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A YEAR OF HELL - A YEAR OF REVIVAL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, January 1, 2017

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).


We are returning to this great verse of Scripture tonight. I am thankful that God answered so many of our prayers last year. Yet John Cagan called it “a year of Hell.” I don’t disagree with him. He was partly right. In some ways it was a year of Hell. But it was also a year of blessing. John was very tired from a long day when he called it a year of Hell. When we are tired we remember the bad things. But when we have rested then we remember the blessings. We are all like that. We are human. Our moods go back and forth. In his exhaustion, John forgot for a moment beautiful Julie, the girl he had so much fun with on Christian dates last year. He forgot the day they had at Disneyland. He forgot the night they ran barefoot on the beach in Santa Monica. He forgot the times of joy they had in prayer together. He forgot the great times of prayer we had with Aaron, Jack and Noah in my home, late at night. He forgot the battle of wills between us, a battle that merged into mutual respect, then fused us together in a fraternal friendship that I believe will last forever. He forgot that he told me, “I never knew either of my grandfathers. Dr. Hymers, you are the closest man to a grandfather that I will ever have. Thank you for your investment in my life. I support you and I believe in you…God bless you! You can do it, Dr. Hymers! – John Samuel Cagan.”

John is a mighty man of God. I hold him in high esteem as a comrade in the army of the Lord. But he is human, like all of us. When we are weary we only remember the bad things. But when we are rested and revived, then we remember how good the year was for us – and the wonderful times of prayer and fellowship, and the awesome power and love God gave us in 2016 – when God answered us as we prayed,

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

Sometimes I myself felt like it was “a year of Hell.” When my mood was down, I felt like I was losing my grip on life. I broke into tears and thought I was about to die – and I had such fears for our church that the pain broke my heart. The treatment they gave me for cancer caused me to go through terrifying “mood swings.” Sometimes I sank into very deep depression. I was literally attacked by demonic powers time after time last year. If Aaron Yancy had not been there for me in those times I don’t think I could have made it. Having a close friend like Aaron was a gift from God! Having prayer warriors like Christine Nguyen and Mrs. Lee were a gift from God!

Yes, there were good things too in 2016. Many of our young people used to hate me. Now they love me! It makes my heart sing with joy when they smile and say, “I love you, pastor!”

Then I look at a card my beautiful wife sent me. She said,

Dear Robert, because of your obedience to God and your faith I came to know Jesus. Without you none of us would be here…Robert, I love you with all my heart and soul. Love always, Ileana.

When I read her sweet words my heart sings with joy! “Oh God, thank you for Ileana! Thank you for giving me such a faithful, and lovely girl!” I would never have made it through the bad times without her love, her support and her prayers. And I thank God for Leslie and Jin. I thank God for baby Hannah, my first grandchild. She was a little afraid of me at first, a big old man with a bald head! But on Christmas Eve she crawled over and I held her in my arms – and she kissed me on the nose. I will never forget that kiss as long as I live!

When we look at 2016 let us not forget what God has done for us! It felt like the church was dying, that I was dying, that there was no hope for life in our future. But then, when all seemed lost, God heard us pray,

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

And God answered us! I laid out a plan for the “new” Baptist Tabernacle. I preached “Rise Up, Young Men.” And young men and women began to pray fervently as we sang, and wept and pleaded with God to come down among us. And He did come down. It started when Dr. Cagan led his 90-year-old mother to Christ. Christine Nguyen was given the spirit of prayer. Mrs. Shirley Lee was given the spirit of prayer. And the fire of revival came down among us. In a few weeks 28 people came under conviction of sin and then were hopefully converted, washed clean in the Blood Christ shed on the Cross for us.

Then we thought the revival was over. But we were wrong. God is still with us! We have had at least one new hopeful convert nearly every Sunday. Suddenly Dr. Chan preached with such anointing that four people were convicted and hopefully saved in one service, on December 25 – on Christmas Day, in the evening service! Here is a list of the 28 people who were hopefully converted in 2016.

Judy Li
Marjorie Cagan
Thomas Luong
Christine Nguyen
Adela Menjivar
Setsuko Zabalaga
Jesse Zacamitzin
Christina Lewis
Jennifer Yan
Abraham Song
Baiyang Zhang
Tom Xia
Virgel Nickell
Jason Baltazar
Emmi Hua
Tyrik Chambers
Julie Sivilay
Minh Vu
Alicia Zacamitzin
Danny Carlos
Daniel Barahona
Ayako Zabalaga
Julieta Prieto
Robert Wang
Joseph Gong
Andrew Matsusaka
Jessica Yin
Norris Menjivar.

My friends, God has not left us! He came down in our church again and again, in August, in September, in October, in November – and in December alone nine people were hopefully converted. Twenty-eight people in one year! Stand and sing the Doxology!

Praise God, from whom all blessings flow;
Praise Him all creatures here below;
Praise Him above, ye heavenly host;
Praise Father, Son, and Holy Ghost! Amen.
   (“Doxology” by Thomas Ken, 1637-1711).

Ladies sing it! Now you men sing it! Now let all of us sing it as loud as we can! Now sing our revival theme song, “Fill All My Vision.” Sing it from memory, or look at it. It’s number 4 on your song sheet. Now sing it!

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).

Brothers and sisters, I believe that the biggest part of the revival will come down to us from God in 2017. Pray for it daily. Sometimes fast and pray for more of God’s presence in the coming year.

Now turn in your Bible to I Corinthians 9:24. It’s on page 1219 of the Scofield Study Bible. The rest of this sermon was written by Dr. Cagan,

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain” (I Corinthians 9:24).

You may be seated. Now close your Bible and listen carefully.

Paul compared the Christian life to an athletic race. He said, “So run, that ye may obtain [the prize]” (I Corinthians 9:24). Then Paul said, “They do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (I Corinthians 9:25). The Christian’s prize is not a medal. It is something higher. The prize is the rewards from Jesus Christ when He comes to set up His Kingdom!

Paul said an athlete is “temperate [self-controlled] in all things” (v. 25). An athlete doesn’t get fat. He doesn’t get lazy. He doesn’t waste his time. The Apostle Paul was like that. He said, “I…run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air” (v. 26). He wasn’t like an untrained boxer throwing his fists in the air. And Paul was not overconfident. He knew he could fail. He said, “lest…when I have preached to others, I myself should be a castaway” (v. 27).

Paul knew what he wanted. He put all his effort into it. He lived in his own life what he told us to do.

“So run, that ye may obtain” (I Corinthians 9:24).

“So run, that ye may obtain [the prize].” Tonight I will apply this text in four ways.

I. First, the text applied to this winter and spring.

We had wonderful celebrations for the “holidays.” We had a Christmas banquet. We remembered our Saviour’s birth on Christmas Eve. We came together again on Christmas Day. Dr. Chan preached like a lion. Four people were saved! We observed the Lord’s Supper. Last night, New Year’s Eve, Sergio and Yazmin were married. Today is New Year’s Day.

But the “holidays” don’t last forever. Now it is January. There won’t be a holiday next weekend. It will be winter. It will be cold. It will rain. It will not be so exciting. Can you handle it? Or will you fall away and leave the church? Our text says, “So run, that ye may obtain.” Keep your mind on the prize! Stay in this church no matter what happens! Keep your mind on Christ and the church!

Winter comes every year, you know. After the Great Flood God said to Noah, “While the earth remaineth, seedtime and harvest, and cold and heat, and summer and winter, and day and night shall not cease” (Genesis 8:22). Winter comes every year. Can you handle it? “So run, that ye may obtain.”

After the winter comes the spring. The spring has its own temptations. I call it “The American Pleasure Machine.” There are three-day weekends. People go to Las Vegas, or San Francisco, or other places. Weak-minded people leave the church. There is the “Spring Break.” People want to go away. There are social events. There are family events. The American Pleasure Machine has killed more souls than sexual sin and drugs. Will you fight like an athlete? Or will you fall away? Will you fight like an athlete? Will you be in church every time? Will you fight Satan’s temptations and be in church? Or will you be weak and leave the church? When you are tempted by the Devil will you leave the church and go back to sin? “So run, that ye may obtain.”

If you focus on Christ and the church we can have a great year in 2017. Don’t waste your time with this and that. Don’t be distracted by one thing after another until the time is gone! Let’s have a great year in 2017! Fight the Devil in prayer. Keep coming to church every time. Win the prize like an athlete for Christ!

And let’s not cause problems and crises. Decide that you are not going to be a problem in our church. Let’s have “one accord” like the Christians in the Book of Acts! If we focus like an athlete – and let nothing pull us away – we can have a great year! Focus on Christ and the church all winter and spring. Keep on like an athlete. “So run, that ye may obtain” – and win the victory! “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Stand and sing the chorus!

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.
   (“Onward, Christian Soldiers” by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924).

II. Second, the text applied to revival.

God visited our church with revival last year – for the first time in more than forty years. God came down in those meetings. His Holy Spirit was present with us. Many people were converted in a few nights. Some of them seemed like impossible cases. They had heard many sermons. I had counseled them many times. They remained hard and cold. But when God came down there was one miraculous conversion after another! The greatest gift was God’s own presence. We experienced living Christianity. God was with us. How we long for Thee to send an even greater revival – oh, Lord!

Our church meets in prayer every Thursday and every Saturday. Many of you meet to pray in small groups to pray for revival. I thank God for guiding me to preach on revival. I thank God for guiding me to make us a praying church. These are rare treasures, not to be found anywhere in America that I know of. If you are praying in the small groups focus nearly all your prayers on revival and soul winning. Keep to those two things. Those two things are what we need – God’s presence and many new people from evangelism.

We must long for a greater revival! Now that we have experienced God’s presence and work in revival, we want more. But I must warn you. Do not think that now we know how to get a revival to happen. Do not think, “We’ve got it now. We know what to do. Let’s make another revival.” If you think that, we will never have more revival.

God is not a machine. He is a Person. He is a sovereign and Almighty God. He cannot be manipulated – even by prayer. Revival is not magic. It is not something that we can make happen by work or even by prayer. The demonized false prophet Charles Finney taught that a church can make a revival happen – but he was wrong. God is the author of revival. God sends revival when He chooses.

Remember how the revival began last summer. Yes, people had prayed. But when God came down there was no prayer going on. There was no sermon being preached. God came down, suddenly and surprisingly, while people were reciting Isaiah 64:1-3. He came suddenly and sovereignly.

And in some of the meetings God did not come down. Time after time, when people expected and assumed that the revival would go on by itself, God was not present. Meetings were dead and empty when God’s Spirit was absent. Sometimes I had to close a meeting early when God was not there.

It is easy to lose God’s presence. Satan is always here. But God can be absent. God will not come where He is not desperately wanted. If we are satisfied with the “holidays” and the things of this life, then God will not be present with us. If we don’t want God with us, He won’t be with us. But He is still with us. I was working on this sermon at midnight last night. The phone rang. It was Woody, weeping and wailing in conviction of sin. I woke up Dr. Chan and he went to Woody’s room. Woody was converted at two o’clock this morning – on the last day of the year at 2:00 AM we had our 29th conversion! Stand for the Doxology!

But never assume – don’t take it for granted – that God has to be with us. Never think that God has to send revival. Don’t be like Samson who went “out as at other times before” and knew “not that the Lord was departed from him” (Judges 16:20). Don’t be like the Israelites who conquered Jericho through a miracle from God, and then set out to take the smaller city of Ai. They said, “Let not all the people go up…for they are but few…And they fled before the men of Ai” (Joshua 7:3, 4). Our text says, “So run, that ye may obtain.” The Psalm says, “They that sow in tears shall reap in joy” (Psalm 126:5). It doesn’t say, “They that sow in knowledge shall reap in joy.” It doesn’t say, “They that sow in self-confidence shall reap in joy.” No, they that sow in tears shall reap in joy. Let us pray more for revival, knowing that power belongs to God alone. Pray until God comes down – but O God, help us to fight the Devil, help us fight in prayer until You come down in a more powerful revival! We pray for You to come down again! Come down, we pray! Come down in revival! “Onward, Christian Soldiers!” Stand and sing the chorus.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

III. Third, the text applied to soul winning.

It is easy to look internally – inside – at the people who are already in the church. Sometimes it is right to do that. But now is the time we must go after lost people who are not here. We must focus on soul winning! We must fight like athletes to get more names and phone numbers. We must fight like athletes to bring more lost people in. If you don’t fight to get them in, God will not continue to send revival to us. I have more to say, but I have to stop here. Dr. Chan fought to get Woody. He took him to his home. He prayed night and day for Woody. Then Woody called me on the phone weeping. I called Dr. Chan, woke him out of sleep, and he led Woody to Christ at two o’clock in the morning, on the last day of the year!

Jesus said, “The Son of man is come to seek and to save that which was lost” (Luke 19:10). Again, Christ said, “Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). After He rose from the dead Jesus said, “Go ye therefore, and [make disciples of] all nations” (Matthew 28:19). Dr. John R. Rice said, “Soul winning is obviously the most important matter that can occupy the mind and effort of Christians” (The Golden Path to Successful Personal Soul Winning, Sword of the Lord Publishers, 1961, p. 55). And he was right!

Never forget that the main business of a church is soul winning! Fight to bring in the lost young people of this city! Fight to bring in more people who are not here now! Fight like Dr. Chan did to win Woody and get him saved! Go out to the colleges and malls and get their names and phone numbers. Bring them to church to hear the Gospel. Bring in at least one name every time we meet. Love them and take care of them like Dr. Chan did with Woody. Get to know them when they come. Do everything you can to keep them here until they are converted – and then they will stay with us, because they are converted!

Our text says, “So run, that ye may obtain.” Paul said, “I…run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air” (I Corinthians 9:25). Paul didn’t work half-heartedly. He didn’t waste his time. He focused his mind on soul winning, not “as one that beateth the air.” That’s the way to win souls! That’s how Dr. Chan won Woody to Christ. Bring them in. Follow Dr. Chan’s example!

Let’s focus our time and effort on winning souls! Let’s bring people in this year. Don’t just think about your friends and yourself. Don’t just think about dating. Make it your main business to bring in the lost. Let’s focus on winning the lost. Focus like a laser beam. Don’t do it half-heartedly, “uncertainly, as one that beateth the air.” Don’t do it as something on the side, with your main focus on other things. We won’t bring people in that way. Our text says, “So run, that ye may obtain.” Let us fight the Devil in prayer so we can to bring more young people in! “Onward, Christian Soldiers.” Stand and sing the chorus again.

Onward, Christian soldiers, marching as to war,
With the cross of Jesus going on before.

IV. Fourth, the text applied to you who are still lost.

I must say a few words to those of you who are not yet converted. Our text says, “So run, that ye may obtain.” It has an application to you.

Our text says, “So run, that ye may obtain.” Don’t just sit there while I preach! Christ said, “Strive to enter in” at the narrow gate of salvation, which is Christ Himself (Luke 13:24). Are you striving? Are you striving at all? “Strive to enter in” makes the same point as “So run, that ye may obtain.” If you are serious about your soul, God will draw you to Christ. But if you do not strive for salvation, don’t expect to be saved.

If you are not striving to enter in to Christ you will never be saved! And you will not “obtain” salvation. You won’t get it. If you come forward at the invitation mechanically, without a conviction of your sin, you will not be converted. If you spend hours every day playing video games, you will never be converted. If you continue to watch pornography on your computer, you will never be converted. God sees you and knows you are not serious. If you are only feeling sorry for yourself, you will never be converted. Judas and Cain were sorry for themselves. They both went to Hell. If you continue to think about your own problems, feelings and anxieties, and not about your sin, you will never be converted. Jesus is not a psychiatrist. He did not die to fix your problems, feelings and anxieties. He did not die to give you a feeling of assurance. He died to pay for your sin so that God would not punish you. That’s why “Christ died for our sins” (I Corinthians 15:3). If you are not sick of your sin in a real way – even if you mouth a few words about it – then Christ’s death will not save you.

Christ died on the Cross to pay for your sin. He shed His Blood to wash away your sin. He rose from the dead to give you life. He will pardon your sin if you trust Him. Fight for your life. Force yourself to think of your sin. Fight for your life to come to Christ and be saved from your sin! Stand and sing hymn number four on your song sheet. Sing the first and last stanzas of “Fill All my Vision.” It’s number four on the song sheet.

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, 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).

Come down here to the front if you want to speak with me, or John Cagan, or Dr. Cagan about being saved from your sin by the Blood of Christ, shed on the Cross to save you from sin.


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.

(END OF SERMON)
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Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Onward, Christian Soldiers” (by Sabine Baring-Gould, 1834-1924;
stanzas and chorus, verses 1, 2 and 4).


THE OUTLINE OF

A YEAR OF HELL - A YEAR OF REVIVAL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence” (Isaiah 64:1).

“Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain”
(I Corinthians 9:24).

(I Corinthians 9:25, 26, 27)

I.    First, the text applied to this winter and spring, Genesis 8:22.

II.   Second, the text applied to revival, Judges 16:20; Joshua 7:3, 4;
Psalm 126:5.

III.  Third, the text applied to soul winning, Luke 19:10; 14:23;
Matthew 28:19; I Corinthians 9:25.

IV.  Fourth, the text applied to you who are still lost, Luke 13:24;
I Corinthians 15:3.