Pristine Grace

No Oil?
by Horatius Bonar
No Oil?

"The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps."  - Matthew 25:3

    This parable has many sides and aspects. 

    It is prophetical; it is also practical. 

    It suits all ages, but especially the last days. 

    It suits the world, but especially the church of God. 

    It is searching and sifting. 

    It is also quickening and comforting. 

    It suits us well in these days of . . . 

  1.   profession, 
  2.   fashionable religion and 
  3.   religiousness. 

    It is a parable for the church.

    It comes in to the inner circle of Christian profession, and sifts it, divides it.

    There are points of likeness between the two classes. 

  1.     They get the same name, virgins; 
  2.     they wear the same dress
  3.     they are on the same errand
  4.     they both have lamps
  5.     they both slumber and sleep

    They have thus many features in common.

    The peril of mere externalism is that which our Lord points out here.  This externalism may not always be hypocrisy, but it is imitation.  It is not the flower in its natural color and growth, but painted, artificial.  Let us watch against an artificial life, and an artificial religion.  What does it profit now?  What will it profit in the day of wrath?  The name, the dress, the lamp, the outward show, will all go for nothing in that day of universal discovery and detection.

    Though in most respects they were all alike, yet there was a difference. It was within; it was imperceptible from without; it could only  be discovered when the bridegroom came. Up until then all were completely similar. Only then the deficiency came out in the foolish.  Then was it seen who were wise, and who were foolish. That day is the day of certain and unerring detection. It is the day of weighing in the balances! It is the separation of the false from the true.

    The difference was confined to a single point, the lack of oil. The oil is the Holy Spirit. Thus a man may be very like a Christian, and yet not be one. He may come very near the kingdom, and yet not enter in. He may have all the outward features of a Christian, and yet be lacking in the main one. He may have the complete dress of the saint, and yet not be one.

    He may have a good life, a sound creed, a strict profession; he may be one who says and does many excellent things; he may be a subscriber to all the religious societies in the land, a member of all their committees, or a speaker at all their meetings, and supporter of all their plans; he may profess to be looking for Christ's coming, and going forth to meet the bridegroom, yet not necessarily a Christian!

    He may lack the oil, the Holy Spirit.

    A religion without the Holy Spirit profits nothing.

There is the religion . . . 

  1. of the intellect, 
  2. of the sense, 
  3. of the imagination, 
  4. of the flesh, 
  5. of the creed, 
  6. of the liturgy, 
  7. of the catechism, 
  8. of nature, 
  9. of poetry, 
  10. of sentiment, 
  11. of mysticism, 
  12. of humanity. 

    But what are these without the Spirit?

    Christianity without Christ, what would that be?

    Worship without God, what would that be?

    So religion without the Holy Spirit, what would that be?

    The five who were foolish took no oil for their lamps. "Sir! Sir!" they said. "Open the door for us!"  But He replied, "I tell you the truth, I don't know you."