Awake and Arise


Awake and Arise

September 12th, 1971 @ 10:50 AM

Ephesians 5:14

Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.
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Dr. W. A. Criswell

Ephesians 5:14

09-12-71    10:50 a.m.


On the radio and on television you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Awake and Arise.  The text today is in the fifth chapter of Ephesians and the fourteenth verse; and the message is on the text.  "Wherefore He saith," God saith, the Lord saith, Christ saith, "Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

The tremendous reformer, Martin Luther, one time avowed that some texts are little Bibles, like John 3:16, like Revelation 3:20; but there are also some texts that are whole sermons, and this is one.  Addressed to the individual Christian, to us individually, and addressed to the church, the congregation of the Lord, and addressed to the lost, "Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light."

To begin with, this is an astonishing thing for the apostle by inspiration to write; for in the second chapter of this same letter to the church at Ephesus,he said, "And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; and were by nature the children of wrath; But God, who is rich in mercy, for His great love; Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ" [Ephesians 2:3-6].  Now I can understand that.

A man who is dead cannot raise himself.  He must be quickened.  The life giving power extraneous, outside, must come into him if he is to live.  "And you who were dead in trespasses and sins, hath God quickened.  And we who by nature were the children of wrath, God, when we were dead, hath quickened us together in Christ."  Now I can understand that.  A corpse cannot raise itself.  A corpse is dead.

Yet, in the text he says, "Arise thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead," as though we ourselves raised ourselves, quickened ourselves to life in God; all of which presents that constantly recurring dualism that you will ever find in the grace of God, the revelation and the truth of God, and the work of the Lord; it is always there.  God and man, God in His part, and the man in his part, without which, neither is complete, nor is the work effectively done.

Paul will write in the Book of Romans, "By faith, Abraham, by faith, Abraham was justified" [Romans 4:1-9].  Abraham was justified by faith, and he will refer to the fifteenth chapter of the Book of Genesis, where Moses wrote "Abraham believed God, and his faith was counted for righteousness" [Genesis 15:6].  Then James, the Lord’s brother, the apostle of the church, will write, "Abraham was justified by works" [James 2:21], and will cite the twenty-second chapter of the Book of Genesis where Abraham, in obedience to the mandate of God, offered up Isaac as a sacrifice.

Now the reformer Martin Luther, when he read James, said, "It is an epistle of straw, and it ought to be taken out of the Bible."  No! for both of them are true.  By faith Abraham was justified; he trusted God, and the committal of his life, casting himself upon the Lord, wrought for him that God kind of righteousness that we call salvation, redemption.

But also, the confirmation of that commitment was found in the works that he offered unto God, he was justified by works.  That duality is in all of the revelation of God.  It is in Christ.  He is man, as though He were only man.  He is God as though He were God alone.  It is in our salvation.  There is a redemption,   there is an atonement that only God could work for us; but there is also an acceptance, a belief, a trusting, that is only possible to the man.  God has a part, and the man has a part: both are vital and significant in our redemption.

Now that is true in our work and service for God.  There is a part God has to bless.  He must sanctify.  The Lord’s presence must be with us, but the other part is, I must offer unto God a dedicated life, my hands, my heart, my soul, in the work and ministry that rightfully belong to Jesus.  And both of them are vital.  Both of them presented here:  "God hath quickened us from the dead" [Ephesians 2:4] and again, we must arise from the dead, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead" [Ephesians 5:14].  Both of them are vital in the work of our Lord.

Like the little girl and her brother, who were late for school; they’d been playing along the way and forgot the time.  And away from school and not there, they heard the school bell ring.  And the little girl said, "Brother, let’s kneel down here and pray that God will not let us be late for school."  And the little brother said, "No, sister, let us run just as fast as we can, and let us pray as we run," both of them.

Now that’s the way a man ought to live before God.  He can pray, "O God, give me a house for my home"; then he ought to say, "Amen," with a hammer and a saw.  He could pray, "O God, give me a job"; then let him say, "Amen," reading all the want ad columns and knocking at the door of an employer.  A fellow could pray, "O God, give me a wife"; then he ought to say, "Amen," coming down here to church joining Sunday school, and Training Union, and meeting all of these beautiful girls that are around here.

"Lord, save the world"; then say, "Amen," giving to missions.  "Lord, strengthen and bless the church"; then say, "Amen," by rolling up your sleeves and pouring your life into it.  "Lord, strengthen me in the faith and in Christian commitment"; and then, get ready to take a part in the kingdom of God.  Any place is a good place to serve Jesus.  It is a duality, always; God’s blessing and the man’s dedicated effort.

"Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead."  First, addressed to us individually, as a member, as a Christian, as a disciple of the Lord.  How many of us are awake to the world?  Ah!  If a man sees the possibility of a profit, how quickened he is, and how ready to turn night into day to gain it.  If we are invited to entertainment, or to dinner, or to amusement, how ready we are to drive to be there, to be present, to be awake.  But when God calls, we are lethargic, somnambulant, sleepy, drowsy, slow; "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead."  There’s no other way to do God’s work.

Now a man can talk in his sleep, and he can walk in his sleep; and Dr. Elston, I have heard preachers that I felt preached in their sleep.  But you can’t work in your sleep.  You have to be quickened and awakened.  The Lord found Moses tending sheep.  He found Gideon at the threshing floor.  Elijah called Elisha while he was plowing.  Jesus called Peter while he was fishing.  And He called Matthew at the receipt of custom.  There’s no such thing as serving God in a phlegmatic and lethargic indolence.  "Awake ye that sleep, and arise from the dead."

This is addressed to all of us; not to those who are elected or those who are on committees.  Why, it’s unthinkable that if I’m not chosen, or if I’m not exalted, or if I’m not elected, or if I’m not placed on a committee, therefore I have no assignment in the kingdom and patience of Jesus.  It is addressed to all of us.  To wait to be elected, a man’s election, to wait to be placed on a committee appointed by men is in itself a denial of the presence and election of God.  All of us are elected, all of us are appointed!  If you saw a house on fire, would it be proper to wait for an appointed committee?  If you saw a man fall in a river, would you wait for an appointed committee?  Isn’t it great that it doesn’t read like this:  "God so loved the world that He sent an appointed committee?"  Somebody said that a camel is a horse that a committee put together.  We all are elected.  We all are chosen.  God has assigned us.  "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead."

Could I take the text and bring it especially in review before our teachers, our leaders, our sponsors, these who accepted the responsibility in the church?  We may not do our work with genius.  We are not all geniuses.  We’re not all ten talent people; but we can do our work with the enthusiasm and inspiration.  In that Greek language, there’s an entheos, entheos, "in God".  And on that word the Greeks built an enthusiaso, inspired by God, enthusiaso.  And they took the word into the English language, and made it come out "enthusiasm".  I may not be a genius to work, and I may not have ten talents to lay at the feet of Jesus, but what I do, I can do quickened, awakened, inspired, with zealous, with dedication and commitment.

Why, so many of our people will stand before a class, or stand before a group, and they are wooden.  You could make them in a carpenter’s shop.  They’re like those totem poles that you see in Alaska, just there, just dead, just un-quickened and asleep.  "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead," doing what we do with zeal and enthusiasm and inspiration.

And the text of course encourages us that in defeat, or difficulty, or despondency, or despair, or disappointment, we still are to be awake and to be raised and to pour our lives into the assignment God has given us.  There is nobody, there is no one but has his heartaches, and his defeats, and his discouragements, and his despairs, and his disappointments.  You pick out someone that you think he would be the least and the most unlikely ever to know grief or hurt or heartache.  He’ll be the one that will have it the deepest, and the most grievous, and the most of all.  There’s no one of us but has his hurts, and his heartaches, and his defeats, and his disappointments, but, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead."  In spite of it, on top of it, beyond it, God has assigned us for the task, and we commit ourselves to it, with it, do it, go!

Up there in Alaska there was a preacher and his wife who came to begin the work.  And they came to Juneau.  Juneau is down there in the panhandle of Alaska.  Alaska reaches way down into western Canada.  And it rains there fourteen feet a year, a hundred sixty-eight inches a year.  Did you know, right north of there is a place where it not only rains fourteen feet a year, but it also snows twenty-eight feet a year on top of that?  When I was in the Amazon jungle, it rains there about a hundred-sixteen to a hundred-twenty inches a year, but in Juneau a hundred-sixty eight inches a year.  Well, this pastor and his wife began the work there in Juneau.  And as the days passed and the rain fell, and it fell, and it fell, she, oppressed in spirit, began to sit by the window and cry, and cry, and cry.


When a woman gets blue, when a woman gets blue

She sits right down and cries.

When a woman gets blue, when a woman gets blue,

She sits right down and cries.

When a woman gets blue, when a woman gets blue,

She sits right down and cries.


And she sat by the window and cried.

And some of the people learned of it, and they came to her and said, "Don’t do that, get up and get out in the rain; do something!"  That’s like a man.


When a man gets blue, when a man gets blue,

He hops the plane and rides.

When a man gets blue, when a man gets blue,

He hops the plane and rides.

When a man gets blue, when a man gets blue,

He hops the plane and rides.


Get out.  And she did.

They went berry picking in the rain.  Did you know Alaska is covered with berries?  Every one of them edible; there’s not a poisonous berry in Alaska.  Some of them taste like cantaloupe, some of them taste like watermelon, some of them are on little bushes that high, some that high, some that high.  There are blueberries, and blackberries, and green berries, and purple berries; I never saw so many berries in my life.  They said to me, "The only thing to remember is that the bears like them also.  Just go out and help yourself."

They went out and picked berries.  They went out in the rain and caught king salmon.  They went out in the rain and shot duck.  They went out in the rain did what everybody else did out there in the rain.  And they did the work of God in the rain.  The time is never perfect.  It’s never just right, and there are always handicaps and discouragements and disappointments.  Get up and go, get out in it!

One of the most astonishing things I ever heard confirmed in my life is this.  I had read about cabin fever up there in Alaska.  Have you ever heard about that?  Cabin fever.  Well, I read about cabin fever.  Cabin fever is when the long nights come and the sun doesn’t come up at all, and it gets cold, cold, cold, cold, the people stay inside.  And if they stay inside too long, they get cabin fever.  They kind of get unbalanced.  It’s a mental disarray, disorganization.  Now the men for the most part will get out; but the women, when it is real cold, have a tendency to stay inside.

And in the article I read, it said, "There never has been, in the history of the world, any place on earth where so many women shot and killed their husbands as they do in Alaska in those cold days of the winter," because they stay inside all the time, and they get to where they can’t stand the sight of them.  So I asked the pastor, I said, "I have read that, and I want to know if that’s true."  And the pastor said to me, he said, "That’s one of the tragedies of this country."  He said, "Every time the winter comes we lose a whole raft of husbands, the women shoot them."  Well, the point is, don’t stay inside, no matter how cold, or how wet, or how dry, or how dark.  Get out.  Let’s shoot bear, and shoot moose, and shoot duck, but don’t shoot your husband.  "Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead."  Get out, get with it.

I had read about the Matanuska Valley.  The Chugach Mountains, oh they’re so rough, snow covered, they come to the Cook Inlet.  Then there’s a great break, and the mountains start on the other side.  And Anchorage is located there on the Cook Inlet, at the base of those Chugach Mountains.  Right up from the Chugach Mountains, about thirty miles, there’s a tremendous break in the range, where the Knik and the Matanuska Rivers pour down into the inlet.  And in the days of the Dust Bowl, when the farmers – – and I knew them, I  lived in it – – when the farmers for years and years lost everything they had in unending, successive years of drought and poverty and want, some of them deteriorated.  But some of those men in the Dust Bowl went to the Matanuska Valley, and they won that valley from a howling wilderness.  And I went to the fair up there.  It was in session, in progress.

I went to the Matanuska fair.  It was sort of like in a pasture with a fence around it.  And they were exhibiting some of the vegetables that I’d read about, but I wanted to see.  And I took a little piece of paper, and I went around.  And as I looked at the display of vegetables in the fair, I wrote down their weight.  Here was a cabbage, it weighed sixty-three pounds.  And the man who was guarding those things, lest somebody like me steal them and take them off for prizes and exhibits, he said, "It’s a baby one, it’s a baby one."  He said, "If we’d have let it grow I don’t know how big it would have been."

He said, "The governor of Colorado was up here looking at all of these vegetables."  And the man from Colorado, the governor said, "Why we raise cabbages that big in Colorado."  And the governor from Alaska said, "Who said they were cabbages?  Those are Alaskan brussel sprouts," sixty-three pounds, a cabbage; a turnip, twenty-nine pounds, one turnip; a radish, four pounds; a zucchini, eighteen pounds; a squash, thirty-eight and a half pounds; a pumpkin, thirty pounds; and one potato, three pounds.

Now these are raised by men who knew defeat and discouragement in the awesome days of the Dust Bowl.  They’re now up there in the Matanuska Valley bringing miracles for the people to see and to eat.  That’s it, "Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead."  The more the discouragements and the disappointments and the defeat, the more does God call us and assign us, "Let’s go, and let’s stay with it."

Up there on one of those wilderness lakes, shivering to death, I had on two pair of socks, two pair of underwear.  I had my pajamas over that, I had on two shirts.  I had on a feather jacket.  I had on an overcoat and a parka over that, and still freezing to death.  So Felton Griffin, who’s an outdoorsman, he built a little fire.  And he got some shavings, you know, and put a little gasoline on it, and struck a match, and it flared just like that.  And then in a moment or two it is gone.  And as I watched it, I thought, "Did you know there are a lot of church members like that?  Man, they burn furiously, just for a moment then it’s all out and all over."  Like that old farmer talking about his well; he said, "That’s a wonderful well, it’s a fine one, all except that it freezes in the wintertime and goes dry in the summertime."  Stay with it, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead."

Now, addressed not only to an individual, to us as church members, but it is addressed to the church, to the congregation.  The letter is to a congregation, the letter is to the church.  "Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead."  It would apply first of course to our services of convocation and assembly.  There is private prayer; there’s also public prayer.  There is private reading of the Bible; there’s also public reading of the Bible.  There is private worship; there is also public worship.  There is private praise; there is also public praise.

We are under mandate and commandment of God to assemble together publicly and openly in public worship.  It is here that we are commanded publicly to confess our faith in the Lord, down that aisle and before men and angels.  And it is here that the author of Hebrews commands us not to forsake to assemble ourselves together.  Now when we do it, it ought to be done in a quickening spirit.  It ought to have life and movement in it!  It ought not to be any Cotton Bowl game you ever attended, nor any show or vaudeville that you ever saw that had in it the quickening spirit and the interest and the moving power of the services of God!

Satan, when he was cast out of heaven, was asked, "What do you miss the most?"  And Diabolos replied, "What I miss most is the blowing of the trumpets in the morning, when the hosts of heaven were gathered for the worship of God."  That’s the way we ought to have our services here.  It ought to be with a blast of a trumpet.  Well, I’ve got Leroy halfway going.  We had the trumpets this morning at eight-fifteen.  I don’t know what in the world – – why don’t you have them this way?  And why not over there?  We had drums this morning.  Where are the drums?  We had trumpets this morning.  We had trombones this morning.  Where are they now?  Well, he’s slacking and he’s gone invalid.  He’s half asleep, man, wake up. 

We don’t honor God by being dead.  "You don’t understand, pastor, I’m sanctified."  The more sanctified we are, the more alive we ought to be, the more quickened we ought to be, the more flaming we ought to be.  Sound the trumpets! "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead."

That applies not only to our services, our public convocations, but it applies to the work of the Lord, the whole outreach of this great assembly.  As the Lord said to Moses when they came down to the Red Sea, "Speak unto the children of Israel, that they go forward."  Get up and go, march, move!  You know there was a great assembly there; there was two and a half million people in that throng, in that camp.  And for Moses to get word to the people, he had to send out runners, and I can easily imagine the runners and the reception they had.

Why, here is a runner who said, "God says move;" and this man says, "Why, man look at these reeds, look at that marsh full of ducks.  And look at that sea full of fish.  I can’t go, I’m duck hunting and I’m fishing."  But the runner said, "But God says move.  God says, ‘march.’"  And I can see the runner come to another house, and here is a man who says, "But my wife is sick.  You know I can’t move with my wife sick."  And the runner says, "God never said anything about your wife being sick, God said move, go!" 

And the runner comes to another man, and put him up a hotdog stand and a hamburger joint.  And he said, "Man, don’t you know the Egyptian army is passing this way?  I’m getting ready!"  And the man says, "You getting ready?  Hotdogs and hamburgers for the Egyptians?"  "Yeah," he says, "I’m neutral, I’m not for Israel, and I’m not for Egyptians, either one.  I’m for selling hotdogs and hamburgers, and when the army passes by, boy I got a bonanza here."  God never said anything about hotdogs and hamburgers.  God said move! God said march! 

Then another man will say, "Good night, fellow, look out there, there’s the sea, and we’re facing the sea.  You mean march into the sea?"  And the runner says, "I don’t know anything about getting drowned, God never said anything about getting drowned.  All I know is God said march!  God said move!  And we’re moving."  That’s the church.  And the Spirit of the Lord said to the pastor, said to every quickened deacon, said to every member of the church that’s got God in his soul, "Let’s march, let’s move, let’s go."  Go!  "Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead."

And last, it is addressed to the lost.  "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead."  It is addressed to the lost.  "Awake and arise," there is something to awaken to.  There is something to arise to.  There is light, and life, and salvation, and it comes on the heels of a judgment if we refuse to arouse ourselves, to awaken ourselves, if we stay toward God lethargic, indolent, indifferent.  There’s a judgment to awaken to. 

At six o’clock one morning, a freight engineer drove into the town of Gans, Oklahoma, and he pulled the whistle, and he pulled the whistle, and he blew the whistle at six o’clock in the morning trying to arouse the town, at six o’clock.  At 6:04 o’clock, a terrible tornado swept the place, destroyed the people.  The sounds of eternity are rushing upon us, awake, arise.  There is something to awaken to, to arise to.

It is not just I.  It is you.  It is not just you.  It’s the whole family of mankind that someday shall stand before the judgment of Almighty God.  "Awake, arise."  And the gift of salvation, "And the light of Christ shall shine upon thee."  For the awakening, for the arising, for the receiving, for the having, for the taking, "Awake, arise, and the light of Christ shall shine upon thee."  To me, there is no more beautiful verse in the Bible than the one Paul wrote in the fourth chapter of 2 Corinthians:  "For God who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ" [2 Corinthians 4:6].  Awake, arise, and the light of Christ shall shine upon thee."


O come to the light, ’tis shining for thee

Sweetly the light has dawned upon me

Once I was blind, but now I can see

The light of the world is Jesus

[The Light of the World is Jesus,. . .]


"Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light," life, triumph, victory, blessing, now and in the world that is yet to come.

And in His name, for His sake, in His grace and love and power, we offer that eternal redemption, that heavenly inheritance, that God’s presence and glory to you now.  In a moment we shall stand to sing, and while we sing the appeal, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you, into that aisle and down to the front, "Here I come, pastor, and here I am."  In the balcony round, there’s a stairway at the back and at the front, and there’s time and to spare, come.  If you’re on the last row of the last top balcony, come.  The press of people on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front,"Here I come, pastor."  A whole family, "This is my wife.  These are our children.  All of us are coming today."  Or just you, make the decision now in your heart, and when we stand up in a moment, stand up coming.  Into that aisle and down to the front, the sweetest decision you’ll ever make and the best, "for God here I am, I make it now," while we stand and while we sing.


Dr. W.
A. Criswell




I.          Introduction

A.  Text
like a whole sermon – addressed to the individual, the church, and to the lost

B.  Dead
man cannot raise himself – he must be quickened(Ephesians

Yet Paul says to "arise, awake"

C.  Recurring
dualism in the grace of God – God and man both have a part

By faith, Abraham (Romans 4:1-9, Genesis 15:6,
James 2:21)

True in our work and service for God(Ephesians
2:4, 5:14)


II.         Addressed to us individually

A.  Awake to the world,
asleep toward God

B.  You can’t work in
your sleep – you have to be quickened, awakened

C.  All of us are

D.  Working with
enthusiasm, with dedication and commitment

      1.  Preacher and
his wife in Alaska

      2.  Cabin fever

      3.  Matanuska


III.        Addressed to the church

A.  Our services and assembly
ought to have life and movement

B.  Our work and outreach(Exodus 14:15)


IV.       Addressed to the lost

A.  Awake, arise to
life, salvation

      1.  If we refuse,
there is judgment to awaken to

Train engineer blows whistle to warn of tornado

B.  The light of the
knowledge of God(2 Corinthians 4:6)