Saturday, February 17, 2007

The Sleeping Church

Well, I'm filling in for my dad at Church tomorrow so I figured I'd share the text of my sermon with you all. Enjoy.

The Sleeping Church

Ephesians 5:13-14 “But all things that are reproved are made manifest by the light: for whatsoever doth make manifest is light. Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”

In examining this text there are a few things we need to look at, a few questions we need to ask, firstly:

I. What is a sleeper? Not a sleeper as in someone entirely without Christ, a sleeper as in someone who claims to have Christ but is in some type of spiritual slump. A sleeper has several characteristics.
A Sleeper:
? Has eyes closed. Anyone who has their eyes closed obviously can’t see. Their only hope is to wander around aimlessly or open their eyes. It isn’t that light is unavailable, just one who closes their eyes refuses to accept light.
? Lets their guard down. It is impossible to sleep and be alert. A good soldier in war will never sleep without some assurance of protection, either a friend on watch or a well hidden spot. The problem with Christians having a friend on watch to alert them of the Master is no man knows the day or hour, the problem with a hiding spot is you can’t hide from God, ask Jonah! Psychology tells us that we think of so many crazy things when we are asleep because our mind is letting all of its mental guards down. Likewise when a Christian begins to let their guard down we open ourselves to the filth of the world, no resistance to the world without our guard up. Also can you imagine trying to drive a car while asleep with your guard down? I can assure you it is a sure-fire way to prevent old age. I can also tell you it’s a sure-fire way to get a ride in a hearse. Thirdly I can say if everything is coming your way you are in the wrong lane! We wouldn’t try steering a car asleep but we think we can manage our Christian life asleep.
? Allows nonsense to run through head. This is because the mental guard is down. What’s going through our heads doesn’t necessarily have to be evil to keep us from God, there are plenty of distractions that are not evil; books, board games, telephones, sports, etc... however, they become evil when we begin to put them before God. Those things can help us sleep because there is no thought put into them, they require no energy. However, service of the King requires a lot of things we just aren’t willing to give, prayer, study, dedication, but we drown all those things out because we can spend all sorts of time doing other things that allow us to remain spiritually dead! It’s amazing that we can spend two stinking hours at the theatre, but can’t spend 15 minutes praying everyday!
? Can talk but doesn’t say anything. Lots of people talk in their sleep, seldom do they ever really say anything. We see so many Christians who can talk and talk and talk about what Jane wore to work yesterday or how the Steelers didn’t make the playoffs, but how many Christians can talk just as much about the Bible? About Jesus? We have a serious problem, we might label it as gossip, or in terms of spiritual things, sleeptalking.
? Doesn’t get anything done. Obviously, how can you do anything when you are asleep? It just doesn’t make sense, it isn’t feasible. Surely Jesus calls us to go into all the world and preach The Gospel! He doesn’t intend for us to sit idly around, sleeping! What a boring life! If the Christian life is all sleeping it’s no wonder we can’t fill our Church on Sunday morning, in fact I would go so far as to say if the Church is meant to sleep we have done a wonderful job! I dare you to go home and ask your neighbor what time they got up this morning. If you ask someone under 30 there’s probably a 50% chance it wasn’t before 9:00. You ask someone under 25 and I’ll almost guarantee it wasn’t before 12:00. Yes, the Church has done wonderful job of training sleepers, good ones, just look at all the mattress commercials on TV, we are excellent sleepers. Yes, we can spend all day doing nothing but we don’t have time to spread the Gospel.
? Is indifferent to circumstances. Lastly I’ll say a sleeper is indifferent to circumstances. They don’t care what’s going on. You know why? As long as they are asleep it won’t affect them one way or the other. What difference does it make if I’m out riding my bike? As long as you are asleep you’ll never know I went by. Now if I go out and preach and wake you up then I’ll get arrested for disturbing the peace. That’s a completely different story, because loud preaching doesn’t generally encourage sleeping. A sleeper doesn’t care if their neighbor is going to eternal damnation. What difference does it make to them as long as they can go on sleeping.

1. Is the Church sleeping?
Now I ask is the Church in this state? Is the Church sleeping? Does the Church have it’s eyes closed? Have we let our guard down? Are we letting nonsense run through our head? Are we talking but not saying anything? Are we not getting anything done? Are we indifferent to circumstances? I believe the answer to all these questions is yes!
? Are our eyes closed? Well, we certainly seem to be wandering pretty aimlessly for having our eyes open. If our eyes were truly open we would see what a crises the world is in! “Oh, well we know the world’s in a crises” really, could’ve fooled me, if you really believe the world is in a crises what are we doing about it??? We could be accepting the light Christ gives us, but we can’t sleep in the midst of light! There has to be darkness for spiritual sleep (or death), because if there is light then Christ is there! If someone walks in darkness but claims to have Christ then they are lying! Light and dark are mutually exclusive, they can not co-exist! I believe the Church’s eyes have been closed for too long.
? Have we let our guard down? Where were we when abortion was legalized? Where were we when they took the Bible out of school? What are we doing now that they want to legalize gay marriage? Let me tell you right now, the Republican and Democratic parties are not going to solve the Church’s problems. There are problems inside the Church that the Church hasn’t solved yet. What are we doing now that they are celebrating Evolution Sunday? Bet you didn’t know that there are people who call themselves Christian’s celebrating Evolution Sunday; I don’t know if they planned it but it’s the same Sunday as Scout Sunday, just last week. They celebrate it under the name of “progressivism”, if telling people there are many ways to Heaven, that you don’t have to accept Christ to get to Heaven, and that we should celebrate evolution is progressive then they can keep it cause I don’t want it! What are we doing now that preachers aren’t even preaching from the Bible? They’ve taken the Bible out of school and you can see the results, are we going to let them take the Bible out of our Churches? Come on Church, stop catering to the world, let’s have a backbone! “And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that [were] on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” (Joshua 24:15).
? Are we letting nonsense run through our head? If not our heads then it is certainly running from some of our mouths, and pulpits! Preachers preaching that Jesus isn’t the only way, you know what? The Bible has a word for people who don’t teach the Bible, they’re called false!
? Are we talking but not saying anything? Well, it seems we’ll talk about anything but the Bible. We’ll talk about anything but God. We can talk... talk... talk, talk, talk, talk, but we can do all that talking and not say anything! Talk is cheap, most Americans have heard someone talk about Jesus, but very few have had someone show them Jesus! Come on, according to verse 13 whatever makes manifest is light; so by means of deductive reasoning I would argue that if we are not making manifest then we are not light! But we are meant to be the light of the world; holy vessels of the Living God! Before gold can be made to a vessel it must be purified, and the way of telling if gold is purified is you heat it to liquid, and when the refiner can see his reflection in it he knows it’s ready! We need to be that pure gold and reflect Jesus, and show His light!
? Are we not getting anything done? Well, evangelism has slowed down tremendously. They estimate that only 4% of my generation will grow up to be true, born-again Christians! The baby boomer generation had 35% and look how bad America’s gotten already! Can you imagine what it will be like with 4%? That is what will happen if the current rate of evangelism continue. I would say that at least in terms of evangelism we are not getting much done. However, in terms of compromise many Churches are moving in leaps and bounds. We’ve got people who have figured out how to compromise on homosexuality; compromise on Jesus life, death, and resurrection; compromise on the authority of Scripture; compromise on weather the Bible is “absolutely right”. Well isn’t the Church just a theological oddity! Compromise everything! The only reason we haven’t compromised evangelism is because it doesn’t exist among sleepers!
? Are we indifferent to circumstances? Well, if we aren’t getting anything done, and if we aren’t opening our eyes, and if we aren’t keeping our guard up then I can only come to the conclusion that we just don’t care anymore! This is a problem! How can we reflect the Wonderful Counselor and not care? If a counselor doesn’t care then he or she is not a good counselor, at all; I’ve been a camp counselor for three years, and have never seen a good counselor that didn’t care! Now Jesus cared, so have we so easily given up on following in His steps? “For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps:” I Peter 2:21. Tell me, can we be indifferent and follow in His steps?

II. The Remedy. Now we can see the sleepy, dead state the Church has fallen into. And realizing your sleep is one of the first steps to awakening, spiritually speaking. So how can we wake up? What does it take?

1. Awaking
? Realize your spiritual sleep. We have got to realize that we are in a state of sleep, we have to acknowledge being in the darkness. If you don’t know your in the darkness what motivation is there to enter into light?
? Realize the darkness. We also have to come to an understanding of this darkness. It is nothing short of spiritual death. This darkness is some type of sin(s), it’s either doing what you know is wrong, or not doing what you know is right, or a combination of the two. But we have to get away from the darkness, we can no longer be partakers of it if we are going to live in Christ. Verse 11 tells us we are to have nothing to do with the unfruitful works of darkness but that we are to reprove them! So get away from that darkness that is causing your sleep. Stay away from it, repent of your sins and never go near that darkness again!
? Something has to rouse us. If you are going to wake up there is normally a cause, a mental clock that says you’ve slept to long, or an alarm clock, or the appearance of light. In terms of spiritual sleep I believe there must be something to rouse us; The Holy Ghost moving as our alarm. Now what happens when the Holy Ghost begins to move? Well, let’s see, sins are repented of, revival begins, people begin turning to Jesus, lives are healed, Christian’s begin using this God-given power to really make a difference in this world! We have a Church like that of the Apostles that turned the world upside down!

2. No longer dead. All those happenings lead to the increasingly apparent fact that the Church is no longer dead. Instead of a sleeping Church we have a giant out causing raucous in the darkness. The mighty Army of God is on the move and the forces of evil know because the move is so strong, so powerful, so crushing that those forces are defeated left and right. Come on people, Jesus was only in that tomb for three days and then He defeated death, hell, and the grave. On that third day I can picture it now. Satan is going to death, ‘can you hold him?’ ‘Of course, no one ever beat me’ Death says confidently. Second day same thing, Satan says ‘can you hold Him, I got plenty of legions if you need back-up.’ Death replies, ‘back-up, I don’t need no back-up, no one can beat me!’ Then the third day comes, and Satan says ‘can you hold Him?’ And Death frantically replies, ‘I don’t care how many legions you’ve got, I’ve tried everything I can and there just no stopping Jesus! He’s gone out of that tomb with Resurrection power!’ We can overcome this Spiritual death by the Blood of the Lamb! Jesus was victorious, and the Church is meant to be victorious! No weapon that is fashioned against us shall prosper!

III. Christ’s light.
1. Obliterates darkness. Now we can really look at this triumphantly. We don’t have to be a dead, sleeping Church. And once we are no longer dead the last part of verse 14 tells us that Christ shall give us light! We are roused and awoken by the Spirit, And then, oh then There is Light! Jesus is apparent. Christian’s are out preaching the Gospel, strongholds of the enemy are shattered because they can not co-exist with light, this sleepy world is turned upside down! The darkness that has haunted the Church and this world begins to break, but it doesn’t stop there, the darkness is completely gone! When Christ shall set us free we shall be free indeed! We aren’t in the darkness, we aren’t bound to the darkness, we aren’t slaves to the darkness. That is the Christian life I want to live, I don’t want to be some boring old dead Christian who just barely makes it into Heaven, or who doesn’t make it at all. When I stand before that great White Throne I want to hear well done thou good and faithful servant!
2. Produces fruit. Once we are living in the light we will inevitably produce fruit. Good fruits, not the wicked fruits of this world. If you are not producing fruit then you are still dead, because faith without works is dead; a tree without leaves is dead, or at least on break for the fall. We have to produce fruit if we are to live in the light! If you dwell in Jesus and Jesus in you then John 15:4 tells us that you will produce fruit. But don’t forget you have to dwell in Jesus, for a branch produces no fruit outside of the vine, you must dwell in the light!

IV. Conclusion: So what I want to ask you today is are you asleep? Will you continue in the dead patterns of sin or will you wake up and come to Christ and live in His light? The choice is yours, I can’t make it for you, your husband or wife, or father, or mother can’t make it for you. I’ll leave you with these words: “Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”


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