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!

  1. Ten Virgins

    1. 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.)

      1. What is different about them? (Half of them bring
        extra oil. Half of them are called “foolish” and half
        are called “wise.”)

    2. Read Matthew 25:5-8. Why are half the virgins called
      “foolish?” (Because they did not bring enough oil.)

      1. 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?

    3. Read Matthew 25:9. What if they had spent the time
      discussing the moral issue of sharing resources. Might
      that have avoided the problem?

    4. Read Matthew 25:10-13. Why doesn’t the doorkeeper know the
      foolish five?

      1. 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
        “midnight cry.”)

      2. If “keeping watch” is not literally being alert, what
        does it mean? (It has to mean being prepared with
        enough oil.)

    5. 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.)

    6. Read John 16:7-11. Who is this “Counselor?” (He is the
      Holy Spirit.)

      1. 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.)

      2. How important is having unity on the issue of the
        Holy Spirit? (It is an essential belief.)

      3. 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?

        1. 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?

  2. High Priest

    1. 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.)

    2. 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.)

    3. Read Hebrews 10:19-22. What does this say about the
      “curtain?” (It calls it Jesus’ “body.”)

    4. 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

    5. 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?

      1. 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

  3. Sabbath

    1. Read Genesis 2:1-4. What does the Sabbath memorialize?
      (God’s work as our Creator.)

    2. Read Exodus 20:8-11. What does this reminder to keep the
      Sabbath memorialize? (God’s work as our Creator.)

    3. 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

      1. 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.)

    4. When you consider the meaning of the Sabbath, what it
      memorializes, is this a point of faith on which Christians
      should have unity?

      1. 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.)

  4. Jesus

    1. 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?

    2. Read Acts 4:8-11. What does this say about Jesus? (That
      God raised Him from the dead.)

    3. 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

    4. Let’s go back and read the verse I skipped: Acts 4:12. How
      important is it to understand and agree on this point?

      1. 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.)

    5. 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

  5. Next week: “The Most Convincing Proof.”