Without this cross-bearing of self-denial, we can be perceived and even believe to be followers of Christ, but not His disciples. Luke 9:23. Matt. 15: 8; Isa. 29:13.
We can be visibly, and at times, pompously identified as part of the “Ten virgins waiting for the appearing of the Bridegroom;” but we may, in heart, actually belong to the class of the foolish virgins! Notice the following very carefully and examine your own hearts by it, ask yourself this question after: “Am I prepared for emergency?”
“The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth, they have advocated the truth, they are attracted to those who believe the truth; but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s working. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature [the “old man,” Rom. 6:6) to be broken up [see Isa. 28, 13, 9-12].
“This class is represented also by the stony-ground hearers [see Parable of the Sower, Matt. 13: 1-6, 18-23]. They receive the word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influence is not abiding. The Spirit works upon man’s heart, according to his desire and consent implanting in him a new nature; but the class represented by the foolish virgins 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. ‘They come unto Thee as a people cometh, and they sit before Thee as my people, and they hear Thy words, but they will not do them; but with their mouth they show much love, but their heart goeth after much covetousness.’ Eze. 33: 31. The apostle points out that this will be the special characteristic of those who live just before Christ’s second coming. He says, ‘In the last days perilous times shall come; for men shall be lovers of their own selves;. . . . lovers of pleasures more than lovers of God; having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof.’ 2 Tim. 3: 1-5.
“This is the class that in time of peril are found crying, Peace and safety [1 Thess. 5: 3]. They lull their hearts into security, and dream not of danger. When startled from their lethargy, they discern their destitution, and entreat others to supply their lack; but in spiritual things no man can make up another’s deficiency. The grace of God has been freely offered to every soul. The message of the gospel has been heralded, ‘Let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take of the water of life freely.’ Rev. 22: 17. But character is not transferable. No one can believe for another. No man can impart to another the character which is the fruit of the Spirit’s working. ‘Though Noah, Daniel, or Job were in it [the land], as I live, saith the Lord God, they shall deliver neither son nor daughter; they shall but deliver their own souls by their righteousness.’ Eze. 14: 20.”
“It is in a crisis that character is revealed. When the earnest voice proclaimed at midnight, ‘Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,’ and the sleeping virgins were roused from their slumbers, it was seen who had made preparation for the event. Both parties were taken unawares; but one was prepared for the emergency, and the other was found without preparation. So now, a sudden and unlooked-for-calamity, something that brings the soul face to face with death, will show whether there is any real faith in the promises of God. It will show whether the soul is sustained by grace. The great final test comes at the close of human probation, when it will be late for the soul’s need to be supplied.”– Christ’s Object Lessons, pp. 411, 412 (original edition).
(to be continued…)