Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 2, 1961
NUMBER 26, PAGE 3,14a

"Awake, Thou That Sleepest"

George Welsh Tyler, San Diego, Calif.

For several decades the church has been drifting into the sleep of indifference, carelessness, neglect, modernism, moral depravity, corruption and apostasy as if God were not near. It appears that in recent years this sleep has become a heavy slumber. The worldliness of so-called Christians testifies to the truthfulness of this awful fact. They are trying to keep one foot in the church and the other one out in the world. They follow Jesus from "afar off." They have gone out of the sunlight of His presence into the darkness of sin. They have neglected God's Word, the closet of prayer, the gates of praise, and, have forgotten Christ's command, "This do in remembrance of me."

Similar conditions began to creep into the early church before the death of the apostle John. Of them the apostle Paul, guided by the Holy Spirit, wrote to the church at Rome, "Already it is time for you to awake out of sleep." (Rom. 13:11) To the church at Corinth he wrote, "Awake to soberness righteously ("become righteous persons" — Matthew Henry's Commentary), and sin not; for some have no knowledge of God; I speak this to move you to shame." (1 Cor. 15:34) To the Ephesian church he wrote, "Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead (spiritual death, G.W.T.), and Christ shall shine upon thee." (Eph. 5:13, 14) Again, "But ye, brethren, are not in darkness, that the day should overtake you as a thief: for ye are all sons of light, and sons of day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness; so then let us not sleep, as do the rest, but let us watch and be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love, and for an helmet, the hope of salvation." (1 Thess. 5:4-9) These Scriptures are God's call to Christians to revitalize His church by renewing their faith in Him, re-consecrating their lives to His service and by personally making known His salvation to others.

Today the church faces its greatest responsibility and challenge of modern times. The opportunity is here. "Lift up your eyes, and look on the fields, they are white already unto harvest." (Jno. 4:35) Are you going to let this opportunity pass you unheeded?

Despite the fact that during the past few decades the church has been asleep and its efforts more or less inconsequential, it must now come to life and leave no doubt in any mind that it has a pertinent message for all men. Never in the history of the world has it needed what God can give it through His church more than today. Beset by Communism, modernism, and apostasy the church of our Lord Jesus Christ does have something of real value to give to the world and must give it. The Philistines are upon us, we must demonstrate our power of recovery and prove for all time the value of God's church and its indestructibility for Jesus said, "The gates of Hades shall not prevail against it." (Matt. 16:23) It is time for us who compose the church to hear God's call through the inspired apostle Paul to wake up and by zealous work make its influence for good really felt in the world.

Much of the so-called faith today is giving our approval to God in about the same manner we approve the minutes of some meeting. He is just given the intellectual nod be- cause we find no reason for disagreement with Him until His Word is found to oppose man's wisdom and then He is usually completely ignored. I am afraid our faith today has not made God the thrilling reality that He is. We have not believed that God is close at hand, and that He can touch every phase of our lives. Paul wrote, "He is not far from each of us." (Acts 17:27) John wrote, "I heard a great voice out of the throne saying, Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he shall dwell with them and they shall be his peoples, and God himself shall be with them." (Rev. 21:3) Again, "We are the temple of the living God." (2 Cor. 6:161 The Christian is the temple. dwelling place of God. Too often our faith has been lighthearted regarding God as being in some other, world. If we look at faith in the right light, we find it is not a matter of mysticism or wistful thinking. It lives, it works in every day life, it is something real.

Real faith is practical for our age. Faith moves man to do good deeds without any apparent reason other than that it is God's will as revealed in Christ. The apostle John was thinking of the practical side of faith when he wrote, "Whosoever is begotten of God overcometh the world, and this is the victory that hath overcome the world, even our faith." (1 John 5:4) This is the kind of faith we need to face the great battle now before us. Renewed faith calls for obedience, sacrifice, love and glorifying Christ even at the risk of our lives. Only when it does this is it real faith. James wrote, "Faith, if it have not works, is dead." (James 2:17)

Renewed faith will result in rededicated lives. The weak faith of many church members has made a mockery of Christ. The manner of our lives shows us the difference between true Christians and people out in the world. "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; and I will receive you." (2 Cor. 6:17) J. W. McGarvey said, "By an appeal to the prophets the apostle shows how it was God's design in their unrighteous practices." Do your lives show that you have been with Jesus? (Acts 4:13) Many have forsaken the Sun of Righteousness and gone back into the darkness of sin. They have neglected God's Word, His house of praise, the closet of prayer and communion with Christ and His people. They have failed to bring forth "the fruit of the Spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, meekness, self-control, against such there is no law." (Gal. 522, 23) The individual Christian must rise above the level of the world and demonstrate what Christianity can do for all. Christians of today must conduct themselves so that the world can distinguish them as followers of the Lamb of God. They must carry out Paul's command, "Come ye out from among them, and be ye separate saith the Lord." (2 Cor. 6:-17)

Our lives must be consecrated to service for Jesus if they are to be Christian. We can measure our lives by His life and thus determine if they are genuine or counterfeit. Jesus said, "By their fruits ye shall know them." (Matt. 7:16) Also, "If a man love me, he will keep my word." (Jno. 14:23) "He that is not with me is against me." (Matt. 12:30) It is impossible for a Christian to divide his love between Christ and the world. There is no middle ground upon which to stand.

"Awake, thou that steepest" is God's call to His children for zealous energetic action. Using imperative language Christ said, "Go ye therefore, and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit: teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you." (Matt. 28:19, 20) We must "GO" with this message until all the earth is filled with the brotherhood of man under the Fatherhood of God. Only on this foundation can we build lasting structures of peace and righteousness in the world. In the church Christ has the power to bring the human family together as brothers. Men must be Christians regardless of class, race or nationality. God has entrusted to His church the work of making His higher way known to all nations. No longer can we think in terms of self, family, our group, our race, narrow provincialism or nationalism; we must now think of the whole world as being at the feet of Jesus. All loyalties of mankind must be lost in the one Person who has the right to claim the supreme loyalty of all men.

God's call to "AWAKE" is made to every Christian in every congregation in every nation and in every land. Deaf ears must not be turned to the call and His call must not be confused with other calls having strange sounds. The complete surrender of our wills will set each person so doing on the way to spiritual progress. The Divine call to rise up and lead the world to Christ, peace and righteousness and eternal life is made to all faithful believers and obedient sons of God.

"Lift high the cross of Christ!

Tread where His feet have trod:

As brothers of the Son of Man,

Rise up, 0 men of God!"