"But the wise took
oil in their vessels with their lamps."
Oil for the Virginsí
"The oil is a symbol of the Holy Spirit."
Spirit of God a knowledge of His word is of no avail. The theory of
truth, unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit, cannot quicken the soul or
sanctify the heart. One may be familiar with the commands and promises
of the Bible; but unless the Spirit of God sets the truth home, the
character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the
Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they
will fall under the masterful temptations of Satan." óChristís
Object Lessons, pages 407, 408,
The parable Christ told
of the wise and the foolish virgins is undoubtedly one of the best-known
lessons in Scripture. There are few Bible students who do not know of
the plight of the five foolish virgins who went out to meet the
bridegroom, taking no extra supply of oil with their lamps; and of the
lamps that dimmed out, causing them to miss joining the wedding
procession while they went in frantic search of a fresh supply of oil.
Since this is one of
the "kingdom of heaven" parables used by Christ in His public
teaching, we will do well to comprehend the import of this object lesson
of the Master. A woman in prophetic symbolism refers to a church.
Jeremiah 6:2. The character of the woman described determines whether
the church so designated be true to her Lord or an apostate. Revelation
12:1; 17:3-6. The virgins of Matthew 25 depict the church awaiting the
return of Christ, the antitypical Bridegroom. 2 Corinthians 11:2;
Revelation 19:8. This is a church that espouses pure doctrine. Their
avowed virginity indicates their freedom from false doctrine. Revelation
14:4. They are Adventists in that they are expecting Christís imminent
return, they are commandment keepers, and there is no defilement from
human or pagan tradition. As much as it is humanly possible to separate
from worldliness and man-made substitutes for Bible truths, these have
done so. So far as they know, they are ready to meet Christ and are
confidently awaiting His coming.
But His coming is
delayed, and all of them, wise and foolish alike, go to sleep. The
difference between the two classes cannot be seen up to this point. All
have left the world behind, all expect the return of Christ, all
publicly testify to their belief in His return by going out to meet Him.
All have carried with them their lamps, and all ten lamps are lighted as
they set forth.
The difference becomes
apparent only after their sudden awakening at the cry, "Behold, the
Bridegroom cometh." Because of the prolonged delay which none of
them had expected, all ten lamps have burned low. Faced with the sudden
call to meet the One whom they were awaiting, all arise and begin to
trim their lamps. Now the difference between the two classes is evident.
Only five of the number have an extra supply of oil to take care of
These lamps have long
been identified as the word of God, the Holy Bible revered by all ten as
needful preparation to meet the Bridegroom. Psalm 119:105. The obvious
difference between the wise and the foolish ones lies in the extra
supply of oil with which the former are provided. This invaluable
possession is recognized as symbolic of the Holy Spirit.
"The two classes
of watchers represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for
their Lord. They are called virgins because they profess a pure faith.
By the lamps is represented the word of God. Ö The oil is a symbol of
the Holy Spirit."óChristís Object Lessons, pages 406,
earnestly beseech God to send them the outpouring of His Holy Spirit to
prepare them for the coming of Christ. But are they prepared to receive
that for which they ask? Or do the majority of Christians today stand
squarely in the way of Godís answering such pleas?
This symbolic oil, so
necessary for a readiness to go home to the Fatherís house with Christ
(John 14:2, 3), must have reference to something more than the
conviction of sin (John 16:8), for they have already come out from the
world and professed a pure faith. It is more than the guidance into Godís
truth (verse 13) for they all carry lamps to light the pathway ahead. It
goes beyond revelation of future events, because, they all expect the
return of Christ as Bridegroom. All these promised functions of the Holy
Spirit represent the early rain, symbolic of the needed
preparation of soil for germination of seed. All the virgins have had
this experience and profited by it. Yet five of them lack a vital
quality necessary to prepare them to go in to the marriage feast with
the Bridegroom and His bride.
Apparently all ten of
the virgins believe in the Third Person of the Godhead. The teaching of
the Bible concerning the Holy Spirit has not been a stumbling block to
them. Then it must be the work of the Holy Spirit in their
individual lives that is lacking. They have heard, they have believed,
they have acted on their convictions. They have taken a public stand for
the Bible truths brought home to them by the Spiritís power, but they
have not followed through with the character development needed to
prepare them for entrance into eternal living.
"By implanting in
their hearts the principles of His word, the Holy Spirit develops in men
the attributes of God. The light of His gloryóHis characteróis to
shine forth in His followers. Thus they are to glorify God, to lighten
the path to the Bridegroomís home, to the city of God, to the marriage
supper of the Lamb."óChristís
Object Lessons, page 414.
implication is that apparently they are totally unaware of this lack in
their needful preparation. They have been associating daily with those
who are supplied with the oil, yet have noticed no discrepancy between
themselves and their companions. Indeed, they have come to the final
stage of their preparation not knowing that they are unready to meet
their Lord and Master. Yet we read in Scripture that one of the first
duties of the Holy Spirit is to convict of sin. John 16:8. We are taught
that no Christian need fear that he will fall short of the goal, with no
remaining time for preparation, since it is the work of our Divine Guide
to warn us "if in anything ye be otherwise minded."
There must have been a
factor in the lives of the five foolish virgins which dulled their
perceptions so that the promised warnings of the Holy Spirit failed to
reach them. Surely it leaves little room for complacency when we realize
how very nearly these foolish five qualified for eternal life. They were
almost there, and yet they are left standing outside the shut door.
Foolish indeed! To have sacrificed so much of what the world counts
dear, and still not have made room enough for a sufficient supply of oil
to see them through!
"Saddest of all
words that ever fell on mortal ear are those words of doom, ĎI know
you not.í The fellowship of the Spirit, which you have slighted, could
alone make you one with the joyous throng at the marriage feast. In that
scene you could not participate. Its light would fall on blinded eyes,
its melody on deaf ears. Its love and joy could awake no chord of
gladness in the world-benumbed heart. You are shut out from heaven by
your own unfitness for its companionship."óChristís
Object Lessons, page 413.
There is a clue to
their trouble in the quotation from Christís Object Lessons at
the head of this chapter. "Unless the Spirit of God sets the truth
home, the character will not be transformed." This evidently
refers to the higher education which the Spirit makes available to those
learning in the school of Christ, since all ten virgins give evidence
that they are not beginners. The Spirit of God has long since made them
Sabbath-keepers, taught them to look forward to Christís return, and
brought them out of the world. Isnít this enough to furnish a soul
with eternal security? Apparently not.
The truths of the Bible
have evidently been "set home" for all ten of the virgins; but
the next step in their developmentócharacter transformationóhas not
yet taken place sufficiently to warrant recognition from the Bridegroom.
And what is it that should make such recognition a foregone conclusion,
but a likeness to Himself and to His Father and ours? Is not this the
solution to the problemóthe finishing work of the Holy Spirit on
"The last rays of
merciful light, the last message of mercy to he given to the world, is a
revelation of His character of love. The children of God are to manifest
His glory. In their own life and character they are to reveal what the
grace of God has done for them."óibid., pp. 415, 416.
The apostle Paul, in
writing his letter to the church in Galatia, describes the development
of just such a character in chapter 5:22, 23. It begins with love,
the pure, unselfish variety that stems only from the Fountainhead of
loveóGod Himself. The effect of such a quality flooding the starved
life creates such an out-pouring element in the life that the result is
pure joy. The Christian who has awakened to this more abundant life
knows the delight of just being alive, even though he can recall no
special reason for such an emotion. With pettiness, jealousy, and
animosity washed from his soul he is at last at peace with
himself and the world.
Because not all of his
associates reach this state of blessedness at the same time he does, he
learns to develop long-suffering, to hold his tongue against the
sharp report or the irritating remark that seems called for on occasion.
Next in line comes the gentleness with which he learns to deal
with his family and friends as the Spirit teaches him to understand why
they react as they so often do to his new-found faith. No longer does he
need to hold back the rising temper nor bite off the caustic remark.
These have melted away in the sunshine of Godís revealed love upon his
own unworthy life.
which is but godliness or godlikeness, is the next stage in the
development of a character like Christís. It is the natural step to
follow when the preceding ones have been taken in order. Faith,
which is otherwise translated as trustworthiness or steadfastness,
follows surely, with meekness or humility the next to the last
stage in the fruitage of the Spirit in human lives. The last stage is temperance,
or self-control. Only when self is completely surrendered to God can
such control be maintained. Therefore, a perfectly well-balanced life is
the life which is God-controlled.
For further commentary
on the sanctified life read: "But the wisdom that is from above is
first pure, then peaceable, gentle, and easy to be entreated, full of
mercy and good fruits, without partiality, and without hypocrisy. And
the fruit of righteousness is sown in peace of them that make
peace." James 3:17, 18.
Yet another inspired
writer counsels on the steps by which this sanctified experience is
obtained: "Add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge;
and to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and
to patience godliness; and to godliness brotherly kindness;
and to brotherly kindness charity." 2 Peter 1:5-7. Peter
adds, in verse 10, "For if ye do these things, ye shall never
are easily recognizable as Christlike. The Bridegroom would have
recognized the five foolish virgins as being related to His Father had
they come demonstrating such heavenly qualities as those outlined by
Paul, James, and Peter. Can it be, then, that these represent the oil
that was in too short supply to see them into the kingdom? And are not
these qualities the natural result of utter surrender of the will to the
guidance and molding of the Spirit of God? Righteousness which is by
faith admits of none of these qualities as inherent, but makes way for
their being built into the character by the Comforter who is to
"teach you all things." John 14:26. Have we not been urged as
a people to seek more perfect understanding of the meaning of
righteousness by faith?
"The religion of
Christ means more than the forgiveness of sin; it means taking away our
sins, and filling the vacuum with the graces of the Holy Spirit. It
means divine illumination, rejoicing in God. It means a heart emptied of
self and blessed with the abiding presence of Christ. When Christ reigns
in the soul, there is purity, freedom from sin. The glory, the fullness,
the completeness of the gospel plan is fulfilled in the life. The
acceptance of the Saviour brings a glow of perfect peace, perfect love,
perfect assurance."óChristís Object Lessons, pages 419,
Evidently the Holy
Spirit has more for Godís people than most of them are receiving, more
than they anticipate when they dutifully pray for the latter rain.
represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a
regard for the truth. Ö They receive the word with readiness, but they
fail of assimilating its principles. Ö [They] have been content with a
superficial work. They do not know God. They have not studied His
character; they have not held communion with Him; therefore they do not
know how to trust, how to look and live. Their service to God
degenerates into a form."óIbid.,p.411.
It is the purpose of this book to
discover more concerning the true nature of the divine oil that will
keep our lamps alight, so that we may be prepared to go in with the
Bridegroom when He comes.