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REVIVE THY WORK, O LORD!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, September 30, 2017


Dr. Ebenezer Porter wrote a book called, Letters on Religious Revivals. It is a book Dr. Porter wrote in 1832 shortly before his death. Dr. Porter was a Congregational minister. He was a witness and participant in many revivals. He taught that revivals should not be rare, but that revival should be the constant experience of the churches. He believed that the study of revivals should be an important part of seminary education so young pastors would be prepared to lead revivals in the churches they would serve. Today, most churches in [America] have been almost without any kind of revival for the past century. This is the view of Dr. Paul A. Cedar, president of the Evangelical Free Church of America, in his foreword to Dr. Porter’s book on revival.

In 1832 Dr. Porter said, “The danger of our churches now is, that unconverted men [and women] will be admitted to their [membership], hoping that they are Christians. Should this [fear] be [true], another century will disclose the calamitous results” (Paraphrased from Letters on Revival, pp. 147-148, 1832). Dr. Porter said that a few years of false converts from Finney’s methods coming into a church will make that church “an utter desolation.”

Dr. Porter made that prediction in 1832. By 1932 (“another century”) the Protestant and Baptist churches had turned to liberalism as a result of adding unconverted members since the days of Finney. In other words, Finney’s “Decisionism” destroyed our churches, filling them with unsaved members and killing real revival. With nearly all the members unsaved, and most pastors themselves either unconverted or backslidden, our churches are now producing an evangelicalism that is powerless and dead, in Dr. Francis Schaeffer’s words, “A Great Evangelical Disaster.” What is the answer to this disaster? Please turn to Habakkuk, chapter 3. It’s on page 957 of the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand as I read verses one and two.

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:1, 2).

You may be seated.

Shigionoth was a musical term. It means that the prophet Habakkuk gave this prayer as a hymn. It was a prayer like the hymn, “Revive Thy Work.”

Revive Thy work, O Lord, Thy mighty arm make bare;
Speak with the voice that wakes the dead, And make Thy people hear.
Revive! revive! And give refreshing showers;
The glory shall be all Thine own; The blessing shall be ours.
   (“Revive Thy Work” by Albert Midlane, 1825-1909).

Here is the prophet’s prayer, given in song.

I. First, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid.”

Dr. John R. Rice said, “Habakkuk was grieved at the sin and violence and idolatry around him on every side – that cries for judgment and punishment on the people... When Habakkuk heard the woes God pronounced upon His people, the warning of God frightened him and led him to earnest prayer for revival” (The Soul Winner’s Fire, pp. 69, 70).

As a young man I heard great preachers, like the young Billy Graham, preach strong sermons on the wrath and judgment of God, on Hell, and the unpardonable sin. All of the classical preachers preached on judgment and Hell in times of revival – and none of them were Bible teachers like we have in most of our pulpits today. Dr. Asahel Nettleton was the last great national evangelist before Finney. He, like Jonathan Edwards, preached on subjects like Edwards’ great sermon, “Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God” – the sermon that was a catalyst to the First Great Awakening. His contemporary Theodorus Frelinghuysen was an equally hard preacher of revival. Frelinghuysen preached man’s “deeply sinful nature.” He believed that people usually experience an intense struggle with sin before their conversion. His people were soon desperate to see an outpouring of the Holy Spirit in revival. I wish that every young preacher in America could read Theodorus Frelinghuysen’s Evangelism: Catalyst to the First Great Awakening, by Scott Maze (Reformation Heritage Books, 2011). Certainly every Calvinistic “Bible teacher” ought to read it. Hard-hitting preachers like Frelinghuysen are greatly needed today. We will never again have revival without bold preaching like his.

And then there was Duncan Campbell. Brian H. Edwards said, “Men who preach in revival are always unafraid and urgent. Duncan Campbell’s preaching exposed sin in its ugliness...and the consequences of living and dying without Christ...With perspiration streaming down his face, he set before men and women the way of life and the way of death” (Revival: A People Saturated With God, p. 103). He preached so hard that lost people came under conviction of sin with tears, and were soundly converted in the last great regional revival of the Western world, on the Isle of Lewis.

As a young man I heard preaching like that and it frightened me – like it frightened Habakkuk. “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid.” That fear produced in me a compulsion to preach for revival. And so it should in every faithful preacher. It will make you long for God to send a revival!

II. Second, “O Lord, revive thy work.”

Every cold and backslidden Christian should pray, “O Lord, revive thy work” in me. Every backslidden Christian desperately needs revival. You were once happy, but now you are sad. You were once joyful but now you complain and feel sorry for yourself. You were once ready to do anything for Jesus. Now you grumble and complain and find fault. Your home is often like a living Hell. You are deeply sad and confused. You wonder about God’s will for your life. Where is your first love? Where is the joy you had years ago? Pray with the prophet, “O Lord, revive thy work” in my heart. “Help me confess my sins, and restore my love for Thee.” Don’t miss the revival God has sent to us! It may soon be over. Take these last few moments of it to confess your faults. We will pray for you. God will answer. “No, He won’t answer,” you say. That is the voice of the Devil in your brain. He will answer you! He said, “Call unto me, and I will answer thee” (Jeremiah 33:3). And not only pray, but “present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service” (Romans 12:1). Go back to your first love for Jesus – or you will miss the joy you could have had in this God-sent revival! “Lord, Send a Revival” – stand and sing it!

Lord, send a revival, Lord, send a revival;
Lord, send a revival, And let it come down from thee.

Now end it with “And let it come down to me.” Sing it!

Lord, send a revival, Lord, send a revival;
Lord, send a revival, And let it come down to me.

You may be seated.

Some of you are still unconverted. Stop feeling sorry for yourself. Stop it! It is a sin to feel sorry for yourself! Esau felt sorry for himself – and he was never saved! Judas felt sorry for himself – and he too was never saved. Simon the Sorcerer felt sorry for himself, and even asked Peter to pray for him, but he went to Hell and is burning there tonight. Instead of feeling sorry for yourself, admit your sin. Admit that your heart has no real love for God. Admit that you sit in church like a hypocrite – but you will not trust Jesus, who alone can save you and cleanse you from all sin by the Blood He shed on the Cross! Come to Jesus and trust Him, while the Holy Spirit is still working in revival. “O Lord, revive Thy work!” “I Am Coming, Lord” – stand and sing it!

I am coming, Lord! Coming now to Thee!
Wash me, cleanse me in the Blood That flowed on Calvary.

Just the ladies.

Now everyone.

III. Third, “In the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known, in wrath remember mercy.”

“O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

It is “in the midst of the years” that we need revival. A watch may keep accurate time when it is first wound, but if it goes too long without winding, it will slowly lose time. Even modern watches do that if the battery loses power. A soul winner or a preacher who goes too long without winding does not have the power he once had. Christians need rewinding or a new power in the battery. That means you need revival – new power “in the midst of the years.” I have seen many young Christians like Minh Vu and Baiyang Zhang who are full of zeal. But little by little the “watch” begins to lose power. They will naturally backslide unless they are revived “in the midst of the years.”

Many men marry a beautiful girl and live with her happily through the first years of marriage. He works hard. He loves his wife. There is the thrill of new babies and the responsibility of fatherhood. But after a while, “in the midst of the years,” when his home seems safe and his children are growing, many men fall into the hands of an evil woman. Many a man or woman finds they have a broken home after the children are grown. Many a man starts gambling or is crooked in business after he has been a success in life. And I know that many old preachers become bitter and sour after a long and successful ministry. Those middle years, those settled years, are times of great need for revival.

“O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:2).

Do you need to be revived? Come down here now and confess it to God and pray for Him to revive you. You may have come before, but come again, as Luther said. You come while Emi plays number 19, “Here is Love.” If you are still lost, come to Jesus now, while the revival is still here. Come down to the green side seat now.


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(END OF SERMON)
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Solos Sung by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith Before the Sermon:
    “Search Me, O God” (Psalm 139:23-24)/
    “Spirit of the Living God” (by Daniel Iverson, 1899-1977; altered by the Pastor)/
    “Lord, Send a Revival” (by Dr. B. B. McKinney, 1886-1952; altered by the Pastor)/
    “Spirit of the Living God” (by Daniel Iverson, 1899-1977; altered by the Pastor).


THE OUTLINE OF

REVIVE THY WORK, O LORD!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

“A prayer of Habakkuk the prophet upon Shigionoth. O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid: O Lord, revive thy work in the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make known; in wrath remember mercy” (Habakkuk 3:1, 2).

I.    First, “O Lord, I have heard thy speech, and was afraid,”
Habakkuk 3:2a.

II.   Second, “O Lord, revive thy work,” Habakkuk 3:2b; Jeremiah 33:3;
Romans 12:1.

III.  Third, “In the midst of the years, in the midst of the years make
known, in wrath remember mercy,” Habakkuk 3:2c.