Awakening the Dead | 2017-4

 

…“Awake, O sleeper, and arise from the dead, and Christ will shine on you.” Ephesians 5:14, ESV

In Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 24, Jesus is found leaving the temple for the last time. The disciples are troubled after hearing His denunciation of the Jewish leaders and His grieving over the city of Jerusalem. As they sat on the Mount of Olives, they ask Him three questions:

  1. “When shall these things be?” –referring to the destruction of Jerusalem;
  2. “What shall be the sign of your coming?”–referring to His Second Coming; and
  3. “What will be the sign of the end of the age?” –referring to the post rapture period on earth (the great tribulation).

In verses 5 through 14 Jesus answers the questions about signs leading up to His Second Coming. There will be false Christs and false prophets. There will be wars and rumors of war. Famines and earthquakes will occur in many places. Christian believers will suffer great tribulation. There will be a great falling away from the faith.

But please take note of the signs that Jesus ends with in verses 12 through 14: “And because lawlessness (evil, iniquity) will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved. And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.”

Most of my readers are aware of the battle all believers are facing in these times.  And Jesus was addressing our problem when he warns us in verse 13: “But the one who endures to the end will be saved.”  This is a warning against coldness and carelessness.

In Ephesians the apostle Paul is calling out believers who have fallen away from the faith or have lost their first love for Christ; He warns them of their need to wake up, come alive, and get back into the center of the will of God. He wants them to be ready for either death or the Second Coming of Jesus Christ. And in verse 15 he points out that those who have fallen away have not been wise, but foolish, not realizing how dangerously deceptive the evil days really are. He makes the point that our enemy, the evil one, is out to entangle us in selfish and worldly matters and lead us astray from our devotion to Christ. There are too many Christians today who have been fattened on Biblical truth, yet they are totally ignorant of life and power in the Holy Spirit. We have those who can cite the time and place of being born again, but they have never come to a time of total surrender to Jesus Christ as Savior and Lord. They claim Him as Savior but fall short of knowing Him as Lord and Master of their lives. Many still go to church regularly who know little of the joy of salvation and of offering up costly sacrifices of praise, thanksgiving, and worship. They say prayers and read small portions of their Bibles, but they can’t remember when they last shared their faith with excitement either in church or at home. Some are so fixed on what God has done in the past that they no longer expect anything new. They are hung up on the old familiar, comfortable, and traditional ways, and they have no clue about what should come next.

I am convinced that the majority of North American Christians desperately need to hear a message from the prophet Isaiah, chapter 43, verses 18 and 19: “Forget the former things,”  God says, “Do not dwell on the past. See! I am doing a new thing! Now it springs up; do you not perceive it?” I am making a way in the desert and streams in the wasteland, to give drink to my people, my chosen!” This Old Testament prophet’s message to the Israelites should be a wake-up call for today’s dry bones in thousands of American churches.

In Ephesians 5:14, the apostle Paul is telling Christians that they need a resurrection from their spiritual death and a rekindling of the fires of the Holy Spirit, so that Jesus Christ will shine on them again. What Paul said to the Ephesian backsliders, Jesus said to the Laodicean church: “I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth…. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me.” (Revelation 3:15-20, ESV)

Jesus warned His followers that in the last days there would be a great falling away, so He told them, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, but he who stands firm to the end will be saved.” (Matthew 24:10-13, NIV).

I’m afraid that there are millions who hold membership in thousands of our churches here in America who have remained oblivious to the fact that when they were born again they received the Holy Spirit, who was given to them for power to live the Christian life. Somewhere along the way they chose to imitate their fellow worshipers and grew satisfied with comfortable church attendance. They have failed to deny self, worship deeply, and make Jesus the Lord and Master of their lives.

There are millions of professing evangelicals today in America who have never taken seriously Ephesians 5:18, which the apostle Paul writes in the imperative mood, meaning that it is a divine command and not a mere human suggestion. The Christian believer who is serious about following Jesus does not have the option of drawing back and leaving the Spirit-filled life to the apostles, prophets, and prevailing prayer warriors. Paul’s directive “be filled with the Spirit” was meant for all who would choose to pray and live in love, joy, freedom, and power. Only the Spirit-filled are enabled to deny self, resist temptations, worship sacrificially, bear all the fruit of the Spirit, and walk in fellowship with an ungrieved Holy Spirit.

The hope of the church of Jesus Christ in these last days must be found in Spirit-filled, Spirit-anointed prayer warriors who will meet the conditions God has laid down for the kind of revival that will renew His church and heal the land. Those conditions are found in II Chronicles 7, verse 14: Christians who are humble enough to face their needs; Christians who are hungry enough to seek God’s fellowship; and Christians who are honest enough to repent. Only then will God “hear from heaven . . . forgive their sin and heal their land.”

Our Bible tells us that “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday and today and forever.” (Hebrews 13:8) He can still raise the dead! And millions of American believers desperately need a spiritual resurrection.

Dear readers, please pray with me:

 

“Our Heavenly Father, Please allow Your Holy Spirit to knock at the door of all You’re cold-hearted children. Let them hear Your plea. Bring the hunger, the conviction, and the courage to open the door of their hearts for repentance. Help them to receive the fresh fire of the Spirit and the restored life of love and power they’ve been missing. Oh, God! Revive Your church before it’s too late! In Jesus’ Name! Amen!

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