One of the great experiences of life is owning the car of your dreams. In my case, I would like to own a Metallic Blue, Ford Shelby Cobra, with a 427 cubic inch engine.
If I were to purchase this car, I can imagine how I would feel if after taking delivery it didn’t start, and upon raising the hood I found it didn’t have an engine. Of course, I would have a lot of questions for the seller. I would have expected the car to be in working order when I took delivery. How could something so foolish like this happen, would be the question on my mind?
This car tale is a little like the parable of the Ten Virgins. The parable, like my car tale, is about crushed expectations. Fully half of those who expected to go out to meet the bridegroom were unprepared and not allowed to enter the bridal party.
The Savior gave the parable of the Ten Virgins for a reason. President Spencer W. Kimball said it was given as a warning to LDS church members.
The difference between the virgins who were prepared or unprepared to meet the Savior didn’t have anything to do with worthiness. It wasn’t a matter of being good or evil, righteous or unrighteous. The parable states that the difference was that of being wise or foolish.
From all outward appearances all the virgins were prepared. They had been actively engaged in the observable requirements of church activity. The message of this parable is that the five foolish virgins hadn’t done the unobservable Spiritual preparation the wise had done. Consequently, they received a rebuke from the Lord when they asked to enter the wedding celebration, he said to them, “ Verily I say unto you, Ye know me not” (JST Matt. 25:11).
How could something like this happen? What had they neglected to do? The reason they didn’t know the Lord is answered in the following verse of scripture:
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day. D&C 45:56 – 57
The difference between the wise and foolish virgins was the gift of the Holy Ghost. The wise virgins weren’t deceived because they had taken the Holy Spirit for their guide. The wise virgins had been doing something the foolish hadn’t. What was it?
The apostle Paul taught about those who have “…a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof…” (2 Timothy 3:5).
What does it mean to have a “form of godliness”? The following scripture may provide an answer:
“…this people draw near unto me with their mouth, and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their hearts far from me, and their fear towards me is taught by the precepts of men” 2 Nephi 27:25
This scripture exposes the shallowness and insincerity of lip service. Lip service is to appear to be living one way, while in practice living another way. The foolish virgins were apparently practicing a form of lip service. They were going through the motions of coming unto Christ in outward appearance, but their hearts weren’t in it. In our day, it is like writing a check for a major purchase and hoping it will clear the bank. That sounds foolish doesn’t it. Good intention are not enough. Remember, foolishness is what kept the five virgins from the wedding, not evil or unrighteous acts.
Another scripture, this one from the Bible, illustrates the difference between wise and foolish. I used a modern Bible translation, The Message:
46-47“Why are you so polite with me, always saying ‘Yes, sir,’ and ‘That’s right, sir,’ but never doing a thing I tell you? These words I speak to you are not mere additions to your life, homeowner improvements to your standard of living. They are foundation words, words to build a life on.
48-49“If you work the words into your life, you are like a smart carpenter who dug deep and laid the foundation of his house on bedrock. When the river burst its banks and crashed against the house, nothing could shake it; it was built to last. But if you just use my words in Bible studies and don’t work them into your life, you are like a dumb carpenter who built a house but skipped the foundation. When the swollen river came crashing in, it collapsed like a house of cards. It was a total loss.” Luke 6:46-49 (Source: The Message)
The Lord is a “discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart”. Church members who draw near to the Lord with their words but their hearts are not in it will forfeit the companionship of the Holy Ghost.
According to the parable of the Ten Virgins and the words of the prophets, there are church members who appear to have it all, but when it comes right down to it, they have a form of godliness; they draw near to the Lord with their lips but their hearts are not with Him. Consequently they don’t have the companionship of the Holy Ghost even though they are “active” in the church. Without the companionship of the Holy Ghost, membership in the church would be like having a powerful sports car without an engine. A lot of show, but no go!
The foundation each of us needs to build on are found in the first principles and ordinances of the gospel:
1. Faith in the Lord Jesus Christ
3. Baptism by immersion for the remission of sins
4. Laying on of hands for the gift of the Holy Ghost
All the virgins were baptized, confirmed members of the church, and told to receive the gift of the Holy Ghost. The difference between entering the wedding celebration and not is found in the unobservable (to man, not God) application of faith and repentance that occurs in our hearts and prayers.
The foolish virgins didn’t embrace the first principles of the gospel with real intent whereas the wise virgins did.
I think Elder Bruce R. McConkie summed it up when he wrote: “We worship the Father, in the name of the Son, by the power of the Holy Ghost.” The Promised Messiah, p. 13.
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