Sermon for 3/21/2004
What? When? How? And Why?
In the Movie, the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Dorothy, Lion, Scarecrow and the Tin Man are going on the yellow brick road to the Emerald City to see the Wizard of Oz. They have come through many trials but finally they see the Emerald City in the distance. The wicked witch has placed beautiful poisoned poppies on the last few miles of the yellow brick road. As they are running through the field of poppies in the sunshine Dorothy and the Lion fall asleep because of the poisoned poppies. The Tin Man and Scarecrow call upon the Good witch to help them and she brings snow to break the sleeping power of the poppies. Finally, Dorothy, Lion, Scarecrow and the Tin Man are able to go into the Emerald City.
A. This is the condition of the majority of churches in the present day.
B. They are like the church in Laodicea. (Rev 3:17 NIV) You say, ’I am rich; I have acquired wealth and do not need a thing.’ But you do not realize that you are wretched, pitiful, poor, blind and naked.
C. Oh how we need some persecution to wake us up. Some will never wake up.
Thesis: Ask four questions this morning focusing in on vs. 6.
What kind of sleep is vs. 6 talking about?
A. This is not talking about death. A few verses above in chapter 4 this is talking about death. Paul mentions here those who have fallen asleep in Jesus. This is a blessed state to enter. However, in this verse, it is not positive. The Holy Spirit does not want us to be this way. It is speaking of being asleep spiritually.
B. Charles Spurgeon- From the Greek this word “others” can be translated in this way. Let us not sleep as do the refuse, the trash, those who do not have in mind the things of God, those who care nothing for Christ, those who do not think about eternity.
C. Basically there are two kinds of people. On one side are the children of the dark: unbelievers. These people, operating in the darkness of a spiritual night, are sleepers and drunkards. That they are asleep means they are spiritually insensitive and not aware of the coming day of the Lord, nor of other spiritual realities. That they get drunk is a representation of their lack of self-control. They care nothing about spiritual things.
D. The word sleep here means a deep sleep and Paul is saying that we should not be like them. Obviously he is referring to unbelievers, the unsaved.
1. Those who are asleep are in a state of ignorance.
a. They that sleep know nothing. Those who are like Rip Van Winkle and wake up after 20 years from a coma know nothing of events that have happened.
b. Many are in a state of willful ignorance. To be ignorant because one does not have the means or intelligence is one thing. It is not that they are unable to get information on spiritual things, they want to stay ignorant. They are asleep.
c. They have no fear of God.
d. We do not need to be like them. We need to search the Scriptures for in them we have eternal life, for they testify of Jesus Christ. Let us be studious (even if it goes against our upbringing or character). May we mediate on it day and night. Let us not sleep as do others.
2. Those who are asleep are in a state of apathy.
a. They may have knowledge of the faith, of the Scriptures, but it is hidden away because they could care less.
b. They are so numb that spiritual things do not trouble them. Oh, they will be upset if they are unjustly injured or if someone steals from them. However, to mention that God is hurt or that He is angry with their actions produces no response from them, except anger to the messenger.
c. I am so thankful that as a Christian I do not have this. Do you think this is just talking about atheists? These descriptions can also be applied to many in the church. Why did the Holy Spirit give this to us if it doesn’t apply to us?
d. Once we loved the songs. Once we loved to pray. Once we loved the sermon, but no more. We are being lulled to sleep.
e. Once we would tell others about Jesus Christ, but no more. We start to be apathetic. WE don’t care if others come to the Savior or not. Who cares?
f. I give my offering to God, but it is just an obligation. It won’t make a difference, nothing will make a difference, and it is all useless. Lack of hope leads to apathy.
3. Those who are asleep cannot defend themselves.
a. They have no power to resist temptation.
b. They give into lust or greed or drunkenness or envy or pride. They have no power to resist.
c. “I want to but I cannot give up this sin.” Of course you cannot, while you are asleep.
d. While someone is asleep, the surgeons can cut upon you and you know nothing about it.
e. While someone is asleep, the thieves can come in and take everything and you know nothing about it.
f. While we are asleep, the devil comes in and has his way and we are powerless to stop him.
4. Those who are asleep are in a state of inaction.
a. The problem with many people in this country is that they are inactive. TV, videos, movies, office jobs, everything is set up for inactivity physically and many times mentally.
b. “Let’s just pray about it.” And then do nothing. My friends, if we are really praying about something, we cannot help but do something about it.
c. Many people will work hard for this and for that. When it comes to the Lord’s work, many would find it hard to work an hour, while they are more than happy to work in the world for months.
d. How many Christians are inactive!
e. The 80/ 20 rule.
f. Many are good, but good for nothing. They are content to just sit and eat the bread of the table and the bread of the Word. What an amount of sleepers we have in the church; for truly if the churches were awake (just the Churches of Christ/ Christian Churches) there are enough men and women, there is enough talent, enough money, enough time, there is enough to preach the gospel in every corner of the earth. We have everything we need except the will.
5. Those who are asleep are in a state of insecurity.
a. Sleeping men are always in danger.
b. Vs. 8 mentions that we are to put on armor. The Christian life is a life of war. If we are asleep, we are in great danger.
c. Anthony Wayne fought the Indians in the Midwest. It was said that he never slept. In one of his biographies it says that he learned never to sleep too soundly in the French and Indian Wars. One morning, very early, his camp was overrun by the French and Indians and he was able to escape but he heard the Indian tomahawks scalp many of his men. He realized if he could have just warned them, many would have been able to escape.
d. If we are asleep spiritually, the devil and others are lurking and will wreck havoc on our souls while we are defenseless.
When are we in danger of falling asleep?
A. When everything is going well. When our outward circumstances are favorable.
1. (Luke 12:19 NIV) And I’ll say to myself, "You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry."’
2. Easy roads tend to make us slumber. We have the easiest way here in the United States than any other nation on the globe.
3. Think about food. Homeless people eat better from the trash here than do working people in other countries. We are one of the most overweight societies in the history of the world. We are doing very well.
4. In Bosnia, some natives were talking to Dick Alexander and asked him if it was true that most families in America have a car? Is it true that some Americans can grow flowers instead of vegetables?
5. The poorest among us live like kings and queens.
6. Think about the Wizard of Oz. They had come out of the woods into the open and things looked very easy the rest of the way.
B. When all goes well in spiritual matters.
1. WE have done well. We deserve a rest.
2. WE will fall asleep after a mountain top because we have made it.
3. The Wizard of Oz- They had come through some trying things in the woods, but they had overcome. They had done well and now they could sleep, but the journey was not over.
C. When we near life’s end.
1. Those who are nearest the end are in danger of falling asleep.
2. The Wizard of Oz- They could see the Emerald City
3. As we get older we get into routines. Go into any church, whether the preacher be loud and fiery or the preacher be well studied and somewhat subdued, it doesn’t matter, you will hear a sermon delivered to people who are sound asleep. Many services are all alike, we know when this happens and when that happens and when we get to the sermon it is the time to sleep for 20 to 30 minutes. As we get older the routine gets more rigid.
4. If something were to go wrong or differently in the service or in the church, the older crowd is the most upset mainly because we have disturbed their sleep. We don’t want to think or to do something different because it disturbs our sleep. By the way, I am not talking off the top of my head. I get this from Charles Spurgeon from a sermon he delivered when he was getting older.
How can we wake up?
If you are sleeping in regards to your faith, you will not hear me because you are asleep. I will speak gently then, and let you sleep on. No, I will not. Yell this, “(Rev 16:15 NIV) "Behold, I come like a thief! Blessed is he who stays awake and keeps his clothes with him, so that he may not go naked and be shamefully exposed."
A. Keep Christian company.
1. Spend time with other Christians in fellowship.
2. Hear them speak about their faith, their conversion
3. Hear them speak about mountain top experiences.
4. Hear them speak about prayer.
5. Hear them speak about their Bible study.
6. When Christians talk together, they will not sleep together.
7. If we keep ourselves away from our brothers and sisters, we are tempted to sit down and go to sleep.
8. (Heb 10:24 NIV) And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds.(Heb 10:25 NIV) Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another--and all the more as you see the Day approaching.
B. Turn your eyes upon Jesus.
1. Look at His Crucification. Keep near the cross and we cannot go to sleep.
2. Spend some time with Him.
C. Think about hell.
1. Look at all of those people out there who are sleeping away until Hell.
2. WE cannot save them but God can. He uses us to bring the gospel.
3. WE are sleeping while souls are being damned. We are sleeping while hell is being filled. We are sleeping while Christ is being dishonored. (It takes good men doing nothing for evil to succeed) We are sleeping while the devil is smiling and while the demons are dancing.
4. Put a smile on Jesus’ face and a frown on the devil’s. Wake up!
5. Charles Spurgeon- I remember, once in my life, having a sleepy congregation. They had been eating too much dinner, and they came to the chapel very sleepy, so I tried to rouse them. I shouted with all my might, “Fire! Fire! Fire!”- when, starting from their seats, some of the congregation asked where it was; and I told them it was in hell.
Why should we wake up?
A. Because the Lord is coming.
B. Think of heaven.
C. This is what this whole section is about. Why should we be alert and self-controlled, sober? Because the Lord is coming.
D. Do we want to be sleeping when the Lord comes?
E. Jesus, you are my reward, to see your face on that day, is all I am living for!
F. Crown Him with many Crowns! Awake my soul! Comment on this!