25 July, 2011

Asleep in the Light

I am absolutely convinced we are living in the last days. No, I'm not trying to set a date for the Lord's return; however, if you have read your Bible and are watching the news from around the world, it is pretty clear, things are speeding toward the end time events recorded in the Word of God. This is not a time for fear and panic, rather, this is a time for the church to arise to it's finest hour!

In Ephesians 5:14, Paul writes: "Awake, you who sleep, Arise from the dead, And Christ will give you light."  With a casual reading, this may appear that Paul is addressing one person, or group of persons. But if we look more closely, we see that this in actuality two separate calls that are going out, or one call, but to two different people groups.  First, there is a call to those who are asleep.  There is a vast difference between a person who is asleep and one who is dead. A sleeping person may appear dead if observed from a distance, but there is still occasional movement, breathing and activity going on within that person.  A dead person might be laying in the same position as a person who is asleep, but that dead body will show no signs of life at all. We must apply scriptural reasoning to this passage to understand that the "sleeper" mentioned here represents on who has been saved, brought to life by the spirit of God... but they have fallen asleep and now are in desperate need for someone or something to wake them up.  The Father's first call in this passage is to this group of people... the saints, the body of Christ that has drifted into a deep sleep. The Father says, "Awake, those of you are asleep... and Christ shall give you light!"  Understand, the believer... even one who is asleep, dwells in the kingdom of light. (see 1 Peter 2:9 & Colossians 1:12-13)  OK... so you might be wondering, "how can a person that is already in the light have a need for Christ to give them light."  Picture it this way...  if you are sitting in the middle of a well lit room and closed your eyes; you would be in darkness.  So, what happens when you go to sleep? You close your eyes! Thus, you are in the midst of the light, but still in darkness. This is why so many Christians are in darkness! They are asleep!  So, when a believer awakens... opens his eyes, the light that is surrounding him enters into his spirit fresh and anew! Christ gives the "awakened sleeper" the light of revelation.  The Psalmist wrote: "Open my eyes, that I may see Wondrous things from Your law... The entrance of Your words gives light; It gives understanding to the simple." (Ps. 119:19 & 130)  

The second part of this call of God goes out to those who are dead. "Arise from the dead." The unbeliever is frequently described in scripture as being in darkness.  Darkness is defined as being outside the kingdom of God. Just to be clear, we are not talking physically dead here... but spiritually. In Ephesians 2:1 the Word says that an unbeliever is "dead in trespasses and sins." When an unbeliever calls upon the Lord he is brought "out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)  A spiritual resurrection takes plays in the greatest miracle of all... in a moment, souls are brought from death to life: from darkness into the light.  Compare this to Lazarus as he rose from the dead.  When Jesus called him to come forth, and he arose and walked out of that tomb... imagine how he must have felt walking from the cold darkness of that tomb and into the bright, warm shining sun. Can you  see him blinking his eyes as he adjusts to the sunshine?  In the same way, Christ gives the newborn Christian the light of salvation! The divine call that Paul records in this passage is for the world to arise out of death! 
You sleepers... it's time to awaken!
You dead... it's time to to come to life!

Those that are alive... believers in Christ are alive unto God through Christ, but they may be lulled to sleep by weariness, inaction or carnality.  In this inactive state of being, he is no more useful to the Lord than a dead sinner, for both lie in an inactive state of being. It is only when the believer awakens and becomes busy with the Father's business that he will ever find purpose and meaning in serving God. I will say it again...  A SLEEPING CHRISTIAN IS IS USELESS TO GOD! He or she is not advancing the kingdom of God any more than a dead person. It's time to awaken!

I believe it is at the forefront in the Father's heart that the church become awakened.  The call to the sleeping church precedes the call to the world which is in darkness. That may seem, at first glance, to be an erroneous thought. After all, isn't the salvation of the world God's highest objective? Without a doubt, it is so clear that purpose for the Father sending His son into the world was to reconcile fallen man to Himself.  But I argue that if if the world is to be reconciled, there must be an instrument... a means, through which the world will hear the Gospel. That instrument is the Body of Christ. The only time the world hears the Word is when the church speaks. Well, a sleeping church is a SILENT church. It is only when it's members awaken and begin to speak that the lost will hear the Word of God. I believe this is why the call goes out first to the sleeper, then to the dead. When the church arrives t the place God would have us to be, we will win the lost!

Still not sure that I am right in what I am saying? Consider this: In John 17:9, Jesus did not pray directly for the world. Rather, he expressly directed his intercession for those who follow him.  "... I pray not for the world, but for them which you have given me..."   This pattern for prayer has not changed. Christ "made intercession for the transgressors" on the cross (see Isaiah 53:12). Since He arose from the dead and seated himself at the right hand of the Father, Jesus has been interceding for the church! Christ realized that as the chruch opens her eyes (awakens) she will then proclaim the Gospel and shed for the light of Jesus to a world that is in darkness.  I believe this is why there is a call to "awaken" before there is a call to "arise."  
The call goes out today to the church which is by and large asleep in the light.... "Awaken you who sleep!"  The Father has much work for the church to do... but we must open our eyes!

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