Oil Crisis! (Part 1)
The headlines should read: “OIL CRISIS”…. but they don’t.
To the watchful eye, however, the crisis is real, current and critical.
I am not talking about the Middle East, the Ayatollah, or the Saudi’s. No. Rather, I speak of a land and people who have been granted a greater abundance of access and right to oil than any nation, geographical region, or worldly power has ever conceived.
The crisis was brought to the forefront by Christ in Luke 12:35 when He prefaced a parable about preparedness and watchfulness, with these words: “Be dressed in readiness, with your lamps lit.”
More notable, and somewhat cryptic, Christ years later tells the story of 10 virgins at the end of the Age. Of them, He prophecies of the Kingdom of God, that of these “pure, holy and set-apart ones”, who represented all those who had identified themselves with our Lord, Himself – the Bridegroom – would be distinguished as Wise or Foolish. In this example, our Lord makes it crystal clear that among those who identify themselves as belonging to “Him” (the Virgins: “pure, holy and set-apart”), that as much as half, would suffer fatal eternal consequences for their “lack of oil”…
“Then the kingdom of heaven will be comparable to ten virgins, who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. Five of them were foolish, and five were prudent. For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep. But at midnight there was a shout, ‘Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.’ Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent, ‘Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, ‘No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.’ And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut. Later the other virgins also came, saying, ‘Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, ‘Truly I say to you, I do not know you.’ Be on the alert then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (Matthew 25:1-13)
In light of the frightening prospect revealed herein – that some have lamps, but no oil – the question begs to be asked: What is the oil, and how can I be sure to have some?
But first, I think it is insightful and prudent to know what the lamp is, who it is that has a lamp, and why anyone would think that a lamp alone is good for anything. Initially, upon reading these and other accounts of lamps and oil, I remained baffled at the thought that anyone would have one without the other, particularly if they had any intention of using the lamp. Unless, of course, they were unaware of their actual need for the lamp. Maybe the lamp has just become a relic on the shelf…
So, what is the lamp? Psalm 119:105 says: “Your Word [logos] is a lamp to my feet And a light to my path.”
And 2 Peter 1:19:
“So we have the prophetic Word [logos] made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts.”
In the original text, the Greek word for “Word” in both of these instances is “Logos”, which is speaking of the written Word (Bible, Scripture) or the Word incarnate, Christ Jesus. However, there is a second word for “Word” in the original language that exists, and carries great importance: “Rhema”. Rhema is literally “utterance” – a spoken word heard – such as personally hearing it from the mouth of the speaker.
Consider Matthew 4:4:
“Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every Word (Rhema) that precedes out of the mouth of God.”
This verse, in light of Jesus’ words in John 6:35 – “I am the bread of life”; and, 6:51 “I am the living bread”; we can derive that Jesus Christ, the Logos, says of Himself, that “man shall not live on the Logos alone, but by every Rhema that proceeds from the mouth of God” – what a great mystery this is!
So it is important to clarify that in the case of “lamp” we are speaking only of the Logos Word of God – that is the writings of Scripture, or Christ Himself. So then, if that be the case, we can conclude that possessing Scripture and Christ alone, without this “oil” is somehow inadequate?!? As voices now begin to cry “heresy”, let’s re-look at our passage, spoken by Christ Himself, using our properly defined word, Logos:
“For when the foolish took their [Scriptures and Christ], they took no oil with them, but the prudent took oil in flasks along with their [Scriptures and Christ].”
Suddenly, knowing what this “oil” is, and possessing it in adequate supply – though mysterious – is of critical importance! Reality is, we don’t have to look far or wide to get insight to this symbolism/meaning. Oil has always been understood to be directly associated with “anointing” – and anointing is always understood in the New Testament to be directly speaking of the Holy Spirit (for there is no other anointing.)
So, consider our scripture now:
“For when the foolish took their [Scriptures and Christ], they took no[t] [The Holy Spirit] with them, but the prudent took [The Holy Spirit] in flasks along with their [Scriptures and Christ].”
What on earth does this mean? There are many I am sure who will internally struggle (even argue) with a suggestion that a Christian could ever be found “without the Holy Spirit” (“they took no oil”) – but these passages have to mean something. We cannot ignore them – and more importantly, what cannot ignore what they are speaking to us. The “warning” they are giving us.
Before we go there, however, let’s briefly take a moment to alleviate the controversy of those who would stop right here – claiming poor doctrine, or heresy. Clearly the Holy Spirit has a critical role – if not the sole role – in regeneration. His power alone – more than mere influence – gives us new life and brings wretched man to a place of repentance. Yet, there is overwhelming testimony and evidence in scripture, that the Holy Spirit has yet another role beyond grace of regeneration, in the life of one who is called “Christian”. It is the grace of sanctification. Great men of God have debated and disagreed for 2000 years what this “second work” of the Holy Spirit looks like (and if such a “second work” even exists) – how it manifests or “plays out” in the lives of those who have been called and chosen of God – and yet no one denies the work (grace) of sanctification is uniquely different from the work (grace) of regeneration – though some do (surprisingly) debate the necessity of sanctification. With that said, let us move forward to explore further the necessity of “oil in our lamps”.
At this point, following much prayer on the matter, I have concluded that “a mere man can not teach another man further, about mysteries as great as these”! Oh, I could attempt to persuade you with many words, eloquent speech (as if I have such), and strong arguments – however, at the end of the day, only the Holy Spirit Himself can teach a man (or woman) the very living Word of the Sovereign Lord. So now, with the previous foundation laid, I will give you numerous scriptures that I am convicted are relevant to this matter of “what it means to have oil for your lamps” and he necessity thereof – and ask that you pray now – before proceeding – asking the Lord to teach you Truth on this matter, as only He can do.
(Continued in Part 2)