The Neglect of an Awakening

Bible Book: Selected Passages 
Subject: Revival; Spiritual Awakening; Repentance; Neglect

Luke 13:5; Luke 12-13; Rev 2-3

The message of Jesus to every lost person, saved person, and to the church is consistent. It is “REPENT.” When He began His teaching ministry, in Matthew 4, His message was clear, “Repent for the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand.” When He gave His last message to His church, the message continued to be the same (Repent); but to those who were called by HIS name, His message carried a twist (Repent or ELSE).

In the words of Vance Havner, “The church today wants to do everything else BUT repent.” We say we love Jesus, we bear His name, and we even say that we follow Him; yet the one thing which He calls us to do, the one thing which keeps us walking in the Spirit, and the one thing required to keep us sensitive to His leadings is the thing which we seem to neglect.

Writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, Paul writes to the Corinthians, “Awake to righteousness and sin not, for some do not have the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” To the Romans he wrote, “It is now time to wake up from our sleep (slumber).” Paul also writes in Ephesians 5:14, “Get Up, sleeper, and rise up from the dead, and the Messiah will shine on you.” Don’t like the sound of the “Messiah shining on you?” Here’s the deal, when He shines on you – He will shine through you.

We are called in and through God’s word to repent of our sin and awaken to His Spirit, His will, and His ways. Candidly, as I’ve already said, we really dont care to do this for many reasons. One reason is that it’s difficult. Face it, we are all (everyone) eaten up with human pride.

To humble ourselves runs against the grain of our upbringing, training, and nature. Yet, the Bible repeatedly calls us to humble ourselves before God because God resists the proud but He gives grace to the humble.

So what is the word for us when we neglect to repent, neglect humbling ourselves before Him, and neglect being renewed, refreshed, revived, and even re-awakened? (Luke 13:5)

Last week as we dropped into the middle of the service at Sherwood Baptist, Bro. Michael Catt began with these words, “This is the hardest message to preach.” Tonight I begin where Bro. Mike began because the words of Jesus are clear, concise, and cutting. They cut to the heart of the matter and expose matters of the heart. They are concise as He doesn’t waste or mince words about His expectation. And they are clear as Jesus leaves NO WIGGLE room for debate or interpretation. His message is clear Repent or Else. It is the or else which we are concerned about right now.

As your pastor I have called us, during the next 4 weeks, to seek God for a Spiritual Awakening in our hearts and lives. Already some have accepted the call or challenge, have begun praying, and have begun to allow God to do a new, fresh work in their lives. These folks are finding a new sense of joy, freedom, and inner peace because, as the scripture speaks, “The Messiah has shined in their lives” and it is exciting.

At the same time, there are those who have said, “I don’t think so. Let’s not go overboard with this religion stuff. I am doing enough.” To all of us, but especially to those who have, shall we say, reservations about a Spiritual Awakening, this message is aimed.

The title of this series of messages is “Aiming at an Awakening.” If you take a gun and aim at nothing, you’ll hit it every time, but aim at a bull’s eye and maybe at least you’ll hit the target.

I am afraid to neglect this call to a Spiritual Awakening. Personally, I am afraid. Collectively, I am truly afraid. Our Lord has given us a task and that task is not to sleep on the job. As born-again, believers, we have been given an assignment from our Master. We are to let our lights shine so well that others may see our lives and want what we have. Then we are to be able to tell them what we have.

Here’s the deal: If we are spiritually asleep, we cannot tell them anything – well not anything that makes sense because such is the nature of sleep-talking. Have you ever encountered someone talking in their sleep? How much sense did they make? Have you tried having a cogent conversation with them? Defense rest!

If we neglect Christ’s call to repent, scripture gives us both illustrations and applications of the outcome of neglect to repent and awaken to Him.

I. Illustrations

 Luke 12 and 13 give us four illustrations -- pictures which display the truth that we have inadvertently become earth-dwellers instead of pilgrims. In other words, we have focused so much on the here and now that we have missed the up-coming.

A. Meteorological

In 12:54 Jesus says, “You can see a cloud rising” and “you can feel the south wind blowing” and made the point that these folks would watch the conditions and predict the weather because you know the world so well. Yet, you cannot see the real need of the day. This is exactly what the “Interpret the time” means.

B. Judicial

In verse 57 Jesus basically said when someone takes you to court you should try to take care of the problem because, in the end, it’ll cost you to not do right. The take away is this: If you refuse to repent and humble yourself, the worst is yet to come. The Bible says that “One day every knee will bow.” When people are forced to bow, it is not a pleasant experience.

C. Governmental

As the chapter changes, Jesus refers to an incident where people were worshipping by sacrificing and Pilate massacred the worshippers (Luke 13:1). It was a well- known debacle that was the topic of many conversations.

D. Architectural

When the construction workers were building the tower in Siloam, there was an incident which killed 18 people. In other words, Jesus was using a contemporary topic, the happenings of the day, to illustrate a deep spiritual truth. And He ended with, “Do you really think because bad things happened to these people that they were worse sinners than you?” It could be said that Jesus is subtly answering the question as why bad things happen to good people – by suggesting these things happen because we live in a fallen world. After these illustrations Jesus implied, “You might think these guys are worse sinners than you, but let me tell you the truth, UNLESS you repent and wake up from your spiritual slumber, the same thing which happened to them can happen to you.”

By the way - this is the place where Jesus paints one more picture of one who chooses to not repent – and He uses a fig tree to illustrate. Do you remember the sin which Bro. Mike brought to our attention last week? It is the sin of “taking up space.”

II. Applications

The applications are very drastic and very personal. Did the words of Michael Catt register with you? Think about Jesus’ words of “Cut it down” and the thought, “What if we have one more year, one more chance, or one more possibility” to please our Master and gain a “Well done?” In my mind, applying the truth of God’s word requires me to acknowledge that, with Jesus, we can only hear 2 possible responses when this life is over: we either hear “well done,” or we’ll hear “depart from me.” I cannot find a third response! Let’s watch and take note of the progression of Jesus’ message, repent or else – Rev 2 - 3.

A. I will remove your lampstand

In verse (2:5) Jesus says (and don’t forget it’s Jesus who is speaking) – “Repent or else I will come and remove the lampstand from you.” In context, we know that symbolically the lampstand is the “Pastor, Leader” of the church. Sadly, in the 21st century many will say, “He’s going to remove our pastor, so what?” But we best not miss the larger issue. When Jesus talks about taking the Pastor, the larger issue is that He will remove the light of the gospel from the church. Imagine the implication of this action. If His church refuses to repent, He refuses to allow them to shame Him. If that does not sufficiently frighten us to our knees in repentance, Jesus raises the bar. He says:

B. I will fight against you

Look down in verse 16. Jesus is very clear, “if you don’t repent I will remove the lampstand and then I will fight against you.”  Of all the words of Jesus, these grab my attention more than the rest. In the 21st century church, it is one thing to have those who oppose you, but it is another thing entirely to think that Jesus could be opposing all we do because we have not repented. Then Jesus raises the bar again by saying:

C. I will throw you in with the crowd

Now look down in verses 21-23 and see the practicality of what Jesus is saying. The words are “I will throw her into a sickbed.” Guess who is in that sickbed with her? It is all those who have committed sexual immorality with her. We do realize that this immorality could well be – chasing after other gods. What we choose to forget is that God is a jealous God. Throwing those who refuse to repent into the rest of the culture who refuse to repent parallels what Paul wrote to the Romans when he said, “God gave them up.” Years ago, I preached a message entitled, “The Day God Gave Up.” There comes a time when God will give us over to sin, lust, and fleshly thinking, but He’s not through. He gives one more level on the road to perishing. Look at verse 3:3.

D. I will come like a thief

Jesus’ words are these: “If you don’t wake up and obey what I’ve told you – I will come like a thief.” Here is my suggestion: Whatever good might be left inside the fellowship – He’ll come and remove it because HE is interested in the Glory of the Father. The Westminster Confession says that the “Chief end of man is to glorify God” and certainly the chief end of Jesus is to bring glory to God. He will settle for nothing less.

The Invitation

There is one last truth which truly shows the heart and desire of Jesus. It is the reason He came and died. Yes, He will judge if we refuse to respond, but His blood was shed to give us the opportunity to come to Him. Look at 3:19-20 and hear Jesus’ heart. As many as I love – I rebuke and discipline – so be committed and repent. I will make it as easy as I can because I am at the door of your heart and the door of your church – all you have to do is open the door – I will come in to you. I submit that opening the door is done when we repent.

Dear folks, it seems to me that Jesus is serious about His people doing things His way, and His way is to have a repentant spirit. What is it that you need to repent of? Would it have to do with your vain words, inconsistent commitment, selfishness, stealing from Him by withholding HIS tithe, or is it something that is more personal & private than that?

Jesus says, “I know your works – so repent or else,” so the question is, “What will you do?”