Exeter Temple Message notes: 13th September 2015
Bible Readings: Ephesians 5:8-20/Revelation 3:1-6
There are numerous calls in the Bible for God’s people to wake up
Ephesians 5:14 “Wake up O sleeper, rise from the dead and Christ will shine on you.”
Isaiah 60:1 “Arise shine for your light has come and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.”
Romans 13:11 & 12 “The hour has come for you to wake up from your slumber because salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost her. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armour of light.”
1 Thessalonians 5:6 “Therefore let us not be like others who are asleep but let us be alert and self- controlled.”
1. God’s people need to admit that we have been asleep
Churches that are in need of new life, will often deny that they are sleeping. The Church in Sardis would have been surprised to be accused of being asleep as they could point to the work they were doing for the kingdom of God. Today they would be the kind of church where there is a diverse programme of activity, enjoyable worship, interesting preaching and good organisation. Yet Sardis had lost vitality, was content with mediocrity and were not making an impact in the community. It was a model of inoffensive, complacent, nominal Christianity. The church in Sardis was also showing signs of spiritual decay, and was not on its guard.
2. God’s people need to wake up in time.
So often the church is playing catch up. By the time we realise that there are spiritually hungry people waiting for us to give them the bread of life, they have gone elsewhere to find something to satisfy them. The body of Christ is often so backward in understanding and discerning the moral and spiritual condition of the world around it. For example, changing attitudes to marriage, the sexual revolution. We fail to understand what is presently shaping history. Paul says “wake up and rise from the dead and to make the most of every opportunity, because the days are evil. Do not be foolish but understand what the Lord’s will is.” (Ephesians 5:15)
We also what time it is in the church. The Sardis Church did not realise how close they were to judgment and to extinction. The angel warns them, "If you do not wake up, I will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time I will come to you." (Revelation 3:3b)
This is not a reference to the Second Coming, but a coming in judgment. Whilst nothing can ultimately prevail against the Church capital C, history is sadly littered with local churches that have become extinct and with Christians who lost their way.
Spiritually speaking, sleeping is as neglectful as a sentry closing his eyes on duty. He fails to protect himself or others. It is as dangerous as allowing someone who has taken an overdose to doze off. They may go into a coma. It is as deadly as a lorry driver having forty winks at the wheel. There will be a crash.
This church was warned because it wasn’t quite too late. According to Revelation 3:4, there was a godly remnant at Sardis, who hadn’t been polluted by the world.
- Has there been a wake-up call in my life recently that I’ve missed?
- Is God trying to tell me something today?
- Will I answer His wake-up?
- Will you be part of the godly remnant that stays awake?
3. How do we wake up and stay up?
“Remember, therefore what you have received and heard; obey it and repent.” (Revelation 3:3a)
This includes recalling that they were once lost sinners without hope, the salvation they had received and the joy of their first love for Jesus.
It is remembering that they do not need a reputation to make them powerful. They had forgotten the fundamental of faith, prayer and reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
It is all too easy, to wake up but then to turn back over and go back to sleep. The angel here is not criticizing a people who are taking Sabbath rest. It is right to rest, to sleep when we have laboured hard and we need to recuperate and regain our strength.
It is understandable that at times we might get a bit tired with the simple physical, mental and emotional effort of living a Christian life in what the Bible calls a “wicked and perverse” generation.” But we don’t always sleep because we are tired. Sometimes we sleep because we are too warm, too full up from a heavy meal, or become drowsy by the rhythm of a car or a train or we are simply bored. If we were out in the fresh air, walking or engaged in something that interested our minds and our hearts sleep would be the furthest thing from our thoughts.
The Greek words that are translated “wake up” in both Ephesians and in Revelation it means not just a one off action but implies becoming wakeful or watchful. It refers to a continual condition.
This passage shows us that waking up should be followed by obedience and repentance.
If we just make a mental or emotional assent to the idea that we ought to wake up, we will drift back into slumber. The alarm clock is also a call to obey. It implies - Get up.
The Spirit’s call to wake up is a call to get up and actually do what God’s word says we must do. We must stop thinking that we have the option to pick and choose what we will and will not believe or obey. We cannot bend the word of God to fit our lifestyle. Instead we must conform and go His way.