That Which Revives the Church

That Which Revives the Church

I invite you to turn in the word of God this morning to the Song of Solomon: The Song which is Solomon’s. Find Isaiah and work back from there to find it more speedily. We have, every time there’s communion this year, turned to Song of Solomon for our communion meditation. We are usually in Paul’s first letter to the Thessalonians, but there is a lot of teaching and instruction that is not really conducive for communion service so we felt it wise just to come to this text every time we have communion. It doesn’t matter where you re in this book, it will drive our minds and hearts to be attentive to those things that relate to the person and work of the Lord Jesus Christ and make us appreciate what we are remembering when we come to the Lord’s table. So far, we have come to chapter 2 and we got as far as verse 7. This morning, before we sit at the Lord’s Table, we will be looking at verses 8 -13. We will just read those verses together. Let’s follow along in the Scriptures. I trust you have a copy and can follow along in the word of God here. Again, we take this in the traditional sense. When I say traditional, I mean the Puritan, Reformed understanding of this text of this book that sees the relationship between Christ and His church and we follow in their pattern of exegesis in relation to that, rather than some of the modern ideas that relate to this book. Let’s read from verse 8. Pay attention to the word of God and may it be applied with tremendous profit to our hearts even as it is read: Song of Solomon, Chapter 2, verse 8:

8 The voice of my beloved! behold, he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.
9 “My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.
10 My beloved spake, and said unto me, “Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away.
11 For, lo, the winter is past, the rain is over and gone;
12 The flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land;
13 The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell. “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.

Amen. Let’s still our hearts momentarily in prayer and seek the Lord:

Lord, we need to hear from Thee today. We always need to hear from Thee, but we really need to hear from Thee today. We pray that every heart would be submissive and would be ready to receive the engrafted word that is able to save the very soul. We pray Thy Spirit will come that we may hear the voice of our beloved. That we may rise up and come away. Lord, again, cleanse us. Wash us. The blood of Christ that we have heard about already today, may we turn from the world, Jesus to seek. Fill this preacher with the Holy Ghost, then. Fall upon this gathering we pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.

Among the things that are often missed when one reads through the book of Revelation, is the fact that it is addressed to a people who are under tremendous persecution. Keep in mind as you go through the book of Revelation, its purpose is to encourage, as well as to inform the persecuted church of the fact that they need not be concerned of all that’s going on in their lives and what will come to pass in the future. The Lord has it under control. He is sovereignly taking care of His church, even in the midst of tremendous persecution, as was the experience of the first century church. The Lord is taking care of them. What is remarkable, however, is that when we read the letters to the seven churches, is that some of those churches are not where they ought to be in spite of the persecution. Sometimes you will hear Christians, I’ve certainly heard it, I think with a lack of wisdom really, but they will pray for persecution. They will ask God to bring days of persecution to his church because they assume that with the persecution, there would be the quickening that they know is lacking in the church in our present day. Now, I understand the thinking behind that. I’m well aware that largely, when persecution comes, there is a purging, a sifting and a work accomplished that is not as easily accomplished in days of prosperity and temporal blessing. But one of the things you note as you read the letters to the churches is that, in spite of persecution there were churches there that were not in the condition that they needed to be. I’m not going over all of them, but certainly the Laodiceans come to mind. They had temporal prosperity. They had material things that anyone would desire or seek for. They thought that they were rich and increased with goods and had need of nothing. Yet, they were living in a region of tremendous persecution. Temporally, they were doing fine. They were ok. They saw this as a sign of God’s blessing and favor and they were fine as far as they were concerned. The message to them was quite contrary to that, “You know not that you’re wretched and poor and miserable and blind and naked.” Their counsel was to repent and get back to where they ought to be to see the poverty of their souls and to return to Christ. Who, as is as depicted for us as in the portion at the end of Revelation 3 is standing outside the door of the church as it were. Persecution is not an infallible way of dealing with the church warming the hearts of God’s people. What is the need always regardless of whether we live in times of prosperity or persecution, is to seek Christ; to hear from Christ and to just experience His presence in the way He has appointed throughout the ages, regardless of the circumstances. As we come to the verses that are before us here this morning, we are considering them under the title:

That Which Revives the Church

What I want you to note with me first of all, is that:

1) Christ’s arrival revives His church. Verse 8 reads, “The voice of my beloved! Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills.” In this we’ll see first of all:

a. The agency in His arrival. What is the agency in the arrival of the beloved? It is the voice of my beloved. The means of his coming to her is that of his voice. The instrumentality is that of his voice. The voice of my beloved is the record here. She sees him coming to her by means of his word. This, of course, is the way the Lord generally comes to his people, by means of his word. If there is a mentality that I need to see the physical form of Jesus Christ to have a visit from the Lord Jesus Christ, we are greatly in error. She identifies that he comes to her as is his coming to visit with her one of the agencies of that is the voice. The voice of my beloved. Now, this is critical and essential and foundational in the advancement of the church or in God’s dealing with the church. It is by his word that he deals with his church. It is by his word that he calls in his church. It is by his word that he sanctifies his church. It is by his word that he advances his church and it goes forward in the way that he desires. In John chapter 10, familiar words to many here this morning, I am sure, verses 4 and 5, the Lord Jesus says the sheep follow him, for they know his voice. A stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him for they know not the voice of strangers, but they do know his voice. They know HIS voice and she knows his voice. The voice of my beloved. A voice that would mean, perhaps, nothing to many others, that would be ignored by many others is not ignored by her. The voice of my beloved. Is it not so in the world? Is it not so to this present day that the voice of the Lord Jesus Christ passes over the heads of others? It goes in one ear and out the other in the unregenerate, but to those that love the Lord Jesus in truth, Oh for the voice of my beloved! When we open up the Scriptures, is it not our desire to hear from him? “Speak Lord, for thy servant heareth,” we pray like Samuel. We want to hear from him. She brings this out in this opening statement: the voice of my beloved. As he is coming to her because she goes on and says he cometh leaping. He is coming to her. He is visiting her, but this is the first agency. You see, this is one of the ways in which he comes to her: by his voice. Christ, you see, visits through his word and that’s how his church goes forward. I have pointed this out many times but I think many don’t see it or understand it.

Turn with me to Ephesians 2 you see a very precious truth that is often overlooked by God’s people, never mind the unregenerate who might say, “Well, I would need to see Jesus. I would need to hear from him myself if I was ever to make a commitment to the Lord Jesus or live for him. You’ll see how the Lord visits men and women in these days. There are a number of verses we could read here. Of course, you see in the context, verse 13 talking about Christ made nigh by the blood of Christ. Verse 14 for He, of course Christ, is our peace who hath made both (that’s Jew and Gentile) one, having broken down the middle wall of partition between us, having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in the ordinances, for to make in himself of twain, one new man, so making peace. That he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby and came (follow it) and preached peace to you which were afar off and to them that were nigh. Through him we both have access by one spirit unto the father. This was a message about the reconciliation that has been experienced between Jew and Gentile into Jesus Christ by means of genuine conversion and saving grace. He says that in the midst of this that Christ came and preached peace to you. Christ preached peace to the gentiles as much as he preached peace to the Jew. Of course, if you were sitting in Ephesus at that time receiving this letter, you might say, “Well I never heard from Jesus Christ. He never came to Ephesus. He never passed this way. In fact, he stayed to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. That was the boundary of his ministry. In fact, even when the Greeks come to him in John 12 and say “we would see Jesus”, we don’t have any indication that they actually got their desire at that point, because his primary focus was on the Jew. But at the same time the apostle would visit Ephesus and the rest of the regions of the places he went, when he brought the word of God, there was a preaching of peace to them. Christ was preaching to them. Yes, it was Paul, Silas, Timothy, Barnabas, whomever you may want to mention in the early church, but it was Christ who was preaching peace to them. When the word of God is opened, every time we gather in this fashion, when the word of God is opened before men and women and declared to them in truth, it is Christ preaching to men. It is Christ standing again, through the agency of his ministers, those who are set apart to handle the word, but it is Christ. Never miss it! If you are wanting to hear from Christ, you have what the Lord has appointed for that: the word of God and ministers to handle that word and Christ ministers to your heart. That should never be neglected. That should not be something about which we think lightly. It’s a tremendous mercy. We should come knowing each Lord’s Day, the voice of my beloved. I am going to hear the voice of my beloved. O, that I might have eyes to see him and ears to hear the voice of my beloved. Sometimes our ears appear to be uncircumcised, we don’t seem to be hearing from him the way we ought. Again, we’ve been looking at 1 Thessalonians over recent months and you’ll remember in chapter 1 verse 5 where Paul says, “Our gospel came not unto you in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Ghost” but it did come in word. Our gospel came in word and you heard of the Lord Jesus Christ. The Lord came to you and He built up his church and visited your soul. The voice of my beloved was heard as the word of God was faithfully handled by the apostles in the various cities and areas where they went. So Christ, as he intends to arrive upon his people, to his church, to come to them, often it is through the agency of the word. You want to see Christ? You want to know that he has arrived, that he has come to your heart? It is through the word! Child of God, have continually, an openness, a readiness to receive the word. It is through that agency that you meet with him. It is through that agency that he reveals his will to you and draws near to you and speaks to your heart. It is, of course, here

b. The announcement of his arrival because it goes on then and says, “behold. Behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. Behold he cometh! What an announcement. An announcement of the Lord’s coming. He cometh! The announcement of the Lord’s coming is always, always a reason to rejoice for the Lord’s people. Always! We’ve been seeing it, have we not going through Luke 1 and 2 in the evening services, the announcement of his arrival is just pure joy and elation for those that are waiting for it? You go through those chapters and it’s just permeated with joy. Songs of praise, prayers of rejoicing as these individuals enter into that hope and expectation that he has come. He has come! The Old Testament saints looked for the advent of Messiah. They longed for him and when you read through the opening chapters of Luke, it is just so joyful because it has come about. Behold, He cometh. Look at it. Look at it! Don’t miss it. Indeed, is that not the language of John the Baptist right behind me and John 1:29? The excitement, the joy, the privilege he had to finally say to the crowds that gather around him. Behold! Behold the Lamb of God. Behold he cometh. He is here. He has arrived. That was an announcement of joy. John wasn’t sad about it. He wasn’t annoyed or frustrated that, in some way his ministry was going to peter out because of the arrival of Messiah. It was the whole purpose of his existence, to point the way to be that messenger and lead the way for others to see Christ and finally to say, behold him. This very phrase, Behold, he cometh is used not just in the Old Testament, but in the new. In Revelation 1:7 you will see there in the text “Behold he cometh with clouds. Every eye shall see him. They also which pierced him. All kindreds of the earth shall wail because of him.” The arrival of the Lord is not always joyful. It depends where you are when he comes. Remember, when the Lord came the first time, in the first advent, not everyone was happy. Herod certainly wasn’t happy. You see the animosity and acrimony and anger and the viciousness of human nature as they despise and reject the Lord Jesus. Under that, of course, he is the man of sorrows. But for the people of God it is a tremendous joy. So it shall be in the last, in his second advent. Behold he cometh with clouds. We will rejoice at that. We say and you will hear me say it, God willing, whether I don’t forget and I don’t think I shall. Even so, come Lord Jesus! We want him to come but if you’re outside of Christ, not in Him, not looking for him. If this life is what it’s all about for you, if the purpose of your existence is making yourself happy, living for your own ambitions, your own goals and your own desires, if you have all of that set before you and you’re trying to fulfill it best you can. But if Christ would return today, tomorrow or in the very near future, it would upset everything. Worse than that, you’re not ready. You’re not looking for it. You’re not in any way desirous for him to return. That’s not the case for the Lord’s people. We are looking for it. She is excited about it. He cometh. He cometh! What a wonderful message in the fact that he has come.

In John chapter 11, there is a very personal announcement from Martha to Mary when Jesus arrived to the scene of Lazarus’ death. John 11:28 Martha said to Mary on that occasion, “The Master has come and calleth for Thee” That’s a wonderful little statement right there. The Master has come and calleth for Thee. He calleth for Thee. What an evangelistic invitation that is to say to lost sinners, to say to your neighbors, your family, and your friends. To say, “The Master has come and he calleth for thee.” He calleth for thee because he calls all sinners to himself. He invites all sinners should trust in him. He encourages all, all the world. God now commandeth all men everywhere to repent. Christ says if any man thirst, let him come to me and drink. He invites all. “Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” There’s an invitation to come the Master has come and called for thee. Ill tell you, that invitation, that instruction that message that was given in John 11 is given today. It’s given just as truly today. Indeed, child of God, if you’re sitting thinking “I can’t participate in the Lord’s table today, my sins are too many. My guilt is too serious. That’s not where you stay! That’s not where you stay. You repent NOW. You turn from your sins where you are. You don’t continue to harbor onto the things that cause that guilt and cause it to rise up in your heart. You turn it over to Christ. You put it under the blood and you hear the words of the master that he has come today, this Lord ’s Day and he calleth for thee to come to the table. He does. Come to this table. “Come here. Sit with me.” Saints have always looked forward to the coming of their Messiah. Even without his physical presence, they looked for his coming. Behold he cometh. See it there. Behold he cometh! But you see:

c. The ardor of his arrival. See the ardor of it. He cometh, leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills. What fervency, what passion, what eagerness and enthusiasm is here, He cometh leaping upon the mountain, skipping upon the hills. Now, mountains and hills are often obstacles; obstacles to our way. Though we live in a time where many of those obstacles, we can really bypass because of the roads and stuff that we have carved through them over the years, even carving right into the mountains sometimes, driving right through them, but there was a time where obviously that was an obstacle. We had to do that; to carve that tunnel right through the mountain or pave those roads up through those mountains and pass through all the dangerous areas in order for others to be able to pass in the future. Mountains are obstacles constantly standing in our way. Indeed, even in the language of the Lord Jesus depict that, “if you have faith as a grain of a mustard seed you will say unto this mountain, be though removed”, etc. It’s the sense of an obstacle, that’s the idea. That’s what it is here as well. The mountain and hill has the sense of being an obstacle. Of course, you think about what’s going on here: this is about communion. This is about fellowship. This is about the bride and bridegroom coming together to have sweet communion and fellowship together and there are mountains. That’s the thing you see. There are mountains and there are hills.

The fall of man was a mountain. Adam’s sin was a mountain. It was a mountain, except, no amount of human engineering could carve a tunnel through that mountain. No amount of human engineering could find a way to bypass that mountain, to get around that mountain. That was a mountain that only declared to Adam and his posterity, death. Hopeless. Utterly hopeless condition. No hope whatsoever, None, beloved. See it. See it. Look back and read Genesis 3 for yourself. There’s a mountain that is insurmountable. Man has rebelled against God. There is now this breech between God and man. It’s insurmountable. Man can’t do anything to bridge it! He’s in a hopeless condition. There’s nothing that can be done. Nothing! Think of death: consequences of our sin. All of this is an obstacle. A mountain that seems impossible to deal with. And yet, he cometh leaping upon the mountains and skipping upon the hills. It’s as if the obstacles aren’t even there. Leaping upon the mountains. Skipping upon them. It’s as if they’ don’t even exist. This is the glory of the gospel because what is insurmountable. What is literally impossible for man becomes possible. Think of it. Think of it! Oh, how then is God going to reconcile man to himself? Well, God will become man. But that in itself becomes a mountain that seems impossible. How can it be that God can become man., yet this is the very reality of the gospel. God becomes man. He just skips over the mountain and leaps over the hills in order to redeem fallen humanity. He’s going to have to deal with death. How is that possible? How is it possible he will deal with death and he simply says in John 10 “I have power to lay down my life. I have power to take it again. No man hath power to take it from me. I lay it down of myself.” This is him leaping upon the mountain; skipping upon the hills. This is Christ saying, “Whatever the problem, whatever the impossibility. I have the power.” You’re going to see it. You’re going to see impossibilities become possible. In fact, you’re going to see what is completely beyond comprehension come to pass. Sinners are made saints. This vile body shall be made like unto his glorious body. It’s amazing! The Lord comes into this world with vigor, enthusiasm, passion. Leaping upon the mountains, skipping upon the hills, he deals with every obstacle. It’s easy. Sinners are dead. They’re blind, they are deaf, they are lame but that’s nothing to Christ. Through his ministry he shows that. He gives sight to the blind, he gives hearing to the deaf, he gives strength to the lame. He deals with all of that. He cleanses the leper. These are obstacles. The priest couldn’t even touch the leper. Christ comes as the great high priest. He touches them and not only is he not made unclean, but he actually cleanses the leper. Impossible! He just skips over the barriers, the obstacles. They’re nothing to him. Nothing!

You look at the problems in your life. You look at the things that you’re facing. You look at the hardness of the hearts of the unbelievers that are around you, in your families, in your neighborhood, people that you work with. You look at all of them and they’re mountains aren’t they? They are mountains. And he just leaps upon them. He skips over them. It’s nothing! “Speak the word only and my servant shall be healed.” Just speak. Lord. Just speak. Beloved, you bring your burdens here today. Don’t look at the mountains. Don’t look at the hills. Look at the one who comes leaping. Look at him. We would see Jesus. See him. See him.

2) Christ’s appearance revives his church. Not only his arrival, but his appearance. It revives the church as well. Because in verse 9, we read: My beloved is like a roe or a young hart: behold, he standeth behind our wall, he looketh forth at the windows, shewing himself through the lattice.” The Lord appears right here. He stands. You’ll see that. He is now in close proximity to her. But there are number of things to see in his appearance. He appears though he is sensitive. That’s the word I use because he is likened to a roe or a young hart, which are sensitive preachers. At the slightest sign of danger, ppphhhht, they’re gone. They are gone. Something that concerns them, they flee. In this way our Lord is likened. The Lord Jesus in some ways displays his sensitivity like a deer that is easily scared…not that he’s frightened but he just shows a sensitivity like the roe or the young hart. Remember when he delivered the demoniac and how he was then sent away. We read in Mark 5:17 the Gadarenes drove him away by saying , well, what is recording they began to pray him to depart out of their coasts and he leaves. He leaves. He told his disciples that when you go into a town or city and you bring the word of God and if you’re not received, just walk away. Shake the dust off your feet and go somewhere else. He even encourages that kind of sensitivity within them. “Whosoever shall not receive you, nor hear your words, when you depart out of that house and city, shake off the dust of your feet”, Mt 10:14. So, we are not to think lightly of the Lord’s presence. There’s sensitivity. We are told then to grieve not the spirit of God. Quench not the Spirit. Paul there exhorting on two occasions in various places, exhorting this fact that He can be quenched. The presence of the Spirit of Christ can be quenched? In some way, He can be driven away. This is true on an individual level. This is true on a corporate level. Perhaps in some ways, it can even be said it can be true on a national level. The Lord is driven away. We don’t want to be guilty of that.

See the Lord, can you imagine trying, maybe some of you hunt, and you’ve tried to hunt deer before. You’ll know. You’ll know how quickly they can be startled. That hunter is soooo careful; so careful, camouflaged clothing, finding a little spot where they sit and just wait patiently for hours at times, sometimes even days. That kind of caution; are we not told and instructed to walk circumspectly? There’s a care in the way we walk. Partly that of course, is because of a watching world, but even more importantly, there is a watching Christ. I wonder, are we as careful in our walk with the Lord? Are we as afraid to drive him away as the hunter is to drive the deer away? He has come. “He appears though he is sensitive. He appears because he is seeking. Behold he standeth behind our wall. He looketh forth at the window showing himself through the lattice.”

Walls: He standeth behind our walls. Who builds walls? Did God build any walls when he made the world? No. He made a garden. The need for walls arose because of sin. Even the walls of heaven are there so that naught that defileth should enter in. Walls keep out certain things. They are there to protect. Now these walls have been built by man, but in this case, they are being an hindrance to keeping the Lord out himself. So these walls are not like the walls of heaven. These walls are walls of sin. They are walls that are built up in the heart of the believer to actually create barriers between him and His God. This is part of the lack of care and consideration we have as we walk as believers. We are careless. We build up walls. Go through the Scriptures, you can see it. You can see it there. Various people come to mind. I think of King Saul. I think of Samson building walls; walls up to the point that he didn’t even know that the Spirit had departed from him, so insensitive. Building up walls. Building up walls. But you see, the Lord comes to the wall and he standeth behind our wall. He comes right there. Maybe you’re here this morning and you’ve built up walls of division between you and the Lord. He didn’t building up the wall. You built the wall but he comes anyway. He comes to the other side of that wall. He is beckoning. He is seeking. He is looking for you. He is promoting fellowship. He is encouraging you to get rid of the walls. He has come right there where there is this place of separation. Man is always building walls to try and prevent God from getting into his heart.

Well, he comes to the window. You see that? He looketh forth at the windows. It’s like Peter follows the Lord afar off. He denies the Lord three times. Then the Lord, from a distance, looks through the window. Oh it’s not a physical window. I don’t know exactly the scene there, but he’s able to cast a glance toward Peter. He catches his eye. Peter remembered the word and he went out and he wept bitterly. He’d been building a wall. Had the Lord not looked at Peter, Peter’s conscience would have gone on unconcerned, not pricked. Not enlightened. But the Lord looked, you see. He looks through the window, as it were. He looks into your heart with a gaze. With a gaze that reminds you of his love, of his concern. What is the communion table, but a window? It’s a window back to 2000 years ago, to let us look and see the Lamb of God that taketh away our sin. It’s a window that he has set up that he is gazing through and invites us to gaze back through so that we can be reminded of his love for us, so that our affections are warmed afresh. We are drawn out after him and we begin to weep, because we have built up the walls. We have neglected the means of grace. We haven’t been reading the word, haven’t been seeking his face, living carelessly.

Many of you will know the godly saint in the past, Robert Murray McCheyne. We have one of his poems, we have a number, but we have one of his poems. The verse will be familiar to you. You will remember singing it many times:

When I stand before the throne,
Dressed in beauty not my own,
When I see Thee as Thou art,
Love Thee with unsinning heart,
Then, Lord, shall I fully know,
Not till then, how much I owe.

It’s very true. Have you ever tried to imagine, if you’ve not, please listen. Try and do this: imagine what it’s like to love Christ without sin in the heart. Just take time today or some other opportunity you have. Just take time and try to imagine what it would be like and what it will be like to love Him with an unsinning heart; to hear His word and swiftly run. Have his commands to be sweeter than honey and the honeycomb. To not have this inbred tendency to do our own thing: pride and idolatry of the heart. In that same poem there’s a verse that we don’t sing where McCheyne makes the request:

Even on earth as through glass,
Darkly let thy glory pass,
Make forgiveness feel so sweet.
Make thy Spirit’s help so meet.
E’en on earth, Lord make me know,
Something of how much I owe.

McCheyne essentially is requesting to see Christ through the window. The wall of sin created by the fall exists. In one sense, the wall will never be taken away until we are in glory itself, where we’ll stand. We’ll constantly be trying to see Christ with walls in the way caused by the curse; walls that are in our own hearts, walls that are in the world that is cursed by the fall. All of these walls, but what McCheyne is asking even on earth, “Lord, make me know. Let me see through the window! Let me see you Lord! Show me yourself through the lattice.” Thirdly,

3) Christ’s appeal revives his church. Verse 10: note the affection here, “My beloved spake, and said unto me, Rise up, my love, my fair one, and come away” It’s repeated in verse 13 at the end therer, “Arise, my love, my fair one, and come away.” It’s essentially the same thing. The affection is very plain. It speaks of her being the love and fair one. But you’ll see some of the things that he says to her. First, there is here:

a. His appeal is a call to stand. Isn’t it? Rise up. Rise up, my love and stand. The Lord always wants to meet his people to a better place. One of the things that’s necessary, generally speaking, is that we rise up and get up on our feet so we can be led. In our conversion, we can’t. We don’t have the feet for it. Before we are converted, before we are regenerated, before we have life when we are dead in our sins, we can walk. So the good shepherd has to go and find the sheep that is lost and place it on his shoulders and bring it back. But with regenerating grace, with the accomplishment of the Spirit within our hearts, he can say, rise up, come to your feet. Follow me. Rise up. To rise up is a call to spiritual victory. Is it not? Rise up. Stop sitting down. Stop sitting there as if there is nothing for you to do. Stop sitting there in a defeatist attitude. Stop sitting there thinking that there is no momentum. No forward progress. No future. Nothing for you. No! Rise UP! There may be Christians here this morning and you’ve been sitting for years. Years! For various reasons: spiritual lethargy, or guilt from the past, you’ve just cut yourself out. You’ve said “No, I can’t serve God”, there’s nothing more for me to do. I have to just sit and wait for the Lord to call me home. The Lord would come to you and say Rise up! Don’t sit on, rise up. That’s what the Lord is calling you to do. Maybe in a sense you think yourself to be standing. You’re trying to serve the Lord. You ARE trying to serve God. You’re busy in the service of the master but there is something in particular, specific that he is calling you to and you have halted there and that is where the call to rise up is coming to you. Stop halting. Stop dictating. Stop saying “I’ll serve god in this way, that way the other way but I’m scared of this. I’m not going to do it”. The Lord said “No, rise up. Rise up.” Don’t stay comfortable, Christian. Do not stay comfortable. His appeal is a call to stand.

b. His appeal is also a promise of Springtime. Look at verse 11 and following, He said “For lo the winter is past, the rain is over and gone; the flowers appear on the earth; the time of the singing of birds is come, and the voice of the turtle is heard in our land. The fig tree putteth forth her green figs, and the vines with the tender grape give a good smell.” So again, the exhortation comes, “Arise my love, my fair one, and come away.” If we rise up, indeed the encouragement to rise up and come away is because winter is past. The rain is over and gone. The icy experience of winter is over! But, child of God, if you’re in Christ, the winter of an unregenerate state is gone for you! The dark night of winter has passed. But he’s speaking to one who is regenerate. He is speaking to the church. That’s the picture. That’s what we are seeing here. The church sometimes goes through its winter periods, just as the individual Christian does, so does the church generally. Winter periods. Times that are dark and bleak and nothing grows. Everything is dormant, stagnant, stale. There appears to be no life; no hope. Can you imagine that you didn’t know in the general seasons of life that springtime would follow winter? Imagine you had no idea. Imagine you enter into your first winter and you kind of think it’s just a colder and a more protracted and wet perhaps, time of the Fall that you’ve already just come through and will maybe go back to that, but as the weeks pass, there’s no sign of heat, there’s no sign of life. There’s no budding, nothing. Imagine the fear that would grip your heart. Imagine there’s no spring after the winter. Sometimes God’s people come to that point, you know. They look at the Kingdom of Christ. They look at the circumstances they’re in. They look at the generation they live and it’s just winter and they never imagine the Spring. They never hope for it. They never pray for it. They never believe the spring must follow the winter. But Beloved as sure as winter rolls round, so does spring! It does. It does! And I don’t know whether I’ll live to see it. I don’t know whether I will be in the midst of it and experience it, but Spring will come. It will! Life, it’s the pattern. It’s the way it is. The entire history of the church shows us this. Do not listen. Do not have your spiritual temperature and your understanding of the present days calibrated by what’s going on in the News. Don’t be constantly gleaning from what’s being presented before you on the television and on the radio and through the Internet or whatever means of media you follow. It seems dark and bleak and hopeless. It seems like surely it’s all coming to an end, the world is winding up. Maybe indeed it is. But we have come through this before. The church has experienced it time and time again. Winter after winter has rolled around and Spring always follows., Always! As sure as God is in heaven and his church is being built, Spring always follows. Are you praying for it? Are you?

You know, I get so upset with all the criticism today that goes on, you know it’s not new. The church has always been like that, being critical of itself. It has said before that the Christian Army is the only one that buries their wounded; the criticism. You imagine one gardener looking at another gardener’s garden and criticizing it because of the lack of life in the midst of winter. Criticizing is a way of going about it, “Well if he’d only done this and that and used this fertilizer and tended to his plants in this way and trimmed and so on. If he’d only” not actually looking at their own garden which is also dormant and apparently dead. This is what the church is doing today; looking around at other gardens, other churches, pointing out everything that’s wrong, when the wider kingdom generally in some sense, at least in many parts of the west is in a winter; every last one of us. We should look for the Spring of the Kingdom, not just the free church. God help us. God help us if revival only comes to the Free Church. We’re like a drop from the heavens into the sea, not even discernable. We want the Spring to come to the entire kingdom. This is what the Lord says to you, to the church, “Rise up my love, my fair one and come away! Come away from the things that pertain to the winter. Come away from the habits that you get involved in when you think Spring is not coming.” You see, when you know spring is coming, you’re busy. There are things to be done when Spring is on the way. There’s preparation to be made. When I know Spring is coming, there are certain things that have to be done to the ground, seeds that need to be planted and all of that. There is work to be done in the winter with the anticipation of the Spring, but if you don’t believe Spring is coming, you sit there and you get involved in all sorts of silly nonsense that does nothing for the kingdom of Christ. You waste your time. You fritter it away. What of it? Nothing fruitful. Winter is past. O Lord Jesus, make it true. Make it true in our day. The rain is over and gone. The flowers appear on the earth. Yes, new life, souls, breathing out the name of Jesus Christ in affection for the first time. The time of the singing of birds has come. The voice of the turtle is heard in our lands like a dove that is either dormant from winter or goes away for a time and then returns after winter is past. There’s singing in the air. The fig tree putteth forth the green figs. The vines with tender grape give a good smell. Oh the days of a little heaven on earth. Revival. Revival! That’s it. This is the point Beloved. All of this leads to an awakening. Awakening. Revival! Revival of the people of God. The revival of the work of God. The Lord coming and bringing Spring. After winter.

As sure as the blood of Christ still speaketh better things that of Abel’s, as sure we can be that Spring will come after winter. It will. Fruitfulness will come to pass again. Let us therefore remember today, as we sit at the table that the answer for the barrenness, the answer for the winter of our own souls and the kingdom of Christ at large, is the cross, only the cross, always the cross. Our boast is in the cross. It is from the cross that the fountainheads of all blessings flow. It is from the cross that all these things the budding and life and the fruit and the singing. What song has man got when there is no cross? He has no song whatsoever. It’s like the children of Israel sitting by the river of Babylon and there they wept. They wept because there was no hope for the future. You can sit down by the river and you can weep if that’s what you want to do. But when you see the cross and behold the Lamb. When you behold he cometh, o get the back look he’s arrived. The voice of my beloved behold he cometh leaping upon the mountains skipping upon the hills. He comes right to her and speaks to her v 10 and says Rise up my love my fair one and come away. Rise my love, my fair one. Come away.

May the Lord give us grace. May he help us today for Jesus’ sake. Let us pray.

Lord, we are thankful that when Thy son came to this earth, he came in the midst of a very cold winter, that once he had finished his work, once he had declared it was finished, He rose the third day according to the Scriptures and ascended into heaven and brought us springtime, brought a Pentecost. Father, we confess today, that much of what we are facing is because we are content with the winter. We have learned to cope with the winter, to just survive. May we hear thy voice today, calling us to rise up, come away to see the Springtime, to see what Christ has purchased, for he shall see the travail of his soul and be satisfied. Every last one of those for whom he died will be brought in. Lord, bring the Spring. As we sit at the table, let it be a Springtime in our own hearts, a Springtime for Faith Free, a Springtime for every family, In Jesus’ name. Amen.