Summary: A sermon on 1 Thessalonians 5.6 (adapted from Spurgeon’s sermon called the Enchanted Ground, changed a few points and made it more contemporary)
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.