Necessity of the Oil of Grace.
Quote; “The followers of Christ are to do the same work that Christ did when he was in the world. Isaiah prophesied of him, saying: “The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound; to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; to comfort all that mourn; to appoint unto them that mourn in Zion, to give unto them beauty for ashes, the oil of joy for mourning, the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness; that they might be called Trees of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, that he might be glorified.”
In the synagogue at Nazareth, Jesus opened this prophecy to the minds of the people. He announced the fact that he was fulfilling the words that the prophet had spoken. The words were definite in their specifications, so that there might be no excuse on the part of the people who claim to believe the Old Testament teaching, for cherishing unbelief in regard to Christ. God gave the Jews every opportunity and privilege to be called trees of the Lord, that he might be glorified. Jesus designed to make them as living water, as wells of salvation, to refresh and fertilize the world, that souls might be converted, and bring forth fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ unto the glory and praise of God.
How did the people to whom Christ announced his mission, receive the words he had spoken? Under the influence of the Spirit of God, conviction fastened upon their minds, and they witnessed to the gracious words that came from his lips. But Satan was not willing to let his captives go. They had long been bound under a misconception of the character of God, and he now worked with intense energy to fasten them in unbelief. Doubt sowed the seed of unbelief, and they repudiated Christ, refused his words, and closed the door of their heart to the gracious blessing he was ready to impart. Their hearts were filled with the spirit of Satan and his angels, and the people thrust him out of the synagogue, and would have cast him down from the side of the hill; but the angels of God preserved him, that he might do his appointed work.
The mission described by the prophet is the mission of every disciple of Christ. We are to practice the words of Christ, and present before others the covenant of grace, the righteousness of Christ. We are to make it manifest to the world that we have the oil of grace in our vessels in our lamps. The work of every representative of Christ, both in the ministry and among the laymen, is to tell of the great salvation brought to them as God’s free gift. “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” He that hath the Son hath life; and he that hath not the Son of God hath not life.” “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost; which he shed on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Saviour; that being justified by his grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life.”
The oil of grace gives to men the courage, and supplies to them the motives for doing every day the work that God appoints to them. The five foolish virgins had lamps (this means a knowledge of Scripture truth), but they had not the grace of Christ. Day by day they went through a round of ceremonies and external duties, but their service was lifeless, devoid of the righteousness of Christ. The Sun of Righteousness did not shine in their hearts and minds, and they had not the love of the truth which conforms to the life and character, the image and superscription, of Christ. The oil of grace was not mingled with their endeavours. Their religion was a dry husk without the true kernel. They held fast to forms of doctrines, but they were deceived in their Christian life, full of self-righteousness, and failing to learn lessons in the school of Christ, which, if practiced, would have made them wise unto salvation.
The Lord Jesus requires that every soul who claims to be a son or daughter of God, should not only depart from all iniquity, but be abundant in acts of charity, self-denial, and humility. The Lord has presented the working of a certain law of mind and action, that should warn us in regard to our work. He says: “Whosoever hath not, from him shall be taken even that which he seemeth to have.” Those who do not improve upon their opportunities, who do not exercise the grace that God gives them, have less and less inclination to do so, and finally in a sleepy lethargy, lose that which they once possessed. They make no provision for the future time of need in gaining a large experience, in obtaining an increased knowledge of divine things, so that when trial and temptation come upon them, they may be able to stand. When persecution or temptation comes, this class lose their courage and faith, and their foundation is swept away, because they did not see the need of making their foundation sure. They did not rivet their souls to the eternal Rock.
It is simply that which is external that is represented by the lamp; but the lamp is worthless without oil. The inward and spiritual oil of the grace of Christ is to vivify the soul. Unless Christ transforms the character by his divine grace, there is no transformation, no living spring of faith. “And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that 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. So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my Lord? Then the angel that talked with me . . . answered and spake unto me, saying, this is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by my Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.”
The lamps are to impress upon the church the necessity of eternal vigilance as the price of safety. Devotion, watching, and prayer are not for a moment to be neglected. The Lord is coming a second time to our world, and there must be found in us a disposition to wait and watch for his appearing, lest coming suddenly he find us sleeping. All whom Christ has united in holy covenant with himself are to feel that it is not safe at any time to be without oil in their vessels. R&H March 27, 1894