“At that time the kingdom of heaven will be like ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish and five were wise. The foolish ones took their lamps but did not take any oil with them. The wise ones, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps. The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they all became drowsy and fell asleep.
“At midnight the cry rang out: ‘Here’s the bridegroom! Come out to meet him!’
“Then all the virgins woke up and trimmed their lamps. The foolish ones said to the wise, ‘Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out.’
“‘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.’
“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.
“Later the others also came. ‘Lord, Lord,’ they said, ‘open the door for us!’
“But he replied, ‘Truly I tell you, I don’t know you.’
“Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour.
– Matthew 25:1-13
“There did not seem to be much difference between them. They were all virgins, they all carried lamps, their lamps were all lit. Perhaps the lamps of the foolish were as bright as those of the wise. The difference was unobservable to most onlookers, but it was an essential and fatal difference. The lack of oil is the ruin of many professing Christians’ lamps. People may appear to have life but lack the true life that is the effectual working of the grace of God within their souls. There is a glitter and flash, but there is no permanency unless the Spirit of God is in us. We may make a fair show in the flesh for a while, but what will be the end of it? This is the all-important question – Can we hold on and hold out? Certainly not without that heavenly oil that only the Spirit of God can supply.”
– Charles H. Spurgeon
My wife had surgery today. Full status tomorrow , but she made it through surgery and is resting. Valve replacement and three bypasses. Not yet off ventilator.due to hospital procedure .
Have you noticed? This is day 2, and probably the last for a while, of Scripture and quotes relating to those walking dead in the pew next to you.
There is the old joke. “One out of every three people is crazy. If you are standing next to two good friends and they are seemingly okay, then…” Of course, the insinuation is that you are the crazy one. I could write a long blog about how that argument is a fallacy, but not today. Could we come up with a similar joke about the ‘Christians’ in the pews? What are the statistics there? Of the people in the average church, only three(?) out of ten are born-again, true believers. Could we use that “made-up” statistic for a similar joke? No, that might be true, but it would not be funny. There may be those among the walking dead sitting on your pew, but there is nothing funny about that. Each day, they reconfirm in their minds that they are wonderful people, forget good.
I was once among the walking dead. I was the proverbial good kid. As Spurgeon says, “to most onlookers” I was the perfect example of a Christian, but I was empty inside. I was even nominated to be president of the Christian student body in high school. I lost the election, but I was nominated and got a lot of votes. I prayed the salvation prayer maybe 400 times in those days, but the prayer did not work. Then, I gave up. In giving up, God came into my heart. It was my total, unconditional surrender that God wanted, not a rote prayer that ‘says’ that I surrender. God wanted true surrender, but how many people never surrendered their will to God when they prayed that prayer? Now they have praying that prayer as their ‘evidence’ that they are okay.
I have often wondered, sometimes haunted, since then about what I would do if God had not made His call to me so overwhelming. Would I have continued to go to church after high school or college? Would I be among the walking dead in the pews – bolstered by the circle logic of Ignorance (from The Pilgrim’s Progress, quoted in yesterday’s post). I am good. I have good thoughts coming from a good heart, therefore I am good, based on my head and heart convincing myself that they are good. I have other ‘evidence’. Other people say that I am good. They are good people, because I, as a good person, have judged them as good. Thus, these good people are qualified, in my judgment, to judge goodness, thus I am good.
Yet, all have sinned and fallen short (Romans 3:23). Jesus said that there is only One who is good (Matthew 19:17).
The bridegroom told the foolish virgins that He did not know them. Ouch! Those were good virgins.
As Spurgeon said, they all looked the same. They were all present. Jesus could have added, they all said, “Lord, Lord.” But some were foolish, and their oil ran out. If God was not in their hearts, where did the oil come from that had their lamps lit in the first place? It is the oil of the circle logic, self-assurance. I am good. How do I know that I am good? … (See argument in previous chapter.)
Because I was there as a youth, I know that others are there today, at any and all ages. My heart goes out to them. At some point, that self-assurance oil will run out. Spurgeon said that there may be a glitter and flash, but no permanence.
God wants us to be His for eternity, not until our oil runs out. We need oil from His source to obtain permanence. We must not hold anything back. We must dedicate our lives to God to obtain the perfect oil for our lamp. And once we have that oil, we will want nothing other than to burn that oil so that everyone can see the glitter and flash of our eternal flame.
Soli Deo Gloria. Only to God be the Glory.