The Bible Answers Short Questions From Our Readers
Plain Truth Staff
"Explain, if you will, the parable of the ten virgins — five of whom were wise — and five foolish."
J. R. C., California
The WORK OF GOD, proclaiming to the whole world the good news of the KINGDOM OF GOD, was started by one man — Jesus Christ. Jesus chose and called His disciples. The word "disciple" means a student or learner. For 3 1/2 years, He taught them God's Message — the Gospel — the GOOD NEWS of the WORLD TOMORROW. After His death for the sins of the world, His resurrection to make possible eternal life for us, and His ascension, to the throne of the universe — where He has since remained as our High Priest — Christ sent the Holy Spirit to fill and empower His Apostles and His CHURCH. Jesus had said: "I will build my CHURCH." And He did! The WORK OF GOD was STARTED in and through the individual personal human body of Jesus Christ. He had said that He could do NOTHING OF HIMSELF — it was the power of God's Holy Spirit dwelling IN Him that did the WORK. Now that SAME POWER entered into the COLLECTIVE BODY of disciples, forming the New Testament Church of God. Thus this Church became the BODY OF CHRIST. Its number one commission is to carry on THE WORK OF GOD — that is, proclaim to the world Christ's Gospel of the Kingdom of God. In other words, the GOOD NEWS of the WORLD TOMORROW — Christ's WORLD GOVERNMENT, replacing today's world, invisibly governed by Satan. The early New Testament Church, surcharged with the mighty POWER of God's Spirit, mushroomed and multiplied in growth and power. Its influence was soon felt. Jesus had told His disciples He was going to heaven, but would return again as supreme world RULER to establish the Kingdom of God. They expected this to occur very soon — in their lifetime. It was BECAUSE they thought that the Kingdom of God should IMMEDIATELY appear that Jesus gave them the parable of the pounds (Luke 19:11-27). Even after His resurrection, they expected Jesus to set up His Kingdom immediately (Acts 1:6). But He went to heaven. A whole 19-year time cycle went by. Then another 19 years. For two 19-year time cycles they had proclaimed Christ's Message — and had expected His imminent return — IN THEIR GENERATION! They had grown discouraged. Their patience was exhausted. Then (70 A.D.), came the invasion and siege of Jerusalem. The true disciples in Palestine had fled to the north, disorganized. Their Messiah had not come to establish His RULE. They had lost patience. They were discouraged. THEY WENT TO SLEEP ON THE JOB of proclaiming Christ's GOSPEL! The MESSAGE of the coming GOVERNMENT OF GOD, with Christ as returning KING, to bring us PEACE in the world tomorrow, was no longer being proclaimed in an organized manner to the whole world! This, Christ Himself had foretold in His parable of the Ten Virgins (Matthew 25). These virgins, of course, represented His CHURCH. They had expected Christ's return as conquering KING, even in 31 A.D., the very year the Church was actually founded! (Acts 1:6.) In this parable of Matthew 25, Jesus explained, prophetically in advance, that when the returning Christ "tarried" — DELAYED His coming beyond their erroneous expectation — "they all slumbered and slept." The WHOLE CHURCH OF GOD WENT TO SLEEP ON THE JOB assigned to it! For more than 18 1/2 long centuries that vital Gospel Message of coming WORLD GOVERNMENT was not proclaimed, in organized power, to the world. But Jesus also had declared, prophetically: "This Gospel of the Kingdom shall be preached [and published — Mark 13:10] in all the world for a witness unto all nations; and then shall the end [of this world's civilization] come" (Mat. 24:14). This proclamation was to be the SIGN of His coming! Just as God had allotted two 19-year time cycles at the BEGINNING of this New Testament era for the proclaiming of HIS Gospel, so He has decreed for its worldwide proclamation AT THE CLOSE of the age — preparing the way for His return! The first week in 1934 that SAME Gospel of the Kingdom started going once again to the world. Christ had OPENED THE MIGHTY DOOR of radio and the printing press. The "midnight hour" had struck! The LOUD CRY began booming out, thundering to the world, "Christ is soon COMING to RULE ALL NATIONS ON EARTH FOR A THOUSAND YEARS!" The KINGDOM OF GOD was once again being proclaimed! The CHURCH had aroused from its slumber! Read again the prophecy of the virgins: "While the Bridegroom tarried, they all [the whole Church] slumbered and slept. And at midnight there was a cry made, 'BEHOLD, THE BRIDEGROOM COMETH; GO YE OUT TO MEET HIM'" (Mat. 25:5-6). The WORK OF GOD had undergone an awakening! Once again it was active. But notice! The parable continues: "Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps. And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil, for our lamps are gone out [OR, going out — see margin]." The five foolish virgins possessed lamps but took no oil. That is they had the Word of God, the Bible, to light their path, but were not filled with the Holy Spirit [symbolized by oil] to give them spiritual understanding either of the Bible, or of the gospel, or of the times in which they live! This was the state of the five foolish virgins who thought themselves to be God's people when the midnight cry arose. They were spiritually dead, having no oil left — having quenched the Holy Spirit of God! Now turn to the brief prophetic history of the true Church in Revelation 2 and 3. The very LAST of these seven successive Churches is to be the self-sufficient, lukewarm, Laodicean group. But just before it is the Church which carries this end-time vital Message! It is small. It is weak. But it is faithful, as few have been, with GOD'S WORD! It rises at the time Daniel prophesied, when "KNOWLEDGE shall be increased" (Dan. 12:4). But this Church, carrying God's message to the world, is preceded by another Church era. That one is pictured as spiritually asleep and dead (Rev. 3:1-3) — foolish virgins. But among them are a few — wise virgins — who shall walk with Christ (verse 4). They heeded the midnight cry. Is it any wonder, then, that SATAN is now aroused to sway those he can lead into persecuting and opposing God's Work? Remember, prophecy is DUAL. There is a former, and a latter fulfillment of most prophecies. The first FAMINE OF HEARING THE WORD OF THE LORD has ended. But the time is soon coming — probably at the end of the second 19-year time cycle of this Work — when the voices of God's servants shall be stilled — the printing presses stopped! Then will come the great tribulation, and the terrible Day of the Lord with its supernatural plagues on the devil's cohorts! For 3 1/2 years there shall AGAIN be a FAMINE OF HEARING THE WORD OF THE LORD (Amos 8:11) — except for the voices of God's two witnesses (Rev. 11). Then comes the resurrection. "And they that were ready" — the wise virgins — "went in with Him [Jesus Christ] to the marriage" (Mat. 25:10). And the others were shut out! To them Jesus said: "I know you not." "Watch therefore," Jesus concluded, "for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh" (verse 13).