February, 2005 - Ready for The Rapture?
By Billie Marie Zal
During my life in Christ, I have often been puzzled by the many Scriptures that so obviously point to the fact that not every professing believer will be caught up at the Rapture.
This fact has come to me time and again, and as I have searched God’s Word , I have received light that I would like to share with those of you who might have wondered as I did about these verses.
First of all, it is inconceivable that children of God should continue (after their declaration of salvation) to live in a manner that make them unworthy to be caught up by the Bridegroom and seated at the marriage feast. We have all the reasons we need to be ready. We are bought by Him, so we are His possession. We are cleansed by Him from the guilt of sin (and saved from its penalty) and so we owe Him unquestioning obedience. And we are capable of becoming sanctified by His ever present Comforter, the Holy Spirit, if we agree to leave off self and follow Him.
But, in Matthew 25, beginning with verse 1, it would seem that even with all these things in our favor, still there are those who profess to know Him (and fervently believe that they do) and yet are not going to make it. For we read, “Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom. And five of them were wise, and five were foolish. They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them: But the wise took oil in the vessels with their lamps. While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept. And at midnight, there was a cry made, Behold the bridegroom cometh: get you out to meet him. 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. But the wise answered, saying Not so: lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves. And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came: and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut. Afterward came also in the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us. But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not. Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of Man cometh.”
I cannot remember in all my Christian life ever hearing this passage expounded, and so I do not draw from any human teaching on this Scripture, But rather upon the light that I received from the One who said in His Work, “If any man lack wisdom, let him ask of God, who giveth liberally...” In receiving my answers from God, I discovered that this passage does tell us that it takes more than just going out getting what believers call a “salvation experience” in order to be raptured. It takes more than going out witnessing and telling others of our experience in order to be raptured. It takes more than attending meetings all week long and getting involved in organizational matters of the denomination in order to be raptured. In other words, it takes a down to earth, yet heavenly walk with God, moment by moment, step by step, without the least giving in to the flesh life which extinguishes the oil of God’s Holy Spirit which is our life.
I am so aware of how easily we can fall into the snare which the foolish virgins fell into. Notice how the Scriptures say that the foolish ones were definitely virgins. Virgins denote purity, and these virgins had declared themselves to be pure and ready for the Bridegroom when He called. In today’s religious society, these virgins would be those who have claimed the Lord as their Savior and who declare that they are believers in Him and members of His Body, thus being virgins.
But the foolish virgins had their lamps but no oil. They took their position lightly. They had become careless and things had come in the way of their love for the Bridegroom.
Right here we can stop and meditate upon the fact that we can indeed be professing Christians and have no oil. So many things can come in the way and separate us from the fellowship of the Holy Spirit. In Luke 14, verse 17, when the man sent his servants to invite individuals for the great feast at his house, there were three separate excuses for those who did not come. One said, “I have bought a piece of ground, and I must needs go and see it:” the second said, “I have bought five yoke of oxen and I go to prove them:” and the third said, “I have married a wife, and therefore I cannot come.”
These excuses are pretty well categorized. Either we have become too entangled in property affairs which has taken first place in our thoughts and activities; or we have become too much involved in business deals, like the man who wanted to raise a herd of oxen for profit: or else we have too much natural attachment to a mate and God has become second to person in our lives.
I remember, soon after being born into God’s family, wanting to desperately to have a definite dwelling place. I wanted to put down my roots and would have remained “planted” in one place had it been possible. God would not have it so: He knew me so well and planned a sort of nomad existence, moving me about as He willed. As I perceived what He was about I decided that He knew best. What He was doing was to create character in my life and this was more important than giving in to my need to “settle down.” In time it did not really matter any more if I put my roots down. Actually, I had finally put them down once and for all, for I was rooted in Christ. Where He sent me, I went joyfully, for He was there. That was all that mattered.
I do not even know for sure if I am settled yet. Perhaps I am, and perhaps not. But I do know that if the Lord chooses to relocate me within the week, then I will rejoice--not in the relocation--but in doing His perfect will. And so in this category, I firmly believe that my lamp is trimmed with oil, and if the Voice calls, I am ready and I shall be with Him at the feast.
Then there is the category of the business deals. In this matter God also led through many paths to disentangle me from the security that good business deals provide. When He saved me, I was an executive secretary for a very successful man in Chicago. It was a lucrative position with so much promise. And what did my heavenly Father do? He called me to leave my profession, to wait on Him, and to trust Him to provide all my needs. I shall never forget the sheer mental agony that such a decision brought. I was thought to be insane by some, and my own mind doubted myself! But praise God I did not listen to my mind, I listened to the voice of my Lord (and who can mistake that Voice, once it is heard and obeyed?). With much fear and trembling, I embarked on my new career--a career of just waiting on God to open up His path for me day by day, and to expect the miracle of provision.
It would take a book to describe such a path. It was so difficult, and yet so blessed. My mind would often get in the way, and with an effort of the will I would follow Him anyhow. I should not have worried, for in obedience came the sweetest and loveliest communion that one can ever know this side of heaven. A whole new life opened up to me--a life of service to Him who loved me and gave Himself for me. And my career that had seemed so grand and promising became tarnished and dim in the light of such loving fellowship of His Holy Spirit. My lamp was filled with oil. I was ready for His Voice and the great marriage supper.
In the third category of things that get in the way of our getting the needed oil for our lamp, I was to be schooled rigidly. This matter of having a mate (and family) had always appealed to me. I had never thought anything would be more wonderful than getting married and living happily ever after. God again took great steps to discipline me in my affections. I was taught of Him, that man is only a man. No man can ever be what God is. No human love can ever compare with divine love. And if we are to have a mate, we are to recognize the vast difference and accept it. Then all of our loves--not only for a husband but for a child--will be placed in their proper perspective. I can say with all joy that no husband, and no child--and no friend can ever be to me what God is. There is a song that I often sing entitled “No One Ever Cared for Me Like Jesus,” and the line that I like best reads, “no one else could take the sin and darkness from me....oh, how much He cares for me.” No man except the Man Christ could take the sin and darkness out of my life. And I owe Him my allegiance above anyone else.
I do not mean to imply here that I have forsaken my family. How far from the truth this is! My family is even more dear to me because of my deep love for Jesus Christ. This in itself is a bonus. But on the other hand, Christ reigns. And so my lamp is filled with oil and I await with ever increasing desire the coming of the Bridegroom.
In summing up the parable of the ten virgins, we can be so thankful that not all ten were foolish. At least five of them were ready. During the long, dark, seemingly endless night, five chose to believe that He would come, no matter how long the delay. They were prepared. The oil was there so that the light would reveal Him whom they adored.
And when the Voice came, they could not be hindered by the five who had lived carelessly and begged them to share their oil. Their natural sympathy did not make them hesitate. This would indicate that there is no “last moment” change-over, if we have lived a shabby, slipshod life while proclaiming that we belong to the Lord Jesus Christ. The foolish virgins were not prepared to receive any oil at the last moment. And so they missed out.
I do not like to dwell upon the tragedy of the five foolish virgins. But in order to be realistic, we must admit that there are those--countless numbers perhaps--who have professed to be believers and yet who have no oil at all to light your lamps and give you the light to see Him when He calls. There are those of you who take a chance and wait a little longer to forgive when forgiveness should be now, at this very moment. There are those of you who wait a little longer to give up some foolish, carnal relationship or habit, when it could be given up now, at this moment. There are those of you who refuse to leave that object of affection that has entangled you in emotional turmoil and wait a little longer--when you can leave it now, at this moment.
The Spirit of grace can soften your heart and you can begin again, and not delay any longer. We have God’s Word before us. There were five wise virgins. But there were also five very foolish virgins, and God grant that you should not be one of the foolish.
I was never able to play around and dawdle when God spoke to me about a certain thing in my life that had to go. I read the Word and I believed it. I did not want to take any chances on missing out on the most glorious thing that will ever happen to us, if we make it--the marriage supper of the Lamb. I do not believe in “frightening people into the kingdom of God.” But I will say this: a little healthy fear right now on the part of those who claim to know God might just be a start in the right direction. If the Church which is the Body of Christ is to be raptured, it is not going to be a dirty Church, and from the looks of things, there are a lot of dirty linens in the professing body today. The Bride must be WITHOUT spot or blemish. God’s Word means what it says, and if we are to be without spot or blemish, let us put away all filthiness of the flesh at once and begin to prepare for the Bridegroom’s invitation to the marriage supper. I pray that you might receive a revelation from the Spirit and begin now, to make ready. Get the oil in your lamps, and listen. At any moment we might hear Him. And may we all be there, praising Him and rejoicing with Him that we had our lamps trimmed and met Him in the air.
Reprint from May, 1995
The past year and a half has been difficult for the seven of us here. Satan came in with the big guns as soon as Margaret and I knew that we loved each other. First the IRS, then attacks on our health - Margaret’s surgery, Ed’s scare with another heart attack, Rodney’s depression and anxiety, Gail’s persistent headaches, Shirley’s hands hurting, Jay’s shoulder and stomach, Mikey and then Munchy left us; and in Munchy’s case a very long and difficult illness. Margaret’s recovery is taking longer than we had expected and also she has had a constant infection for nearly a year now. We have had to replace equipment, and there are all too many unexpected repairs to be done. It goes on and on, and without going into detail, trust us when we say this was serious.
Satan would like to destroy this ministry. He tried. But the things which satan tried to use in destroying us have been turned around for now and consequently it has brought our family closer together. The void that Billie left has been filled with LOVE through the seven of us (counting Jay) coming together and standing firm, KNOWING that God called us to this ministry. This is not an easy work and we have had very little support of any kind. Some of our “boys” have disappointed us while others amaze us with tithes and love beyond belief. We treasure every act and word of love because no one could know how important this work is, except by God showing them.
Rodney & Margaret
Prayer List for February, 2005:
For Tyrone Anderson at the Robertson Unit, that his blood pressure will come down.
For James Bateman at Granite, Oklahoma, his family, and for everyone at OSR.
For Robert Heffernan at Tucker, Arkansas.
For Willie Hoffman at McAlester, Oklahoma, that God will lift his spirits.
For Mickey Reil at Rosharon, Texas, that he will get the clerk’s job at the chapel there.
For Lafayette Washom, At McAlester, Oklahoma, that he will stay strong in faith despite the circumstances.
For Christopher Buehler’s grandfather who has lung cancer and heart problems.
For Karen Griffin at McCloud, Oklahoma, for her health and for her medical parole.
For Tommy Hayes, his family, and everyone at the Robertson Unit.
For Sister Ann and all the Carmelite nuns in Little Rock.
For Frances Nolan Holland, his nervousness.
For Willie Davis at Danville, Illinois, for helpful results with more DNA testing.
For Jimmy Huff’s Ministry in Loraine, Texas.
For James Bateman At Granite, Oklahoma.
For Anthony Grayson, in New York, for success with his post conviction appeal.
For Timothy Haynes & Robin Harris, our brothers at Cushing, Oklahoma.
For Henry Buckaloo at Granite, that he will get a good job soon.
For Dexter McDade & Isaac Douglas, brothers at Canton, Ohio.
For Calvin Huddleston’s Sister who is ill.
For Don Price and his family, for their health.
For Samuel Williams who is in segregation at Pontiac, Illinois.
For Dr. Scott, for his healing, specifically, that the kidneys will stop bleeding.
For all our brothers on death row.
For Me and Margaret, that I will overcome my anxiety and that Margaret will continue to recover from her surgery; For Brian and Gail, Ed and Shirley, and Jay, that they will continue to be strong and blessed.
- From Oswald Chambers’ Approved Unto God:
“Human strength and earnestness cannot make someone a Christian anymore than they can make someone an angel; a person must receive something from God, and that is what Jesus Christ called being born from above. This supreme test of a Christian is that a soul has a spirit of Jesus Christ in his or her actual life.”
- Also, from the same book, Chambers wrote:
“We need to remember that we cannot train ourselves to be Christians, we cannot discipline ourselves to be saints, we cannot bend ourselves to the will of God; we have to be broken to the will of God. There must be a break with the dominant ruler. We may be clean and upright and religious, we may be Christian workers and have been mightily used of God; but if the bedrock of self-realization has not been blasted out by our own free choice at the Cross of Christ, shipwreck is the only thing in the end.”
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