BY: LLOYD ELLEFSON
Most Christians readily agree with the scriptures in regard to God’s care of them, and their need to go to Him in time of trouble. They know He has the ability to help them in every area of their lives, whether it be spiritually, physically or financially. But in actuality, how many Christians practice their confession? As soon as things become difficult, they worry and look for the help that is available in the world.
“Not everyone who says to Me, `Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter.” (Matt. 7:21) The kingdom of heaven is a spiritual kingdom, and it is within us. His kingdom rule comes to us inwardly! It does not come through commandments. The state of our health, of our financial situation and institutions have anything to do with it. It only comes to us in the Holy Spirit!
Jesus said that many will try to impress Him with their importance – their prophecies, their exorcisms in His name, and their performance of miracles! Then Jesus will say to them, “I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.” (Matt. 7:23) In other words, they were busy doing, but they were not doing the things that come out of a relationship with Him – the things that produce life! He never knew them.
In scriptural usage, when a man knew his wife, it meant that they had a relationship that brought about reproduction. For example, Abraham knew Sarah so that reproduction could take place. So when Christ knows us, He reproduces Himself in us and we are conformed to His image. This is brought about by our faith in God. The more faith we have in God, the less faith we have in ourselves and in natural things.
Although many call Christ their Lord, He is lord in name only. Christ is not being reproduced in them. Their faith is of short duration – a little temptation or a little problem is enough to cause their faith to disappear. Suddenly their faith in natural things is stronger than their faith in God. Many of us have experienced this. When God doesn’t answer our prayers and things get worse, what do we do? We get desperate and think God will never answer our prayers! This should not happen in the life of a Christian, because God is always faithful!
Jesus also experienced difficulties, but His faith in His Father never wavered! His spirit never gave up on God. There was never the slightest doubt in His mind about God’s faithfulness. He could rely on God to accomplish His work!
So often we want God to be our servant instead of our Lord; we want to tell Him what to do. Jesus did not do that; He did not initiate His own works. He only did what the Father told Him to do! That is why He could trust the Father to do His work. If we let God initiate the work He wants us to do, we know He will also accomplish it, regardless of the difficulties involved.
Jesus illustrated what He meant by relating a parable about a wise man and a foolish man. “And then I will declare to them, `I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness.’ Therefore everyone who hears these words of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock.” (vv.23-24)
Because of the therefore we see that hearing His words and doing them, does not consist of works of faith, like prophesying, casting out demons or doing miracles. Nor does it consist of addressing Christ as Lord. He is looking for something more important than words and deeds! These people were calling Him Lord, but they were practicing lawlessness and works of iniquity. While they looked like mighty people of God in the eyes of men, they were not doing the will of God. They were practicing deception in their works and wonders, and in calling Him Lord. They were missing the mark. That is why He did not know them.
Those who hear and act upon the words of Jesus are wise! Jesus compared them to a wise man who builds his house on a rock. But those who hear and do not act on the words of Jesus are foolish! They are compared to a foolish man who builds his house on a foundation of sand. They based God’s acceptance of them on their works, and did not realize that their hearts’ attitude was wrong. They thought their works were making them righteous. Although they were doing good things, like prophesying, casting out demons, and calling Jesus LORD, Jesus never knew them. Since they were practicing lawlessness, they lacked obedience. So there was deception or lack of truth. Because they drew attention to their works, they were trusting in their works instead of in God. They enjoyed receiving glory from people!
A house is the place where people live. It portrays our dwelling place in relationship to God and His Spirit. These people had a certain level of truth, for no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except by the Holy Spirit. However, they were using truth to receive glory for themselves.
We can say that we have been born again, filled with the Spirit, and agree that Jesus has come in the Spirit and that heaven is within us, without living in the faith of it. We can give nodding assent to the fact that God is good, that He loves us and that He has infinite power, without believing it when we are put to the test. If we really believe these things, we will not be frightened or worry about the future. But if we do not believe the truth which we have received, we are not living in union with God – in union with the truth!
Jesus said to Peter, “On this rock I will build My church.” The church is the body of Christ, the household of God, the ecclesia, the called-out ones. They are called out of this world to live in Christ while they are in this world. The church is built on the rock, the revelation of who Jesus Christ is!
“And the rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and yet it did not fall, for it had been founded on the rock.” (v.25) The rain, floods and winds, depict the judgments or trials that show whether the house has the correct foundation. They test our relationship with God. When trials and temptations come, and we continue in our faith in God, we are believing and firmly trusting in the love of God. Our relationship with God is in the unseen realm, so trials and difficulties are needed to reveal the actuality of our relationship or its absence.
When the kingdom of God is within us, the rule of God is within us. If His rule is established and settled within us, nothing will move us off the rock! Our relationship with Christ is a constant ascending into a greater revelation knowledge of Him. It is not a resting in past revelation, but a growth in faith and trust that results in a deepening love relationship and security!
When people do not understand the rule of the kingdom, they become established in dogmas – a set of beliefs that is authoritatively affirmed. Church history reveals this. As Christianity flourished, it didn’t take long until men moved out of faith and into organization. When Christianity, established by Constantine, was accepted by the world, it began to fall away from the kingdom of God. People began to polarize around dogmas. Polarization (to cause to gather about two opposite points) always brings division and discord. So Christians began to fight each other.
“Everyone who hears these words of Mine and does not act on them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand.” (Matt. 7:26) We are to hear His words! Hearing His words does not mean that we are to have doctrines about Him, and behavior codes for ourselves. It has nothing to do with church attendance and involvement in its programs. Christ’s basic concern is that we hear His words and believe them, even as He heard the Father and believed the Father! The Father’s love was real to Him, and it is also to be real to us! This brings us into a fearlessness of man!
Adversity reveals the strength of the foundation! The foolish man’s house could not stand against the trials it had to face! “The rain fell, and the floods came, and the winds blew and slammed against that house; and it fell – and great was its fall.” There is a difference between the foolish man and the natural man. The foolish man does not act on what he has heard; the natural man cannot even hear what the Spirit of God says, for it is foolishness to him! So Christians can be foolish. This example portrays a Christian who has heard Christ’s words but has not acted on them. Those who have not heard are just ignorant. This man was not receiving the spiritual life that comes with hearing spiritual truth!
The exterior of the foolish man’s house looks identical to the wise man’s house; the activities of the foolish man appear identical to the wise man’s – they are both involved in good works. But the foolish man’s house collapses when trials come because it is not built on the rock – the revelation of who Christ Jesus is!
We see this all the time. Trials and testings come against the house that we have built. The house that is built on man’s ideas needs to be demolished. That is the best thing that could happen to it! It is not enough to know that we should not be angry and unloving; we need the energy and life to be loving! The idea that knowing good and evil will change us, has to be eradicated!
The house that is built on Christ will not be demolished; it will only be tested! A wise man has more than the knowledge of good and evil; he has life, and life gives energy! It gives us the wisdom to apply knowledge correctly; it subjects knowledge to wisdom!
Knowledge is often in subjection to lusts and emotions. We know what we should or shouldn’t do, but the energy to do the good is not in us. Even Paul experienced this. He said that when he wanted to do good, his flesh prevented him from doing what he wanted to do. (Rom. 7:14-25) We can know the Bible – know that Jesus died on the cross and that our sins are forgiven, yet not live by this knowledge. Natural knowledge cannot make us overcomers when trials and temptations come our way. Our house has to be built on the revelation knowledge of who Christ is! This revelation knowledge of the living Christ is the rock of our foundation!
The parable of the virgins going out to meet the bridegroom, also contrasts the wise and the foolish. (Matthew 25) The kingdom of heaven is compared to ten virgins – five wise and five foolish. Since the kingdom of heaven is within us, this parable applies to what is going on within us. If we are oblivious to the Spirit, we will apply this parable to the natural. But the basic emphasis is on the wise and the foolish. The wisdom of this world is foolishness to God; the work of the Holy Spirit in the spiritual man is considered to be foolishness to the natural man.
Christ compared the kingdom of heaven to ten virgins who took their lamps and went out to meet the bridegroom. They are not the bride, but they have, or think they have, a relationship with the bridegroom that would entitle them to attend the celebration. The word virgin has nothing to do with gender; a virgin can be either male or female. Spiritually, it is a place in the spirit where no adulterous relationship has occurred.
The virgins knew the bridegroom was coming, but they didn’t know exactly when. The word bridegroom reminds us of a wedding. A marriage indicates that a union is taking place. In this parable, five of the ten virgins going to meet the bridegroom are wise, and five are foolish. So we want to see why five are wise and why the others are foolish.
“For when the foolish took their lamps, they took no oil with them, but the prudent (wise) took oil in flasks along with their lamps. Now while the bridegroom was delaying, they all got drowsy and began to sleep.” (vv.3-5) Since the wise took extra oil, it is quite obvious that wisdom prompted them to take the extra oil. Oil produces light in the lamp. The oil is the energy to bring light, and light brings understanding.
The wise virgins acted upon the insight they had received. Only the Word of God can produce light in our lamps! The wise virgins had received enough understanding from their association with the law so they could meet the bridegroom.
The foolish virgins had not been wise enough to understand what had been spoken to them, so they didn’t take the extra oil. For a while they walked with those who could meet the bridegroom, but they could not follow because they were foolish; they didn’t have enough oil or wisdom. For example, Abraham and Lot walked together for awhile. But a separation had to occur because Lot did not have as much faith as Abraham had.
This shows us the importance of a relationship with Christ! The bridegroom’s coming had been announced, and His coming is the coming of the Spirit – and the Lord is the Spirit! (2 Cor. 3:17) Both the wise and the foolish were waiting for him. Jesus taught a principle which can be applied, both to those whose faith is in the law written on tablets of stone and to those who have the law written on their hearts. In Psalm 119:105 we read, “Your word is a lamp to my feet, and a light to my path.” Understanding what the law teaches, prepares us for the coming of the bridegroom.
“But at midnight there was a shout, `Behold, the bridegroom! Come out to meet him.'” (Matt. 25:6) Who announced the bridegroom? Wasn’t it John the Baptist who proclaimed the coming of the bridegroom? (Jn. 3:29) John the Baptist was not the true light, but he brought a witness of the true light. (Jn.1:9) John was a temporary light, proclaiming the coming of Jesus, the Messiah. He called people to repentance in preparation for Christ’s coming.
Those who had light and understanding from the law could meet the bridegroom. They had enough wisdom to understand the teaching of the law; they realized that the law could not bring them into the righteousness of God. They recognized their need to come out of the law, the place where they were living, to meet the bridegroom. An intimate relationship with Him is impossible without repentance on our part. We need to repent of our wrong ideas so that we can receive the truth! Only the true light, the coming of Jesus Christ into the world, can enlighten every man!
The bridegroom is Christ! He is truth! Christ is an Old Testament and a New Testament word. Christ cannot be seen. In the Old Testament He came in types and shadows; in the New Testament He was veiled by the flesh. When He came in the Spirit He was still in the unseen realm. Because He is unseen, many types are needed to represent Him. He did not come into being when He was born of Mary. He was the Son of Man who came down from heaven! So He was in heaven before He came to this earth. He was in the prophets; He was the Lamb slain from the disruption of the world!
Once we see Christ as spiritual truth, we recognize the various stages of revelation God released to man by the things He did. The stage of the law was to bring us to repentance. If it does not produce repentance in us, we will remain in the natural man. The preaching of the cross and repentance is foolishness to those who perish. They cannot understand why they should have to repent. Jesus was killed because people did not understand their need to repent.
“Then all those virgins rose and trimmed their lamps. The foolish said to the prudent (wise), `Give us some of your oil, for our lamps are going out.’ But the prudent answered, `No, there will not be enough for us and you too; go instead to the dealers and buy some for yourselves.'” (vv.7-9) The law is a “buy for yourself”, isn’t it? Since the five foolish virgins had to buy oil, they were too late to meet the bridegroom.
“And while they were going away to make the purchase, the bridegroom came, and those who were ready went in with him to the wedding feast; and the door was shut.” (v.10) It does not say whether these virgins were women or men, does it? Gender has nothing to do with it. They had a virgin spirit; they had not had a relationship with false religions.
“Later the other virgins also came, saying, `Lord, lord, open up for us.’ But he answered, `Truly, I say to you, I do not know you.`” (vv.11-12) They couldn’t come in because they lacked wisdom: Christ, the bridegroom did not know them! Their heart’s attitude did not lend itself to having a true relationship with the bridegroom. Christ did not know them because they were not ready to enter into a relationship with Him who is the truth and the life!
So He said, “Be on the alert, then, for you do not know the day nor the hour.” (v.13) Day refers to light and understanding. Jesus is the bridegroom, and He called Himself the Son of Man. Therefore the Son of Man is the bridegroom. But the Jews did not know that. To understand that Christ came as a spiritual man in the image of God, we need to have wisdom in regard to what we have heard. Calling Jesus LORD, without having a relationship with Him, has no meaning. It does not ensure admittance if He does not know us. Relationship is vital in our union with Christ.
The law cast a light upon man’s true condition. It was an illumination of what sin is, for “Through the law is the knowledge of sin.” Man was in complete darkness in regard to his condition with God; he did not know that he was a sinner. The law was was not meant to be permanent; it was temporary, given about 400 years after Abraham. It was to show people their lack of a relationship with God; they only had a relationship with the earth and with sin. If they didn’t believe what the law was showing them, they would justify themselves, set up their own righteousness, and continue in their self-righteous way. They didn’t have the wisdom to know that they could cry for mercy to a loving Savior. Therefore they could not receive what God wanted to give them. These attitudes are still prevalent today.
We read, “For behold, darkness will cover the earth, and deep darkness the peoples…For this reason it says, `Awake, sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you. Therefore be careful how you walk, not as unwise men but as wise…So then do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is…Do this, knowing the time, that it is already the hour for you to awaken from sleep; for now salvation is nearer to us than when we believed.” (Isaiah 60:2; Eph. 5:14-15,17; Rom. 13:11)
People are in a deep sleep. It bothers God when people try to deal with sin on their own. Overcoming sin necessitates a correction of our ideas and attitudes toward God. This change of attitude reveals that God is our Master. Recognizing that God knows everything and that we don’t know anything, is wisdom. Recognizing that we are to believe Him and obey Him is wisdom. Obedience to Him is our service to Him. Thinking that God is to serve us is foolishness.
Man’s thinking is completely opposite to God’s. Man uses psychology to tell people who God is, who they are, what the cause of their problems is, and how to correct them. Natural man’s faith in God is as a leaf in the wind. It is based on his knowledge of psychology and how to use it to correct himself, and how to function in a given situation. Testimonies are used to prove that it really works. This is really sad. But God has a way of gathering people to Himself! Error attracts people, and causes them to congregate around that error. But God has not ceased working! He has never paused in His redemption of sinful man. Jesus Christ has been proceeding with His program of building the church. His plan is unfolding just as He has purposed!
However, people do not subject themselves to what God is doing in their lives. They try to subject themselves to what God has done in the past. They want Christ to come back to earth instead of wanting Him to bring them up to where He is. They do not understand that He has come back in the Holy Spirit, and that His coming in the Spirit is more advantageous to everyone than a physical appearance. In the Spirit He can indwell everyone, leading and guiding them constantly. A union has taken place, so there is no waiting in line; there is no break in the connection!
The revelation of what He has already done is wonderful! But wisdom recognizes that there is also progression in revelation. There is more than meets the eye! The man who bullt his house on the rock recognized that building a house on the many ideas of man was useless. The foolish man does not receive anything beyond man’s ideas. He lacks the wisdom to know that the law is not enough!
We need to walk in the wisdom and revelation we have now and know that God has more revelation for us. Camping on the camp ground of a certain revelation produces denominations and stagnation. Since we have a new nature we need new food; we need spiritual food, and Christ is that food! It is foolishness to feast on the knowledge of the old man. As we feast on the bounty Christ has for us, we will grow in faith and be secure in Him!
True wisdom knows the difference between shadows and reality; between a dead image and the living Christ! Foolishness does not. For example, instead of understanding that Christ is the tree of life, people have substituted the Christmas tree because its needles remain green. The Israelites worshiped false gods under every green tree. We have Christ, the tree of life! Let’s not worship the false instead of the true! Days also have people in bondage. The practice of having a day for the Lord is not wrong, but it has become something else. We are not taking a day for the Lord, but the day is controlling us, isn’t it? We don’t want to live in the shadows of things to come; we want the reality!
May we all be blessed of the Lord by receiving His wisdom! In fact, He is our wisdom! “But by His doing you are in Christ Jesus, who became to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption, so that, just as it is written, `Let him who boasts, boast in the Lord.'” (1 Cor. 1:31-32)
God bless you. Amen.
TRUE WISDOM [Lloyd Ellefson] 1