Sermon delivered May 24, 1997

by Pastor Donald J Gettys

McDonald Road Seventh-day Adventist Church

McDonald, Tennessee

Burning the Midnight Oil

I want to talk about burning the midnight oil. That's what the ten virgins were doing.

I read a story written by George Orwell about a wasp. You know, wasps are numerous. They build nests in our houses and under our eaves in the summertime. It seems that a wasp flew in and landed on his dinner plate. As the man was eating his dinner, he saw the wasp. It had landed near a slice of bread that had jam on it. The man didn't like the wasp there eating his jam. So he took his table knife and cut the wasp in half. The wasp was so anxious to keep eating that he kept doing it. Somehow that insect went on with his meal. The man observed a tiny stream of jam trickling out the end of the severed body. Only when the insect tried to fly away did he grasped the dreadful thing that had happened to him. He couldn't do it. And you know, a lot of Christians without Christ are just like that wasp. We're dead and we don't know it. We're severed from Christ and yet we're still greedy, we're still consuming the sweetness of the world and we don't realize that we've been separated from life. And only when it's time to fly away will we really realize our dreadful condition. We're lost. We're dead in the water. We're shut out of the New Jerusalem, the Holy City. We can't go in. The gate is shut.

In this parable in Matthew 25:1-13 you may want to follow along in your Bible about the Ten Virgins. They were pure, righteous, undefiled, but the awful thing is that fully fifty percent of these virgins were unaware of their lost condition. They didn't realize it. Now they had lamps. It says they all had lamps, and the lamps were burning.

What does the lamp represent? It represents the Word of God, the truth of the Bible. Psalm 119:105 "Thy word is a lamp to my feet and a light to my path." This beautiful story in the Bible illustrates the experience of God's church just prior to the second coming of Jesus Christ. There are going to be a lot of people that think they're going to be saved, and they are actually lost.

    Matt 25:2--- Five virgins were Wise and five were foolish! Notice the similarities between the wise and foolish:
  1. - All 10 dressed in white robes
  2. - All 10 were virgins...pure faith, life
  3. - All 10 had brightly burning lights
  4. - All 10 waited for Christ to come. Knew it was near.
  5. - All 10 were ready for His coming at one point.
  6. - All 10 slept soundly
  7. - All 10 had to be awakened with a shout
  8. - All 10 were taken by surprise
  9. - All 10 lamps needed trimming and filling
  10. - All 10 virgins saw the bridal party coming.

Now with the many similarities, there's very little difference between the five foolish and the five wise! They all seemed ready. If there had been no delay they all would have gone inside because they all had lights at one time. But there was a delay. That's what make the crucial difference. They all would have gone in. Today, Jesus could have come before now, 1997. We should have been in the Holy City by now. Right God's church is in a holding pattern. We're not going anywhere, it seems. And yet I want to tell you that just at the time you think maybe He's not coming, that's just the time He's just around the corner. I believe Jesus' coming is just that far away, very close.

Notice: There were 10 virgins. But only 2 classes: the wise and the foolish! What happened to the lukewarm class? You would expect there were 2 wise, 2 foolish and 6 lukewarm! Well that disappears! In the end of time there are only the saved and the lost. That's all there ever are. The middle class disappeared. They disappear because of the shaking time and last day trials of the last days, the time of trouble. When the train of salvation finally pulls into the station make sure you are on the right side of the tracks! If you're on the wrong side you're lost, you can't board.

Were the 5 foolish virgins hypocrites? NO. They did love the truth. All had light. They all let their light shine. They all had oil.

What was the OIL? What does the oil represent? Zechariah 4:2-6 - the Holy Spirit. Did the foolish virgins have the Holy Spirit? Yes! All ten had the Holy Spirit. All 10 were virgins (pure). All ten were pure Christians. All ten were saved. All 10 had brightly shining lights. What is the light? Jesus said: "I am the light of the world." All had Jesus. All ten were truly saved, but 5 ran out of oil. They ran out of the Holy Spirit. The light of Jesus went out in their life. They lost their light. They lost their salvation. They were shut out from the wedding banquet and left in darkness. Once you are saved you can run out oil if you do not daily invite Jesus to restock your heart with a fresh supply of His Holy Spirit. I need to go to the grocery store now and then. I have to go to the service station now and then. We always have to restock. It's just that simple.

The LAMPS. Probably you are thinking they were small clay pots with a little wick sticking up out of it. Would that little light put out enough light for a bridal party? Small lamps would be of little value in an outdoor group. Scholars have gone over to Palestine and done some research. Actually what they feel like is presented here is a torch. A long pole with rags tied onto the top of the pole, and these rags were soaked in olive oil. And holding that up high providing light for everybody. These tall torches providing light. Such torches consumed quite a lot of oil. That little lamp you're thinking about, that can last for hours and hours on one filling. In fact almost all night. That's not really what's being spoken of here. Such big torches they would use have to be refilled every fifteen or twenty minutes. Those rags have to be soaked in oil again and held back up high. If we want our light to keep shining we must daily receive a fresh infilling of the Holy Spirit.

Now, the oil is abundant. All of us can be filled with God's Holy Spirit. There is no energy crisis in Heaven. And how much does it cost you? Well, it's free, and yet it costs you everything you have. Full surrender. You can get as much oil as you want.

Look in Matthew 25:4 "The Wise, however, took oil in jars along with their lamps." (NIV). The wise had RESERVE OIL.

They had a deeper experience with Jesus. It wasn't a shallow experience. The wise virgins had a depth of spirituality not experienced by the foolish virgins. And I believe that in the last days those people that are going to be saved are going to have a deep religious experience. Not just some superficial - "Now I lay me down to sleep...Please keep my soul until the morning." We need a deep prayer life. We need a deep Bible study life. We need a depth of Christianity that we don't have. Extra prayer goes into building a solid character. We need a depth of relationship with Jesus. We need that.

Matthew 25:5 "The bridegroom was a long time in coming, and they ALL became drowsy and fell asleep." He delayed his coming. They thought he would be there a long time ago and he didn't. The KJV says they All SLUMBERED and slept. They were tired.

You know, weddings wear you out. There's a lot that goes into a wedding. They had spent many hours preparing for the coming of the bridegroom. They were ALL Asleep at the brides house waiting for the groom to come. Even the Very Elect were sleeping because of the delay.

Are you sleeping? Are you spiritually asleep? Are you sleeping as the King of Kings is about to come? True, there has been a delay. Perhaps some of you thought you would never have time to get married and now you have grandchildren! Jesus has not come yet. But the longer the delay the closer we are to His arrival. Let's not get lax.

Matthew 25:6 - "At midnight the cry rang out, Here's the bridegroom! Come out to meet him."

The bridegroom comes at Midnight. The darkest depths of the long night: in the middle of the night. I believe that the second coming of Jesus will come during the darkest period of this earth. I believe we're in for that. In fact you can see it coming with all the terrible things that are going on out there in the world. It's a mess out there. When crime, drugs, immorality, sin and wickedness are at their peak, the end of all things crashes down upon us. The wicked fall like grain before a hailstorm.

Somebody gave me a newspaper clipping from the paper two weeks ago. It says, "The death of Protestantism is seen..." Did you read that? It's amazing. It says here that they were holding this meeting and various churches are preaching, even Protestant churches that Protestantism is over. It's dead. We're seeing the end of Protestantism. The demise of Protestantism. It says here that what we're witnessing is the end of an era. God is leaving the Protestant church. This is Protestants speaking. "We were witnessing the end of Protestantism and God's church is Catholic." It's quite an article. It's kind of scary what they're planning on doing. I believe that we're at the end of time. We don't have much longer. We can see the beast about to take power. In the hour of spiritual darkness Jesus will come.

Matt 25:7-8 "Then all the virgins woke up (at the midnight cry) and trimmed their lamps." They needed to replenish their lamps with oil. They needed to burn the midnight oil. You need to burn the midnight oil to be saved.

Now, can you find oil at midnight? How many of you have ever run out of gas? It is harder to find oil at midnight. All 10 virgins had run out of Oil in their torches. BUT, the wise had spare reserves of oil. Like a spare tire filled with air pressure, they had a reserve vessel filled up with extra oil. What is that extra oil? It's an extra measure of the presence of God in your life. A depth of religion that is not seen in these times. And that's what we need. It's going to carry us through. We need to be a people of the book.

They took a survey of Adventists students at the Seminary and said, "Write out the Ten Commandments." Do you know how many of them got it perfect? Did you read that? Very few. Only two out of ten were able to get it right. Could you write out the Ten Commandments? We need to be a people of the book. We used to be. We ought to be. We need to be.

Matthew 25:8 - "The foolish ones said to the wise, Give us some of your oil; our lamps are going out." What did the wise virgins say? verse 9 - "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." Do you think that was wise? Actually you can't share oil. Now think about this. The depth of Christian experience, that deep relationship, the depth of the Holy Spirit in your heart, can you give that to your child? You'd like to, wouldn't you? You can't save somebody else. You can't transfer the saving experience that you have to your wife of your husband as much as you would like to. Christianity cannot be transferred or sold. Each must get the saving oil straight from the source. The wise virgins could not transfer their saving experience to the foolish. Character is not transferable. They couldn't share the oil. You can share Jesus, but you can't share your own walk with Jesus, your own salvation.

I once heard of a man in New York City that hired himself out to do Jogging for someone else. "You can sit in your office and I'll jog for you." He had several clients. I don't know how his slogan was, his ad read. Maybe it was: HAVE LEGS, WILL JOG. Let my fingers do the walking. He had several clients too! No one can be a Christian for you. Not your mother. Not your father. Not your wife. Are you a Christian? Are you ready for Jesus to come?

By the way, did they find oil at midnight? I don't think they did. Matthew 25:101-12 - "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. Sir! Sir! they said. Open the door for us! But he replied, I tell you the truth, I don't know you.

Did the five foolish virgins find oil at midnight? NO! Christ Object Lessons EG White, page 406-- "They were left standing without, in the empty street, in the BLACKNESS of the night." They didn't have oil. There was not light there.

After probation is closed, oil is not available. After the time of trouble really begins in earnest, the plagues are falling, can you go out and find that Christian experience? After your chance is over it is too late to seek salvation. If you wait until the time of trouble of the last minute to get your Saving relationship with Jesus, you have waited too long. Today is the day of salvation. Today is the day that you need to make your life right with Jesus. If you're thinking, I'm really not all right, I've got all these things that I'm doing. I'm not really the Christian I ought to be. When are you going to do it? If you wait too late, you'll be a foolish, lost person, just like these foolish virgins.

How is it with you today? Is your lamp getting dim? Is your light beginning to flicker? Is your walk with Jesus lacking or non existent? You need to walk with Him. Are you satisfied to live with the gage on your spiritual gas tank reading almost empty? You wouldn't think of driving on fumes, would you? How many of you drive on fumes? You let it run right down to the empty mark, with the "GET GAS SOON" light on?! Would you? No. When the gage says a quarter tank you go and buy gas. You need to buy gas. Your car can't run on fumes. When our spiritual life is in that condition we're lost. As the pastor of this church I want you to know we need a depth of Christianity that we don't have. We need to get right with Jesus. We need to get into the heart of Jesus, get a full measure of the Holy Spirit, spend time on your knees, spend time with Jesus, an hour a day.

Some folks are always running just on empty, on fumes. (Fuming about this and that, I suppose you could say.) Running on empty. Now is the time to have a full Experience with Jesus. Empty Tank Christianity will leave you stranded. Some day you will be left out. Outside the gate to life Stranded forever. Lost.

Matthew 25:13 - "Therefore keep watch, because you do not know the day or the hour." We don't, do we? We know it's soon. But we do not know the time.

Someday soon Jesus will come in the clouds of glory. If the lamp of God's word burns bright in our heart and the light of Jesus shines out of our heart and the Holy Spirit lives in extra measure in our heart, we will get to go in to the banquet.

What a feast that will be. Matthew 8:11 - "Many will come from the east and the west and will take their places at the FEAST with Abraham, Isaac and Jacob in the kingdom of heaven." I want to be at that feast. I want to be there. You're going to hear a 10,000 angel choir sing. The Saints will go marching in. I want to be one of those saints. Food like we have never seen will be spread on the silver table that stretches for miles in God's outdoor banquet room. Jesus will be there to welcome us. Let's make sure we are there.

How do we get access to that grand festival? What made the wise virgins wise? (Because they did go in to the wedding banquet) The extra depth of relationship. The full reserve of oil.

If the oil light on the dashboard of your religious life is blinking, you need to immediately stop and you need to get a fresh supply of oil. You will be saved if like the wise virgins you have a extra depth in your relationship with Jesus. A full complete supply of the Holy Spirit in your heart. A full reserve of oil.

"For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through him might be saved." - John 3:17

Jesus is the Way to the banquet. He is your ticket. Be sure you have a rich, deep hold on Jesus Christ, that He's in your heart, in the depths of your heart and someday you're going to see that homeland over there, over yonder. Get ready now and stay prepared. It won't be long and we will see Jesus face to face. Our homeland is heaven. Soon we will sit by that crystal sea in that homeland over there.

Opening Hymn:  370  Christ for the World
Scripture Reading: Matthew 25:1-13
Closing Hymn:  431  Over Yonder

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