“Let your loins be girded about, and your lights burning; and ye yourselves like unto men that wait for their Lord, when he will return from the wedding; that when he cometh and knocketh, they may open unto him immediately. Blessed are those servants, whom the Lord when he cometh shall find watching: verily I say unto you, that he shall gird himself, and make them to sit down to meat, and will come forth and serve them. And if he shall come in the second watch, or in the third watch, and find them so, blessed are those servants . . . . Be ye therefore ready also: for the Son of Man cometh at an hour when ye think not.”
We are here warned not to defraud our souls of the privileges and rights which the Lord has provided in order that we may be rich in faith, and heirs according to the promise. We are to watch as for a thief in the night. The first symptoms of spiritual slumber are to be sternly overcome. The first inclinations to spiritual indolence are to be firmly resisted. “Be sober, be vigilant,” exhorts the apostle. Every moment is to be faithfully employed. “He that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.” We are told to work out our own salvation, and the power by which we are to do this is plainly stated: “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.”
Many are losing much by growing less fervent, less ardent and zealous toward God and in behalf of their fellow men. Let all watch and pray, guarding their present and eternal good by resisting every temptation. Let them beware of resting content with spasmodic efforts to serve God. By yielding to fitful impulses, and indulging in passionate words and unholy actions, they mar their prospect of the blessed hope.
Those who would be ready to meet their Lord must keep their lamps filled with the oil of grace. It was a neglect to do this that distinguished the foolish virgins from the wise. They had lamps, but no oil; their characters could not stand the test. The wise virgins had not only an intelligent knowledge of the truth, but through the imparted grace of Jesus Christ, their faith and patience and love constantly increased. Their lamps were replenished by their vital connection with the Light of the world. While the foolish virgins awoke to find their lamps burning dimly, or going out in the darkness, the wise virgins, with their lamps burning brightly, entered the festal hall, and the gates were shut. Greatly rejoicing at the sound of the bridegroom’s voice, they joined the bridal procession.
The oil with which the wise virgins filled their lamps represents the Holy Spirit. “The angel that talked with me came again,” writes Zechariah, “and waked me, as a man is wakened out of his sleep, and said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a candlestick all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof: and two olive-trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof . . . . Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive-trees upon the right side of the candlestick and upon the left side thereof? And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive-branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves? And he answered me and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord. Then said he, These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.”
The anointed ones standing by the Lord of the whole earth, have the position once given to Satan as covering cherub. By the holy beings surrounding his throne, the Lord keeps up a constant communication with the inhabitants of the earth. The golden oil represents the grace with which God keeps the lamps of believers supplied, that they shall not flicker and go out. Were it not that this holy oil is poured from heaven in the messages of God’s Spirit, the agencies of evil would have entire control over men.
God is dishonored when we do not receive the communications which he sends us. Thus we refuse the golden oil which he would pour into our souls to be communicated to those in darkness. When the call shall come, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” those who have not received the holy oil, who have not cherished the grace of Christ in their hearts, will find, like the foolish virgins, that they are not ready to meet their Lord. They have not, in themselves, the power to obtain the oil, and their lives are wrecked. But if God’s Holy Spirit is asked for, if we plead, as did Moses, “Show me thy glory,” the love of God will be shed abroad in our hearts. Through the golden pipes, the golden oil will be communicated to us. “Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of Hosts.” By receiving the bright beams of the Sun of Righteousness, God’s children shine as lights in the world.
Only by knowing God here can we prepare to meet him at his coming. “This is life eternal,” said Christ, “that they might know thee the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom thou has sent.” But many of those who profess to believe in Christ do not know God. They have only a surface religion. They do not love God; they do not study his character; therefore they do not know how to trust, how to look and live. They do not know what restful love is, or what it means to walk by faith. Opportunities to hear and receive the messages of God’s love are unappreciated and unimproved. They fail to understand that it is their duty to receive, that they may enrich others. They have not that faith which is given to those who accept Christ as their personal Saviour; therefore they do not keep the last six commandments. They do not walk in love toward their brethren. They do not know what it means to yoke up with Christ and learn of him. They are not like him in character. They do not receive him as the one who takes away their sins, and imputes to them his righteousness.
The world by wisdom knows not God. Many have talked eloquently about him, but their supposed sound reasoning, their subtle arguments, bring men no nearer to him, because they themselves are not in vital connection with him. Professing themselves to be wise, they become fools. Their wrong impressions and imperfect knowledge of God do not lead them to become partakers of his divine nature. Their lives are not conformed to his image. A correct knowledge of God is not a hearsay report, but an intelligent, experimental knowledge.
In his lessons and his mighty works, Christ is a perfect revelation of God. This Christ declares through the inspired evangelist. “No man hath seen God at any time,” he says; “the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.” “No man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son will reveal him.” These words show the importance of studying Christ’s character. Only by knowing Christ can we know God.
As our representative, Christ stands on the highest possible ground. When he came to the world as God’s messenger, he held the salvation of God in his hand. All mankind was delivered to him; for in him was the fulness of the God-head. He is the light of the world, and he came to illuminate the world. Had that light been hidden, the world must have perished; but it is God’s plan that man shall not perish, but have everlasting life.
So fully did Christ reveal the Father, that the messengers sent by the Pharisees to take him were charmed by his presence. Under the Holy Spirit’s convicting power they forgot their commission. As they beheld the soft light of the glory of God that enshrouded his person, as they heard the gracious words that fell from his lips, they loved him. And when, returning without him, they were asked by the Pharisees, “Why have ye not brought him?” they answered “Never man spake like this man.” As we behold Christ, we shall be changed into his image, and made fit to meet him at his coming.
Now is the time to prepare for the coming of our Lord. Readiness to meet him cannot be attained in a moment’s time. Preparatory to that solemn scene there must be vigilant waiting, combined with earnest work. The union of these two makes us complete in Christ. The active and devotional must be combined as were the human and divine in Christ. So God’s children glorify him. Amid the busy scenes of life their voices will be heard speaking words of encouragement, hope, and faith. The will and the affections will be consecrated to Christ. Thus they prepare to meet their Lord; and when he comes, they will say, with joy: “This is our God; we have waited for him, and he will save us: . . . we will be glad and rejoice in his salvation.”
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to usward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance. But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up. Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent, that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.”
— E.G. White, Review and Herald, 7/20/1897