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LESS IS BETTER THAN MORE

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, September 10, 2016

“The people that are with thee are too many for me to give the Midianites into their hands, lest Israel vaunt themselves against me, saying, Mine own hand hath saved me” (Judges 7:2).


“The Lord said to Gideon, ‘You have too many men for me to deliver Midian into their hands. In order that Israel may not boast against me that their own strength has saved her, announce to the people, Anyone who trembles with fear [whosoever is fearful and afraid, let him return and depart].’ So twenty and two thousand men left” (Judges 7:2-3 NIV). Gideon did not win the battle until they left him. My Chinese pastor, Dr. Timothy Lin, often said, “Less is better than more.” We once had over 400 people, but we did not have a revival. Now we do. Less is better than more if the “more” are afraid to repent and seek God anew.

One brother said to me, “We haven’t had revival yet. We need more people to come in.” He thinks revival is “more people coming in.” Another brother told me that you think I want revival so more people will come into our church. But that is not the reason. Ask yourself, What good would it do if more people came? How could we help them if they did come? We offer them friendship, joy, and deep fellowship. But we don’t have that ourselves! Do we? All we have is duty without love. We are not loving and caring for each other, are we? We don’t have deep friendship, do we? We don’t have joy, do we? We don’t have deep fellowship, do we? Our hearts are not deeply in love with each other, are they? Be honest…How can we offer these things to others when we don’t have them ourselves?

When I ask you to confess your faults and sins you think, “He wants us to do more work [to bring in new people] to church.” No! You are already doing enough work to bring in new people – lots of work! It isn’t more work [of evangelism] that we need. You are already doing that – more than any church I know about. It isn’t more evangelism work that we need. It is more love. More love for Jesus. More love for each other can only come when we have more love for Jesus.

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” by Avis Burgeson Christiansen, 1895-1985).

In his first sermon from our pulpit John Cagan said something very important. John said, “Our church will not be built on promises of friendship alone. Our church will not grow on parties alone. Because friendship can be found in other places. Because parties are everywhere. But the church has something the whole world needs. The church has Jesus Christ. Christ is the real attraction. But people cannot see Christ. Because Christ is in Heaven. So lost people have to see Christ’s holy image reflected in you and me!...Believe that God can do anything…and God can make it so” (“Forget the Past and Reach for the Prize!”, July 10, 2016).

But people will not see Christ’s holy image reflected in you unless you are clean. Before the Welsh Revival of 1904 Evan Roberts said that the Holy Spirit would not come until the Christian people were prepared. He said, “We must rid the [church] of all bad feelings – all malice [bitterness, resentfulness, resentment, wounded pride], envy, prejudice, and misunderstandings. [Do not pray] until all offences have been forgiven: but if you feel you cannot forgive, bend to the dust, and ask for a forgiving spirit. You will get it then”… “Only the clean Christian can live close to God” (Brian H. Edwards, Revival, Evangelical Press, 2004, p. 113). “Every man forgot every other. Each was face to face with God [as they confessed their sins]….[This is typical of almost every recorded revival.] There is no revival without deep, uncomfortable and humbling conviction of sin” (ibid., p. 116). “We have an unholy church today because Christians do not feel sin or fear it…Those who long for revival should begin by examining their hearts and lives before a holy God. If we cover our sin and do not confess it now [we will not have revival]…A holy God makes the Christian aware of even the smallest sin… Those who know themselves to be in the presence of a holy God are always aware of personal sin…This deep work of conviction always leads to freedom and joy in the new-found experience of forgiveness. Following the ‘smiting of the heart’ come outbursts of the joy of salvation” (ibid., p. 120).

Let me give you an example from my own life. I spent several months praying and urging John Cagan to go into the ministry. He resisted, but I kept urging him. Finally he said, “I’ll do it.” I rejoiced. But my rejoicing did not last long. John preached wonderful, God-anointed sermons. But then Satan came to me. He said, “You can’t preach like that any more. John is a better preacher than you are. You can’t ever be as good as him. You are too old and sick. You will never be able to preach as good as John Cagan. He has stolen the hearts of the people. They don’t want you any more. They want John Cagan.” I was full of envy and bitterness. I felt that God had by-passed me. I had worked and prayed for so long, and suffered so much, but now I wasn’t needed. I felt I wasn’t used, or wanted. Then God reminded me of King Saul. He wanted young David. And when he got him he was so envious of him that he became demon possessed and tried to kill David. When God said that to me I came under deep conviction. I repented and Jesus came and cleansed me with His Blood. Now John is one of my closest friends. And I am so very proud of him. He is my son – my dearly beloved son in the ministry. Instead of envying John I love him with all my heart! And I talk with him every night on the phone. The last thing I say to John each night is almost always, “I love you, son. I am so proud of you.” We could not be experiencing revival in our church if I had not repented and confessed my sin of envy to God. Both John and Noah are better preachers than me, now that I am old and sick. But I rejoice in their youth and vigor. They are my own sons in the ministry, and I love them both with all my heart.

People will not see Christ’s holy image reflected in us unless we are clean. Evan Roberts said, “We must rid the [church] of all bad feelings – all malice [bitterness, resentfulness, resentment, wounded pride], envy, prejudice, and misunderstandings. [Do not pray] until all offences have been forgiven: but if you feel you cannot forgive, bend to the dust, and ask for a forgiving spirit. You will get it then.”… “Only a clean Christian can live close to God” (Edwards, ibid., p. 113). If we cover our inward sins we will not experience the joy of revival. “Following the ‘smiting of the heart’ come outbursts of the joy of salvation” (ibid., p. 120).

Mrs. _______ confessed her worldliness and neglect of her children. God revived her heart. She has become the leader of this revival. Because of her open confession, other leading women have repented – Mrs. ______ came with tears last night. Mrs. ______ came with tears last night. Their confessions touched the heart of Abraham ______. We never dreamed an angry young man like him would be saved. But last night John Cagan and I were enabled to lead him to the Saviour who suffered, bled and died for him. “Fill all my vision, let naught of sin.” Stand and sing it.

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.

“Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed…” (James 5:16).

Come and kneel here and confess your faults. Christ will cleanse you anew with His Blood shed on the Cross to heal you.


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(END OF SERMON)
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