There are wonderful truths we as a people have that many of God’s people are rejecting. They do not want to hear about dress reform or the health message. They are not prepared to make lifestyle changes. Becoming disgruntled, many move from church to church, not willing to apply themselves to the truth.
Alas, the people coming at the eleventh hour will appreciate the truths, will love them, will embrace them, and will share them. God has His people. He will not be left without a witness. The task of the eleventh hour workers will be similar to that of those at the day of Pentecost. As the former rain was given in the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at the opening of the Gospel to cause the spring of the precious seed, so the latter rain will be given at its close for the ripening of the harvest.
Notwithstanding the widespread declension of faith and piety, there are true followers of Christ in the fallen churches. God has His people everywhere, because He does not look as man looks. Man looks at the outward, but God looks at the heart. (I Samuel 16:7.) God deals with people based on their sincerity, on how they deal with Him. Ellen White states:
“Before the final visitation of God’s judgments upon the earth there will be among the people of the Lord such a revival of primitive godliness as has not been witnessed since apostolic times. The Spirit and power of God will be poured out upon His children. At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word.” The Great Controversy, 464.
Do you believe that the “many” includes Seventh-day Adventists? Just think about it. “At that time many will separate themselves from those churches in which the love of this world has supplanted love for God and His word.” Has the love of this world taken over the love for God in the Seventh-day Adventist churches? She continues, “Many, both of ministers and people, will gladly accept those great truths which God has caused to be proclaimed at this time to prepare a people for the Lord’s second coming.” Ibid.
The latter rain power will bring forth the eleventh hour people who comprise the procession in the parable of the ten virgins in Matthew 25. But the procession will also include other people. The other people will be those Seventh-day Adventists who are bold enough to take a stand on truth. And as a result of taking a stand on truth, they have separated themselves from falsehood and are proclaiming the Three Angels’ Messages in their purity. These are the ones upon whom the Holy Spirit will be poured, and though few in number, they will be the ones to proclaim with power the Gospel that will bring the eleventh hour people into the procession.
There are some people who say, “Well, if the ship is sinking, I am sinking with it.” Think about that statement, for Mrs. White says, “I speak not my own words when I say that God’s Spirit will pass by those who have had their day of test and opportunity, but who have not distinguished the voice of God or appreciated the movings of His Spirit. Then thousands in the eleventh hour will see and acknowledge the truth.” Selected Messages, Book 2, 16. In The Great Controversy, 393, she wrote, “The parable of the ten virgins of Matthew 25 also illustrates the experience of the Adventist people.” So, in the passage from Selected Messages, the servant of God is speaking of a movement of thousands at the eleventh hour. It is the procession!
The five wise virgins joined the cry of that swelled procession. While the foolish virgins went to buy oil for their lamps, the procession moved on and left them behind. The five wise virgins with lighted lamps joined the throng and entered the house with the bridal train. Then the door was shut. Who comes through the door last? Seventh-day Adventists.
The question that arises now is, Where is the bride? The answer is given in Christ’s Object Lessons, 406: “They [the ten virgins] see the procession moving on, bright with torches and glad with music. They hear the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride.” The ten virgins, when awakened by the cry, heard the voice of the bridegroom and the voice of the bride. That is very, very significant.
Who is the bride of Jesus? From II Corinthians 11:2, we read: “I am jealous over you with godly jealousy: for I have espoused you to one husband, that I may present [you as] a chaste virgin to Christ.” The bride of Christ is His church.
“But,” some say, “the Seventh-day Adventist Church is God’s church.” Let us read what the servant of God wrote regarding this in The Ministry of Healing, 356: “Christ honored the marriage relation by making it also a symbol of the union between Him and His redeemed ones. He Himself is the Bridegroom; the bride is the church, of which, as His chosen one, He says, ‘Thou art all fair, My love; there is no spot in thee.’ Canticles 4:7.” “There is no spot in thee”? There is no spot in Christ’s church?
“The same power that raised Christ from the dead will raise His church, and glorify it with Christ, as His bride.” Selected Messages, Book 1, 305. So, Christ’s church is His bride.
Connected With Christ
“Very close and sacred is the relation between Christ and His church—He the bridegroom, and the church the bride; He the head, and the church the body. Connection with Christ, then, involves connection with His church.” Education, 268.
Those people who love God and fear Him, based upon the knowledge that they have, and who serve Him with sincerity of heart, based upon whatever truth has been revealed to them, are His children.
“God is the husband of His church. The church is the bride, the Lamb’s wife.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 7, 985. This quotation continues: “Every true believer [she does not say from where they come] is a part of the body of Christ.” Ibid., 986. This is why we are told by the pen of inspiration that even heathen will be saved, because they serve the Lord based upon the knowledge that they have.
“Even among the heathen there are those who cherish the spirit of kindness, who have given all the help within their power to the missionaries that have been sent them. They worship God ignorantly, and to many of them the message of light is never brought; yet they will not perish, for they will receive the blessing, because they have wrought the works of God.” The Signs of the Times, August 7, 1893.
We who have knowledge and are exposed to truth but reject it are in serious trouble. We pride ourselves that we are Abraham’s seed, but a name will never take us to the kingdom; it never will.
The Ten Virgins
Who then are the ten virgins? Ellen White answers this question: “The two classes of watchers [the virgins] represent the two classes who profess to be waiting for their Lord. They are called virgins because they profess a pure faith.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 406. They are professors—the professed people of God. But professing is not enough. The thing that gives them advantage is that they are professing “a pure faith.” So, we may have the truth, but having the truth is not enough, because there is no virtue in having the truth and not living it. That is the problem with the ten virgins.
Notice that the five wise virgins, who represent the faithful members of God’s church, left where they were and joined the procession with the bridegroom and followed on to the matrimonial home. Mrs. White tells us that, “All who wait for the heavenly Bridegroom are represented in the parable as slumbering because their Lord delayed His coming; but the wise roused themselves at the message of His approach, and responded to the message, and their spiritual discernment was not all gone, and they sprang into line. As they took hold of the grace of Christ, their religious experience became vigorous and abundant, and their affections were set upon things above. They discerned where was the source of their supply, and appreciated the love that God had for them. They opened their hearts to receive the Holy Spirit, by which the love of God was shed abroad in their hearts. Their lights were trimmed and burning, and sent forth steady rays into the moral darkness of the world. They glorified God, because they had the oil of grace in their hearts, and did the very work that their Master did before them—went forth to seek and to save those who were lost.” “Ellen G. White Comments,” Seventh-day Adventist Bible Commentary, vol. 5, 1099. They joined with the procession. They joined, and they worked vigorously.
In the parable, the wise virgins had oil in their vessels with their lamps. Their lights burned with undimmed flame throughout the night of watching. It was a help to swell the illumination of the bridegroom’s honor. Shining out in the darkness, their lights helped to illuminate the way to the home of the bridegroom and to the marriage feast. The five wise, as they joined the procession, helped to swell the message of salvation. They helped to bring in people from all over, and they all went to heaven.
In the parable, all ten virgins went out to meet the bridegroom. All had lamps and vessels of oil. For a time there was seen no difference between them. So with the church that lives just before Christ’s Second Coming. All have knowledge of the Scriptures; all have heard the message of Christ’s near approach and confidently expect His appearing. But as in the parable, so is it now that a time of waiting intervenes. Faith is being tried. When the cry is made, “Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him,” many are not ready.
This is a tragedy with God’s people living today. There is a delay. It appears that Christ is not coming soon, so everyone is back to business as usual. They are fast asleep. They have no oil in their vessels; their lamps are destitute of the Holy Sprit. Without the Spirit of God, a knowledge of His Word is of no avail. The theory of truth unaccompanied by the Holy Spirit cannot quicken the soul or sanctify the heart. It is good to know the doctrine, but it is more important that the doctrine be inside of you, bringing fruits unto repentance.
One may be familiar with the commands and promises of the Bible, but unless the Spirit of God sends the truth home, the character will not be transformed. Without the enlightenment of the Spirit, men will not be able to distinguish truth from error, and they will fall under the masterful temptation of Satan. The class represented by the foolish virgins are not hypocrites. They have a regard for truth. They maybe at prayer meeting every Wednesday night, at church every Sabbath, and return a faithful tithe, even vegetarians. They are not hypocrites. They have a regard for the truth; they advocate the truth; they are attracted to those who believe the truth, but they have not yielded themselves to the Holy Spirit’s workings. They have not fallen upon the Rock, Christ Jesus, and permitted their old nature to be broken up.
Some people have been in the church for 40 years, and they are still as miserable as the first day they accepted the truth. Their mouths are still foul; they are still short-tempered; they still carry a malicious spirit, hatred, and anger in their hearts. Why? Because they have not fallen upon the Rock and been broken. This class are represented also by the stony ground hearers. They receive the Word with readiness, but they fail of assimilating its principles. Its influences are not abiding. The Spirit works upon men’s hearts according to their desire and consent, and plants in them a new nature. But the class represented by the foolish virgins have been content with a superficial work. It is just enough for them to be called Adventists; it is enough to go to church; it is enough to have a church office … and to fight for it.
State of Slumber
The foolish virgins do not know God. They have not studied His character; they have not held communion with Him. Therefore, they do not know Him; they have not learned to trust Him. They do not know how to look and live. Their service to God has degenerated into a form.
A state of slumber is the reason for the lack of preparedness. The lay members are asleep; the ministers are asleep, and the world is perishing in sin. Of this sad state, Ellen White wrote:
“Men and women are in the last hours of probation, and yet are careless and stupid, and ministers have no power to arouse them; they are asleep themselves. Sleeping preachers preaching to a sleeping people!” Testimonies, vol. 2, 337.
At another time she wrote: “We are stewards, entrusted by our absent Lord with the care of His household and His interests, which He came to this world to serve. He has returned to heaven, leaving us in charge, and He expects us to watch and wait for His appearing. Let us be faithful to our trust, lest coming suddenly He find us sleeping.” Ibid., vol. 8, 37.
On this basis, the following counsel was given: “God has honest children among the nominal Adventists and the fallen churches, and before the plagues shall be poured out, ministers and people will be called out from these churches and will gladly receive the truth. Satan knows this; and before the loud cry of the third angel is given, he raises an excitement in these religious bodies, that those who have rejected the truth may think that God is with them. He hopes to deceive the honest and lead them to think that God is still working for the churches.” Early Writings, 261.
About what churches is Mrs. White speaking? The nominal Adventist churches and the fallen churches. In many Adventist churches today, there is a charismatic type of service—praise and worship, drums, a good time celebration—because the devil has brought this deception into the church and given people a false concept of the Holy Spirit when they are on their way to hell.
“But the light will shine, and all who are honest will leave the fallen churches, and take their stand with the remnant.” Ibid. Did you notice that? Mrs. White said, “all who are honest”! She did not say, “all who are Seventh-day Adventists,” but “all who are honest.”
There is one message, not two. All who are honest will take their stand. I appeal to you, to every Seventh-day Adventist as well as other Christians, to take a firm stand on the platform of Scripture to make sure that it is well with your soul. Daily allow the Holy Spirit to prepare you. Give up every hereditary and cultivated tendency to sin, so when Jesus returns, you will not be told, “I know you not.”
My prayer is that you will not necessarily be a wise virgin, but that you will be part of the procession.
Pastor Ivan Plummer ministers through the Emmanuel Seventh Day Church Ministries in Bronx, New York. He may be contacted by telephone at: 718-882-3900.