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THE HEART CRY OF AN AWAKENED MAN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached on Lord’s Day Morning, January 18, 2009
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).


The account in Mark 9 focuses on a young man who was foaming at the mouth and rolling on the ground. The boy is vividly described in the throes of demon possession. These verses give a quite horrible description of him, “[foaming] and [gnashing] his teeth” (Mark 9:18). We are told that the Disciples were not able to cast the demon out of him.

Then Christ comes. The boy is brought to Jesus, and “straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming” on the ground at Jesus’ feet (Mark 9:20). Jesus questions the father about the boy and hears that the demon “ofttimes…hath cast him into the fire, and into the waters, to destroy him” (Mark 9:22). The father says to Jesus, “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us, and help us” (Mark 9:22).

“Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

Then comes the reaction of the father. It may seem to be a minor incident in this ghastly, hair-raising story, but the father’s reaction is really a major point in the story – because it shows the man’s own conversion, which I believe is one of the important lessons here that is often neglected in preaching on this event. The climax of the father’s conversion came when he

“cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

In this man’s screaming plea for help, I believe we see him awakening from spiritual sleep, throwing himself on the mercy of Jesus, and passing from death to life in a real conversion. Let me explain what I mean. The awakening of conviction comes to a man when he goes through what that father went through.

I. First, the man did many things to find relief from the Devil.

The Devil had complete control of his son. The father had tried many ways to get the boy (and himself) out of the Devil’s clutches. He went to the Disciples to cure his son, but they could not help the situation.

Isn’t that exactly what unconverted people do? When they are confronted with Satanic power, people often turn to others, who cannot help them. They try again and again, by human means, to solve their sin problem. They often turn to other people for advice and help. But no human help can relieve a man from bondage to Satan. You may turn to your friends for help, or to others in your family, or to your own ideas about how to overcome Satan. But it is only Jesus who can

“give them repentance…that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will” (II Timothy 2:25-26).

II. Second, the man came under conviction.

He was awakened to the hopeless condition in which he found himself, utterly incapable of escaping the terrible hold Satan had on his child and, thus, on himself as well. His whole family was under the power of Satan, but the father was awakened to see that he was utterly helpless.

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

It was only when he was awakened to the awful Satanic slavery, to which his son and indeed his whole family were subject, that he at last turns to Jesus.

His awakening is slow at first. He merely says to Jesus, “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us” (Mark 9:22). He isn’t certain that Jesus can help him. That is why he isn’t absolutely sure Jesus is the answer to his dilemma. He says, “If thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us” (Mark 9:22). At this point, he is not at all certain that Jesus can save him and his boy from the power of Satan. Then Jesus says to him,

“If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth” (Mark 9:23).

Since saving faith is a gift of God the man would have to receive that faith as a free gift of God’s grace,

“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that [the faith] not of yourselves: it is the gift of God” (Ephesians 2:8).

If this man were to receive faith by the grace of God, he and his son would have to be saved by Jesus.

The father then broke down. He “cried out” under the conviction that he was a helpless sinner, with no ability to do anything to either save his son, or himself from the

“prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience” (Ephesians 2:2).

The man became convinced that his situation was completely hopeless against the mighty power of Satan. He was awakened to the reality of Jesus’ power to save them from the grip of Satan. This is why he cried out, literally screamed, and said with the tears that so often accompany conviction,

“Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

There can be no possible help from Jesus until you are brought to this state of awakening – where you know you are a sinner – where you feel that you are helpless and hopeless unless Jesus intercedes and saves you. In short, only such an awakening can strip you from your pride and self-reliance, and prepare you to fall down before Jesus and cry to Him for help. Have you been given the grace to feel your helplessness and your total inability to do anything to save yourself from your awful, lost condition? After all, up to this point, the man was truly

“alienated from the life of God through the ignorance that [was] in [him], because of the blindness of [his] heart”
      (Ephesians 4:18).

Only now he is awakened, and he is awakened “with tears” (Mark 9:24).

How often we have seen people come and recite the plan of salvation, or try to make themselves better persons, or attempt to do something to please God – without feeling the misery this man felt – without conviction – without tears. But I do not believe that a real conversion can happen to you unless the Spirit of God awakens you to your sin and your fearful state before a holy God. Has it ever happened to you – to you personally? Jesus said that only the Spirit of God can bring a man to the end of himself, and bring him under deep conviction like this. He said,

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

Only the Spirit of God can convince a man that he is a sinner by nature, that he is

“by nature [a child] of wrath” (Ephesians 2:3).

It was into this state of awakening – to his own inbred sin and spiritual death – that this man was drawn by God’s Spirit. Awakened and pierced to the heart by his own sinfulness, this man is now ready at last to be converted,

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

It was every bit as much a cry for his own salvation, as it was for the salvation of his demon possessed son!

Have you ever had such an awakening, sin-convicting experience? Have you ever felt your sin? Have you ever felt that you are a totally depraved sinner who can only be saved by Jesus? It does no good whatever to say, “We need to be saved.” True conviction only comes when you say, as this man did, “help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24). A man is never truly ready for salvation until he cries from his heart, “Help me.” True, “we” need to be saved. But what about you? Unless you feel and really mean it when you say, “help me, Jesus” you are still playing games and not ready for conversion at all.

I have recently heard several unsaved people say, We need to be saved.” We need to be cleansed by Jesus’ Blood.” Away with such talk! You must be awakened and humbled so you can truthfully say, “with tears,”I need salvation in Jesus.” “I need to be cleansed by Jesus’ Blood from my sins.” You must be enabled by God to say, “I need Christ.” “I need His Blood to wash away my sins from God’s record book in Heaven.”

“And straightway the father of the child cried out [he literally screamed], and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

Only when you come to Jesus with an aching heart and tearful emotions will He answer you, increase your faith in Him, and save your soul from the punishment you deserve in the lake of fire.

Will you be saved by Christ like this man, or will you go on making excuses, and putting off your conversion, until it is everlastingly too late for you to be converted, until it is everlastingly too late for you to escape from the eternal torments of Hell?

(END OF SERMON)
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.realconversion.com. Click on “Sermon Manuscripts.”

Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 9:17-27.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Jesus, Only Jesus” (by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980).


THE OUTLINE OF

THE HEART CRY OF AN AWAKENED MAN

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief” (Mark 9:24).

(Mark 9:18, 20, 22, 23)

I.   First, the man did many things to find relief from the Devil,
II Timothy 2:25-26.

II.  Second, the man came under conviction, Mark 9:23; Ephesians 2:8, 2;
Ephesians 4:18; John 16:8; Ephesians 2:3.