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A VISION OF REVIVAL

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, July 3, 2016


Turn with me to Isaiah 64:1. It’s on page 768 of the Scofield Study Bible.

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:1-4).

Amen. You may be seated.

Revival usually comes first to those who are already converted. But they don’t have a real awareness of God’s presence in their lives. They come to church out of habit, but they have no living sense of God’s presence. They pray, but it feels like they are just saying words. They have no sense of God actually hearing them. They don’t feel that their prayers will be answered. They do not sense that God is listening to them. They may even pray quite wonderfully in the prayer meetings. Their prayers may sound powerful. But they have no inner conversation with God. Often in revival those who seem to lead in prayer with great power are the first to realize that their “sins have hid his face from [them] that he will not hear” (Isaiah 59:2).

Often revival begins when some leader who is a good Christian feels that his sin has caused him to lose the holy and tender sense of God’s presence. In a moment I will read an account of a great revival. How did it start? It began in a prayer meeting on a Saturday night. There were the usual prayers, but no sense of God’s presence in the meeting. “Then one pastor broke down and wept. This was a very unusual thing.” He confessed openly before the whole congregation “that he had hardness of heart.” As he spoke with tears in his eyes, the conviction “spread until there was sobbing, wailing, groaning...from all over the meeting.” These were all converted people, but the pastor’s open confession made them realize that they too had hearts that were hardened. “The meeting went on until two o’clock in the morning...And it was at this point that the Holy Spirit fell on the meeting.”

When I mention revival some of you who have been here for many years don’t want to hear it. That is because you have never seen a revival and don’t know what we are missing. John Cagan told me that I want revival because I can “taste it.” I saw a revival and I liked the “taste” of it and wanted it again. You have never tasted it so you think, “What is the pastor talking about? Why does he keep talking about revival?” If you ever get a taste of it, you will want it too. You will long for it too. You will long for the presence of God to come down among us.

This morning I preached on “The New Baptist Tabernacle.” But we cannot create a new church by changing a few things, and tinkering with the “machinery” of the church. We must have new life! And new life can only come from God. Dr. A. W. Tozer said, “God offers life, but not an improved old life. He offers life out of death...For life we are wholly and continually dependent upon God, for He is the source and fountain of life.” We cannot have a “new” Baptist Tabernacle until our hearts are renovated, renewed, restored and reanimated by the Holy Spirit of God. There is one word that describes this. That word is revival! Revival is what Isaiah was praying for in our text,

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence. For since the beginning of the world men have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, neither hath the eye seen, O God, beside thee, what he hath prepared for him that waiteth for him” (Isaiah 64:1-4).

I can’t stop singing “Fill All My Vision.” As I walk around the park and pray, I sing it. When I am preparing a sermon, I sing it. I find myself humming it all day long. It is the last thing I sing to myself as I go to bed at night.

Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see.
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

Stand and sing that chorus with me.

Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see.
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.

You may be seated.

Isaiah prayed, “Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens [tear them wide open], that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1). Dr. Lloyd-Jones called that “the ultimate prayer [for] revival” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., Revival, Crossway Books, 1992 edition, page 305).

I deeply regret that I did not keep a journal of the revival that came to my church, the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles. It would have given you a glimpse of what to pray for. But, alas, I did not keep a written account of it. The best I can do is give you an account of another revival, one that was quite similar to the great revival I saw at the Chinese church in the late 1960s. This account was given by Rev. David Davies in 1989. I am giving you excerpts from it. Rev. Davies said,

     …this is not an evangelistic campaign, and it is not something whipped up either. Revival is when God comes down in His presence.

He said,

     I was the leader of several churches in our area. They were busy churches with plenty of activity. We had many meetings….But people were cooling off; they were not as eager to come to the prayer meetings as they used to. Without a doubt salvation was there and people were converted, but something was missing. One preacher told me, “We look good to outsiders.” [My comment: Don’t you sometimes feel that something is missing in our services?]
     Someone urged the leaders to spend one whole day each month in prayer. We did. A number of us became aware that we were not on fire for God. We realized that there were wrong relationships, and we got right with each other.
     The revival actually began in a Saturday night Bible study and prayer meeting. For some time the study had been in the Book of Acts, centered on the worship of God in the early church. The preachers were concerned that there was not freedom in prayer, and the meetings were cold. Then one pastor broke down and wept. This was a very unusual thing. He explained that he had hardness of heart, and as he spoke, so the conviction spread – until there was sobbing, wailing, groaning and even shrieking, from all over the meeting. People were on their faces crying and praying. I remembered that Spurgeon once prayed, “Lord, send us a season of glorious disorder.” The leaders tried to quiet everything down, but they failed, and the meeting went on until two o’clock in the morning.
     My own brother heard about the revival and stood against it because it seemed to be excessive emotion. He had been praying for revival, and he told God that this was not what he wanted. Then God spoke to him of the revival fire being cooled on his stony heart of unbelief. And it was at this point that the Spirit fell upon the meeting. [My comment: That’s when God breaks in and there is what Spurgeon called, “glorious disorder.”]

Rev. Davies said,

     Now it was my turn to doubt. I was troubled when my brother used extreme language to describe what was happening. But, then, revival is always different because it is not organized by man. The revival spread like a bush fire for hundreds of miles, and other churches were touched by it.
     A young preacher gave a powerful sermon, but nothing happened. So I gave out the last hymn and closed the meeting with prayer. As the congregation was leaving, a young teacher came and sat at the front. He shook uncontrollably and was sobbing. A young girl began screaming, “What shall I do? What shall I do? I’m going to Hell!” People came running back into the church. The girl was known to be a good Christian. But she was convicted of the sin of cheating. The young man was guilty of jealousy, a small thing to many, but it terrified him.
     I was counselling those who were crying for help when someone told me my wife needed me at the house. I found a good Christian man on the floor in agony, and crying over and over, “What shall I do? What shall I do?” After a while he confessed his sins openly and said with joy, “My heart is clean through the blood of Jesus.” We all returned to the church for another meeting. The next day was a day of open confession, and making things right with each other. Suddenly God had come down and it was a visitation from Heaven.
     We were not in control. God was in control, and everything was in perfect order. I noticed that on the first day the leaders of the church were affected. On the second day it was the workers who came under conviction. On the third day, it was the women, on the fourth day the schoolboys, and on the fifth day the school girls. We preachers were like spectators, watching God at work.
     At this time it was a revival among people who were converted. Very few unbelievers were saved for the first two or three months. God was cleansing the church first. Hearts were being searched. Some people had sins that had been hidden for years; and they had felt that these sins didn’t matter. God was dealing with individuals painfully. A big, strong preacher was wringing his hands, with tears streaming down his face. This man had led many to Christ. But he had a sin to confess, and he could find no peace until he stood and confessed it all before the whole church. His words were like an electric shock and people dropped to the floor in repentance. By this time the whole town was talking about God. [My comment: When Christians open up and get real with each other the lost are impressed.]
     Sometimes conviction could be a terrible thing, and those who resisted openly confessing their sins suffered most. One man passed out. A woman felt that she would go crazy under conviction until she confessed her sin before all. This was the price for some who tried to hide their sin, and resisted God. The phenomena soon passed, but the lasting fruit of the revival were holiness, tenderness, a love for the Bible and prayer, and an exaltation of the person and work of Christ. [My comment: When Christians take off their masks and get real with each other it produces a new tenderness and love in the church. Old jealousies, fears and prejudices are replaced by real compassion and tender love.]
     Everyone came to the meetings, which could go on for a long time. It was not unusual for a meeting to begin at 6:30 in the morning and still be going on at noon. People talked in whispers because they felt God so near. One man said, “We seem to be wrapped around by the presence of God.” I have been in meetings where God was so real that you hardly dared to sit on a chair. I was reminded of Job 42:5, “My ears had heard of you, but now my eyes have seen you.”
     People prayed as never before. Simultaneous praying was a common thing in the revival, but it never seemed out of place or disorderly. The people also had a passion for evangelism. People were saved by the hundreds and thousands. [My comment: I saw this happen in two revivals.]

Rev. Davies said,

     Did it last? I kept a diary for eighteen months, and at the end of that time the power of God was still there. Thirty years later the leaders of the church are those who were blessed by the revival. But there is a new generation that needs its own revival – because, “another generation grew up, who knew neither the Lord nor what he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). But you cannot pray for revival to come to your church unless you are willing for it to come to you personally – unless we “confess [our] faults one to another, and pray one for another” (James 5:16).

This account is from Rev. David Davies. I have paraphrased it in some places, and omitted some words for easier understanding, quoted from Brian H. Edwards, Revival! A People Saturated With God, Evangelical Press, 1991 edition, pp. 258-262.

Rev. Davies said, “When God comes in revival power it is different from anything you can imagine…revival is when God comes down in his presence. It started when one church leader broke down and wept. He explained that he had hardness of heart, and as he spoke conviction spread among those who were already converted people until there was sobbing, wailing and groaning. People were crying and praying, the meeting went on until two o’clock in the morning.”

This was very much like the revival I saw at the Chinese Baptist Church in the late 1960s. The main features of the revival were the tears, the prayers, and the open confession of sin before the entire church. It was very different from a charismatic or Pentecostal meeting. There were no “tongues” or healing, or special music. There was no “worship.” It was just open confession of sins, weeping, and people asking each other to forgive them. After several weeks many unchurched people came and were saved. John Cagan asked me how the lost people got there. It was hard for me to answer. People would just bring friends and family members with them. No rides were arranged. It just happened. In the end about 2,000 people came into that Chinese church and were saved, baptized and became solid church members. Hundreds of them are still there to this day! Four new churches came out of that outpouring of the Holy Spirit.

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence, as when the melting fire burneth, the fire causeth the waters to boil, to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence! When thou didst terrible [awesome] things which we looked not for, thou camest down, the mountains flowed down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1-3).

Please stand and sing hymn number eight.

Fill all my vision, Saviour, I pray,
   Let me see only Jesus today;
Though through the valley Thou leadest me,
   Thy fadeless glory encompasseth me.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, every desire
   Keep for Thy glory; my soul inspire,
With Thy perfection, Thy holy love,
   Flooding my pathway with light from above.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.

Fill all my vision, let naught of sin
   Shadow the brightness shining within.
Let me see only Thy blessed face,
   Feasting my soul on Thy infinite grace.
Fill all my vision, Saviour divine,
   Till with Thy glory my spirit shall shine.
Fill all my vision, that all may see
   Thy holy Image reflected in me.
(“Fill All My Vision” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

Don’t stop praying for God to send revival. Don’t stop praying for God to rend the heavens and come down among us! Don’t stop praying for God to cause us to “confess [our] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that [we] may be healed” of our coldness and our sins (James 5:16). This is a feature of the revivals now going on in China and other parts of the Third World. Don’t stop praying for God to come down and heal our hearts and give us a new and more loving and more powerful Baptist Tabernacle! I want Aaron Yancy and John Cagan to stand and lead us in prayer for God to come down among us. Aaron first, then John. Anyone else? Please stand and pray out!

Jesus Christ came down to earth to suffer and die on the Cross in the place of sinners. If you are not yet saved, you must turn away from your sinful and selfish life-style. You must repent and trust Jesus, the only begotten Son of God. Only He can wash away all your sins with His Blood. Only He can save you from the flames of Hell. Only Jesus can save you from your sins. If you wish to be counselled you must make an appointment to see Dr. Cagan on Thursday night. You can phone him for an appointment or talk to him about it after this service. Amen.


If this sermon blessed you Dr. Hymers would like to hear from you. WHEN YOU WRITE TO DR. HYMERS YOU MUST TELL HIM WHAT COUNTRY YOU ARE WRITING FROM OR HE CANNOT ANSWER YOUR E-MAIL. If these sermons bless you send an e-mail to Dr. Hymers and tell him, but always include what country you are writing from. Dr. Hymers’ e-mail is at rlhymersjr@sbcglobal.net (click here). You can write to Dr. Hymers in any language, but write in English if you can. If you want to write to Dr. Hymers by postal mail, his address is P.O. Box 15308, Los Angeles, CA 90015. You may telephone him at (818)352-0452.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Isaiah 64:1-3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Fill All My Vision” (by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).