UPDATE!! – Robert Wilkin responds to: “Book Review: Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment [Chapter One]“
Howdy Readers, I am pleased to say that Robert Wilkin, one of the contributing authors of Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment, stopped by the website and was kind enough to respond to a few of the questions I had in a previous post about his theological position. To be specific, his treatment of the “Parable of the Ten Virgins.” Below is the Scripture, just click on the toggle bar:
”The“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. 2 Five of them were foolish and five were wise. 3 The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. 4 The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. 5 The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
6 “At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
7 “Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. 8 The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
9 “‘No,’ they replied, ‘there may not be enough for both us and you. Instead, go to those who sell oil and buy some for yourselves.’
10 “But while they were on their way to buy the oil, the bridegroom arrived. The virgins who were ready went in with him to the wedding banquet. And the door was shut.
11 “Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
12 “But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
13 “Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
Here was the questions I raised in the previous post:
- You have hung your hat on the fact that any “saving” that is going on in these passages is merely physical salvation.
- The “midnight cry” is the mid-point of the Tribulation and not the Rapture?
- Also, that Christ saying, “I never knew you” is analogous to missing out on a virginal torch dance? Is it just me, or does this try and de-fang the real bite of the passage? To me, if my Lord and Savior barred the door on me and said He did not recognize me… I would be sweating bullets, not bummed that I didn’t get to “party.”
Here is his response in order:
- Neither sozo (save) or soteria (salvation) occur in the Parable of the Ten Virgins or in Matthew 25 (or 24:45-51). I suppose when you speak of “saving” (in quotes) you are referring to Matt 25:11-12 where the 5 foolish virgins say, “Lord, lord, open to us!” and He responds, “I do not know you.” I do not see that as salvation of any kind, but if I did, I would not see it as physical salvation. The issue here is not physical survival or escaping a temporal difficulty. The issue is related to the kingdom. In my view the issue is not entering the kingdom, but being chosen for a position of honor in the kingdom.
- I do take it that the midnight cry refers to the abomination of desolation which will occur at the mid-point of the Tribulation. However, my interpretation does not depend on that. This could be some event which occurs before the end of the age, that is, before the Second Coming. (If the midnight cry is the Rapture, as you seem to suggest, then all 10 virgins would be gone in the Rapture and the parable would not make any sense.)
- Clearly the 5 virgins had been slated to take part in the torch dance. So if your view is correct and participation in that dance signifies getting into the kingdom, then these 5 virgins lost everlasting life. They clearly had it before. They had been chosen to take part. They each had been given a torch. They each had enough oil for their torches to burn for a short time. I do not know if you are an Arminian or a Calvinist. If you are an Arminian, then the interpretation you suggest works well with your theology (though not with John 3:16 and many other texts). They lost everlasting life. But if you do not believe that ever-lasting life can be lost (John 3:16; 6:35; 11:26), then your view is puzzling. What did the 5 foolish virgins have before the midnight cry? What do the torches represent? What is the issue with the fact that they do not have enough oil to keep their torches burning? Why are they to buy more oil? I too would be sweating bullets if my Lord and Savior barred me from special service. See 2 Cor 5:9-11 and “the fear of the Lord.” See 1 Cor 9:27 and “lest I myself be disqualified [better = disapproved].” If Paul feared disapproval before his Lord and Savior, surely we should too. But disapproval is not the same as being barred from the kingdom and sent to the lake of fire.
- Whatever view you take of the 10 virgins, the 5 foolish virgins are foolish and they miss out on something very important. But to say that what they miss out on is the kingdom is a stretch in my view. If that is what the Lord meant why not simply say, as he did, by the way, in Matt 7:21-23, that they shall not enter the Kingdom of Heaven? We don’t find that here. And why doesn’t He say, “I never knew you” (Oudepote egnon humas) as He did in Matt 7:23? In Matt 25:12 He says, “I do not know you” (ouk oida humas). Why the difference?
- How do we harmonize Matt 7:21-23 where the problem is that those excluded from the kingdom are pointing to their works rather than faith in Christ as the reason why they think should get into the kingdom (v 22) and Matt 25:1-13 if the latter supposedly says that the works of the 5 wise virgins are the reason they get they into the kingdom and the lack of works for the five foolish virgins is the reason they don’t get in. Wouldn’t these two parables contradict one another if that view of Matt 25:1-13 is correct?
- All 10 of these young women are called virgins. It would be odd to call unbelievers virgins.
- All 10 virgins are given a torch and a task to do. Do unbelievers receive spiritual gifts and get tasks to do?
- All 10 virgins believe in the Lord and believe He is coming again soon. Do unbelievers believe in the Lord Jesus Christ and believe that He is coming again soon?
- If this is an evangelistic parable, then what lesson do we learn? Would it not be that we need to develop sufficient spiritual reserves (the extra oil needed) so that we are able to be worthy to get into the kingdom on the basis of our works?
- If this is an evangelistic parable, where is faith in Christ mentioned or alluded to? Where is the gift of salvation mentioned? Where is everlasting life mentioned? Where is unbelief mentioned? Where is eternal condemnation mentioned? The lake of fire? Eternal condemnation?
- What would this parable mean in terms of assurance of everlasting life if it is teaching that we must persevere in faith and good works until death in order to get into the kingdom? Would it not make assurance impossible? Wouldn’t we all, to use your expression “be sweating bullets” each and every day of our lives? If kingdom entrance is based on our perseverance in good works, then assurance is impossible since the Apostle Paul himself said in inspired Scripture that he was not sure he would persevere (1 Cor 9:27).
- How do we harmonize Matt 25:1-13 with John 3;16; 4:10; 5:24, 39-40; 6:28-29; 11:25-27; Rom 4:4-5; Eph 2:8-9; Titus 3:5; and Rev 22:17? If the condition of everlasting life is merely believing in Jesus, then that is the condition and Matt 25:1-13 can’t contradict that. If the consequence of believing is everlasting life that can never be lost, then that is the consequence and Matt 25:1-13 can’t contradict that.
- If you are not yet comfortable seeing Matt 25:1-13 as a sanctification passage, as a call to believers to persevere in faith and good works for eternal rewards, then why not simply say, “I know from John 3:16 and Eph 2:8-9 that the sole condition of everlasting life is believing in Jesus and that my works have nothing to do with my eternal destiny. I don’t know what Matt 25:1-13 means. But I know it does not contradict John 3:16 and Eph 2:8-9”?
He summarizes with this final thought:
What drives me in Biblical interpretation is harmonization with the clear passages (i.e., the analogy of faith). If John 20:28 clearly establishes the deity of Christ, for example, then John 1:1 cannot be saying that Jesus is “a god” or “a God.” If John 6:35 and 11:25-26 proves eternal security, then Heb 6:4-8 cannot be saying that everlasting life can be lost. If John 3:16 says that “whoever believes in Him…has everlasting life,” then no other text can be saying that some of those who believe in Him will be eternally condemned due to insufficient good works. If God’s Word is without error, and it is, then it does not contradict itself on any point of doctrine, including eternal security for whoever believes in Jesus for everlasting life.
I hope this is helpful. If you readers want more information, they can go to our website at www.faithalone.org and look under “Free Resources” in the bar at the top. We have thousands of free magazine and journal articles, as well as free audio.
~end rebuttal by Robert Wilkin~
My many thanks to Robert for stopping by and sharing his thoughts. The process to mature unity (and understanding) in the Body of Christ can be a slow, sometimes painful, road. But that is not the case today. One thing I appreciate about Robert is that is his argument is from Scripture and from logic – not from emotion. And while I can disagree with some of his conclusions, I cannot disagree with how he conducts himself as a scholar.
I will take some time next post to give my thoughts on his rebuttal, so make sure to stop by then and let’s keep the conversation going. If you have not already done so, go and pick up the book Four Views on the Role of Works at the Final Judgment, it is a great read.