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Sermon #140 — Romans Series


Title:                           Wake Up! Wake Up!


Text:                            Romans 13:11

Subject:                     Indifference Reproved

Date:                          Sunday Morning — April 8, 2018

Reading:       Song of Solomon 5:2-16



Wake up! Wake up! — It’s time to wake up! That’s the message of God the Holy Spirit to eternity bound sinners in Romans 13:11.


(Romans 13:11) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.


This exhortation is not addressed to the ungodly and unbelieving, but to the godly and believing. These words are not spoken to those who are dead in sin, but to those who are alive unto God. The words of my text are addressed saved, but sleeping, saints. I stress this fact because there are many who seek to correct the behavior of erring brethren by…

Š      Threatening them with loss of reward.

Š      Threatening them with punishment.

Š      Implying that their sin indicates that they are lost, seeking to undermine their assurance.


But our text says nothing like that. Though obviously in a terrible condition, there is no indication that Paul held them in suspicion, as he did the Judaizers at Galatia (Galatian:20). Rather, in the very teeth of their indolence, Paul was inspired of God to assure these Roman saints of their everlasting salvation. — Salvation is by grace!

Š      Grace alone!

Š      Grace without works!

Š      Grace in Christ!

Š      Eternal, immutable, grace!

Š      Unconditional, free grace!

Š      Indestructible grace!


Fallen saints are not to be treated by us as reprobates but as brethren beloved of the Lord! Fallen brethren are not to be castigated as exposed hypocrites but helped as fallen brethren!

Š      Helped by their Brethren

Š      Helped by God’s Messengers


“The terrors of law and of God

With us can have nothing to do,

Our Savior’s obedience and blood

Hide all our transgressions from view.”

— Augustus Toplady


Even if the saints’ hearts are dull, their eyes heavy, and they are evidently fast asleep, we are not warranted in raising a false alarm. It is not for us to tell the heirs of salvation to awake because they are in danger of the wrath to come. They are in no such danger! All such danger is past and gone. Rather let us remind them that their salvation is nearer than when they believed, and so stir them to wake up.

Š       Grace alone is the motivation for devotion!

Š       Grace alone inspires consecration!

Š       Grace alone is our rule!


The whip of the law is for the slave, not for the child. The dread of punishment is for the condemned, not for the justified. The fear of wrath is not for those who are accepted in the beloved,” but for those who reject the Savior and put from them the eternal mercy of God.


(Romans 13:11) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.


To whom are these words spoken? This entire chapter is addressed to the church and people of God, to those who are born-again. It is addressed to you and me. This is the call of God to the Church at Rome. And it is the call of God to the Church at Danville.


The Spirit of God is calling for us “cast off the works of darkness and put on the armor of light(v. 12). He is urging us to come out of all darkness and walk as children of light. The message of our text is a message intended for the children of God. May God the Holy Spirit, whose Word this is, cause us to hear our Savior’s voice. It comes to us with a command and a promise.


(Romans 13:11) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.


Our First Call


As I have said, this text is addressed to God’s saints. What child of God can read these words and not be overwhelmed with remembrance of that first, regenerating, life giving call of God the Holy Ghost by which we were brought out of darkness into light, out of death into life, that call by which Light of Life shined into our hearts by the power of God?


God’s elect, though given by the Father to the Son before all worlds, and by virtue of that gift preserved in Jesus Christ, before they are called, until God the Spirit, by his omnipotent grace and power, calls them from darkness to light, are as completely dead in trespasses and sins as all the rest of Adam’s fallen race. Before God called us to life and faith in Christ, we had no knowledge of our everlasting union with Christ, our salvation by Christ, and all the blessings of grace given to us in and with Christ from everlasting. Until we were called to life, we had no interest in and no capability of enjoying these things. We were “dead in trespasses and sins.” But when we were called, all this was brought to light in our souls (2 Corinthians 4:6; 2 Timothy 1:9-10).


(2 Corinthians 4:6) 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 Timothy 1:9-10) God hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began, (10) But is now made manifest by the appearing of our Saviour Jesus Christ, who hath abolished death, and hath brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.


Only after the Sun of Righteousness arises upon us and in us with healing in his wings, only after we have been called from death to life, do we see. It is then that the heaven-born soul is first awakened to and sees

  • His sin and guilt before God, which causes him to mourn.
  • The repentance (reconciliation) and remission of sins accomplished by Christ, which causes him to repent and turn to God in reconciliation.
  • Righteousness and complete justification by Christ.
  • The faith of Christ, by which he is caused to have faith in Christ.
  • Judgment finished, justice satisfied by Christ, which causes him to have “a good hope through grace.


What can be more wonderful? What can be more delightful than the sweet experience of God’s grace by the call of God the Spirit? Having escaped the shipwreck of fallen humanity, standing safe on the shore with Christ by God’s sovereign grace, we look back and behold the great gulf over which God has brought us, the abyss from which he has delivered us, and see the multitudes stranded where we were, sinking to rise no more, lost forever! We are constrained to lift our hearts to the God of all grace and cry, “Lord, how is it that you have manifested yourself to us, and not to the world?” (John 14:22). Oh, my God, let me never get over the wonder of your grace (1 Corinthians 6:9-11, 19-20).


(1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, (10) Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God. (11) And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.


(1 Corinthians 6:19-20) What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own? (20) For ye are bought with a price: therefore glorify God in your body, and in your spirit, which are God’s.


After Calls


As it was in the beginning, so it is now. The many, countless after calls of grace that come to our souls, when we fall into that deathlike sleep of lethargy and indifference toward our dear Savior that so often seizes us are the same. As in the beginning, none but God can awaken us. And, blessed be his name, he does!


(Romans 13:11) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.


Proposition: The children of God are so beset by the infirmities of the flesh that we constantly require the power, grace, and glory of Christ to awaken us.


It is a great mercy of our Redeemer that he comes frequently to awaken us. Be careful not to spurn his love and grace. Awaken to him, rise to him, open your heart to him, and he will give you the light of his presence, his grace, and his salvation!


Wake up! Wake up! Blest saints of God,

Redeemed with precious blood,

By Christ redeemed, by Christ made just,

Awake to Christ your Trust!

Walk as children of Light and Day, —

In His beauty arrayed.


Why should this world delight you so?

Why grovel here below?

Your life is hid with Christ in God. ⸺

He bought you with His blood!

Rise up, my love,” Your Bridegroom says,

Rise up, and come away!


Blest saints of God and heirs of bliss,

Haste through this wilderness!

Live not for vanity and toys,

But for eternal joys.

Awake, my sleeping soul, arise,

And Christ shall give thee light!


Divisions: I have a message from God for both sleeping saints and dead sinners. May God the Holy Ghost now speak through these lips of clay to your hearts, for Christ’s sake.

  1. Here is a message from God for sleeping saints (Romans 13:11).
  2. Here is a message from God for dead sinners (Ephesians 5:14).
  3. Here is a message from God to both saints and sinners (Revelation 3:20).


Sleeping Saints


1stHere is a message from God for sleeping saints (Romans 13:11).


(Romans 13:11) And that, knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.


Paul tells us that it’s time to wake up. It is high time for you and me to awake out of sleep. We do not like to be reminded of it. But there is a shameful condition into which we are terribly prone to fall that is here described as “sleep.” Like the ten virgins, both the wise and the foolish, we all sleep and slumber. Spirit of God, awaken us now. God forbid that we should be found sleeping while it is day.




The sleep described in our text is a shameful indifference to Christ. — I remind you, I am not talking now about the sleep of spiritual death. I will deal with that in a few minutes. But this is the sleep of living men and women, men and women who are truly born of God, believers, who in their heart of hearts truly love Christ. But they are asleep. Yes, men and women who love Christ do sometimes, by their own neglect of him, their own sinfulness, become indifferent to him (Song of Solomon 5:2-3). When they are asleep, you cannot tell the wise from the foolish.


(Song of Songs 5:2-3) I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. (3) I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them?


Do those words pierce your heart? Are you asleep? Have you, like the church at Ephesus, left your first love? Have the precious Christ, his precious blood, the precious gift of faith in him, and the precious promises of the gospel somehow become less than precious to you? Have you forgotten the joy of believing? Has your grasp of the Savior lost the strength of freshness? I must confess that recently it has been so with me! God forgive my sin. Is it so with you? If you are born of God…


  • I know that you have seen your sin. But has the fresh conviction of sin you once felt so deeply, now become no more than a doctrine you acknowledge?
  • I know that you have seen the righteousness of God in Christ. But has the righteousness of Christ now become to you no more than a point of doctrine about which you argue with men? It was once a blessed garment of salvation you wrapped around your naked soul.
  • I know that you have seen God’s judgment of sin in Christ. How joyfully you bathed your filthy soul in Immanuel’s precious blood! The atonement of Christ, his finished work of redemption, his substitutionary death, his precious blood were once your soul’s hope, joy, and peace. But have these things now become little more than facts upon which we insist.
  • I know that you have seen the beauty and preciousness of Christ. — “Unto you that believe he is precious.” The joy of earthly things fades with familiarity and use. The rose is beautiful to look upon and sweet to smell. But it withers, dies, and soon begins to stink. But the Rose of Sharon grows sweeter and sweeter the more he is smelled, the closer he is held.


All the doctrine of Christ is like roses on a bush. As long as they are on the bush they are beautiful, sweet to smell, blooming with life. But we are not content to leave them on the bush. We have to cut them, arrange them in our little vase, and set them on the table in our little room. There we admire them. But they soon begin to wither and lose their sweet fragrance. God help us to quit being so foolish. It is Christ who is life. It is Christ who is beautiful. It is Christ to whom we must look. Christ is precious. It is Christ we love, not doctrines about him. His doctrine is beautiful, sweet, blooming with life, only in Christ. I do not suggest that we be indifferent to Christ’s doctrine. You know better than to imagine such a thing. But we are fools if we become so enamored with the doctrine of Christ that we become indifferent to Christ!


Illustration: My Wife and Her Clothes


Carnal Security


The sleep Paul is describing is a carnal security, a sort of spiritual drowsiness, which sometimes overtakes God’s people in this world. — I hardly know how to explain it. But when the wise virgins sleep like the foolish, they appear to be the same as the foolish, nothing but base hypocrites. Grace seems dormant in the soul. Slothfulness and indifference prevail. When we are in this sleepy condition we become satisfied with the outward duties of religion and our hearts have a lukewarm indifference with regard to the cause of Christ.

  • His Gospel
  • His Church
  • His People
  • His Glory


When we are in this sleepy condition we have only slight concerns about our sin; and we are willing to remain in our beds of ease (Song of Solomon 5:3).


This wicked sleep is a condition we bring upon ourselves! — It arises from this body of sin and death. It comes upon us because we choose evil instead of good, darkness instead of light, and flesh instead of spirit. It arises from…

  • An undue care for this world.
  • An aversion to private worship.
  • A neglect of public worship.


Have I described you? Are you one of those poor creatures who are asleep in Zion? Like the ten virgins, not knowing when the Bridegroom shall come, you are fast asleep. If you are, hear the words of God to his sleeping saints.


Wake Up


“It is high time to awake out of sleep.” Do you know what time it is? It is day time. The gospel day is here. This is the day of salvation. The Sun of Righteousness has risen. This is not a time for sleep, but a time for work and business.


To awake out of sleep is to see that divine things are realities. — When we are half asleep, we see nothing clearly. We hardly know the difference between our dreams and reality. And the sleeping saint is one who is unaffected by divine realities. To awake out of sleep is to see things as they really are. — All things here are temporal and perishing. The riches and pleasures of this world are deceiving, temporal, and passing away (2 Corinthians 4:17-5:11)


(2 Corinthians 4:17-5:11) For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; (18) While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.


(5:1) For we know that if our earthly house of this tabernacle were dissolved, we have a building of God, an house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens. (2) For in this we groan, earnestly desiring to be clothed upon with our house which is from heaven: (3) If so be that being clothed we shall not be found naked. (4) For we that are in this tabernacle do groan, being burdened: not for that we would be unclothed, but clothed upon, that mortality might be swallowed up of life. (5) Now he that hath wrought us for the selfsame thing is God, who also hath given unto us the earnest of the Spirit. (6) Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: (7) (For we walk by faith, not by sight:) (8) We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord. (9) Wherefore we labour, that, whether present or absent, we may be accepted of him. (10) For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. (11) Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.


  • Sin is real!
  • Christ is real!
  • The love of God in Christ is real!
  • Death is real!
  • Heaven is real!
  • Hell is real!
  • Eternity is real!


Salvation Near


It is now time to awake, “for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” — We are living on the brink of eternity. Our redemption is near, our complete redemption. The time is coming when we will get it. Yes, we will be saved at last! The top stone shall be laid in place with shoutings of “Grace! Grace! Unto it.” What, shall we sleep with heaven so near at hand? Shall we sleep when we are at the door of our Father’s house, about to enter the joy of the Lord? We are now upon the threshold of everlasting glory! How can we sleep? — “The night is far spent; the day is at hand: let us therefore…

  • “Cast off the works of darkness” (v. 12). — The bedclothes of sin and indifference.
  • “Put on the armour of light” (v. 12). — The whole armor of God, as those about to enter their final conflict.
  • “Walk honestly (confident and assured) as in the day” (v. 13). — “Not in rioting” (frivolity). “Not in drunkenness.” — “Not in Chambering and wantonness” (sensuality and lasciviousness). — “Not in strife and envying.”
  • “But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ.” — He is our Armor (v. 14).
  • “And make not provision for the flesh” (your physical pleasures and well-being, your carnal, base nature).


Not only is it time to awake, but if we are his, our Lord will graciously awaken us (Song of Solomon 5:2-8).


(Song of Songs 5:2-8) I sleep, but my heart waketh: it is the voice of my beloved that knocketh, saying, Open to me, my sister, my love, my dove, my undefiled: for my head is filled with dew, and my locks with the drops of the night. (3) I have put off my coat; how shall I put it on? I have washed my feet; how shall I defile them? (4) My beloved put in his hand by the hole of the door, and my bowels were moved for him. (5) I rose up to open to my beloved; and my hands dropped with myrrh, and my fingers with sweet smelling myrrh, upon the handles of the lock. (6) I opened to my beloved; but my beloved had withdrawn himself, and was gone: my soul failed when he spake: I sought him, but I could not find him; I called him, but he gave me no answer. (7) The watchmen that went about the city found me, they smote me, they wounded me; the keepers of the walls took away my veil from me. (8) I charge you, O daughters of Jerusalem, if ye find my beloved, that ye tell him, that I am sick of love.


  • He will speak to us by his Word and call us by his Spirit.
  • He will put his hand of grace into our hearts.
  • He will cause us to rise and seek him!
  • And he will be found of those who diligently seek him (Song of Solomon 3:1-4).


(Song of Songs 3:1-4) By night on my bed I sought him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. (2) I will rise now, and go about the city in the streets, and in the broad ways I will seek him whom my soul loveth: I sought him, but I found him not. (3) The watchmen that go about the city found me: to whom I said, Saw ye him whom my soul loveth? (4) It was but a little that I passed from them, but I found him whom my soul loveth: I held him, and would not let him go, until I had brought him into my mother’s house, and into the chamber of her that conceived me.


Child of God, hear what the Spirit says to you.“And knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep: for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.”


Dead Sinners


2ndHere is a message from God to poor, lost, spiritually dead sinners (Ephesians 5:14).


(Ephesians 5:14) Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.


Some of you here yet sleep the sleep of death. It is not just that you are languishing. You are spiritually dead. You are without God, without grace, without Christ, and without hope in this world. To you the Spirit of God says, “Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” — It is high time for you to awake!


Satan may throw a stumbling block before you. You may say to yourself, “I know that a dead sinner cannot awake himself. If I am awakened, the Spirit of God must give me life.” And you are right. You have the doctrine straight. But if you are prepared to fold your arms and go to hell, your straight doctrine will be of no comfort to you in the fires of the damned. If you would be saved, you must awake and rise from the dead and come to Christ.


Yes, God commands you to do what you have no natural ability to do. — He commands you to awake and rise from the dead. He is not teasing you. God promises eternal life to all who obey his command.

  • To the lame, Christ said, “Take up thy bed and walk,” and he did!
  • To the blind, he said, “Wash and see,” and he did!
  • To the man with the withered hand, he said, “Stretch forth thine hand,” and he did!
  • To Lazarus, after he had been dead four days, the Son of God said, “Lazarus, come forth,” and he did!


To you who are dead in sin, God says, “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.”


The text contains a twofold command and a blessed promise of grace. The command is, Awake thou that sleepest.” — God commands you to wake up from the dead sleep of sullen indifference. You are lost! You are without Christ! You are going to hell! The wrath of God is upon you! — Wake up!


The command is, Arise from the dead!

  • Arise from the death of unbelief to the life of faith.
  • Arise from the death of sin to the life of grace.
  • Arise from the dead works of false religion to the life of Christ.
  • Arise from dead doctrine to living truth.
  • Arise from dead emotionalism to living worship.
  • Arise from death that is everything without Christ, to life that is everything in Christ. — Christ is life! — “He that hath the Son hath life. He that hath not the Son of God hath not life!”


To put it in other words, God’s command is this: — “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.” — “Look unto me and be ye saved.” — “Come unto me.”


The promise of grace is, “Christ shall give thee light.” Many today get the cart before the horse. They say, “If you can get enough light, then you may be permitted to awake and rise from the dead.” That is all wrong. The text says, “Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” We come to light through Christ. We do not come to Christ through light. If what you seek is light, Satan will give you a night-light to drive away your fear and carry with you to hell!


What we must have is Christ. Come to Christ and he will give you light, true light, eternal light in your soul. Christ is light. But any light you get without Christ is total darkness. Come to Christ and he will give you light…

  • Into the secret counsels of God.
  • Into the wonders of electing love.
  • Into the mystery of redemption.
  • Into the marvelous riches of grace.
  • Into the saints’ inheritance in glory.


But the first thing must be done first. You must awake, arise from the dead, and come to Christ.


The time to awake is now, because your condemnation is increasing daily. — There are no degrees of reward in heaven. That is altogether the gift of God’s free grace. But there are degrees of wrath in hell, because the everlasting torments of hell are wages men and women earn by willful unbelief and sin. Your willful despising of Christ is the treasuring up of wrath against the day of wrath (Romans 2:4-5).


(Romans 2:4-5) Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? (5) But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God.


Š      Christ can take your sin away. Why keep it?

Š      Christ can take your guilt away. Why hoard it up?

Š      Christ can take God’s wrath away. Why treasure it up?


God help you to hear me. Today is the day of salvation. Your opportunities to awake are passing quickly. There is only one time when you can awake from your sleep and arise from the dead. And that time is when God says to you, “Awake, and arise!” The ark of God is going by your house. You must enter now. If you allow it to pass, one day you will seek to enter in and not be able. Our Lord was on his way to Jerusalem when he passed through Jericho. If Zacchaeus would meet him, it must be “when he came to the place.” He was on his way to Jerusalem as he passed out of Jericho. If blind Bartimaeus was ever to see, he must get mercy from Christ before he got by.

  • The lame man could not walk except when Christ passed by and said, “Take up thy bed and walk.”
  • The man with the withered arm could not stretch it out except at that moment when Christ passed by and said, “Stretch forth thine hand.”
  • Lazarus could not arise except at the time that Christ came to his tomb and said, “Lazarus, come forth.”


I never read in the New Testament of God crossing a sinner’s path but one time. There is a day of grace. And there is a day when the day of grace is gone (Luke 13:23-25; Proverbs 1:23-33).


(Luke 13:23-25) Then said one unto him, Lord, are there few that be saved? And he said unto them, (24) Strive to enter in at the strait gate: for many, I say unto you, will seek to enter in, and shall not be able. (25) When once the master of the house is risen up, and hath shut to the door, and ye begin to stand without, and to knock at the door, saying, Lord, Lord, open unto us; and he shall answer and say unto you, I know you not whence ye are.


(Proverbs 1:23-33) Turn you at my reproof: behold, I will pour out my spirit unto you, I will make known my words unto you. (24) Because I have called, and ye refused; I have stretched out my hand, and no man regarded; (25) But ye have set at nought all my counsel, and would none of my reproof: (26) I also will laugh at your calamity; I will mock when your fear cometh; (27) When your fear cometh as desolation, and your destruction cometh as a whirlwind; when distress and anguish cometh upon you. (28) Then shall they call upon me, but I will not answer; they shall seek me early, but they shall not find me: (29) For that they hated knowledge, and did not choose the fear of the LORD: (30) They would none of my counsel: they despised all my reproof. (31) Therefore shall they eat of the fruit of their own way, and be filled with their own devices. (32) For the turning away of the simple shall slay them, and the prosperity of fools shall destroy them. (33) But whoso hearkeneth unto me shall dwell safely, and shall be quiet from fear of evil.


This is God’s message to you: — “Awake, thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light.” — “Today, if ye will hear his voice, harden not your heart.”


Saints and Sinners


3rdHere is a message from God to both saints and sinners (Revelation 3:20).


(Revelation 3:20) Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.


The Lord Jesus Christ says to you and to me, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and sup with him, and he with me.” — Is there here a sleeping saint? This is Christ’s word to you. — Is there here a poor, lost, guilty, doomed, damned, helpless, dead sinner? This is Christ’s word to you. — “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and sup with him, and he with me.” Here is…

  • A glorious Savior.
  • A knock of grace.
  • A requirement of faith.
  • A promise of mercy.


Illustration: The Handkerchief








Don Fortner








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