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THE PRICE OF REVIVAL!

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, October 14, 2017

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).


In the darkest moments of a life filled with adversity and difficulty I have always known this verse was true. Deep in my soul I knew that I would somehow overcome all difficulties to serve Christ. Underneath my weakness and fears, there was always confidence that God would overcome all obstacles in the end, that I would see victory before I died. Sometimes that confidence grew very weak, yet it never disappeared completely. I would have given up in abject failure “unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord” while I was still here “in the land of the living.”

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

That confidence was deeply shaken when I learned that I had cancer. The goals I had striven for and the hopes I had of seeing God move in revival were nearly extinguished in my soul. Yet I could not give up. God had trained me through sixty years of difficult ministry not to be a quitter, no matter what difficulties I had to endure. So I struggled on into the darkness, feeling like Dylan Thomas who famously said, “Do not go gently into that dark night. Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

With those dark thoughts in mind I began to preach for revival in our church. With Richard Baxter I could now truly say, “I preach as a dying man to dying men.” I preached on and on for revival, even when the way seemed hopeless, even when the Devil attacked, even when my flesh was weak and my faith flickered in the darkness. God gave me supernatural strength to preach on and on. I preached over forty sermons on revival in a few weeks. I slept only three or four hours as I fought the Devil in prayer and worked on sermons all night – every night – as the weeks turned into months and the victory did not come.

At last there was a turning. It came slowly. About twenty young people were converted, some of them quite dramatically. But I could not persuade John Cagan to surrender to the ministry, and without him I knew that we would fail, for there was no one else of his caliber to lead the church when I was gone.

And then there was a sudden change. John surrendered to preach. One prayer meeting after another was filled with God’s presence and power. One young person after the other began to surrender to a deeper commitment to the Lord. Then last Thursday and Friday we had wonderful prayer meetings that went on deep into the night. Then last Sunday we had truly great services with Timothy Chan preaching in the morning and John Cagan in the evening The church was jammed with people, and we celebrated the sixtieth birthday of our superlative Chinese translator, Winston Song – amid great rejoicing and the joy of triumph in both services.

I had not had a restful night’s sleep for weeks. But I felt like Churchill when he learned that Japan had bombed Pearl Harbor, bringing America into the war as an ally of Britain. Churchill said, “So we had won the war after all. That night I slept the sleep of the saved and thankful.” I myself felt victory at hand, and slept about 23 hours on Sunday night, through Monday. I awoke abruptly at 5:30 on Tuesday morning! It was indeed the sleep of the saved and thankful. John Cagan had surrendered. Our young people were ready for the battle. We had a new vision for the church. So we had won the war after all!

But when Churchill awoke the next morning he heard that 25,000 Japanese troops had, during the night, forced the British troops from Hong Kong, and that city was lost to the British Empire. And by the time Churchill woke the Japanese forces had overcome the Royal Air Force and were poised to take over Singapore with AA guns and exploding Japanese bombs. The war rolled on and on – and victory was no nearer than the night before.

That is our lot as well. We had a victory. We had a time of rejoicing. We had a “touch” of revival. BUT WE HAVE NOT WON THE WAR! It will take many months and much deeper commitment to make our church a center of revival and a light to the world through our website and our witness. That battle remains in front of us. This is a monumental war. A war for living Christianity! A war for living prayer meetings, and for living soul winning, living evangelistic preaching, and living consecration to Jesus Christ! This is a monumental war! A monstrous, massive, mortal, mammoth war, against an equally monstrous, massive and mortal enemy. Yes! We are at war with Satan himself!

“For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places. Wherefore take unto you the whole armour of God, that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; And your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:12-20).

Let that passage from the Apostle Paul be our watchword and our call to arms!

I avoided having us sing Dr. Rice’s song, “The Price of Revival.” We had sung it too often during the great church split – so I felt it should be put aside for a while. But now that we have had a “touch” of revival I think we should sing it again at times. It’s number nine on your song sheet. Please stand and sing it.

The price of revival, the cost of soul winning,
   The long hours of praying, the burden, the tears;
The pleading with sinners though lonely, a stranger,
   
Reaping, heavenly reaping! For souls won down here.

The treasures of earth, oh, how vain and how fleeting;
   They vanish like mist and they wither like leaves;
But souls who are won by our tears and our pleading
   Will remain for our reaping up there.
Reaping, heavenly reaping! For souls won down here.

To come to that reaping with wood, hay and stubble,
   How sad to appear at the Lord’s judgment seat,
With no one we’ve won to trust Jesus our Saviour
   To present at the reaping up there.
Reaping, heavenly reaping! For souls won down here.

The wise, they shall shine like the firmament glory
   When payday shall come for the winner of souls!
Then they who’ve saved many by salvation’s story
   Like the stars, blest forever, shall shine.
Reaping, heavenly reaping! For souls won down here.
   (“The Price of Revival” by Dr. John R. Rice, 1895-1980;
      used by permission of the Rice daughters as of October 1, 2011).

You may be seated.

Revival isn’t an end in itself! When you are converted, you are called to work for Jesus, “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works” (Ephesians 2:10). Christ redeemed us to be “zealous of good works” (Titus 2:14). When you are revived and filled with the Spirit, you are revived to do the work of soul-winning. Christ said, “Compel them to come in, that my house may be filled” (Luke 14:23). You must struggle and fight the Devil and your own flesh to be an overcoming Christian in these evil days!

Here’s what my friend Rev. Roger Hoffman said:

I met Dr. Hymers when we were both seminary students. He has been my personal friend for forty six years and I have witnessed much of this story. Read it. You will be challenged, encouraged and inspired. You will get insights into how to deal with life when it is not your friend. By the end of the book you will not only feel like you know Dr. Hymers but that somehow he knows you and is on your side. It is well written. You will smell the wet Arizona earth and feel the cloud of depression descending over your head like the fog on a misty London night. But you will emerge challenged to step up to the mark, enter the fray and believe God for the victory. I highly recommend this book.

Dr. Phil Goble has been a missionary to the Jewish people in New York City for over thirty years. He has been a friend of Ileana and I for many years. Dr. Goble said,

Very few people know Satan as a sparring partner, or the life-or-death spiritual fight in the pulpit arena. Certainly no wrestler, no carnal pugilist, no knuckle-fighter, understands the sweat and blood battle of the preacher’s contention with the Word of God. Preaching, real preaching, is spiritual hand to hand combat for the souls of a lost world. This is why the Bible itself is an inerrant distillation of preaching. And who is sufficient for these things? Yet by the grace of God a veritable “John Wesley” of our day is Dr. Robert Hymers, a preacher’s preacher if there ever was one. He has been a personal inspiration to me from the earliest days of my calling to preach. So it is my prayer that generations of young preachers will drink in every word of this autobiography, and every sermon of his they can get their hands on, that they might follow this great champion preacher out into gladiatorial arena of the godless modern world to fight, like him, the good fight of faith for the imperishable victor’s crown.

And Dr. Neal Weaver, president of Louisiana Baptist University, said,

This is a fascinating and inspiring book. It is a book of the determined efforts of one courageous man, who held strong convictions and was unafraid to fight for those convictions. That man is my good friend, Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

Determined to build a church in the very heart of downtown Los Angeles, California, he faced wicked criticism and overwhelming opposition including a horrendous church split fostered by a rogue preacher. Against all odds through perseverance and sheer determination he has built a shining lighthouse in the very center of one of America’s darkest cities.

His life is an echo of the noble words of the Apostle Paul, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith” (II Timothy 4:7).

Our church has been given a mandate from Christ Himself, “Behold, I have set before thee an open door, and no man can shut it” (Revelation 3:8). Listen to this e-mail I received today. It is from a French-speaking pastor in West Africa. This African pastor said, “I wish to express my deep gratitude for your sermons [which] I find wonderful and very rich. If you have other teaching tools, could you pass them on to me so that I may bless the body of Christ?” I wrote back to him saying, “We are going to begin adding more helps of various kinds for pastors.” The first one will be “Dr. Lin’s Teachings on Prayer and Prayer Meetings,” which John Cagan is upgrading now. The next one will be “How to Prepare an Evangelistic Sermon” which Dr. Cagan is working on. The churches throughout the Third World are crying out for real help. They are inundated with junk from America: “name it and claim it gospel,” “prosperity gospel,” “health and wealth gospel,” “God wants everybody healed gospel,” “feel good gospel.” Most of what we hear in the churches and on religious television and radio focuses on almost anything but the real Gospel. Even many fundamental Baptists no longer preach Gospel sermons. They have been replaced by expositions of Scripture aimed at those who are already thought to be “Christians.” Like that pastor in West Africa, many preachers, especially in the Third World, are crying out for help. They are trying to win the lost, but they don’t know how to do it. We have learned, by our inner city work, how to evangelize and convert people from the world, people from non-Christian backgrounds, and people from other religions. By opening the Third World to us through the Internet Jesus has given us a mandate to help those pastors, throughout the Third World and beyond.

But we cannot help them unless our church is a missionary powerhouse. That will not happen without more revival. That will not happen without more prayer and more commitment. Our church is still not clean enough. The grudges and prejudices and lack of love for each other must still be worked on. More confessions are still needed to heal relationships and make us strong. More commitment is still needed to fulfill Christ’s mandate.

I have to stop the emphasis on revival for a while. We must focus on evangelism for a few weeks now. Then come Thanksgiving, our annual meeting and the Baptisms, then Christmas and New Year’s. Then Dr. Cagan, John and Noah will go to preach for a week in Uganda, in Africa. Then, as God leads, we will come back and emphasize revival again. There is much more for God to do in reviving our church – and I believe another wave of revival will come down from God, another wave much stronger than we have already experienced. Some of you have big things that must change in your lives to help make our church a lighthouse to the world.

Some of you must get very serious about being converted.
Some of you must confess your faults to each other and pray for each other.
Some of you must put Christ ahead of your unsaved families who try to hold you back.
Some of you must start tithing, and some of you must sacrifice to give more than a tithe each week.
Some of you must begin to go to evangelism on your own several days a week.
Some of you will need to come both Wednesday and Thursday evenings for prayer and evangelism.

All of us must strive to make our church grow – or we will gradually lose our love and zeal and become a small, grey church on a dark street in the inner city of Los Angeles.

Our church is at a crossroads. If we go down the easy road we will gradually become discouraged and begin to die. But if we go down the right road we will plunge into the work and add more people, and move toward being a great church that can help struggling churches throughout the world by our love for Christ and our commitment to follow Him regardless of the cost.

Churchill went on leading the British in the great war. There were years of struggle ahead. Years of blood, toil, tears and sweat. But with the help of God they finally won the war. And so we will also win this battle in the end. I am more confident of our ultimate victory than I have ever been.

“I had fainted, unless I had believed to see the goodness of the Lord in the land of the living” (Psalm 27:13).

Please stand and sing the last song on your song sheet, “Take My Life and Let It Be.”

Take my life, and let it be Consecrated, Lord, to Thee;
Take my hands, and let them move At the impulse of Thy love,
At the impulse of Thy love.

Take my feet, and let them be Swift and beautiful for Thee;
Take my voice, and let me sing Always, only, for my King,
Always, only, for my King.

Take my lips, and let them be Filled with messages for Thee;
Take my silver and my gold, Not a mite would I withhold,
Not a mite would I withhold.

Take my love, my God, I pour At Thy feet its treasure store;
Take myself and I will be Ever, only, all for Thee,
Ever, only, all for Thee.
   (“Take My Life and Let It Be” by Frances R. Havergal, 1836-1879).

You may be seated.

Let us end this service with a few more testimonies. This is the time to thank God for what He has already done, and to pray for strength to do even more for Christ. I want you to come and give a few words of testimony to encourage us in the battle.


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:
Dr. Hymers’ favorite hymn: “The Master Hath Come”
(by Sarah Doudney, 1841-1926).