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CONDITIONALISM OR REVIVAL?
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, February 18, 2001
"I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh"
What I am about to say is probably the most controversial thing you will
ever listen to concerning the subject of revival. Please hear me out -
all the way to the end of this sermon - before you draw a conclusion.
When Ronald Reagan was inaugurated as President in 1981 he placed his hand
on his mother's Bible. The Scriptures were opened to II Chronicles 7:14, and
Reagan placed his hand directly on this text:
"If my people, which are called by my
name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and
turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and
will forgive their sin, and will heal their land" (II
I have seen that Bible in the Reagan Presidential Library here in Southern
California. Just above II Chronicles 7:14, Reagan's mother wrote, "A most
blessed verse for the healing of the nations."
During the Reagan administration II Chronicles 7:14 was widely quoted as
laying down the conditions for revival. Men such as D. James Kennedy, Jerry
Falwell, and Bill Bright claimed that the "conditions for revival"
were given in this verse. Falwell and Bill Bright emphasized fasting and prayer
based on the verse.
But no national, Biblical revival has occurred. Twenty-one years have come
and gone, and yet we have not experienced a classical, historical, Biblical
We have to ask ourselves why this is so. And I believe if we do think deeply
on this subject we will come to several conclusions:
- The verse does not directly apply to New Testament Christianity or
to America. God was speaking to the Hebrew people in the Old
Dispensation, and "the land" referred to Israel, not
America or Great Britain, or any other gentile nation.
- Many would quickly agree that point 1 is true, but would say that
the "principles" in the verse lay down the
"conditions" for revival. But even when this view is held,
the principles in the text are not treated very seriously by those
who quote it, as I will show.
Let us examine the text carefully. If we do, I believe you will agree that a
serious application of its main points has not happened in our time. Notice that
the text says, "If my people, which are called by my name, shall
humble themselves..." It refers directly to the Hebrew people in Solomon's
day. But who does it refer to by application in our day? I contend that
it does not refer to church people or to those who proclaim themselves
Christians without having experienced genuine conversion. We cannot and must not
expect revival to come when lost evangelicals pray and do the other things in
the verse to the best of their human ability. A truer and better application of
the text would cause many evangelicals to cry out, "We are not God's people
at all! This text has no promise in it for me, because I am not one of God's
Lost people, no matter how religious they are, cannot be saved by
obeying II Chronicles 7:14. If they could be saved by obeying this verse, it
would mean that salvation is by works, by human effort! I say that no lost
person can be saved by humbling themselves, praying, seeking God's face and
attempting to turn from their wicked ways. I say that no one gets saved by
performing these human works! Have we become so spiritually darkened by
"decisionism" that we have forgotten this golden text of Baptists in
"For by grace are ye saved through
faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of
works, lest any man should boast" (Ephesians 2:8-9).
Salvation is by grace, not by obedience to a "works-righteousness"
formula such as we find in II Chronicles 7:14.
"But to him that worketh not, but
believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted
Whitefield, Wesley, Bunyan, Spurgeon, Luther, and all our old Baptists and
Protestants would swiftly agree that salvation is by faith in Jesus alone.
Salvation does not come to those who "...humble themselves, and
pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways." No! No! A
thousand times no!
"Jesus answered and said unto them, This
is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent"
"Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and
thou shalt be saved"
A proper application of II Chronicles 7:14 would be to show lost
- They have not lived up to the conditions of the text.
- They cannot live up to these conditions, "Because
the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the
law of God, neither indeed can be. So then they that are in the
flesh cannot please God" (Romans 8:7-8).
- Since no lost person can please God by attempting to obey II
Chronicles 7:14, or any other law of God, these lost people must
throw themselves on Jesus, and be saved wholly by grace (Romans
I believe that if we are going to preach II Chronicles 7:14 at all, we
should preach it as it is - law! It is law to lost people in this
dispensation. And it is law that their wicked, depraved natures cannot
What lost person can humble himself? What lost person can pray -
really pray? What lost person can truly seek God's face? What lost
person has the human ability to actually turn from their inward wicked
ways? These conditions in II Chronicles 7:14 will not help lost church members,
but will only condemn them further!
"For as many as are of the works of the
law are under the curse: for it is written, Cursed is every one
that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of
the law to do them" (Galatians 3:10).
Instead of writing in her Bible, "A most blessed verse for the healing
of the nations," President Reagan's mother should have written, "A
verse for the cursing of the nations." "Cursed is every one
that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do
"Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster
to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith"
But the verse doesn't really give "conditions for revival" to
those who are truly converted either.
Don't get me wrong. I believe that true Christians should indeed humble
themselves, pray, seek God's face and turn from their sins. There is no question
that truly converted people should do those things. But doing those things will not
automatically produce revival for one main reason: God has no earthly covenant
with the United States of America or any other gentile nation.
Did you ever wonder why this rather obscure verse, given in connection with
the building of Solomon's temple, has become the main "revival text"
of our time? It is really because those who hold to a mechanical form of "conditionalism"
do not have many Bible texts to support their view. You see, revival doesn't
depend on man. Man does not produce revival by doing things.
The vast majority of evangelicals are lost, as I have shown in my books, Today's
Apostasy and Preaching to a Dying Nation. Lost people cannot do
anything to help themselves or anyone else. If they ever get saved, it will be
solely by grace. These lost evangelicals cannot help themselves or anyone else
by attempting to obey II Chronicles 7:14.
But even the very small number who are converted cannot produce
revival by attempting to obey this text. True Christians can petition
for revival, but they cannot produce revival. God is not a new-age
force, to be manipulated. He is not a mere power, but a Person. When we petition
Him, He may say "yes," and He may say "no." If we take II
Chronicles 7:14 as a "never failing" condition for revival, we make
God into a mere force, who can be manipulated by man.
Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, in his book Revival (Crossway Books,
1987), gives two doctrines which are necessary if revival is to take place. They
are, first, justification by faith in Jesus alone. He said, "There has
never been a revival but that this always comes back into prominence" (page
55). Second is the doctrine of regeneration. He said, "It emphasizes the
absolute necessity of the work of the Holy Spirit. It reminds us that nothing
will suffice except a man be born again, that he be given a new nature. That
there is no value in any decision on the part of man unless it is indicative of
a change of nature... Regeneration. It stands out in the story and history of
every revival that has ever taken place in the long history of the Christian
church" (pp. 56-57).
The doctrines of justification by faith alone, and regeneration (and its
corollary - conversion) must come back into focus, Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, if we
expect an atmosphere in which revival may be sent by God. Dr. Lloyd-Jones
A revival is a miracle. It is a miraculous, exceptional phenomenon. It
is the hand of the Lord, and it is mighty. A revival, in other words, is
something that can only be explained as the direct action and
intervention of God. It was God alone who could divide the waters of the
Red Sea. It was God alone who could divide the waters of the river
Jordan. These were miracles. Hence the reminder of God's unique action
of the mighty acts of God. And revivals belong to that category...Men
can produce evangelistic campaigns, but they cannot and never have
produced a revival. Oh, they have tried to do so many times, and they
are still trying. Alas, Finney has led the whole Church astray at this
point by teaching that if you only do certain things you can have a
revival whenever you want it. The answer is an eternal NO! And that is
not my opinion. This is a question of fact. Have we not all known and
watched and seen these men who have been trying to produce revivals?
They have introduced all Finney's methods, they have read his book, they
know it by heart and they have tried to do what he teaches, they have
tried to make people confess their sins, they have tried to make them
conform, they have done everything that Finney said they should have
done, expecting revival as a result. They have done it all and have
brought great pressure to bear, but there has been no revival. A
revival, by definition, is the mighty act of God and it is a sovereign
act of God. It is as independent as that. Man can do nothing. God, and
God alone, does it...But not only can men not produce a revival, they
cannot even explain it, and that again is most important...If you can
explain what is happening...apart from a sovereign act of God, it is not
revival. If you can possibly explain it otherwise, it is not revival.
You see that is true of miracles. If you can explain a miracle it is no
longer a miracle...a miracle is the direct, sovereign, immediate,
supernatural, action of God and it cannot be explained. And that is the
essential truth about a revival. You cannot explain it (pp.
"I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh" (Acts
Revival is something God does!
How can you explain what is happening among the Hmong people of Viet Nam?
With no Bibles, no missionaries, no church buildings, under intense persecution
from the Communists, tens of thousands of these poor, persecuted people are
pouring in a great flood into the Kingdom of God. It cannot be explained by
"conditionalism." These people never heard of Finney or Bill Bright
lecturing them on meeting "conditions." God has come down among them
and they are flooding to Christ by the tens of thousands. Only God can do that.
There is no human explanation. God says, "I will pour out of my Spirit upon
all flesh" (Acts 2:17). Revival is something God does!
Or how can you explain humanly what is happening right now, tonight, in the
People's Republic of China? Millions are coming to Christ under intense
Communist persecution. Finney had nothing to do with it. Western "conditionalism"
had nothing to do with it. Missionaries have been gone from China for fifty
years. They had nothing to do with it. The revival has been made by Almighty God
Himself - and no human being can share in His glory! The glory belongs to God
alone! God is doing what man cannot do! God says, "I will
pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh" (Acts 2:17). Revival is something God
To conclude this sermon, I will make three remarks.
Even prayer itself cannot definitely produce revival every time. Paul
said, "For this thing I besought the Lord thrice...And he said unto
me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in
weakness" (II Corinthians 12:8-9). God said "no" to
Paul's three intense prayers. God may also say "no" to our
prayers for revival. His ways are higher than our ways. God knows what
He is doing when He says "no" to our prayers, as He did when
Paul prayed so earnestly. Our prayers cannot force God to do
things for us.
- The Old Dispensation gave II Chronicles 7:14. But in the New
Dispensation we have John 3:8,
"The wind bloweth where it listeth (i.e. where it
wishes), and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell
whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born
of the Spirit." This text shows that the work of the Holy
Spirit is like the wind - independent of any "conditions"
man lays down.
The consequences of holding a "conditionalist" view of
revival often bring tragic results. If we believe that God must
send revival when we meet the "conditions" two things will
The consequences of holding the "Old-school" view of
revival, which I am presenting tonight, are much better.
(1) We will be
disappointed. When we fast and plead and expect to "make it
happen" - and it doesn't - it brings great spiritual
depression, anxiety and disappointment. Many Baptists have given
up the whole idea of revival because they have been so
disappointed after trying to meet Jack Hyles' or someone else's
"conditions." It is much better to pray and then leave
the matter in the hands of God, as to whether He sees fit to
give us what we ask or not in revival.
(2) A belief in
"conditionalism" tends to promote fanaticism and
excessive measures. The main emphasis of the so-called
"laughing revival" is a modern illustration of this.
When people meet the conditions as best they can, and no revival
comes, they try to "make it happen" themselves - often
with wild and unscriptural excesses. This has been the case
especially with Pentecostals and charismatics in modern times.
(1) If we follow the
"Old-school" view, we will believe Jesus when He said,
"Lo, I am with you alway" (Matthew 28:20). We will have
faith that He is with us even during the dry times, when we see
few conversions. Our faith in Christ will not be disturbed even if
we have to wait years for a conversion, as great pioneer
missionaries like Judson and Livingstone did. These men held the
"Old-school" view. Dry periods, with few conversions,
never stopped them from;believing, "Lo, I am with you alway."
(2) We will also
believe that there are special "times of refreshing...from
the presence of the Lord" (Acts 3:19). No matter how long we
pray, we will never give up the hope that God may send "a
sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind" (Acts 2:2). We
will continue, no matter how long, to pray with the prophet,
"Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest
come down...to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the
nations may tremble at thy presence!"
Now, tonight, we have been praying for you, my unconverted friend. We have
been praying that God would come down to you and make you tremble for your
sins against Him. We have been praying that God would come down and make Jesus
Christ, the Son of God, real to you. Yes, He died on the Cross to pay for your
sins. Yes, He rose physically from the dead, and ascended into Heaven, to
intercede for you with God. But we are praying for God to come down and make
all of this real and vital to you - so that you may enter into Christ and find
that "the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord"
May God come down and convert your soul to Jesus Christ by faith in Him!
That will be your personal revival and your salvation for all time and
God says, "I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh" (Acts
2:17). May that be your condition soon, as God's Holy Spirit draws you to
Jesus Christ for full redemption through His Blood.
In Europe tonight, thousands of young people are reading an old book, a
book written almost eighty years ago by Adolf Hitler, titled Mein Kampf
(My Struggle). It is a badly written book, full of racial hatred,
especially anti-Semitism. In that book, Hitler blames many of the problems in
society on the Jews and calls for their extermination. It was obviously
written by a madman. Yet vast numbers of young people in Europe are
rediscovering this book and are becoming neo-Nazis. Why is this happening?
Because there is a real Devil, and the Devil takes that old book, Mein
Kampf, and makes it come to life for young people today. And B'nai Brith,
and the United Nations, and nobody else can stop this from happening. They can
say, "Never again," but they can't stop the Devil from taking that
old book by Hitler and making it live again in the minds of those young
Yes, there is a Devil. But there is a God also. And God can take this old
book, the Bible, and make it come to life for you. God is stronger than the
Devil, and God is taking the Bible and making it flame with life in the hearts
of young people in China, in Viet Nam, in Indonesia, and in other parts of the
Far East that are currently experiencing revival.
But there is no revival in the Western world tonight. I know of none. I
know of no classical, Biblical revival in the English-speaking world. But God
can come down again here, if He chooses to do so, and set a million
English-speaking hearts on fire for Christ. God can do it again, if He chooses
to do so. Let us pray that He will.
Tonight, if you are lost, we pray that God will draw you to Jesus Christ,
His Son, so that you, as an individual, can be "translated...into the
kingdom of his dear Son" (Colossians 1:13). May God grant you that
awakening, and that regeneration, and that conversion!
Scripture Read Before Sermon: II Chronicles 7:14; John 3:8.
Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Revive Thy Work"
by Albert Midlane (1825-1909).
You can read Dr. Hymers' sermons each week on the Internet
at www.rlhymersjr.com. Click
on "Sermon Manuscripts."
THE OUTLINE OF
CONDITIONALISM OR REVIVAL?
by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
"I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh"
I. The Old Dispensation vs. the New
Chronicles 7:14; Ephesians 2:8-9; Romans 4:5; John 6:29;
16:31; Romans 8:7-8; Romans 5:8-9; Galatians 3:10;
3:24; John 3:8; II Corinthians 12:8-9.
II. The consequences of holding a
"conditionalist" view of revival
It tends to promote discouragement
It tends to promote excessive measures
III. The consequences of holding the
"Old-school" view of revival
It believes "lo, I am with you alway," Matthew 28:20.
It also believes "times of refreshing shall come from the
of the Lord," Acts 3:19; Acts 2:2; Isaiah 64:1-2;
6:23; Colossians 1:13.