Introduction: When I think about those who are currently my close
friends in and outside the church, their views are very similar to
mine. However close our agreement, in each case there is also at
least one area of disagreement. An exception is my wife, and even
with her I can think of a topic on which we might disagree, but, of
course, I would have the wrong opinion. Sometimes we do not realize
the extent of disagreement with friends because we only have
superficial discussions. This past weekend, a friend of mine was
greatly surprised by my views and I was surprised by his. The
discussion made me feel bad and consider whether we should have stuck
to superficial subjects. The old saying is that “iron sharpens
iron.” Isn’t disagreement helpful in shaping your thought? Or, should
we avoid discussing areas of disagreement? Let’s jump into our study
and see if the Bible sheds any light on this issue!
- Ten Virgins
- Read Matthew 25:1-4. Tell me about the points of
similarity in the ten? (They all have the same mission.
They share an identity. They rely on the same equipment
and the same source of energy.)
- What is different about them? (Half of them bring
extra oil. Half of them are called “foolish” and half
are called “wise.”)
- Read Matthew 25:5-8. Why are half the virgins called
“foolish?” (Because they did not bring enough oil.)
- We are told that the ten were waiting and sleeping.
What if they spent the time debating the appropriate
amount of oil to carry? If they had not been unified
in waiting and sleeping, but instead had been
debating the proper oil reserves, might this problem
have been avoided?
- Read Matthew 25:9. What if they had spent the time
discussing the moral issue of sharing resources. Might
that have avoided the problem?
- Read Matthew 25:10-13. Why doesn’t the doorkeeper know the
- When the doorkeeper says that the required attitude
is to “keep watch,” did that describe the wise five?
(They all “became drowsy and fell asleep.” No one
kept watch, they were all similarly awakened by the
- If “keeping watch” is not literally being alert, what
does it mean? (It has to mean being prepared with
- Since this is a parable, tell me what you think the oil
represents? (I think most would say it is the Holy Spirit
or possibly grace.)
- Read John 16:7-11. Who is this “Counselor?” (He is the
- How important is it to have the Holy Spirit? How
about having “extra” Holy Spirit? (Based on the
parable of the virgins, if this is a description of
the role of the Holy Spirit, having God’s Spirit is
essential to salvation.)
- How important is having unity on the issue of the
Holy Spirit? (It is an essential belief.)
- Once again, should the ten virgins have spent their
time in a debate on the Holy Spirit and risked the
unity of drowsiness and sleep?
- If you answer, “yes,” does that mean that unity
is not always the highest goal? Or, does it
mean that you sometimes need to go through a
debate to get to unity?
- High Priest
- Read Hebrews 8:1-2 and compare Matthew 27:50-53. What
temple curtain is referred to in Matthew 27:51? (Read
Hebrews 6:19-20. These texts show us that at Jesus’
crucifixion the temple curtain separating the holy from
the most holy compartments was torn in two. We know that
Jesus entered the “inner sanctuary” (the most holy place)
on our behalf as our High Priest.)
- Read Hebrews 8:5. What do we know about the temple on
earth? (Moses was told to pattern the wilderness sanctuary
after the design of the temple in heaven. This same
design was used in the Jewish temple of Jesus’ day.)
- Read Hebrews 10:19-22. What does this say about the
“curtain?” (It calls it Jesus’ “body.”)
- Look again at Hebrews 6:19-20 and Hebrews 8:1-2. What is
the essential truth revealed in Hebrews? (The sacrifices
in the Jewish temple were the way to remove sin. The early
temple with its sacrifices symbolized what Jesus would be
doing in the future on our behalf. Jesus has fulfilled
that symbolism. The veil that separated the holy from the
most holy place was eliminated at the cross. The physical
veil in the earthly temple was torn, as Jesus’ body was
torn. This is the gospel message, that Jesus’ sacrifice on
our behalf gives us access to the presence of God. Jesus
is our High Priest who appears for us in the most holy
- Not all Christians agree on the timing – when it was that
Jesus began His ministry in heaven as our High Priest. Is
this an essential point on which unity is important? If
yes, why? If not, what is the essential point for unity?
- In the story of the Ten Virgins, was timing an
important point? (If you understood the timing you
would be better prepared. But, none of the ten got
the timing right. Instead, the most important part
was having extra oil – the presence of the Holy
- Read Genesis 2:1-4. What does the Sabbath memorialize?
(God’s work as our Creator.)
- Read Exodus 20:8-11. What does this reminder to keep the
Sabbath memorialize? (God’s work as our Creator.)
- Read Matthew 27:58-64, Matthew 28:1-3, and Matthew 28:5-6.
I had you read these verses because they make specific
reference to the various days. What day was Jesus
crucified, and what day did He rise from the grave to
life? (He was crucified on Friday and rose to life on
- Why did Jesus rest in the grave on Saturday? (The
Bible does not say this specifically, but the logic
is that Jesus celebrated His victory over sin. He
had not only created humans, but He has now rescued
them from eternal death.)
- When you consider the meaning of the Sabbath, what it
memorializes, is this a point of faith on which Christians
should have unity?
- Is this like our earlier discussion about timing?
Timing is a detail, the agreement of Christians
should be on the substance? (This cannot be reduced
to a debatable point, because the express command is
about timing. “God blessed the seventh day and made
it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of
creating that He had done.” Genesis 2:3.)
- Read Acts 4:5-7. Why would the Jewish leaders ask this
question? Didn’t they know the answer already? Isn’t this
the perfect question for Peter to explain the gospel?
- Read Acts 4:8-11. What does this say about Jesus? (That
God raised Him from the dead.)
- Read Acts 4:13-14. What does this suggest about the reason
why the Jewish leaders asked the question that they did?
(They thought the disciples would be intimidated by them.
Notice that Acts 4:8 says that Peter was “filled with the
Holy Spirit.” The Jewish leaders got more than they
- Let’s go back and read the verse I skipped: Acts 4:12. How
important is it to understand and agree on this point?
- When we talk about points of faith on which we must
have unity, where does this rank? (It is the most
important point. If we do not agree on this, then we
do not agree on the plan of salvation. We have left
the most important point to last, because all of our
faith should be built on this truth.)
- Friend, do you agree on all of the points we have
discussed? If you don’t agree, decide whether you should
have a serious discussion, or rely on a unity that comes
from superficial relationships. Ask the Holy Spirit to
guide you in determining what issues demand a serious
- Next week: “The Most Convincing Proof.”