Introduction Albu van Eeden
Dear friends, this is a wonderful day. We thank the Lord that each one of you can enjoy the day with us. It is a special day because we look forward to hearing what the Heavenly Bridegroom has on His heart for us. As a church we are in a period of betrothal, we are engaged to our Heavenly Bridegroom, and we want to hear what He says so that we can prepare ourselves for that great day when the marriage between Christ and His Church will take place. Christ will return, not for a pure bride only but for the one who has walked in His will, has heard His voice and obeyed His instructions. Are we holy and sanctified? Are we pure? Do we walk in the way of the Lord? Do we listen attentively and obey His voice? Today we have a fresh opportunity to listen to His voice and ensure that we know what is on His heart for us in the week ahead.
That is not the only reason why today is special - we also have an earthly demonstration that symbolises the engagement between Christ and His church. Two of God’s children, who have lived before us will get engaged today. Could Anja Joosten and Johan Claassen come forward.
Today is a special day for Anja. It would have been the 94th birthday celebration of her grandfather. Her grandmother is still with us, by God’s grace and she can celebrate this day with us. We thank the Lord for His divine hand in an event which no man orchestrated. Johan has lived before us for many years on the mission. He has lived an upright life. He did not look left or right but up to the Lord and remained faithful to what God told him to do.
Here is the ring which Johan is giving Anja as a symbol of their engagement. Through Johan giving this ring to Anja, he commits publicly to remain faithful until the marriage day. Anja, in accepting the ring, commits herself to be faithful and pure until the marriage day. I stand between them. They have not contacted each other by messaging or any other means. Johan prayed and sought the Lord’s will. The Lord spoke to him and he told Rev Stegen what was on his heart. Anja heard from God as to whether He confirmed what Johan felt God had said to him.
We do not tell people who to marry or who not to marry. If you make the wrong decision and others advised you to do so, those people will not need to live with the wrong decision for the rest of their lives. It must be a personal decision. This was Johan and Anja’s decision. They both had to hear from God what His will was.
The word betrothal is more appropriate if you look at the Hebrew way of doing things. In Hebrew, betrothal was the first stage of a two-stage marriage. The Hebrew word for an engagement means “sanctification”. It is not a matter of falling in love, having immoral thoughts, affairs and relationships but about sanctification. We are happy that you can experience this with us.
We thank the Lord that we can gather today. I am thankful to be at the engagement of Anja and Johan.
There was once a young man in this congregation who spoke about people who had got converted and had amazing testimonies. He lamented that he did not have such a testimony because he grew up in the gospel and had never got involved in the wrong things. Another young man felt like he almost needed to go into the world and ‘fetch’ a testimony for himself. My response was, ‘No, you have the greatest testimony because you are brand new. You are not a scrap. The Lord has kept you for years and you have not been touched by the world. Thank the Lord if you have not been influenced by the things of the world. Do not try out things for yourself.’ Anja and Johan you have a testimony greater than other testimonies. We know this man and this young woman. They have walked a straight way with God. To those who have gone wrong in life, do not throw in the towel, there is still hope and repentance for you. Jesus is waiting to start a new life within you. You know the road you have walked. If you have grown up in the gospel, do not for one moment desire the things that are outside, they are very challenging. People try to escape the things they have got into but cannot. Keep yourself pure. Maintain your love for Christ. Do not compare the love of Christ to the love of man.
The fact that the couple stood on either side of the preacher is one of the treasures we have been taught by the revival. There are people who look down on this and question it. These are treasures that should not be changed.
The fact that a young man and a woman got engaged is important. Two men did not get engaged nor two women. This is the Biblical way. We will not allow modern trends to take us off the track. It is not just about love – that is nonsense. It is quite clear that he is a man and she is a woman. Surgery cannot convert you into something other than what you were created. Stay what you are. God made you like that. If you are a male, remain a male. Remain where the Lord has put you and how He has created you.
Marriage did not start today. It started in ancient times. It is a God-created institution. Why follow things that are created by man? The world will make you insane. Engagement and marriage are between a male and female. This is not new. It has been there for ages.
The parents are happy and we are happy because these young people are acting in accordance with what the Bible teaches us. Parents, we should conduct ourselves in the right way. Many children are the way they are because of the influence of their parents. Parents, be careful of allowing your children to do things that are inappropriate. We have received a straight-forward gospel and we should not make it crooked.
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went to meet the bridegroom.2 Five of them were foolish, and five were wise. 3 For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, 4 but the wise took flasks of oil with their lamps. 5 As the bridegroom was delayed, they all became drowsy and slept. 6 But at midnight there was a cry, ‘Here is the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ 7 Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. 8 And the foolish said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ 9 But the wise answered, saying, ‘Since there will not be enough for us and for you, go rather to the dealers and buy for yourselves.’ 10 And while they were going to buy, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the marriage feast, and the door was shut. 11 Afterward the other virgins came also, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open to us.’ 12 But he answered, ‘Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.’ 13 Watch therefore, for you know neither the day nor the hour. Matthew 25:1-13
This parable explains heaven to us. This is the truth. These 10 girls were all virgins, but they were not all the same. This group represents the church - we are not all the same. There were 10 virgins but there were wise ones and foolish ones. What differentiated the groups from each other? They were all pure, but they were not all complete before God. God regards some people as wise and some as foolish. God looks deeper than man. We enter the church, and everything looks good, but God sees further than what man sees. Is the person wise or foolish? Is he righteous or not? You know that you are not where God wants you to be. It has been a while that you have felt that you are not where God wants you to be. Although you do what you should, yet you feel incomplete. You sing with the brethren but there is something missing. No one needs to decipher the feeling you experience. Judge yourself: whether you are walking on the right way or not. Ask the Lord why you are not walking on the right way? If the Lord reveals it to you, put it right.
The Lord Himself judges and says this person is wise and that one is foolish. He says I am not satisfied with that person. There are some people who satisfy God and some who do not. If you feel you are complete before God, pray that you do not deviate from that. Ask the Lord to help you not to become proud of your state, otherwise you will fall. If you are foolish, why do you remain so? If you feel that something has gone wrong, why do you remain quiet? You know that as a young man you should not be living in a particular way before God, why do you remain quiet? Put those things right today.
In 2 Corinthians, Paul says that he wants to present us to Christ as a pure virgin - people who are filled with the Holy Spirit. He wants to present you to Christ as a pure virgin after going through the dirty world. This was Paul’s great desire - to present a pure church to God in clean garments. When we stand before God one day, we must be dressed in white garments without any spot. There is no sin in heaven. Not like today, where everyone is on their way to heaven. The Bible clarifies that there are 2 roads, 2 destinations and no sin will enter heaven. God clarifies the way of the wise and the way of the foolish. The wise walk on the narrow road of humility and perseverance, trusting God’s way and not their own. Do not trust in yourself. Trust in the grace of our Lord Jesus lest the Lord one day calls you a fool.
Jesus clearly differentiates between the foolish and the wise. What was the reason for the foolishness of the virgins? There was something they should have had with them which they did not have. Brethren, you can carry your lamp, but it does not help if it is not burning. You can have the outward sign of being a Christian, but your lamp is not burning. You have grown up in the church, but you are not wise. It is good that we have young people in the church who do not flirt on cell phones. There is a problem in the church - young men may seem good, but you do not realise that rot has set in. They enter the church and leave it. Older men and fathers enter the church, but things are wrong in their lives that are not outwardly visible – they are drawn to prostitutes. They have the outward appearance of serving the Lord but lack the power. Fathers are not where they should be – with their families – no, they are soliciting women. They are busy with devilish things. They may appear good, they are in church, but they are actually elsewhere.
There were 10 virgins, but some were wise and some foolish. Why were there some foolish among the wise? You have your lamp but there is something missing. What would you say if this auditorium had all the lights but no electricity? If there is no power to give energy to the lights so that they shine, they are useless. There should be lamps but there must be oil. The foolish did not have oil. All the virgins were waiting – just like we are all waiting for the return of our Lord. He will come back. All eyes will see Him. We will all see him. When He comes, He will separate and say, ‘You can come, you can’t. This one is wise but that one is a fool. This one has what is required but this one not.’ Are you complete before Christ? Is the oil there? Is the Holy Spirit there? When He comes, He will separate between the wise and foolish. To the foolish, He will say, ‘I do not know you.’ Do not be deceived, the Lord loves us all, yes, but He does not love you so that you can continue in your sin. He loves to see a sinner return and ask Him to be saved. Are you wise or is there foolishness in you? What does your heart tell you today? Does your heart tell you that things are going well in your life? Judge for yourself. How are you walking? According to the will of the Lord or driven by your own lusts and flesh?
There is a price to be paid to live wholeheartedly. Johan, if you were a Zulu you would have to pay dowry for Anja because she has walked before us in purity. Girls who walk in purity cost a lot in Zulu culture. Zulus know there is a high price to be paid for such a girl. You need to pay every last cow - the full price. Maintain your purity, young people, because you are precious to your parents. Do not live your life in any old way. Do not sleep anywhere. Do not love just anyone. There are some people who love anything, anyone, even if it is a demon. They are driven by spirits. A girl who walks with the Lord, will seek the Lord’s will because she waits to hear the voice of God. (Strangely, for many people that is the first and the last time they hear the Lord speaking to them!) A young girl keeps herself pure because her body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. She seeks the will of God alone. This is the way a person lives who seeks God. How will you do it if you have never met God or done the will of God in your life? That is why we need to know what the love of Christ means to us and then we will know how to live and what to give Him.
You have a lamp, but do you have oil? A lamp without oil is worth nothing. If I am a child of God without oil, I need to find out what is missing in my life. It will not help if you visit here but you have not found what your soul seeks. Forget about others. Everyone comes with their own needs. Face your own needs. Face that which your parents are concerned about. Do not be distracted by other things.
We should not have the outward form of Christianity without the power. If it is like this, you will be like a ball that is kicked from pillar to post, like a ship without a compass. The ship may look good on the outside but there is no compass to tell the ship where to go and warn the ship about dangers or tell the ship to stop. There are people who are impatient. They cannot stop. They force themselves forward and bump their heads because they did not wait. We need to learn what it means to wait on God and walk in His will. What does it mean to obey God above anything else? If there is oil, you will understand this. There is no life or direction if there is no oil.
We all wait for the Lord to return but when He does, will He find faith? Is there faith in me? Do I put it in Jesus Christ, or do I go my own way using my own sight? You will bump yourself. If you do not have this oil, seek it. You know that you once had it. It was going well. Today? It has gone. Why are you silent? Why do you live in sin today? You no longer feel how you did in the past where you would not go to bed knowing there is sin in your life but now you remain silent even though you know that things are not right. Let it stop now. We should not have the lamp without light.
The fools asked the wise for oil, but they said no, otherwise they would have no oil themselves. ‘There was a time when we could help you but now, we cannot. We need to live with what we have so that when we meet Him, we will not be short of oil.’ How will you meet Him without a burning light? He is the king of light, and we need to have light. We must seek Him while the opportunity is there. If you come at the wrong time, you will be told that you are fool. There are times when the shop is open and you can purchase but there are times when the shop is closed and you will not be allowed to purchase. You should have bought oil when there was time to do so. You should have put things right when there was time to do so. Do not be busy with questions that do not build you up. Be busy with the things of God. Be sure that there is not only a lamp but also oil so that no matter at what hour He returns, there is a lamp and oil. If you are foolish, put your life right with God. Do it at the right time.
Conclusion Albu van Eeden
What does it mean to have a lamp full of oil? Jesus is your all. What does it mean to have a lamp that is half full? You have something of Jesus, but He is not your all. Anya and Johan, let Jesus mean everything to you during this time. Keep nothing for yourselves - your dreams, passions and the fire that burns in your hearts. If He is not your all, then something is wrong.