A Call to the Converted

By W. G. Turner

"Wherefore he saith, Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and Christ shall give thee light (shall shine upon thee. R.V.; J.N.D.)." Eph. 5:14.

Why a call to the converted?


Because all are apt to grow cold and become careless through unwatchfulness; all need to be on the alert, not complacent, self-satisfied, and therefore off guard; all need to cultivate a loving spirit, the mark of true discipleship, lest we grow hard; and because all need to keep the light shining brightly, for the fruit of the light is righteousness, goodness and truth. "Let your light so shine before men that they may see your good works, and glorify your FATHER which is in heaven." (Matt. 5:16).

Worldliness, covetousness, love of money, indolence, fear of man all tend to grow on a man. "Stainless but useless like many Christians," was the caustic remark of one when trying to cut a grapefruit with a stainless knife. Why a call to the converted? Because, in short, in a world like this, with foes and snares around us, with lusts and fears within, we need to be awake, alert, intelligent and purposeful.

When a spiritual movement begins it is living and therefore growing; but soon a tendency appears for it to become cut and dried, orthodox, institutional, traditional, conventional, formal, and therefore to all intents and purposes lifeless. Christianity and every spiritual movement springing from it have shown this tendency as time has passed. Now Ephesus was just one of those places to foster such a tendency towards decline. It was a city of importance in the world; enjoyed a settled civilisation which lasted from Croesus to Constantine; a great commercial centre possessing good wharves and good roads to the interior; a great religious centre with the temple of Diana one of the wonders of the world in its midst; a home of mixed superstitions as Acts 19 so clearly portrays, in short a cosmopolitan city, an epitome of the world itself. Here the Christian church had been formed and nourished by St. Paul's ministry for the space of three years, and to this assembly the epistle containing this clarion call to the converted was addressed. It is a call to awake to their privileges, responsibilities and opportunities.

"Awake thou that sleepest," the sleep of moral inattention.

1. The call is to awake to their privileges for nowhere are these privileges of believers set out more fully and in greater detail than here in the Epistle to the Ephesians. First, they are summarised in one sentence, "blessed with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in CHRIST." Secondly, they are then specified in close and clear detail. Chosen to be holy and blameless before GOD in love; predestinated to the adoption of children by JESUS CHRIST; accepted in the BELOVED; redeemed; forgiven; given an inheritance in CHRIST; sealed by the SPIRIT; quickened together with CHRIST; made nigh by His blood; made fellow citizens with the saints; and of the household of GOD. To all these are added the myriad ministries needed for growth, upbuilding and perfecting. These are the privileges to which the call came, and still comes, "Awake thou that sleepest and arise," from the lifeless appearance of inattention, ignorance, or indifference to the blessings wherewith we are blessed.

2. Since privileges always entail responsibilities it is well now to consider these. They also are summed up in a single sentence, but a striking phrase, as "walking worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called." As in the case of privileges so in that of responsibilities, these are also further set out in fuller detail. To be long-suffering, forbearing, diligent, truthful, generous, grateful, loving, compassionate, forgiving, in short to be imitators of GOD as dear children, and to walk as children of light in all goodness and righteousness and truth, redeeming the time for the days are evil.

The call is to awake to privileges freely and graciously bestowed by GOD, and to face up to responsibilities flowing therefrom.

3. Awake also to the opportunities—"redeeming the time" literally buying up every opportunity of serving Him Who has conferred all the privileges upon them. For the space of three years they had had the advantage of an unequalled ministry and personal example of one who by conduct, character and conversation had recalled the privileges, recognised the responsibilities and responded to the opportunities to which he now exhorted them. "It is high time to awake out of sleep for now is our salvation, nearer than when we believed." (Rom. 13:11). "Awake to righteousness, and sin not." (1 Cor. 15:34); "Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness. Therefore let us not sleep as do others; but let us watch and be sober." (1 Thess. 5:5-6). Thus had the Apostle written four years earlier to the Roman saints, and nine years earlier to the church of the Thessalonians.


"Arise from among the dead." This is the challenge of the call to the converted. "Son of man, stand upon thy feet and I will speak unto thee," was the word spoken to Ezekiel by the river Chebar. Why? Because a man standing up feels quite different from one lying down. He is in a posture of alertness, attention, and to such a one GOD can communicate His will. These are not now dead in trespasses and sins as once they had been, but slumbering in moral inattention.

"Awake thou that sleepest and arise" from the lifeless appearance of worship, fellowship and service, the three all-embracing occupations of the people of GOD.

"Praise issuing forth in life alone
The living LORD can suit."

The tragedy in spiritual things is that the most correct orthodox phrases may be used in a most incorrect and heterodox manner. The warmest expressions of fellowship may proceed from cold hearts. The most striking activities in service may spring from self-importance.

To sing of "counting the world but dross" on one hour of the hundred and sixty-eight in a week, while the others are loudly contradicting the song reveals the actual condition of the singer. To sing of "losing sight of all but Thee," with a cold heart and a mind occupied with other things is to go to the LORD'S Table as a Romanist goes to Mass as a service of obligation, a means of keeping in fellowship! In fellowship with Whom or What? Hence the call to arise and walk carefully, profitably and intelligently, being "not unwise but understanding what the will of the LORD is."

Arise too from the outward pretence of fellowship since the LORD requires sincerity in His people. "Behold Thou desirest truth in the inward parts." Not the correct conventional formula, "Yours affectionately in CHRIST," in word only, but in deed, and in truth. It may be that even we may need the arousal of this call, "Awake thou that sleepest and arise from the dead."

Arise also from the mere appearance in service for the LORD. Is our service really self-sacrificing labour, or simply self-satisfying occupation? Such a reflection will be a challenge to an awakened conscience. It is, of course, gloriously right to enjoy the work of the LORD, as a happy workman is always the better worker. But true acceptable service of necessity springs from love to Him Whose we are and Whom we serve. Therefore this call comes to the converted who have let their hands hang down in slothfulness, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead, and CHRIST shall give thee light."


A call, a challenge truly, but also a comfort, "and CHRIST shall give thee light." That is the rendering in our English version; the Revised and the New Translation give it more clearly still "and CHRIST shall shine upon thee." "Shall give thee light;" shall shine upon thee; "shall illumine thee," says W. Kelly, even more accurately; literally, "shall light thee up," make thee bright, as in Psalm 34, "they looked unto Him and were lightened, became bright." Edification, exhortation and encouragement each play their part in this great call to the converted. For our edification we are called to awake to our privileges, responsibilities and opportunities, for our exhortation we are challenged to arise and walk carefully, profitably and intelligently; for our encouragement we are cheered by the assurance that CHRIST will enable us once more to shine as lights in the world holding forth the word of life. Note it is CHRIST Himself, the unwearied Lover, Who gives us light. He never tires in service to His own however dull, heavy and forgetful they have become. As to Laodicea, so to the ease-loving, slumbering, slothful servants to-day, not only is the call AWAKE, ARISE, but "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 sup with him and he with Me."


Now for the epilogue. In Isaiah 51 and Isaiah 52, the remnant of the people are represented as feeling their low state and crying out for revival. "Awake, awake, O Arm of the LORD; put on strength, O Arm of the LORD as in ancient days." To this cry the divine response comes, "Awake, awake, stand up O Jerusalem; awake, awake; put on thy strength O Zion; put on Thy beautiful garments O Jerusalem." The analogy to ourselves and present conditions is clear. We know Who the Arm of the LORD is—He by Whom all things were made, and by Whom all things subsist. So when feeling our present low state, our weakness and calling to mind former days, we cry, "O LORD wilt Thou not revive us again as in the early days." To which the divine reply is, "Awake thou that sleepest, and arise from the dead and CHRIST shall give thee light; shall shine upon thee; shall illumine thee, and the beauty of the LORD shall be upon us and upon the handiwork of His servants once again."

1 HARK, 'tis the watchman's cry,
"Wake, brethren, wake!"
Jesus, our Lord, is nigh,
Wake, brethren, wake!
Sleep is for sons of night,
Ye are children of the light,
Yours is the glory bright:
Wake, brethren, wake!

2 Call to each waking band,
"Watch, brethren, watch!"
Clear is our Lord's command,
Watch, brethren, watch!
Be ye as men that wait
Ready at their Master's gate,
E'en though He tarry late:
Watch, brethren, watch!

3 Heed we the steward's call,
"Work, brethren, work!"
There's room enough for all,
Work, brethren, work!
This vineyard of our Lord
Constant labour will afford;
Yours is a sure reward:
Work, brethren, work!

4 Hear we the Shepherd's voice,
"Pray, brethren, pray!"
Would ye His heart rejoice,
Pray brethren, pray!
Sin calls for constant fear,
Weakness needs the strong One near:
Long as ye tarry here,
Pray, brethren, pray!

5 Now sound the final chord,
"Praise, brethren, praise!"
Thrice holy is the Lord
Praise, brethren, praise!
What more befits the tongues,
Soon to lead the angels' songs,
While heaven the note prolongs?
Praise, brethren, praise!