For you are all children of light, children of the day. We are not of the night or of the darkness. So then let us not sleep, as others do, but let us keep awake and be sober. 1 Thessalonians 5:5-6 (ESV)
There is a theme that has been ringing constant in my spirit for a number years. It’s time for the church to wake up! Ephesians 5:14 says, “Wake up, sleeper, rise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Evidently, the church of Ephesus must have fallen asleep.
On November 21, 2007 the following Words: “You will have to be strong and courageous.” “Many are living for self without seeing the condition of God’s house.” Sadly, many leave God’s house after service feeling empty, unsatisfied and weak. This is not what God intended for His people, and it grieves Him to see it.
In my search for understanding, I read, “The Church Awakening, An Urgent Call For Renewal, by Charles (Chuck) R. Swindoll, a well respected evangelical Christian pastor, author, educator, and radio preacher. The book’s purpose was to call the church to become aware of how far we have drifted. I’m sadden to see that six years later the Church is still asleep. The deception has been so subtle that we believe what is wrong is right, and what is right is wrong.
The body of Christ must awaken many from the deadness of their religion and strengthen what remains. We must be stretched out of our religious way of thinking to receive revelation that opens up new realms of thinking and possibilities. Proverbs 29:18
Paul wrote in Romans 13, “And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh.”
Will we stand for God’s Word? Will we live righteously or is the truth and God’s Way a dead thing of the past?
The Book of Revelation was given by Jesus Christ to His angel or “messenger” to give to the Apostle John. John was given a vision of end-time events leading up to the return of Christ. He was told to write in a book what he saw and send it to seven churches that represented congregations of the church of God: Ephesus, Smyrna, Pergamum, Thyatira, Sardis, Philadephia, and Laodicea. These churches were not a sum total of the church of God. Christ selected these seven churches of the many churches in Asia Minor in order to get His message across to the Church. It’s not that there were no problems or sins in the other churches but the problems talked about in these seven churches illustrate the spiritual condition that may be possible in the churches until He returns.
The Book of Revelation uses signs or symbols to convey spiritual truth to the church. (Revelation 22:16) The prophecies spoken of in Revelation did not mean they would come to pass right away, however they do indicate how quickly time will take place when they are fulfilled. I must say there are things taking place today that I never imagined would happen in my lifetime.
Christ spoke of seven dangers in these churches that would be prevalent in the church today.
- The congregation had forsaken its first love. The church was busy working for the Lord, without passion. They drifted away from heartfelt devotion to Christ. All the spiritual activity and all the gifts and power cannot substitute for a solid relationship with God.
- To remain faithful to God in spite of tribulation or poverty. We must beware of compromising what we believe for the sake of riches.
Speaking to the church at Sardis Jesus had this to say, “I know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. Wake up! Strengthen what remains and is about to die, for I have found your deeds unfinished in the sight of my God. Remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; hold it fast, and repent. But if you do not wake up, I will come like a thief,and you will not know at what time I will come to you.” Revelation 3:1-3
Many time we prefer not to hear hard truth. Many churches have a reputation of being alive. Yet, a vibrant, thriving, Spirit-filled, Spirit-led church . . . Spirit and fire. The Spirit gives life. When pastors and church leaders fail to follow the plan of God . . . People begin to live the church for different reason . . .
Think about the many revivals throughout church history. Think about the ministers God has used to pioneer some of those revivals. It was the presence and power of God in these meetings and on these ministers that drew the people. Throughout history people have always craved the supernatural. I know that the local church also caters to people’s natural lives and natural needs, and cannot be run like a revival. But the people also need continual renewals and refillings of the Holy Spirit.
If the presence and power of God are in manifestation and people still leave, what of it? Do you really want those kind of people in your church? Conversely, I know many spiritual people who are exiting their churches for lack of rain. They are not leaving due to offense or pride. They are not backsliding and leaving God, but they are leaving deadness, lightness and superficiality. There is a cry in God’s people for the waters of the Spirit and fresh new wine.
“My soul thirsts for You; my flesh longs for You in a dry and thirsty land where there is no water. So I have looked for You in the sanctuary, to see Your power and Your glory.” (Ps. 63:2-3)
The Spirit of the Lord is saying “Wake up! Strengthen what remains, and is about to die. We have unfinished work to do before the return of Christ. ” In the Book of Acts, we see the power of the Holy Spirit working through the first-century churches—not just in the miraculous sign gifts, but in the daily witness of the churches.
Christ’s instructions to these congregations are important for us today.
“When the Church is absolutely different from the world, she attracts it. It is then that the world is made to listen her message, though it may hate it at first.” – D. Martin Lloyd-Jones
Dr. Francine is an ordained minister of the gospel of Jesus Christ. She hosts a broadcast called “Going Beyond Church” on Facebook. You can connect with Dr. Francine on Facebook at @afrancinegreen as well as on Twitter @beyond_2017. Visit her website at http://www.afrancinegreen.com.