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THE MIRACLE OF REVIVAL IS THE
MIRACLE OF CONVERSIONS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, May 13, 2007
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
(Psalm 110:3).


Commenting on this verse, Dr. Franz Delitzsch (1813-1890) said,

In this day are the people of the king willingnesses, i.e., entirely cheerful readiness; ready for any sacrifices, they bring themselves with all that they are and have to meet him. There is no need of any compulsory, lengthy proclamation calling them out…but willingly and quickly they present themselves from inward impulse (Franz Delitzsch, Ph.D., in C. F. Keil and Franz Delitzsch, Commentary on the Old Testament, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1973 reprint, volume V, pp. 190-191).

As a converted Jew, Dr. Delitzsch understood that by experience. He understood that “inward impulse” which comes from the Spirit of God.

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

The 1599 Geneva Bible translates it,

“Thy people shall come willingly at the time of assembling thine army.”

The note in the Geneva Bible says,

By the word thy people shall be assembled into thy church whose increase shall be so abundant and wondrous as the drops of water (1599 Geneva Bible, Tolle Lege Press, 2006 reprint, note on Psalm 110:3).

In its context, Psalm 110:3 refers to Christ, seated at the right hand of God, conquering His enemies from Heaven. It is from Heaven that Christ draws His people and makes them willing. I believe that this has two applications. First, it applies to a time of revival. Second, it applies to individual conversions.

I. First, the text applies to a time of revival.

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power.”

There is a great deal of confusion concerning the meaning of “revival” today. It is commonly believed now that revival depends on Christians doing something – repenting, rededicating themselves, that sort of thing. You will read that in nearly every modern book on revival. But I think that is where those modern books go wrong. True revival does not begin with Christians doing something, even good things. No, revival does not begin with Christians at all. True revival begins with God.

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

It is God who sends revival, not man.

It seems to me we should have learned that lesson by now! But we continue to hear messages from the “decisionists” that are man-centered. We are told that the Christians have to experience something called “personal revival” and that, then, the lost will come and be saved. Generally they bolster this theory by quoting II Chronicles 7:14. But I believe that Dr. Gill was right when he said that this verse refers to “the particular requests made by Solomon in case of a famine or pestilence” (John Gill, D.D., An Exposition of the Old Testament, The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1989 reprint, volume III, p. 52). II Chronicles 7:14 is a promise to Israel under Solomon. It has been misapplied to Christian revival since the time of C. G. Finney. That was Finney’s theory. Finney said,

A revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense. It is a purely philosophical result of the right use of the constituted means…a revival is the result of the right use of the appropriate means (C. G. Finney, Revivals of Religion, Fleming H. Revell Company, n.d., p. 5).

Read page five in Finney’s book. I have not “pulled” that quotation out of context. Not at all. Finney did not believe that revivals originated with God. He did not believe that revival is a miracle from God. He said, “A revival is the result of the right use of the appropriate means.” In other words, when the “Christians” do the right thing, the revival will naturally occur. Thus, he said,

When the churches are…reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow (p. 8).

For 150 years we have swallowed that lie. No one ever seems to ask why Finney’s method has never yet produced a major revival! The First and Second Great Awakenings occurred without Finney’s formula. The Third Great Awakening, though much smaller than the first two, did not occur from following Finney’s formula. It did not come by Christians getting “jazzed up” and then bringing lost people to get saved.

No, I have to say, after years of studying this subject, that Finney’s theory is totally false. Revival is not the result “of the right use” of any human “means.” Revival does not automatically flow from the rededication of church members. No, the text corrects that view:

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

The Finney “method” of obtaining revival has been almost universally accepted in the Western world for about 150 years. It never brought revival though. So, gradually, the very thought of revival disappeared. It was replaced by “church growth” techniques of one kind or another. These don’t add many people from the world either, so they will eventually morph into other “techniques.” All the while the churches in the Western world continue to slide. Nothing we have done (or will do) can reverse the downward trend, because

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3),

and in no other way, nor by any other means!

The problem with Finney’s view of revival lies largely in his rejection of total depravity. Finney did not believe in total depravity. Thus, he believed that “a revival is not a miracle, nor dependent on a miracle, in any sense…a revival is the result of the right use of the appropriate means.” A man couldn’t say that if he believed in total depravity. If you believe in total depravity, then you know that man has no ability within him to please God, that salvation is by grace alone, and that revival (which is a large number of conversions) is also by grace alone. The whole of salvation is by grace,

“Not of works, lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:9).

Of course revival is a miracle! That’s why the Chinese have it and the Americans don’t! The Americans have all the human “means” – fancy church buildings, overhead projectors, PowerPoints, “canned” music, you name it. The Chinese “house” churches don’t have any of these “means.” Yet Chinese Christianity is exploding, while American Christianity stagnates and dies. What is the difference? Simple!

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

Man’s power cannot bring revival;

“It is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

God has withheld revival from America for many decades, but He is now giving revival to the Chinese in the People’s Republic of China.

“The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation bringing forth the fruits thereof” (Matthew 21:43).

Oh, I know that Chinese Christianity isn’t perfect. I know that very well. I have been studying this for nearly fifty years. No revival is “perfect.” There are always tares among the wheat. There are always satanic counterfeits and false Christs. That happens in every revival. Asahel Nettleton, the main evangelist of the Second Great Awakening, said, “If God builds a church, the devil is sure to build one next door.”

David Aikman, former Time Magazine Beijing bureau chief, is a widely respected analyst of the revival in China. In his book, Jesus in Beijing (Regency Publishing, 2003) Aikman explains “How Christianity is Transforming China and Changing the Global Balance of Power” (ibid., cover statement). Aikman is no mere enthusiast. He is a seasoned journalist. He says,

China is in the process of becoming Christianized…at the present rate of growth in the number of Christians [in all segments of Chinese culture] it is possible that Christians will constitute…30 percent of China’s population within three decades [now about 25 years, since Aikman’s book was published in 2003]. If that should happen, it is almost certain that a Christian view of the world will be the dominant worldview within China’s political and cultural establishment, and possibly also within senior military circles (ibid., p. 285). The Christianization of China is likely to be concurrent [to coincide] with China’s emergence as a global superpower (ibid., p. 286).
        Also worth reading is how the emergence of China as a Christianized nation will affect Christendom itself. Some have argued that, if China’s Protestant Christian population is close to [or above] 70 million, it would make China’s Protestants one of the largest such [Christian] communities in the world. That is bound to be a consequence from the powerful position globally that China has come to occupy. A thoughtful [writer on China] Thomas Alan Harvey, puts it this way:

With some…seventy million souls and a growth rate of 7 percent annually, the number of Christians in China dwarfs the number of Christians in most nations of the earth. Like Christians throughout the developing world, Chinese Christians represent the vanguard [front rank] of the church in the twenty-first century.

…the spread of China into Asia and the southern hemisphere in the past two decades will probably affect Christianity on a global scale. This has been well illuminated by Philip Jenkins in his book The Next Christendom...It is worth considering the possibility that not just the numerical, but the intellectual center…[of] Christianity may move decisively out of Europe and North America as the Christianization of China continues and as China becomes a global superpower (ibid., pp. 290-291).
        China’s moment of its greatest achievement – and of the most benefit to the rest of the world – may lie just ahead…The process may already have started in the hopes and works of China’s house church leaders (ibid., p. 292).

In view of the tremendous growth of Christianity in China in the past few years, we can only bow our heads here in the Western world and say,

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes”
      (Psalm 118:23).

It is the Lord’s doing, not the work of man by using Finney’s “right use of the appropriate means.” It is the Lord’s doing, and it thoroughly overturns Finney’s statement that “a revival is not a miracle, in any sense.” Any clear-eyed view of the revival in China today shows that Finney’s theory was completely false. A revival like that in China is certainly a miracle, a world-changing miracle, given miraculously by God Himself. Indeed,

“This is the Lord’s doing; it is marvellous in our eyes”
      (Psalm 118:23).

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

II. Second, the text applies to personal conversions.

Not only does the text speak of revival in places like China, it also speaks, more narrowly, to each individual conversion. Revivals are great numbers coming to Christ. Individual conversions are one person at a time experiencing the same conversion that happens to great numbers in revival. We may truthfully and Biblically say that each individual conversion is as much a miracle as many coming to Christ in a rush of grace given in a time of revival, for the conversion of a single person requires as much of a miracle as a national revival like that in China. The miracle of conversion is made plain by the Apostle Paul:

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works [the use of human “means”], lest any man should boast” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

What is true of many conversions in revival is also true of a single conversion. No one is converted by his own effort. “It is the gift of God.” Every true conversion is a miracle!

It took a miracle to put the stars in place,
It took a miracle to hang the world in space,
But when He saved my soul,
Cleansed and made me whole,
It took a miracle of love and grace!
   (“It Took a Miracle” by John W. Peterson, 1948).

Finney did not believe that. He said, “A revival is not a miracle.” No wonder, in 1831, he preached a very famous sermon titled, “Sinners Bound to Change Their Own Hearts.” Try to do that! Go ahead, try to do it! You cannot “change your own heart,” no matter how hard you try! It takes a miracle! Without that miracle, no matter what you learn or what you do, your heart will continue to be desperately wicked.

“The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked” (Jeremiah 17:9).

Your heart will be “desperately wicked” no matter what “decision” you make. No matter what you learn from the Bible, no matter what you believe in your mind, your heart will remain “desperately wicked.” It takes a miracle from God to change your heart!

A person must be convinced that his heart is “desperately wicked” or he will never experience true conversion. And only the Spirit of God can convince you of the evil of your own heart.

“When he is come, he will reprove the world of sin” (John 16:8).

When you are inwardly convinced of the desperate, wicked condition of your heart, by the Spirit of God – then you may suddenly see the value of Jesus’ death in your place, for your sin. Only then will you turn to Christ willingly.

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

As Dr. Delitzsch said, then

There is no need of any compulsory, lengthy proclamation calling them out…but willingly and quickly they present themselves from inward impulse (ibid.).

“Inward impulse” refers to the quickening, converting power of God. At the moment of your conversion you are enabled willingly and quickly to come to Jesus “from inward impulse” by God’s Spirit. God will draw you to Christ in the day of His power. Then you will be converted, and then you will be saved from the power and penalty of sin by Jesus Christ. His death on the Cross will pay for your sin. His resurrection will give you a new heart in the day that His power converts you. That is the true Gospel. When you come to Jesus He will save you. If God is drawing you, submit to Jesus and be saved! Why wait any longer?

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

(Continue reading for an exposition of the entire Psalm)

AN EXPOSITION OF PSALM 110

This is a very important Messianic Psalm. Verse one is quoted four times in the New Testament to show Jesus as the Messiah. Verse four is quoted twice to show Jesus’ priestly ministry in Heaven. Notice the author of the Psalm. Right under the title “Psalm 110” are the words “A Psalm of David.” It is important to know that David was the author, because David says, in verse one,

“The Lord said unto my Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).

Jesus quoted this verse to the Pharisees in Matthew, Mark and Luke (the synoptic Gospels) as proof of His divinity as the Second Person of the Trinity, the only begotten Son of God. The Jews thought of the coming Messiah as the “son of David.” Jesus asked the Pharisees, “What think ye of Christ [the Messiah]? whose son is he? They say unto him, The Son of David” (Matthew 22:41-42). Jesus quoted Psalm 110:1 and then asked them, “If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” The Pharisees could not answer Him. They knew this verse well, but they hadn’t thought of it objectively. They were so used to reading Psalm 110:1 that they hadn’t thought about the meaning of the words. That’s always a mistake – just running over the Bible reading and not thinking much about it. That can even happen to Bible scholars like the Pharisees, as it does to theologically liberal seminary professors today. They just read the words, but they don’t meditate on them. Therefore they receive no light from the Bible. The Bible says, “The entrance of thy words giveth light” (Psalm 119:130). But if you hurry over the words too quickly they will not enter your mind and heart, and you will still be in the dark, like the learned Pharisees were concerning Psalm 110:1. They had read it, but not thought deeply about it, so they were “stumped,” they didn’t know how to answer, when Jesus asked them, “If David then call him Lord, how is he his son?” None of those Pharisees “was able to answer him a word” (Matthew 22:23). They were confounded by the words which plainly showed that “the Lord [God the Father] said unto my [David’s] Lord…” So, you see, those Pharisees had not understood that the words of Psalm 110:1 show that Jesus is as much the “Lord” as the Father. Verse one is an instance of God the Father speaking to God the Son. It is a strong statement showing the divinity of Christ, as Bible-believing Christian scholars have pointed out ever since.

“The Lord said unto my [David’s] Lord, Sit thou at my right hand, until I make thine enemies thy footstool” (Psalm 110:1).

“Sit thou at my right hand” shows the ascension of Christ to the right hand of the Father. “Until I make thine enemies thy footstool.” This is alluded to in I Corinthians 15:25, which says, “For he must reign [at the right hand of God in Heaven] till he hath put all enemies under his feet.”

Peter quoted Psalm 110:1 during his sermon at Pentecost in Acts 2:34-35. After quoting Psalm 110:1, Peter said, “Therefore let all the house of Israel know assuredly, that God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ [or Messiah]” (Acts 2:36).

Dr. Charles C. Ryrie gave a good analysis of the entire Psalm when he said,

This is a short Psalm, one of the most quoted in the N.T. [New Testament], pictures Messiah as King (vv. 1-3), as priest (v. 4), and as victorious warrior (vv. 5-7) (Charles C. Ryrie, The Ryrie Study Bible, Moody Press, 1978, note on Psalm 110).

That analysis by Dr. Ryrie gives a good outline of the whole Psalm.

In verses one to three the passage pictures the Messiah as King. I have already said that verse one shows Christ’s divinity as David’s Lord. At the right hand of God in Heaven, Jesus reigns, and will continue to reign from Heaven “till he hath put all enemies under his feet” (I Corinthians 15:25), at the end of this age, when He returns as “KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:16).

Then verse two speaks. Read it aloud.

“The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Psalm 110:2).

The “rod” of His strength is the word of the Gospel, which came “out of Zion,” another name for Jerusalem. It was in Jerusalem that Jesus not only preached the Gospel, but actually fulfilled it by dying on the Cross, rising from the dead, and ascending back to Heaven. Then His Disciples began to preach that Gospel in Jerusalem, from Zion, known as Jerusalem. From there the “rod” of Christ’s Gospel went out to the four corners of the earth. And Christ ruled His people “in the midst of [their] enemies” during the great revival in the Book of Acts, which eventually spread throughout the world. Indeed, that is true even today. Christ rules His people “in the midst of [His] enemies” in many parts of the world, even here in Los Angeles.

“The Lord shall send the rod of thy strength [the Gospel] out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies” (Psalm 110:2).

The prophecy of that verse has been going on for two thousand years now. Christ has been ruling from Heaven [the heavenly Zion], sending forth His preachers and His people to spread the Gospel in a hostile world. Dr. Isaac Watts alluded to this verse in his great hymn,

Jesus shall reign where’er the sun
Does his successive journeys run;
His kingdom spread from shore to shore,
Till moons shall wax and wane no more.
   (“Jesus Shall Reign” by Isaac Watts, D.D., 1674-1748).

Then we move to verse three. I will be preaching from verse three tomorrow morning in a sermon titled, “The Miracle of Revival is the Miracle of Conversions!” Verse three is very precious and wonderful. It speaks of Christ, ruling from Heaven, giving power to His people on earth. Read verse three aloud.

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power, in the beauties of holiness from the womb of the morning: thou hast the dew of thy youth” (Psalm 110:3).

That is a most wonderful and encouraging verse of Scripture.

“Thy people” refers to those who are given to Christ by God the Father. Jesus spoke of “the men which thou gavest me” (John 17:6). This can refer to people who are not yet converted, but whom Jesus knows will be converted in the future, as He said of the as yet unconverted people in Corinth, “I have much people in this city” (Acts 18:10). They were not yet saved, but were foreknown by God. They were “elect according to the foreknowledge of God the Father” (I Peter 1:2). Those “foreknown” people are “willing in the day of [His] power.” “Willingly and quickly they present themselves from inward impulse” (Franz Delitzsch). The “inward impulse” draws them to Christ in large numbers in “the day of thy power,” as in the great revivals recorded in the Book of Acts, as in the time of the Reformation, as in the time of the three Great Awakenings.

This also applies in individual conversions. Individuals are converted as they become willing in the day of His power. Jesus said, “No man can come to me, except the Father which hath sent me draw him” (John 6:44). In the day of Christ’s power in their lives, they feel their sin, despair of all other hopes, and submit to Christ. As soon as they are converted they are “clad with [the] beautiful garments of holiness and righteousness” in Christ (John Gill).

“From the womb of the morning.” That is, as Spurgeon says, “God does it; there is no apparent agency employed…God has done it [not man, as “decisionists” like Finney believe, even today]. That is how God’s people are saved; they come forth from the ‘womb of the morning’ divinely called…divinely refreshing to the world, they proceed from the ‘womb of the morning.’”

“Thou hast the dew of thy youth.” Christ has the dew of His youth. Spurgeon said, “He is not an old Christ – a worn out Christ…He is as young as ever.” Each time a person is converted he discovers that Christ has never changed. When they come to Him and submit to Him they discover that He is not only alive in Heaven, but also that He is new to them – as the unchanging Saviour. “Jesus Christ the same, yesterday, and to day, and for ever” (Hebrews 13:8).

We do not need a new message, “suited to this time.” It is a great mistake today for preachers to look for something “new” to speak about. We must not do that. We must determine “not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified” (I Corinthians 2:2). “We preach Christ crucified” (I Corinthians 1:23) because that message is not old. It is new and fresh in every generation because Jesus Himself is new and fresh – and alive at the right hand of the Father! Of the everlastingly, living Jesus verse three proclaims, “Thou hast the dew of thy youth.”

That thought continues in verse four,

“The Lord hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4).

The priesthood of Jesus is far superior to the Levitical priesthood of the Old Testament. This is explained in the New Testament in Hebrews 5:6-10. Verse four is quoted word for word in Hebrews 5:6.

“Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchisedec” (Hebrews 5:6).

That New Testament verse in Hebrews is a direct quotation of Psalm 110:4. Again, this shows that Jesus is, “a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4; Hebrews 5:6).

Without going into much detail about Melchizedek, I will simply say that the Levitical priesthood of the Jews in the Old Testament passed away, but Christ is a priest for ever. Melchizedek was “the priest of the most high God” way back in Genesis 14:18, long before the Levitical priesthood was instituted. We know very little about Melchizedek other than the fact that he was “the priest of the most high God.” Melchizedek is a type of Jesus in the Old Testament. Like him, Jesus “comes out of eternity, and he moves into eternity. He has no beginning and no end” (J. Vernon McGee). We need no earthly priest to intercede to God for us. Jesus intercedes, “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus” (I Timothy 2:5). We come to God through Jesus, our great priest.

“Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek” (Psalm 110:4).

Verses five and six are primarily prophetic. They speak of the judgment that will fall on the unbelieving world at the Second Coming of Christ. The word “shall” appears four times, once in verse five and three times in verse six. This shows that these verses speak of future judgment, at Christ’s second coming. Jesus has not come to judge this wicked world yet, but He will do so when He comes back to earth the second time, descending through the clouds to judge this incorrigible, defiant world.

“The Lord at thy right hand [Christ] shall strike through kings in the day of his wrath. He shall judge among the heathen, he shall fill the places with the dead bodies; he shall wound the heads over many countries” (Psalm 110:5-6).

Dr. McGee said, “You see, Christ is coming again in judgment. As Psalm 2:9 makes clear, ‘Thou shalt break them with a rod of iron; thou shalt dash them in pieces like a potter’s vessel’.” According to Revelation 19:15-16, at His second coming, Christ will

“…smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God. And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, KING OF KINGS, AND LORD OF LORDS” (Revelation 19:15-16).

And then, verse seven, the last verse in Psalm 110:

“He shall drink of the brook in the way: therefore shall he lift up the head” (Psalm 110:7).

Dr. Frank Gaebelein said this about the verse:

The passage places before us once more the humiliation and exaltation of our Lord. The humiliation is that He drank of the brook in the way…He drank of the deep waters of suffering and death. And therefore God has highly exalted him. What a wonderful Psalm it is!

I will close by once again mentioning verse three,

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
      (Psalm 110:3).

Notice that it does not say “every day.” The “decisionists” will tell you that you can come to Jesus and be saved any day, at any time. They are wrong. You can only come to Jesus “in the day of [His] power.” You can only come to Jesus when His grace and power is available, not just any time. If you feel your inward corruption and sin, then come to Jesus.

“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power,”

at no other time, on no other day, in no other period, only “in the day of his power” in your life; only then will you be enabled to come to him and be converted. Amen! (Continue reading for the outline of the sermon, etc.)

(END OF EXPOSITION)


Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Psalm 110:1-3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“It Took a Miracle” (by John W. Peterson, 1948).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE MIRACLE OF REVIVAL IS THE
MIRACLE OF CONVERSIONS!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.


“Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power”
(Psalm 110:3).

I.   First, the text applies to a time of revival, Ephesians 2:9, 8;
Matthew 21:43; Psalm 118:23.

II.  Second, the text applies to personal conversions, Ephesians 2:8-9;
Jeremiah 17:9; John 16:8.

You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on "Sermon Manuscripts."