"When the enemy shall come in like a flood, the Spirit of the Lord shall lift up a standard against him." Isaiah 59:19.
"It is not necessary that anyone should yield to the temptations of Satan and thus violate his conscience and grieve the Holy Spirit. Every provision has been made in the word of God whereby all may have divine help in their endeavors to overcome."óTestimonies, vol. 5, p. 574.
The standard has already been lifted, provision has already been made; none need go down in defeat. The golden oil, in bountiful supply, is daily poured out, fresh from the throne of God, into the bowls of the sanctuary lamps. There is nothing to hinder the lamps of the virgins from burning steadily through the murky atmosphere of this dying civilization.
Since the time when man could no longer hold open communion with God, Heaven has provided a bountiful supply of instructions, counsels, warnings, and comfort, flowing freely earthward. First the writings of the Old and then the New Testament have brought light to illuminate the dark pathways of man. Light has streamed earthward in ever-brighter beams. Now in our days we would be able to walk in a blaze of glory were we willing to turn our eyes toward the light. There is no need for any lamps to be extinguished for lack of the divinely supplied oil. We have the Bible, Godís depository of truth, to supply all our needs. With the ancient prophet we are privileged to say, "Thy words were found, and I did eat them; Thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by Thy name, O Lord God of hosts." Jeremiah 15:16.
This very phraseology used by Jeremiah suggests how fully we are to take unto ourselves all that God makes available. Tasting may bring momentary delight, but it can never furnish nourishment. Thorough mastication and digestion of food are needed for physical growth, and so it is with spiritual food. God has never made available to man one revelation which is superfluous. Man needs all of Godís revealed truth for harmonious growth in grace. That which man has had no opportunity to receive, Christ will impute with His righteousness. The virgins, the saints, who will live to greet their returning Lord, must take full advantage of all the available oil if they would be admitted to the marriage feast.
Bible knowledge alone will not help the virgins to keep their lamps alight in these closing hours of history. Lacking the illuminating power of the Spirit of God, the word can become a snare instead of a safeguard. Whence comes His saving power but from the very perfection of Gods nature? And whence comes any loveliness in His creatures except it be a reflection of Him? He alone is all beauty and harmony and wisdom. In Him man finds his only hope of fulfillment. If Satan is not allowed to intercept that divine attraction, nothing in the universe can prevent manís ultimate restoration to the image of God.
It is the continual influence of the Holy Spirit on the reader of the simple words of Scriptural truth, which makes them truly significant. Taken alone they have never prepared a Christian for citizenship in the kingdom. Taken out of context, or viewed through human eyes only, they too often have developed intellectually proud Pharisees, bent on flogging into submission all who dare disagree with their theology. Righteousness must be Christís righteousness, not manís. It is of far more concern to God that His children have His love in their hearts than that they carry His truth in their heads. Heavenís gates open wide to the hand that wields the key of love; and love, given opportunity, will not fail of comprehending doctrine, illuminated by "the golden oil of goodness, patience, long-suffering, gentleness, love."óTestimonies to Ministers, page 511.
These are the qualities supplied by the indwelling Spirit to all who will furnish Him room. This is Gods very nature; man is but asked to reflect the nature of His heavenly Father, bequeathed to him through the agency of the Third Person of the Godhead. "For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit Itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God: and if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with Him, that we may be also glorified together." Romans 8:15-17.
The unself-conscious possession of these lovely qualities carries with it the quiet assurance of belonging. Like is attracted to like, and the more man reflects his Fatherís nature, the more closely he will be drawn into the circle of Gods embrace. More and more he will feel the kinship which can only be sensed in this closest of ties; and the things of earth will diminish in attractiveness in proportion to his approach to God. What used to attract and tempt him will seem unworthy of attention to one whose eyes are becoming accustomed to the dawning light of eternal glory.
The negative side of this principle is equally true. As man progresses toward the ideal God has set for him, he becomes less and less attractive to those who are rejecting God and choosing Satan. Christians must get used to the thought that they cannot hope to remain in favor, even with nominal Christianity. The church must awaken to the realization that her very popularity today stems from her Laodicean condition. Once she recognizes this truth and is willing to receive the heavenly eyesalve, she will discover soon enough that her status will be that of the apostolic church in the days of pagan Rome, a small minority, first ridiculed, then feared and hated, by a vast majority whose complacency she threatens.
Will the church consciously seek such a status to replace her present high estate? The true Israel of God will. Five of the virgins in Christís parable were ready to go in with the Bridegroom. Even though they had been temporarily caught off guard by His delay in coming, the supply of oil in their vessels was sufficient to see them through. So here and there today Christians are arousing and rubbing sleepy eyes. In response to the rapid development of warning signs, they are looking to the Spirit of God to complete in their hearts the preparation needed before the latter rain can do its work through them. They realize how useless it is to beseech God for such an experience before the early rain has thoroughly prepared the soil of the heart.
They are aware, too, that Satan stands ready to furnish a wholly counterfeit experience for those who remain in ignorance of the work of the Holy Spiritóan experience such as will bewitch and enchant some, and terrify and disgust others. Depending on their spiritual atmosphere, the display of Satanís power can either turn man away from belief in all supernatural power, or else bind him irresistibly to a glamorous false god. Spiritism today possesses an incandescence calculated to dazzle the unwary, while the church still has nothing to offer by way of counterattraction. The world is only beginning to catch the glow of this counterfeit light, but those whose eyes have become accustomed to it have little taste for the tame, lifeless performance of a church with nothing new to offer. A warmed-over version of the gospel message which the church has been presenting for a century can have no charms for those who have witnessed the fascinating demonstration of Satan in his role of "prince of the power of the air." Spiritism which has taken unto itself the trappings of evangelism, masquerading as a great religious awakening, is a more formidable adversary than the church has anticipated; and she is ill-prepared to meet it.
It is high time for the church to awaken and trim the many little lamps by whose glow those who are coming late may find the way home. When she has made this necessary preparation, then those who yet await evidence of Godís truth will both hear it and see it in the virgins who bear Godís eternal light. Then at last the world will witness a concerted demonstration of Isaiahís portrayal of Spirit-filled lives in action, as once it saw a lone example in Galilee: "The Spirit of the Lord God is upon Me; because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach good tidings unto the meek; He hath sent Me to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that He might be glorified." Isaiah 61:1-3.
With such a demonstration of holy power the church can meet the challenge of Satanís deadliest competition. Without it she will be the laughingstock of modem civilization. All the universe is awaiting the awakening of the wise virgins to vindicate the confidence of the Bridegroom in His belovedó"Fair as the moon, clear as the sun, and terrible as an army with banners." Song of Solomon 6:10.
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