesus’ parable of the ten virgins, a parable often referenced when talking about end-time events.  There seems to be differing views as to who the ten virgins represent, some believe they represent Christians while others believe they represent the bride’s bridesmaids.  On the surface the logical conclusion would be that they represent bridesmaids, mainly because there are ten of them as opposed to only one.  However, there are a couple things we need to consider that I believe shed more light on the subject.


To begin with, contrary to what some believe, we need to understand that these virgins represent Christians.  These virgins, all ten of them, were waiting and expecting the groom to return at some point, at which time they would leave with him.  Unbelievers are not waiting, much less expecting, Christ to return for them, and furthermore they do not recognize Him as their Lord.  The picture here clearly shows that these virgins are Christians, since only Christians are waiting and expecting Jesus to return, as well as identify Him as Lord.  Earlier today I heard a pastor on the radio refer to the five foolish virgins as being unbelievers, but based on what I just shared with you I believe that is an inaccurate interpretation of the text.


At face value it would seem odd, and very inappropriate, for the groom to be returning for more than one bride as this parable appears to indicate.  However, I am reminded of what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:12-27, in which he describes the body of Christ as one body made up of many members.  If many individuals make up the one body of Christ, and if the body of Christ is also the bride of Christ, then it would make sense that Jesus used ten virgins in this parable instead of only one.  In the context of what the Apostle Paul wrote in the above passage, then it is very reasonable to view the ten virgins as individual members of the one bride the groom is coming back for.  If, as I indicate, the ten virgins represent ten individuals making up the one bride the groom is coming back for, what does it then say of the five who were described as foolish?  I’ll touch on that later.


Another thing to consider as we look at who these ten virgins represent is found in Matthew 25:11.  In this passage the five foolish virgins attempt to enter in where the bride and groom are, but they are denied entrance.  In the days of Jesus and the Apostle Paul, the arrival of the bride to the house of the groom’s father started off a week of festivities that saw friends, family, and wedding guests freely coming and going as they wished.  This more than likely included the bridesmaids who were there to attend to the bride.  As such, then it would have been very unlikely and inappropriate for the groom to deny his bride’s bridesmaids entrance.  I’ve even heard that there have been times when the bridesmaids would be present in the room, available to attend to the bride as she needed, when the groom and his bride consummated their marriage.  Again, if this were the case, the bridesmaids would certainly have not been denied entrance in case the bride needed them.


The fact that the five foolish virgins were not only denied entrance, but also told by the groom that he did not know them, makes the case that these were Christians who were once included as the bride of Christ.  In Matthew 7:21-23, Jesus tells us that there will be many who will call Him Lord, after which they will remind Him of their impressive spiritual resume.  Jesus tells us that He will tell them, “I never knew you: depart from me, you who practice lawlessness”.  In essence, these people called Jesus their Lord, they had done many things in His name, but they apparently were not living in obedience to Jesus as referenced in His comment “you who practice lawlessness”.  They were living as unto themselves, or at least as they saw fit instead of submitting to His Lordship in their life.  Jesus’ comments to these people are basically the same thing the groom tells the five foolish virgins when they attempted to enter in, “assuredly, I say to you, I do not know you”.


All ten virgins were waiting for the groom to return.  All of them at some point fell asleep while waiting.  All of them woke up when they heard the midnight cry signaling the imminent return of the groom for them.  All of them began to trim their lamps when the midnight cry was sounded.  But, only five of them had enough oil to last until the groom returned, and they were then found to be foolish.  I do not believe the oil represents the Holy Spirit in this parable, simply because you don’t “buy and sell” the Holy Spirit.  I believe the oil in this parable represents how much a life of surrender and sacrifice for Jesus one has “paid”.  Jesus tells us in Luke 14:26-33 to count the “cost” of following Him, otherwise we can’t be His disciples.  Perhaps these five foolish virgins did not accurately count the “cost” of being the bride, and because of it they were not prepared when the midnight cry went out.  Have you counted the cost of following Jesus?  Have you been afraid to take a stand for Christ, and not just in words, but also in seeking to honor and please Him with your life no matter who you’re with or where you’re at?  Have the priorities in your life, and the choices and decisions you’ve made, represented a life set apart for Jesus and Him alone?  If not, now is the time to repent of that to Jesus, and to start putting Him first in every aspect of your life.  It does not mean you will be perfect and never sin, but if the attitudes and motivations of your heart seeks to honor Him first and foremost in all your ways, repenting and turning away from sin when you have sinned, then I believe His grace will cover the rest.


The midnight cry is, and has been in recent years, sounding the alarm that our Groom, Jesus, is set to return at any moment.  Now is not the time to be playing church.  Now is the time to make things right with Him, and to start living your life as unto Him in all your ways.  I pray that you will be one of the wise virgins represented in this parable, and not one of the foolish ones.  We’re told in Revelation 16:15 that people will see the shame of the foolish ones, those who got left behind because they were not watching for Christ’s return or keeping their garments clean and without spot, wrinkle or blemishes.


Be one of the wise ones!!!!!


John Johansson


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It Has Arrived

A new book I just finished has now been released.  A Glory Filled Future; Understanding end-time events and the marriage connection, is now available in both paperback and ebook.  In this book I focus on one of the keys God has given us to better understand end-time events as they specifically relate to followers of Christ.


Get your paperback or ebook copy today at,


There is A Glory Filled Future awaiting followers of Christ.  Are you looking forward to it?

Rapture – Part 6

Well, this is the sixth and final installment of the rapture series.  In the previous installments we briefly covered how scripture supports the rapture teaching, the differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ, the seven feasts of God, and the harvest cycles.  In this blog I want to present to you what I believe is one of the strongest Biblical pictures of a pre-tribulation rapture, and that is found in the ancient Jewish wedding.


A lot of times when we read of marriage in the Bible we tend to view them through filters based on the American culture.  When we do that, we end up missing what it is that God is trying to reveal to us in Scripture, especially when it comes to our relationship with Christ.  There is little resemblance between the wedding process of ancient Jews and what we practice here in America.  When we view our relationship with Christ in the context of marriage, we rarely see that it is also a picture of end-time events and the fulfillment of Biblical end-time prophecy.  When we realize this, it begins to really open up our understanding of what is in store for the Church and how the last days will take place.


To begin with, the Apostle Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that we are betrothed to Christ.  Betrothed is different than the western practice of being engaged to be married to another.  The practice of being engaged to be married is pretty much a commitment only as strong as the weakest commitment between the two getting married.  With betrothal, the two parties are considered married civilly, legally, relationally, and religiously, even though the marriage has yet to be consummated.  Unlike engagements that can be terminated simply by one of the two parties indicating they are backing out of it, the only way to break a betrothal is through divorce or death.  When Joseph learned of Mary’s pregnancy, he was planning on putting her away privately until an angel appeared to him, Matthew 1:18-25.  Even though they had not yet consummated the marriage, what Joseph was planning on doing was to give Mary a letter of divorce, ending the betrothal stage and the marriage.


In Ephesians 5:22-33 the Apostle Paul gives us some instructions regarding marriage, and in that portion of Scripture he likens marriage between a man and a woman to that of Christ and the Church.  The relationship between Christ and the Church is a marriage relationship, and in it we find clues that point to the rapture of the Church and other end-time Biblical prophecies.  Let’s take a look at some of these.


In the ancient Jewish wedding, it was initiated with the groom choosing his bride.  We see that in John 15:16 and in Ephesians 1:4 where Jesus chose us first.  If the groom’s father approved of his selection, then the groom would approach who he wanted with what is called a ketuba.  The ketuba was a proposed contract of sorts that the groom would present to the anticipated bride, one that would stipulate both what would he would commit to, and what was expected of her, in their relationship.  For the Christian, the Bible is our ketuba.  After approaching the prospective bride, if the bride consented to his proposal they would then take the necessary steps to contractually enter into marriage with each other, which often times included both of them drinking from the same cup.


After the new bride and groom enter into this marriage with each other, before they ever consummate the marriage, the groom would leave to go to his father’s house to prepare a place for his new bride.  We see this in our relationship with Jesus in John 14:1-2, where He tells us that He is going to His Father’s house to prepare a place for us.  When the groom left to go prepare a place for his bride, this period of time was usually around 12 months long, but the groom didn’t know how long as that was to be determined by his father.  Speaking of His return for the Church, His Bride, Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 that He doesn’t even know when that will take place, but only the Father knows.


While the groom was gone preparing a place for his new bride, the bride was set apart for him alone, and she was to present herself to others as someone’s wife.  During this period of time, the betrothal stage, the bride was considered married to her groom legally, civilly, and religiously.  Anything on her part that could be viewed as being unfaithful or uncommitted to her groom drew very serious consequences.  This was a period of time that she was expected to prepare herself for her groom and his return for her, being ever watchful for him not knowing when he would return.  Throughout the New Testament we read of how we are to grow up and mature in Him, how we are to find our identity in Him alone, and how that we are to live a life pleasing and honoring to Him as we prepare ourselves for His return.  Furthermore, Jesus tells us in Matthew 24:43 and Matthew 25:13, that we are to be watching for His return, not knowing when that will be.


In our relationship with Christ, we are in the betrothal stage.  Contrary to popular opinion, our marriage to Christ has not been finalized yet, and it won’t be until after we are raptured up to meet Him in the air.  Paul makes it clear in 2 Corinthians 11:2 that we are betrothed to Jesus.  If our marriage to Him has been completed already, then he wouldn’t tell us we are betrothed to Jesus.  This is an important fact to remember.  Many people believe that once they enter into a saving relationship with Christ, their relationship with Him is complete and final, and that they are guaranteed a ticket to be a part of the rapture when it takes place.  Having this mindset is contradictory to what we see in Scripture, especially in the parables and teachings of Jesus that tell us that many who call themselves Christians will not be raptured up or enter into Heaven with Christ for eternity.  However, when we view our relationship with Jesus through the eyes of the ancient Jewish wedding, we can clearly see how that is.  When the groom returned for his bride and found that she wasn’t faithful to him, or that her affections were elsewhere, or even that she hadn’t prepared for him like she was supposed to, he would give her a letter of divorce and leave without her.  This is what Joseph planned to do with Mary when he heard that she was pregnant, but an angel intervened and told him not to put her away as he was planning to do.  When Jesus returns, if He finds that we’ve been unfaithful to Him, or that our affections are elsewhere, or that we hadn’t prepared ourselves for His return as we ought, He will also give us a letter of divorce and leave us behind.  A scary and very sobering thought to consider.


When the groom returns and finds his bride watching and ready for him, he would then take her back to his father’s house where they would then consummate the marriage.  This would mark the beginning of a week full of festivities attended by family and friends of the family, a period of time that was usually seven to 10 days long.  This period of time coincides prophetically with the tribulation period.  At what is known as the “Lord’s Supper”, Jesus tells us in Matthew 26:26-29 and in Mark 14:24-25 that after that time He would not again drink of the vine until He drinks it with us in His Father’s Kingdom.  Jesus was having the Passover meal with His disciples, and in understanding the Passover meal and the four cups they would drink from, we can know that they drank from the third cup of four cups.  They do not drink from the fourth cup, waiting for Elijah to return and drink from it announcing the arrival of the Messiah.  That fourth and last cup of the Passover meal has a unique name to it, the Cup of Consummation.  That will be the cup that Jesus and His Bride will drink from after the rapture of the Church, consummating the marriage between Jesus and the Church.  This is all happening during the tribulation period.


When the wedding festivities conclude seven to 10 days later, the bride and groom return to be seen publicly as husband and wife, and the groom will have a year where he does no work or go to war so he can focus his time and attention on his new bride.  In regards to Jesus and the Church, His Bride, we see this in Revelation 19:11-14 when Jesus returns with His Bride, the armies of Heaven.  It is at this time that the millennial, 1,000-year reign of Christ begins.


As you can see, the parallels between the ancient Jewish wedding and Christ’s relationship to the Church, as well as Biblical end-time events, are amazing.  Jesus is coming for a Bride without spot or wrinkle (Ephesians 5:25-27), and it’s up to the Bride to make sure her garments are clean and pressed for Him.  Jesus gave us His robe of righteousness when we accepted Him as our Lord and Savior, but it is up to us to keep that robe clean and free from sin and the marks of this world. If we don’t, then we risk getting a “letter of divorce” from Jesus and left behind.  In the midst of John recording what he was seeing with the judgments in the book of Revelation, Jesus pops in for a quick commercial to emphasize this important point.  In Revelation 16:15, Jesus tells us “Behold, I am coming as a thief. Blessed is he who watches, and keeps his garments, lest he walk naked and they see his shame” (NKJV).  If we miss the rapture, we lose our robe of righteousness that He gave us, and Jesus doesn’t want that to happen to us.  Are your garments spotted with sin, especially sin that you choose to continue in?  Jesus isn’t pulling any punches.  He wants us to be watching for Him with robes ready and prepared for Him.


Are you ready for Him?  If not, then this is the time to do so!  You can’t wait until a better time to prepare for Him, or to get sin out of your life.  Don’t allow your robes of righteousness to remain blemished and spotted from the world!  Jesus is coming back, and by all indications much, much sooner than most care to believe.  Don’t be caught off guard and unprepared!


John Johansson (Pastor John)

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Tick Tock

Things are sure pointing to the imminent, not soon, return of Christ for His bride. On July 3, 2015 one of the top Jewish rabbi’s in Israel, Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky, made an amazing proclamation. I don’t know if this has ever happened before in Israel’s history, especially since 1948, but this leading and highly recognized rabbi announced, as a result of his studies and current events, the imminent arrival of the messiah. With this announcement he has also made a call to Jews all around the world to return to Israel in preparation of this event, noting that it would add to the glory of the messiah if all the Jews were there when he came. He’s even told some Jews visiting Israel to not even go back to where they came from believing the messiah’s arrival is imminent.


It has also been reported that everything needed for the rebuilding of the third temple and the implementation of the temple sacrifices has been completed, and that various groups and governmental agencies have recently begun working together to see this come to pass. There has risen recently an excitement among Jews that the messiah’s arrival is imminent and that they are to make all the necessary preparations for that time.


When Rabbi Chaim Kanievsky has been asked about the timing of the messiah’s arrival, he has emphatically and consistently indicated it would be after the end of this sabbatical year. When is the end of this sabbatical year? On the Gregorian calendar it would be Saturday, September 12, 2015, ironically the day before Rosh Hashanah. So, where does all this leave us?


To begin with, the messiah the Jews are currently looking for is not Jesus, but we know from Bible end-time prophecies that the Jews will initially embrace the anti-Christ as messiah, someone that scripture also tells us will not be revealed until after the rapture of the Church. While it is true that we do not know when Jesus will return for His bride, there is significant reason to believe it will be on Rosh Hashanah, whether it’s this year or not we don’t know. Rosh Hashanah, one of the seven feasts God instituted and commanded the Israelites to observe, represents the rapture, or the catching up of the bride of Christ. Also, of those seven feasts, Jesus and the birth of the church fulfilled the first four on the exact day of the feast, and the next feast to be fulfilled is Rosh Hashanah. Whether or not Jesus will return on Rosh Hashanah of this year is yet to be known, but there are a lot of things pointing to major changes to life as we know it coming this September. It would be one thing if it were only Christians believing something was on the horizon within the next two or three months, but even those who do not profess to be Christians or even believe in God are believing life as we know it will change globally in September, some even forecasting a major financial meltdown in the United States during that time.


The signs of the end times are not only seen all around us, but they are screaming out to us of Jesus’ imminent return. Things are happening at such an increasing rate and intensity that more and more Christians are beginning to call out to Jesus to come quickly, but sadly only a small percentage of them. In the last book of the Bible, a book that was written about 60 years after the ascension of Christ, we read in Revelation 22:12-17 that the Spirit and the bride say “Come!”. How many of you are calling out to Jesus to come, and to come quickly?


I remember growing up and people talking about how the time was 11:59pm on Gods prophetic timetable, and that Gabriel was putting the trumpet to his lips. Well, I think the time on Gods timetable is now 11:59:50pm, and Gabriel is now taking a deep breath getting ready to blow that trumpet. The times we live in are such that it would be very hard to argue that we’re not in the last days, and that the worst days of mankind are right around the corner.


This is not the time to be non-chalant about our walk with Christ. Instead, this is the time to make sure we are actively preparing ourselves for His return. Is our life centered around Jesus and honoring Him in all we say and do? Are we motivated to please Him with our life, or to please ourselves and others? Do we find reasons to justify sin in our life instead of removing it, rationalizing it one way or another looking for perceived “loopholes” in the scriptures? Do we love Him enough to follow His commands even when we don’t like or understand them, or do we embrace the view that we are somehow exempt from them as though we’re not accountable to Him anymore? Your answer to any of these questions can indicate whether or not you are prepared for His return. Some think that all Christians will be raptured up, but scripture plainly tells that this is not the case. Jesus made it very clear to us that we are to prepare for His return, and He even commanded us to “watch!” for His return and not be caught off guard. Are you?????


John Johansson

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A Regret Best Avoided

It’s often times been noted that those on their deathbed would indicate a regret or two over their past life.  Either they regretted not spending more time with their family, being more loving to those close to them, or having wished they had or had not said or done something differently.  As a result of these remarks by those on their deathbed many have tried one way or another to encourage others on ways they can avoid having such regrets.


These deathbed regrets are not limited to just those on their deathbed, but also extends to those close to them.  These regrets often times sound similar to those who are dying, but instead of viewing things from the perspective of a life about to end, they view things from the perspective of losing someone dear to them and having to continue in life knowing this with no opportunity to do things differently in that specific relationship.


Regrets are not fun to tangle with, either to deal with your own or to help others with theirs.  We know that with Christ we can have both forgiveness of the things we regret and freedom from them, but until we take that knowledge and embrace it in experience it can be very burdensome to have.  While some have been able to find forgiveness and healing in these areas through Christ, for many the weight of such regrets is too much to bear any relief from and become entombed within them never experiencing what Christ can give if they would surrender them to Him, and still others will attempt to ignore them and try living life in spite of them.


As I think about deathbed regrets and what they mean to those who are left to continue through life carrying them, my mind begins to think of a time soon coming where many will come face-to-face with similar regrets they will have to carry for the rest of their life.  Even though it would be great for us to live a life absent of any regrets when it comes time for us or someone we love to leave this life, these will pale in comparison to the one many will face sometime very soon.  What is this great regret I’m referring to, and why would it be so great that others would pale in comparison?


There is coming a time very soon where Jesus will return for His Bride, those who have given their lives to follow Him no matter the cost.  We know this event as the rapture of the Church.  It is clear in scripture that not everyone who calls themselves a Christian or goes to church will be called up to be with Christ forevermore, and I can imagine the regrets many of those left behind will have moments after they realize what had happened and that they are still here.  For some they may not understand at the time why they were left behind, but for others they will know exactly why.  They will know why based on the many times that the Holy Spirit had tried to get their attention in the past regarding an area or two in their life, areas they ignored citing various reasons to justify why they could continue as they had been thinking these things would not keep them out of heaven.  It is for these people that they will feel one of the greatest regrets of all, regrets of not heeding the voice and leading of the Holy Spirit or of the Godly, Holy Spirit inspired instruction of others.  They will regret having ignored these promptings or instructions, and they will find themselves having to deal with such regrets for the rest of their life as life as we know it will no longer exist after this event called the rapture.


What are some of the regrets “Christians” who have been left behind will have?   They could possibly have regrets for not being forgiving or for being critical and judgmental of others.  Perhaps they could have regrets over not spending more time in prayer or the Word, or even being more involved in church.  Others may be regretful that they allowed their time to be more consumed with TV, games, surfing the internet or Facebook.  For others it could be because they made going to the gym, working on hobbies and projects, or going to the lake a greater priority than their time with Jesus and His people.  It could be for a variety of reasons that I’m not even mentioning, but nonetheless there will be many who will have such regrets when that time comes.  The question each of us have to ask ourselves, and not just once, is if there is anything or anyone that is interfering with what God is asking and requiring of us to do?  These things may not be wrong in and of themselves, but if we ignore God’s promptings as we justify hanging onto them they could become the very source of such regrets experienced if we were to be left behind.  We need to periodically take a close and honest look at ourselves and ask if there is anything we would hang onto even if Christ asked us to let go of it.  On the surface, much like an addict who claims they can stop whenever they want, we can say we would have no problem giving something up if God were to ask us to, but we need to really take a serious look and see if there is anything that has a strong enough hold on us that would keep us from following God and being obedient to Him.  These regrets, regrets for not having done things differently to ensure our place among those called up in the rapture, will be much greater than any regrets we can potentially have otherwise.


Regrets for things that keep us from going up in the rapture, these are the regrets best avoided, and at this point we still have a chance to prepare ourselves to avoid having such regrets.  How about you?  Are you living your life for Christ in such a way that when the time comes you won’t have any such regrets to endure?

It’s In The Oil

I know I’ve written about the parable of the ten virgins located in Matthew 25:1-13 in previous blogs, but today I want to focus on a particular aspect of this parable. Just as a reminder, this parable speaks of ten virgins, five who were foolish and five who were wise.  The setting, or the picture you can say, comes from the wedding customs of the ancient Jews.  In this setting, the bride and groom have already entered into a marriage contract with each other, and before the consummation of this process the groom leaves the bride to prepare a place for her.  During this time they don’t have any contact with each other.  While the groom is away at his father’s house preparing a place for his bride, the bride is identified and set apart as one who is spoken for and already married, and her time is to be spent preparing herself with diligence for her groom, not knowing when he will return for her.  While it is the groom’s responsibility to prepare a place for his bride, the bride’s responsibility is to diligently prepare herself for him by the time he returns for her.  During this time she is to be watching with anticipation for her grooms return, and this is because she knows that if he finds her not watching with anticipation, he will return to his father’s house without her and will subsequently give her a letter of divorcement.  It is a shameful thing for a bride to get left behind because she wasn’t watching for her grooms return, but if she is found watching the groom will take her back to his father’s house where they will finally consummate their marriage.


In this parable, the virgins represent Christians, those who have entered into a saving relationship with Christ. Just as these virgins are waiting for the return of the groom, even so we are waiting for the return of our groom, Jesus.  At midnight the cry is sounded indicating the imminent return of the groom, and for us as Christians the cry of Christ’s return for us has been sounding through the explosive rate in which end-time Bible prophecy has been getting fulfilled right before our eyes.  As the virgins awoke from the sounding cry announcing the return of the bridegroom, even so we need to awaken to the cry of our grooms soon and imminent return for us, His bride.  When the virgins awoke to the cry, they immediately began to make final preparations for the grooms return.  So, seeing the fulfillment of end-times Bible prophecy indicating Jesus’ imminent return, are we making final preparations for Him?


When the virgins awoke they began to check and to trim their lamps, and it wasn’t until this point in the parable that it became evident who were wise and who were foolish. Those who were foolish were identified by their lack of oil, and when they asked the wise for some of theirs they were told to go to those who sell to buy their own.  It was during this time that the bridegroom returned and took the wise back to his father’s house, and when the foolish returned they were denied entrance to the wedding.  What does the oil represent in the life of a Christian, and how does one obtain it?


Over the years I have heard two arguments as to what the oil represents, but I want to propose a third argument of what it represents. Based on the fact that the Holy Spirit is sometimes represented in scripture as oil, some have argued that the oil in this parable also represents the Holy Spirit.  The problem I have with this argument is that we cannot buy the Holy Spirit.  In Acts 8:9-25, we have someone that tried to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit, and he was rebuked for it by the Apostles.  The second argument is that the oil represents ones works, and while I do believe there is some basis for this view I do disagree with that one.  Our salvation is not a result of works, but scripture does point to works resulting from and because of our salvation and relationship with Christ.  Some would argue that we are free from having to do any works because of the grace by which we are saved, but this isn’t so.  In Philippians 2:12-13, we are told by the Apostle Paul to “work out our own salvation with fear and trembling”, and that we are “to do” for His good pleasure.  In other instances of Paul’s writing’s, when he mentions “fear and trembling”, it is connected to obedience which implies works on our part.  In James 2:14-26, James the brother of Jesus tells us that faith without works is dead, and that our faith is made perfect by our works.  Okay, I got onto a bit of a rabbit trail with that, but I do not believe the oil entirely represents our works.


The third argument I would like to suggest for what the oil represents is based on the comments of the wise virgins to the foolish, specifically that they were to go and buy from those who sell. As was mentioned previously, you can’t buy and sell the Holy Spirit, so what does this mean?  I realize this is a parable, but I believe Jesus is trying to tell us something with that statement.  In fact, does Jesus make any reference anywhere else about buying or costs?  Yes, He does in fact.  In Luke 14:25-33, Jesus talks about the cost of following Him.  In this passage He talks of one seeking to build and that a wise builder counts whether or not he has enough to finish building, and in the same way talks of a king seeking to go to war and that a good king will count the cost of whether or not he has enough to win the war.  Jesus goes on to say we need to count the cost of following Him, and that anything less than totally surrendering to Him and dying to self is not enough.  While some may argue there is no cost in following Jesus, Jesus makes it very clear that there is a very significant cost to following after Him.  The cost He is requiring of us is a New Testament version of the first commandment of the Old Testament, to love the Lord our God with all our strength, mind, heart and soul.  Where the Old Testament laws focused on words and actions, the two New Testament commandments Jesus gave us in Matthew 22:34-40 not only encapsulated the ten into two, but also enhanced them by focusing on the heart and our motivations and attitudes.  Jesus’ teachings reinforced by the rest of the New Testament writings, requires us to check our heart condition by the motivations, attitudes, and priorities of our heart.  To follow after Jesus and to be His disciples requires us to die to self, to deny ourselves and carry our cross to follow Him.  To do so means we place our goals, our agendas, our selfish desires, our likes and dislikes, our successes and failures, our friends and family, and even our reputations on the cross and let Him live through us.  The Apostle Paul tells us in Galatians 2:20 that we need to die to self so that Christ will live through us.


So, I believe the oil in this parable represents the cost of following Christ, and how much or how little we paid that price. This would also explain why it was it took the foolish virgin’s time to acquire more oil as this is something that takes time.  It isn’t based on our words but on our priorities and the actions or works we do that reflect them.  So, it’s in the oil.  Is our life one where we’ve been paying the price of following Him, or did our relationship with Him start correctly at the time we said “I do” to Him only to fade as we allowed the cares of life, the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, or the pride of life to take precedence in our life.  Depending on the translation of the Bible you use, either the foolish virgins lamps had already gone out, or they were in the process of going out.  In either case, they didn’t have enough oil to keep their lamps burning and were in dire need of getting more oil.


In this parable, the five foolish virgins got more oil, missed the grooms return and went to the groom’s house, but the door was shut and they were denied entrance. The parable doesn’t indicate what happened to them beyond their being denied entrance, but one thing for sure is that they were no longer the bride.  In regards to the rapture of the church, the bride of Christ, there will be some who are left behind and no longer considered the bride.  In Luke 14:29, Jesus said the builder who didn’t have enough to finish would be mocked by those who see it, and in Revelation 16:15 Jesus tells us in the midst of the judgments that those who had not watched and kept their garments (of righteousness) would be seen naked and ashamed.  I don’t know about you, but I have no intentions of being left behind to be seen as naked and ashamed.


Where does it leave those who weren’t prepared for Jesus’ return and was left behind? In previous blogs I have written about the seven feasts God established to show us His plan of redemption for all mankind.  The first four have already been fulfilled with three remaining.  The next feast to be fulfilled is the Feast of Trumpets, also known as Rosh Hashanah.  This feast represents what we know to be the rapture of the church, where as the Jews understand it is when God separates the wholly righteous from the wholly unrighteous and those in between.  It is the period of time between this feast and the following feast called Yom Kippur that we have an idea of what awaits those who don’t go up in the rapture.  The dispensation of grace ends with the rapture of the bride, Rosh Hashanah, and afterwards people will solidify their eternal destination based on their works.  Either they will do works that will reinforce their desire to spend eternity in heaven, or they will do works that will reinforce their decision to reject God and His only begotten Son, Jesus.  If this understanding is accurate, then those who are left behind will have to prove by their works that they desire to spend eternity in Heaven, even if it means giving their own life for the sake of Jesus.  They might not enter Heaven as the bride of Christ, but they could possibly enter as the friend of the bride and groom.


So, it’s in the oil. Do you have enough oil to last until He returns, or should you go and buy some more?  I hope you have enough, and I hope you are watching for Christ’s return.  I also encourage you to read the words of Jesus found in the first three chapters of the Book of Revelation, words that Jesus gave the Apostle John about 60 years after His ascension, words that each of us who take on the name of Christian must heed and take seriously and to heart.  Again, it’s in the oil.

“Yes, But God Understands …”

“Yes, but God understands …”   I can’t count how many times I’ve heard someone say that to me or to someone else.  Every time I hear someone say that something inside me just cringes.  Let me explain.

Have you ever talked with someone who admitted to sin in their life, though they may call it a “vice”, only to follow it up by saying “but God understands”?  Some who I’ve talked with over the years, people who consider themselves to be good people, have acknowledged a sin or “one vice” in their lives with no plans on giving that up on the premise that God will understand.  Understand what?  They have the mindset that because they are for the most part good people that God will understand if they keep that one sin, “vice” or bad habit in their life.  You know, I believe God will understand, but I don’t think it is as they think He will.  Let’s take a look at a couple other instances where people may make comments about God understanding them before we see exactly what God understands.

Another instance that I’ve heard people comment on God understanding them is in regards to Church attendance, or the lack of it.  I’ve heard people say that the reason they didn’t go was because they needed to run their boat to keep it in good working order, and that God would understand.  Some have said something to that effect regarding a sporting or other special event, a hobby or form of recreation, or even because their too tired or worn out to go because of their schedule.   Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying it is necessarily a sin to not go to church, but the sin could be found in the reasons and motivations we have for not going.  When someone mentions or explains why they are not going and follows it up with “but God understands”, for me that raises some red flags.  How about you?

The last instance I will mention that I’ve heard this phrase used, and I’m sure you can think of many others, is in the area of tithing.  I’ve heard many people explain that while they believe tithing is important, they will go even further and say God will understand if they don’t tithe.  These are classic “yes, but God understands” moments.  While they may say tithing is important, they will go so far as to say “but God will understand” if you need to put food on the table or pay some bills.  It sounds right and noble, and while this may feel right does that mean it is right?  Yes, I do believe God understands the predicaments we may find ourselves in from time to time, but I also believe He understands it in ways that we don’t give much thought to.

So, when someone states “yes, but God understands”, what does God understand?  Does He understand as they think He does, or is He thinking something different?  One underlying thread seems to be at the core of these statements, that being we value ourselves and our opinions more importantly than we do God and His word, and that there is an expectation God will understand and “bend” things to our way of thinking.  That is a scary place to be in if I may say so.  It’s a high-risk gamble of sorts.

When we’re talking of sin in our life, sin that we really have no plans on giving up, and explain that God understands we are saying something to God.  Our assumption is that since God knows we are humans in sinful flesh living in a sinful world, He will understand if our lives are tainted by “one or two” sins or “vices”.  After all, God can’t possibly think or expect us to live holy and perfect lives?  He’ll understand.  Oh, He understands.  He understands that the sacrifice He made through His Son and the indwelling of His Holy Spirit in your life to help you be victorious over sin is of lesser value to you than the sin you’re hanging onto.

When we’re talking about our reasons for not being faithful to the House of God, only to say that “God will understand”, we’re assuming for whatever reason that corporate worship and sharing of the Word with fellow brothers and sisters of Christ is not that important to God.   We also assume that Gods desire for us to have fun and “enjoy life” is of greater importance to Him than the 2 or more hours assembling together with the brethren on a Sunday.  God understands.  He understands that His instructions through the Apostle Paul to not neglect the times that the brethren assemble together, especially when we see the day of His appearing coming closer, are being ignored and not heeded.  God wants us to have life and have it more abundantly, but if our pursuits of ‘enjoying life’ conflict with Him, His will and His rightful place in our lives, which includes heeding His instructions, then it’s possible He’s been replaced by another ‘god’ in our lives called ‘life’.

And finally, when we try to say that God will understand when we don’t pay the tithes, we’re assuming that He understands our situation and will cut us some slack.  After all, surely He would want us to pay our bills and especially keep food on the table, right?  Well, of course he wants us to pay our bills and to keep food on the table, but not with what is rightfully His.  He makes it very clear that we rob Him when we don’t pay our tithes, and nowhere does he produce a list of allowed exceptions to that.  There are some who argue that God no longer expects us to give Him tithes, but their arguments for that are weak and not scripturally sound.  I’ve seen how some have twisted scripture for the purposes of trying to justify not paying tithes, and that just show where their heart is.  For example, some argue against giving tithes based on the recorded account of Jesus in regards to the temple tax.  Well, that doesn’t hold any weight when one realizes that the temple tax was entirely different than the tithe.  People were required to pay a fixed amount each year towards the temple and the various activities and maintenance required of the temple.  Tithes were not a fixed amount, but were a percentage of the first fruits each person was required to pay God.  Have you ever noticed how tithes and offerings are referred to?  When referring to tithes, we are to bring and to pay the tithe, but for offerings we give it as an offering.  Did you see that?  There is a difference in possession.  When referring to tithes, we bring it to Him because it is His from the start, but when referring to offerings they are something we give in addition to the tithe because it is ours (the remaining 90%) to give.  So, when we refuse to pay tithes, or we come up with a reason for not giving it, we are not only robbing God from what is actually His, but we are also saying we don’t trust Him to take care of us and have a prideful thinking that we can do it on our own.  We wouldn’t have what we have if it wasn’t for Him.  God understands that when we take and use what is rightfully His instead of giving it to Him in His storehouse (the local church we should be a part of) we have also in some respects made it an idol or used it for something that is an idol in our lives.

So, when someone says “yes, but God understands”, we need to try and understand it from Gods perspective and not our own, or theirs.  What does God say in His word?  Are we putting words in Gods mouth, or are we saying God didn’t really say or mean what He said?  We need to be very careful with this.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that God is not compassionate or understanding, because He is, but sometimes we use the fact that He is as an excuse to allow or justify decisions or mindsets that are clearly contradictory to Him and what His word says for us.  If that’s been you, I encourage you to re-evaluate yourself and make whatever adjustments to your mindsets and way of thinking to come into alignment with God and His word.  Time is short and He’ll be here for His bride very soon.  Don’t delay.

Ready or Not, Here He Comes!

For years I have been concerned about the current state of the Church in general, specifically the church in the USA.  As we see Bible end time prophesy unfolding before our very eyes, we would be hardpressed to think that Jesus’ return is not immiment or even close at hand, yet the church in general seems to be more caught up with life in general, both the good and the bad.  I sometimes wonder what it’s going to take before the church rises from it’s apathy and realizes the urgency of our times, but I also remember scripture that tells us the majority of those who call themselves Christians will not be ready for His return.  I hear people say that things have to get a lot worse before Christ returns, but is that true?  Or is that only true when it comes to Christ’s return at the end of the tribulation period?  The stage is being set for His return for His bride, and we need to make sure we are ready for Him.

I also hear people talk of a great revival that supposedly takes place before Christ returns for His bride, but I would have to disagree with that line of thought.  Yes, we are told that in the last days the Spirit of God will be poured out on all flesh, but I have two thoughts regarding this.  The first thought is what if what the church has been experiencing the past 60+ years with the Charismatic and Pentecostal movements is a fulfillment of that prophesy?  After all, if we were to take a step back and take a look at the past 60+ years we can see each of the items listed in that prophesy taking place like never before in history on all flesh.  Now, before you jump and tell me it is something more than what we’ve been experiencing, I want to remind you that when Jesus came the people did not recognize Him as the messiah because they had it determined within themselves how His appearing would happen.  Jesus did not fit the mold that they had conjured up in their minds, but that didn’t change the truth and the reality of things that He is who He says He is.  So, in like thinking we need to be careful not to quickly discount what the church has experienced the past 60+ years simply because it doesn’t look like what we think it should.  The second thought I have regarding this revival that some talk about is that it could possibly be a revival among those who get left behind after the rapture.  We know that there will be martyrs for the faith during the tribulation period, and oddly enough America is supposedly not mentioned in Bible prophesy for these last days, so I can’t help but wonder if the revival many talk about is actually going to take place after the rapture.  If that is the case, then it would appear to line up with other prophesy that indicate the falling away of many from the faith leading up to Christ’s return for His bride.  Instead of making sure they are ready for Christ when He comes for His bride, it appears that many are banking on more time because things are either not bad enough, or because there will be a great revival to come first, and both of those mindsets are very dangerous as many will be caught and left unaware.

This is not the time to be playing Russian roulette with your eternity, thinking you have more time because things aren’t bad enough or hanging out for the great revival to come.  What if He comes before these events, then what?  To follow Jesus after the rapture will be much, much harder and will require each person to literally give their lives for Christ, and if you’re not willing or able to do that now then what makes you think you will be able to then?

Don’t be deceived!!!!  He’s coming back as a thief while people are busy enjoying life and it’s many pleasures.  When He comes He will see who it is that has their affections first and foremost on Him and His return, because if they don’t then they will get left behind.  Did you know that according to ancient Jewish customs, not only did the bride not know when her groom was coming for her, but if when he did he found that her affections were not on him but on another or something else, or if she hadn’t been taking advantage of the time to prepare herself for him, then he could just as easily leave her behind and issue her a letter of divorcement?  You see, our marriage to Jesus, much like the ancient Jewish marriage customs, is not final and complete until after He’s come for us and has taken us to the marriage feast which takes place during the tribulation period.  We have to be watching and praying that we will be ready when He returns for His bride, otherwise we will be counted among the foolish virgins Jesus refered to in His parable of the 10 virgins.

So, I say all that to say, BE WATCHING AND GET YOURSELF READY FOR HIM!!  You eternity hinges on it!

John Johansson

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