Oil to Light

One Sunday I was sitting in Gospel Doctrine class listening to a lesson about the parable of the ten virgins. The discussion was a typical one heard in many LDS wards. The virgins with oil had done things, e.g., attend church meetings, read their scriptures, said their prayers, paid their tithing, accepted callings, so that they would have enough oil to fill their lamps. These works were the metaphorical oil in their lamps that allowed them to a seat with Christ in His kingdom. Those without oil were lazy, had wasted the days of their probation,and were thus unworthy of the kingdom.

As I listened to the lesson I felt that we were missing something. That there was a deeper meaning to the story that was being overlooked. Then it hit me. Oil was not the sign that got the 10 prepared virgins into the feast, but the light the oil created. In the end, the amount of oil one had meant nothing if it was not producing light. Filling the lamps with oil was not enough, it had to become something.

If oil is works, or doing stuff, it is insufficient to save. The things we do only matter if they cause us to change, bring forth light, experience a mighty change of heart, and by the grace of God become born again as something new. When our being is one of light, Christ sees Himself in us, and we are admitted to the feast.

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3 thoughts on “Oil to Light

  1. Oil is also symbolic of the Holy Spirit in the Bible. The parables also involves those who do not grow weary and continue to follow Jesus when the rest of the world falls asleep and stops paying attention.

    Works though, wooo that is a huge stretch.

  2. I think it works with oil being the Holy Spirit as well. AS it dwell in us we can become a new creature in Christ. It’s this becoming something over merely doing something that I wanted to emphasize.

    The nice thing about parables is their ability to have multiple meanings. I know many parables have changed meaning for me over time giving me new insights. It’s a well that can be returned to over and over.

    1. There is a lot of familiar Biblical symbolism reflected in this idea.

      “Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house. Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”

      Given this, I believe the interpretation of oil as works ignited within us by the Holy Spirit or the oil as the Holy Spirit ignited by the sacrificing of our own will (works) both speak well to the parable’s intent.

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