I don’t know about you, but I will often read over a piece of scripture for years and become so used to it that I find my eyes quickly scrolling over the familiar phases, it’s as if my mind fills in the blank spaces I have skipped over. But then comes that one day, when the same recognizable words come alive.
This was the case for me concerning the five wise and five foolish bridesmaids.
I have been walking around with the same burning question for weeks. It started even before the 2020 Lock down, and the question has not left my mind, long enough for me to forget it. I guess that’s how it is with being in solitude, your mind has lots of time to process and remind you of things, to confront you with unanswered questions, with unforgiven past events and in my case I felt that my emotions had very little room to escape. And it has been the same with this question, which often demanded my attention.
“How does one truly know Christ?”
I have been journeying on Philippians 3. Reading and meditating on this chapter, but especially verse eight.
8 “But more than that, I count everything as loss compared to the priceless privilege and supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord [and of growing more deeply and thoroughly acquainted with Him – a joy unequaled]. For His sake I have lost everything, and I consider it all garbage, so that I may gain Christ.”
Throughout the New Testament, whenever Paul is writing to the church, his tone is never nonchalant. For a man who spent most of his time in chains and between prison walls, I have found his letters to always be directional and straight forward. Paul had a mission in mind with each message. So, for him to use words like ‘priceless’, ‘privileged’, ‘supreme’ and ‘advantage’ I believe he was trying to make his point come across more so then he usually did. This left me wondering about Paul’s statement.
I have always believed that Paul knew more about Christ then, than the modern-day Christian does today. His surroundings did not prevent him from realizing that it remained a priceless privilege to know Christ. Nor did he count anything in his past to even measure up to this supreme advantage. So, when Paul calls this knowing priceless what he is saying is that it cannot be calculated, for it’s immeasurable. When Paul says knowing Christ has become a privilege, he is saying that it has brought him indescribable pleasure and delight. When he uses the word supreme, he is emphasizing the superiority of his statement. And when he says advantage, he echoes the benefit of knowing Christ.
Paul is saying that nothing in this world, past or present, none of our accolades or accomplishments, none of our performance or actions can begin to be measured to the immeasurable delight we will find in experiencing a direct relationship with Christ Jesus. This relationship is not a stagnant one, but an ever growing and deepening connection.
I had to look up the Greek meaning of Knowing [knowledge gleaned from first-hand (personal) experience, connecting theory to application; “application-knowledge,” gained in (by) a direct relationship]
So not just pertaining knowledge but putting in action and applying it. While typing the Spirit of God said to me, Knowledge in action becomes knowing.
This again made me think of the 10 Virgins. At first, I could not understand why this parable were so intrusive in my mind. It was part of a pathway to a deeper understanding of Paul’s statement.
I have always wondered what the oil represented. I guessed what seemed to make the most sense to me, but in all honesty, I was clueless. Until the Lord again highlighted another verse for me. James 1:2 came to mind when I was meditating on Pauls circumstances and his claim of unequalled joy in the midst of trails and struggles.
James 1:2 Amplified Bible (AMP)
2 Consider it nothing but joy, my [a]brothers and sisters, whenever you fall into various trials.
There is was again, joy in the arena of trials. Reading on James makes this remarkable statement.
James 1:3-4 Amplified Bible (AMP)
3 Be assured (guaranteed) that the testing of your faith [through experience] produces endurance [leading to spiritual maturity, and inner peace]. 4 And let endurance
[stamina, strength and survival]
have its perfect result and do a thorough work, so that you may be perfect and completely developed [in your faith], lacking in nothing.
Endurance, the testing of our faith brings about endurance, and it’s endurance that leads to inner peace and that produces stamina and strength, so that we may become complete, lacking nothing.
The problem with the five foolish bridesmaids was not that they fell asleep, but that they lacked. They lacked oil. As I sat pondering the symbolism of the oil, the Spirit of God said the following to me, “It’s the pressing that produces the oil.” I saw an image of an olive being pressed. Pressure added upon pressure, designed to bring about endurance. It’s then that I understood that it’s the trials that produces the oil that we need to burn our lamps. That is why Paul could rejoice in prison, for he knew that he was producing oil.
Again, thinking of the five foolish, it’s not surprising that the next sentence in James 1 speaks of wisdom. James goes on to say that anyone who lacks wisdom should ask of the Father, who will guide him through his circumstances. So, when we ask for extra oil, we are in essence asking for more pressing.
I could not understand why I had been going through so many on-going trials in the last four years of my life. So many tests and so much pressing. As I sat one morning meditating on this question, it all become clear. I needed extra oil & through my Abba’s loving Grace, He made sure I could get enough. That which I could never understand has now become my greatest joy. Last year the Lord told me that He would enhance my vision for the new year, and for the first time I could see.
The story goes on where the bridesmaids wake up and realize the groom is close. The five foolish had all ran out of oil. I imagine the panic in some of the girls while the other girls are excited and elated to meet with their groom. “What should we do?” the foolish interject. “Go to the marketplace and buy more oil” they answer.
Asking the Lord about what the marketplace represented I immediately got an image of the church. Wow, I though. That cannot be true, but then the Spirit of the Lord spoke to me, “You see when the time arrives the foolish bridesmaids will run further away from the groom in the hopes of gaining more head knowledge of Christ, they will run to another sermon. They will run to another YouTube video, or minister. They will seek out the prophets or want to read another teaching on Christ.” “None of which will be enough.” “For when they were supposed to run towards Christ Jesus gaining personal and intimate relationship, they ran to the marketplace people to gain more head knowledge of the Groom. The parable ends with them arriving late at a closed door. Knocking, asking, and seeking, but too late. Instead they should have been knocking, asking, and seeking to know Him, they are now only wanting to enter. He then tells them to go away, for He had no knowledge of them.
Not only did they miss the invitation due to their panic, but they also missed an open door. The Lord spoke to my heart, “it’s through the pressing and endurance that a joy unequal comes forth when we allow the pressing to press us closer to Him.” You can never know Him through trying to gain knowledge from other bridesmaids (man), but only through a personal experiential relationship with Him.
It’s knowing Him that opens the door and invites you to have a seat at the table.
Ephesians 1:17 Amplified (AMP)
17 “[I always pray] that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may grant you the spirit of wisdom and of revelation [that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight] into the true knowledge of Him [for we know the Father through the Son].”
By Niki Hodgson