Awake and Arise


Awake and Arise

September 12th, 1971 @ 8:15 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

9-12-71     8:15 a.m.


On the radio you are sharing the services of the First Baptist Church in Dallas, and this is the pastor bringing the message entitled Awake and Arise.  In the fifth chapter of Ephesians and the fourteenth verse, there is a text:  “Wherefore He saith,” God saith, Christ saith, the Lord saith, “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” [Ephesians 5:14].

Martin Luther said that there are some texts that are little Bibles, like John 3:16, like Revelation 3:20; but there are also some texts that are whole sermons in themselves, and this is one.  “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” [Ephesians 5:14].

Here in the Book of Ephesians there is another instance of the duality in God’s revelation, and truth, and work.  In the second chapter of Ephesians, in verse 1, it says, “And you hath He quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins” [Ephesians 2:1].  And that we “were by nature the children of wrath; But God, who is rich in mercy; He hath raised us up” [Ephesians 2:3-6].  Now I can understand that.

We who were dead in trespasses and in sins, God quickened us, and God raised us up from the dead.  A corpse cannot raise itself, it’s dead.  God had to quicken us, and the Lord had to raise us up.  Then to my astonishment my text is addressed to us, “You, we, awake and arise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14]; we are to raise ourselves from the dead.  Isn’t that an astonishing thing?  But you find that duality, those two parts, God’s part and our part, in all of the revelation and truth and work of God.  You find it in Christ.  He is God as though He were only God.  He is man as though He were only man [Philippians 2:6-8].  You find it in our salvation and redemption.

It is God who saves us, it is Christ who makes the atonement for our sins [Romans 3:25]; but we also have a vital and significant part.  We must respond [Acts 17:30]; without which salvation is never mediated to us.  So it is in the work of God:  God has a part, God must sanctify, and hallow, and elect, and bless [Philippians 1:6, 2:13]; but we also must work [Colossians 3:23-24].  If God has a part in His ministries in the earth, we also have no less a significant assignment; both of us.

Paul will say, “Abraham was justified by faith,” and then will cite the fifteenth chapter of Genesis where it says, “Abraham believed God, and his faith was counted for righteousness” [Romans 4:3; Genesis 15:6].  But James, the pastor of the church, will say, “We are justified, Abraham was justified by works” [James 2:21], and then he will cite the twenty-second chapter of Genesis where Abraham obeyed God and offered up his only son, Isaac, in sacrifice [Genesis 22:1-2m 9-13; James 2:23].

Martin Luther read the Book of James and said it was a book of straw and ought to be taken out of the Bible.  Not so!  It is both of them.  Abraham was justified by faith; He believed God [Genesis 15:6].  Abraham was also justified by works; He obeyed God [James 2:21].  And both of those are significantly vital in the work of the Lord.

A little girl and her brother were late for school.  They had been tarrying along the path.  Well anyway, they were late for school.  And they heard the bell ring, and it was time to be there.  And the little girl said to her brother, “Let’s kneel down here and pray that God won’t let us be late.”  And the little boy replied, “Sister, let’s run just as fast as we can and pray as we run.”  That’s it.

Here is a man who asked God to give him a house for his home, then he says, “Amen,” with a hammer and saw.  Here is a man that prays God to give him a job, then he reads the want ad columns.  Here is a man who wants a wife, and he prays God to give him a wife; then he says, “Amen,” coming down here to the Sunday school and the Training Union where the finest, most beautiful young girls in the world come to church.

The announcement was made we were going to pray for state missions.  Then let’s say, “Amen,” giving to the work of the Lord.  We pray that God shall strengthen and bless the church; then roll up your sleeves and get with it.  We pray that God shall bless us and strengthen us; then let’s pour our lives into the service of God.  It is a twofold ministry, always.  God has a part, and we have a part.  So, the text addressed to us, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14]; addressed to us individually, addressed to the church, and then addressed to the lost.

First, it is addressed to us as individual members:  “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14].  So many of us are awake to the world.  Why, if there’s a possibility of a profit, a man will turn heaven and earth to get it.  Or if we are invited to entertainment or amusement or dinner, there we are wide awake.  But we are so oft times sleepy and lethargic toward God and God’s work.  And we do it in indolence and in somnolence, half-heartedly, if at all.

It is impossible to do God’s work any other way.  A man may talk in his sleep.  A man may walk in his sleep.  I’ve heard some preachers that impressed me, they preached in their sleep.  But you can’t work in your sleep.  God called Moses tending sheep [Exodus 3:1-10].  God called Gideon when he was at the threshing floor [Judges 6:11-16].  Elijah called Elisha while he was plowing [1 Kings 19:19-21].  Jesus called Peter while he was fishing [Matthew 4:18-20; Mark 1:16-18], and Matthew while he sat at the receipt of custom [Matthew 9:9].  We move in God’s work or we don’t do it at all.  And the appeal is addressed to all of us.

But you say, “I’m not on any committee, and I’m not elected.”  My brother in Christ, we are all elected, and we’re all on committees.  We don’t need an assignment.  We don’t need an election in order to do God’s work.  If you saw a house on fire, would you wait for the appointment of a committee?  If you saw a man fall in the river, would you wait for the appointment of a committee?  God so loved the world that He sent a committee?  Somebody said a camel is a horse that a committee put together.  No, we all have a part, we all are elected.  We all are on the great committee of one.  “Awake ye that are asleep, and arise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14].

Could I especially and particularly this hour address that appeal to our leaders, to our Sunday school teachers, to our Training Union sponsors?  “Awake, and arise from the dead.”  Why, so many of our people, they’re wooden.  They’re dead, and they sound dead, and they look dead when they work for Christ and stand up before the Lord and before men.  We may not be able to do our work with genius, we may not be ten talented; but we all can do our work in enthusiasm, entheos in God, entheos, out of which the Greeks built that word enthusiazō, “inspired by the Lord.”  And far more than genius in the house of God is this dedication, this zeal, this commitment.  I say some of our people are wooden.  You could make them in a carpenter shop like those totem poles up there in Alaska.

And we are to do our work despite discouragement, and disappointment, and defeat, and despair.  We all have them.  Pick out anyone you like, look at him and say, “You know that man doesn’t have them.”  Bless your heart, if you really knew him, he might have them more than anybody else.  All of us know discouragement, and defeat, and disappointment, and despair, but that’s no reason to resign from God’s work.  We are called just the same and elected just the same.

The pastor and his wife, who first went to Alaska, started in Juneau.  It rains fourteen feet a year in Juneau, Alaska, a hundred sixty-eight inches a year.  When I was down in the Amazon jungle I thought it rained interminably there.  It only rains about a hundred sixteen to a hundred twenty inches a year in the Amazon.  It rains a hundred sixty-eight inches, fourteen feet a year, in Juneau.  And this preacher’s wife, Mrs. Spurlin, after a while the incessant rain and rain and rain finally depressed her spirit, and she sat at the window and cried and cried and cried.

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 some of the people there in Juneau found out that the preacher’s wife sat there at the window day after day and cried.  And they said to her, “Pay no attention to it, get out!”

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!” they said.  And so Mrs. Spurlin went outside in the rain.  And like the rest of the people began to pick berries.  Did you know there are no poison berries in Alaska?  And the whole earth up there is covered in berries.  Some of them taste like cantaloupes.  Some of them taste like watermelons.  Blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, the whole earth is filled with berries.  And they’re all yours.  Just remember the bears like them too, that’s all.  They went outside in the rain and picked berries, and they caught king salmon, and they went duck hunting, and they did the work of the church, and it rained, and it rained, and it rained.  Didn’t matter the rain, get out in it.  Doesn’t matter the defeat or the despair, get out and move.  “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14]

I have never been more impressed in my life than going to the fair in the Matanuska valley.  The Chugach mountain range is a vast mountain range.  And when it comes to the Cook Inlet, there it stops.  And about thirty miles up from Anchorage, which is on the Cook Inlet at the base of the Chugach range, about thirty miles up there’s a big gash in the range where the Knik and the Matanuska rivers flow down.  And in that Matanuska Valley, the early settlers, even in my lifetime early, they went up there and won that wilderness and plowed it up.

You know where those people came from?  From the Dust Bowl.  And some of them in the Dust Bowl deteriorated in defeat and despair; but some of them went up to the Matanuska Valley.  And I went to their little fair.  Out there it looked to me it’d be in a pasture with a fence around it.  And I copied down what I saw:  a cabbage, it weighed sixty-three pounds.  And the fellow told me it was plucked green.  Had we let it grow, don’t know how much; cabbage, sixty-three pounds; turnip, one turnip, twenty-nine pounds; one radish, four pounds; one zucchini, eighteen pounds; one squash, thirty-eight and a half pounds; one pumpkin, twenty pounds; and one potato, three pounds.  Well, I never saw such in my life.  And these are the people raising those things, who were defeated in the Dust Bowl.  “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” [Ephesians 5:14].

And we’re to continue it, a flame and a fire committed, our part and our assignment, whatever it is I can do for God.  Out there in that cold wilderness I saw the Pastor Felton Griffin, who’s a born outdoorsman, I saw him build a fire.  I was about to freeze to death.  I had on two pair of underwear, two pair of socks.  I had on my pajamas over that.  I had on two shirts.  I had on a heavy feather coat.  I had on an overcoat over that, and then he put a parka on top of that trying to keep me warm.  So he built a fire.  And he got some shavings and poured a little gasoline, kerosene on it, and the thing blazed up just like that.  And I thought, “Isn’t that the way some people are?”  For a while, for just a little while they blaze up just like that, then they’re out and gone.  They’re like the old farmer’s well.  He said, “That’s a magnificent well except that it freezes in the wintertime, and it goes dry in the summertime.”

“Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14]  Pouring our lives, day after day, all of our lives, into a zealous ministry for Christ; not only is this addressed to us as individual members, it is addressed to the church.  It is written to the church at Ephesus, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.”  I think that refers to our services, our open and public services.  Oh, that the Spirit of God might quicken us, and we might feel His living presence in our assemblies!  The services of God, these services; there is public prayer, as well as private prayer.  There is public reading of God’s Word as well as private reading of the Scriptures.  There is public praise as well as private praise.  There is a public assembly of our people before the Lord, as well as our individual appearance in private before the Lord.  This is commanded.

We are publicly to confess our faith in Christ, openly, down that aisle, in the assembly [Romans 10:9-10].  And the Book of Hebrews says we are publicly to assemble ourselves together [Hebrews 10:25].  And when we do so, those services ought to have the quickening Spirit of God in them!  “Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14].  It ought to be with the blast of a trumpet when we come together in the name of God.

Somebody asked Satan when he was thrown out of heaven [Revelation 12:7-9], as Milton would describe it, somebody asked Satan, “What do you miss most in heaven?”  And the devil replied, “I miss most the blowing of the trumpets in the morning, calling the heavenly host to the worship of God.”  And there ought to be in our services that quickening spirit!  No sleepiness, no drowsiness, no somnambulance, no deadness, but alive and quickened in the Lord.

Remember that, Lee Roy?  Why don’t you put you another drum on this side!  What’s the matter with that spot there?  Don’t you have any room there for more trumpets over here?  Make it live!  Make it move!  I am preaching the Word of God, am I not?  “Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14].  There ought to be no Cotton Bowl game of any kind in this earth that is as full of life and dynamic and moving interest as the services of Jesus Christ our Lord.  This is God.

It is addressed to the church in its work, not only in its open and public services, but in its work as a congregation.  Move, march, go!  Why, there’s not a more thrilling story in the earth than Moses, pursued by the Egyptian army, standing at the Red Sea, and the people began to cry and to lament.  And Moses appeared before the Lord and said, “What shall I do with these wailing, lamenting, crying, hand-wringing people?  What shall I do?”  And the Lord God said to Moses, “Speak, speak,” just like I am speaking today, “stand up there and speak, and say to the children of Israel, ‘Go along, go on, move on, march, move forward, go forward’” [Exodus 14:15].

Well, it was a long great throng, a big camp, two and a half million people in that camp.  And I would suppose that Moses sent runners throughout all of the camp, saying to the people, “The Lord God says, let us move, let us go forward!”  And then I can just see the reception those runners met.  Why, here’s a fellow, he comes, the runner comes and says, “God says we are to move forward!”  And he says, “Man, move now?  Well, it’s duck hunting season, and look at all those marshes and all of those reeds.  Why, there never was such a time to shoot ducks.  And look at all of this sea here, the Red Sea, full of fish.  Never was such a time to fish; I can’t go.  I’m shooting ducks and I’m hunting, and I can’t go.  And I’m fishing, and I can’t go.”

And another runner finds another man; and he says, “Move, go out, go forward!”  “Well, my wife is sick.  You don’t expect me to move with my wife sick.”  Goes to another man, and he says, “Man, I never had such an opportunity in my life.  Why, I got me a hot dog stand here, and the whole Egyptian army is going to pass this way.  And I’m neutral.  I’m not for Israel, and I’m not for the Egyptians.  All I want to do is sell hot dogs; and the Egyptian army is going this way.”

I can see another man reply to a runner, “Move forward?  Why man, that’s the sea, that’s the sea.  We’ll get drowned!”  And all the runner could say, “I don’t know about your wife being sick, and I don’t know about duck hunting season and fishing on Sunday, and I don’t know about selling hot dogs and hamburgers, and I don’t know about drowning.  All I know is God said move, God said march, God said, let’s go!”  And Moses stood with a rod in his hand, and the sea parted, and God’s people moved! [Exodus 14:16-22].  “Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14].

I don’t need to try to hide from you that our people are not with great victory supporting our church program.  We are $350,000 behind in the program of our budget alone.  The deacons have already made the budget for this coming year, and for the first time in twenty-seven years the budget will be offered less this year than it was last year.  And on top of that we face a $3,000,000 building program right across the street.

There never was a time when our church had the great parting of an open sea before it as we have now.  And we are responding in a way, we’re giving more than we ever have.  The church is alive more than it’s ever been.  In great segments and parts of the church, it has the thrill of a trumpet blast calling to march!  But it’s not enough.  I can do better.  I can do more.  I shall do better and I shall do more!  “Awake thou that sleepest, and rise from the dead” [Ephesians 5:14].

And that call that comes to the pastor’s heart is to your heart; every one of us must search his self, search his soul, search his heart, “Lord, what can I do?  What is my assignment?  What can I offer to God?”  Here I am, Lord, got two hands, got two feet, got a mind, eyes, got a heart.  “Lord, what can I do?”  And then move, and march, and go.

It is addressed to us individually.  It is addressed to the church.  It is addressed to the lost.  “Wherefore He saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” [Ephesians 5:14].  It is addressed to the lost.  There is something to awaken to.  There is something to rise to.  There is something to soar to.  For one thing, it is judgment.  “Awake thou that sleepest, awake” [Ephesians 5:14].  Judgment is coming, and it’s coming for all of us.  It is not just I who shall appear at the judgment bar of Almighty God.  It is not just this man or that family by you who shall appear at the judgment bar of Almighty God.  We all shall appear; the Book says so.  We all shall appear at the judgment bar of Almighty God [2 Corinthians 5:10].  “Awake thou that sleepest.”

Some time ago in Gans, Okalahoma, a town up there in Oklahoma, a train came into the town at six o’clock in the morning.  And the engineer blew the whistle and slowed the train, and blew the whistle, and blew the whistle, and blew the whistle to awaken the town at six o’clock in the morning!  At 6:04, exactly four minutes after he began to arouse the town blowing that whistle, at 6:04 the terrible tornado struck.  The sounds of eternity are rushing upon us, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead.”  There is something to awaken to.  There is something to arise to.  “And Christ shall give thee light” [Ephesians 5:14].

I see some of you who are leaders in a great fraternal order.  Do you remember a part of an initiation in one of those degrees?  You were blindfolded, and in darkness you were led by the hand.  And the master said, “What do you seek?”  And you replied, “I seek light.”  Lord, it’s a dark, dark, dark world.  Age is coming.  Death is coming.  The grave is coming.  First thing that happened to me when I returned, “Here’s a call, one of your members has died.  They want to know if you’ll hold the service tomorrow, on Monday.”

Death is coming.  The grave is coming.  The night is coming.  What do you seek?  Lord, I seek light beyond death and beyond the grave, light.  “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light,” of hope, of victory, of triumph, of salvation, of life [Ephesians 5:14].  It’s a gift from His precious hands for my arising and receiving [Ephesians 2:8].  All for the asking, mine for the having.  Would you?  And you?  And you?

“Here I come, pastor; for all that Christ can mean to me, I’m here.  For all the Lord has promised to do for a soul and a life, I’m here.  If there are heavenly gifts, I open my hands to receive them.  If there’s salvation and life and light and victory, Lord, here I am, just fill my cup to overflowing; flood my soul and life with the light of the glory of God.”  I don’t think there is a more gloriously beautiful verse in the Bible than this one from the second Corinthian letter and the fourth chapter.  Do you remember it?  “For God, 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 thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light” [Ephesians 5:14].  Come, come.  Come.

We stand in a moment and sing our appeal, and while we sing it, a family you, a couple you, or just one somebody you, giving your heart to Christ or putting your life in the fellowship of this dear church, make the decision now in your heart.  And when we stand up in a moment to sing, stand up coming.  There’s a stairwell on either side, at the front and at the back; there’s time and to spare, come.  The press of people on this lower floor, into the aisle and down to the front, “I make it now, pastor, I’m coming this morning.”  Do it.  God will bless, angels will attend.  He is yours, and all God means for the having, for the asking, for the taking, for the receiving [Romans 5:10]; come, while we stand and while we sing.