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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Morning, June 24, 2012

“And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh...” (Acts 2:17).

The term “last days,” in the context of this passage, refers to the whole Gospel dispensation, from Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ. In Acts 2:17 God promises to “pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh” during this Gospel age. It is sad that most of the modern versions of the Bible leave out the important little word “of.” Only the New American Standard Version translates the Greek word “apo” as “of,” following the King James Bible and the original Greek text. Once again the good, old King James Bible sheds a great deal of light on the modern translations! Professor George Smeaton (1814-1889) said, “According to the New Testament quotation, there is a shade of meaning not to be lost in the words ‘of my Spirit’ (apo) distinguishing between the measure [granted] to men and the inexhaustible fulness of the fountain” (George Smeaton, The Doctrine of the Holy Spirit, Banner of Truth, 1974 reprint, p. 28).

It is true that “of” does not come from the words of the prophecy in the Hebrew, in Joel 2:28. But the Greek word, I believe, was given by progressive revelation in Acts 2:17 to show us that there is always more of the Holy Spirit’s power, that there is an “inexhaustible” supply of the Holy Spirit. There is always more to be poured out from Heaven. Thus the Disciples were filled again, as we are told in Acts 4:31, “And they were all filled [again] with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.” Again, Professor Smeaton said,

No more mischievous and misleading theory could be propounded, nor any more dishonouring to the Holy Spirit, than the principle that because the Holy Spirit was poured out at Pentecost the Church has no need, and no warrant, to pray for effusions [outpourings] of the Spirit of God. On the contrary, the more the Church asks for the Spirit and waits for His communications, the more she receives (ibid., p. 255).

While the Holy Spirit is given to all real Christians, He does not work at all times with the same power. Iain H. Murray said, “So, from Pentecost onward, the work of the Holy Spirit can be viewed in two aspects: the more normal and the extraordinary” (Iain H. Murray, Pentecost Today?, Banner of Truth, 1998, p. 18).

The “normal” work of the Spirit goes on, as we see, with occasional conversions. But “when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord” (Acts 3:19) we will see many more conversions brought about by the work of the Holy Spirit. These “times of refreshing” are what we now call “revival.” When we pray for revival we are praying for a greater outpouring of the Holy Spirit to bring the lost under conviction, and to draw them to Jesus for salvation. This thought of the “normal” work of God’s Spirit, and His “extraordinary” work is expressed in an old hymn that says,

“There shall be showers of blessing:”
   This is the promise of love;
There shall be seasons refreshing,
   Sent from the Saviour above.
Showers of blessing, Showers of blessing we need:
   Mercy drops ‘round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.

“There shall be showers of blessing” –
   Precious reviving again;
Over the hills and the valleys,
   Sound of abundance of rain.
Showers of blessing, Showers of blessing we need:
   Mercy drops ‘round us are falling,
But for the showers we plead.
    (“There Shall Be Showers of Blessing” by Daniel W. Whittle, 1840-1901).

However, at the risk of being misunderstood, I must say that prayer alone does not ensure that we will receive those “showers of blessing” in revival. Dr. A. W. Tozer said,

      Have you noticed how much praying for revival has been going on of late – and how little revival has resulted?
      Considering the volume of prayer that is ascending these days, rivers of revival should be flowing in blessing through the land. That no such results are in evidence should not discourage us; rather it should stir us to find out why our prayers are not answered (A. W. Tozer, D.D., “Prayer No Substitute for Obedience,” in Of God and Men, Christian Publications, 1960, pp. 50, 51).

I am not suggesting that we should stop praying for revival. Not at all. But I am saying that prayer cannot make revival happen! I have seen with my own eyes two remarkable revivals. Both of them came suddenly, without a great deal of prayer beforehand. The revival I saw at the First Chinese Baptist Church of Los Angeles began suddenly one night when a group of young people at a summer camp came under conviction and cried out to God to come to them and pardon their sins. At the revival I saw in a fundamental Baptist church in Virginia, there may have been some prayer beforehand, but it was not unusual prayer. Everyone was shocked when God suddenly poured out of His Spirit in a Sunday evening service, when over 70 people, including the associate pastor, came under conviction of sin, and cried out to God for mercy. One old man crawled down the aisle screaming, “I’m lost! I’m lost!” Several teenagers came to the platform to sing. But they were unable to sing because they broke down in tears, under great conviction of sin. About 500 people were converted in that revival over the next three months.

Yet in another church, where I was present, it seemed that revival was about to break out. They had prayed for revival for weeks before these meetings. The presence of God could literally be “felt” in the services. People packed the church, until there was standing room only. But the services were closed down abruptly because some of the sponsoring pastors were afraid when three teenagers and others came under deep conviction of sin. They feared that this might cause a disruption in their churches. So, I believe there is a human element involved. The Bible says, “Quench not the Spirit” (I Thessalonians 5:19). You can pray for revival for years, but it will not come if you quench the Spirit!

For revival to come we must be willing to have old-fashioned, sin-condemning, Christ-exalting preaching. The lack of that kind of preaching, I believe, is one of the reasons “why our prayers are not answered.” W. P. Nicholson was that kind of preacher. He was from Northern Ireland, and he often saw God-sent revivals. Nicholson said, “The revival which ought to come to our churches is a revival that will...make people awfully mad or gloriously happy. Nothing is so alarming in my mind as the absence of alarm in our churches. Nothing is so dreadfully terrific, to my mind, as that sinners have no terror. Oh for a few men so dead to all things but God, and so filled with Him, as to make them more than a match for the rest of mankind” (Sermons by W. P. Nicholson: Tornado of the Pulpit, biographical sketch by Ian R. K. Paisley, Martyrs Memorial Productions, 1982, p. 41).

Again, W. P. Nicholson said,

      Remember Lot’s wife. She went out of a Christian home to a Christless hell; she went out of the arms of a righteous man into the embrace of the devil and the damned. You may come out of a Christian home and land in a Christless hell...
      When you join a church without being converted you are twice over a child of hell...
      Again, Christless Christians are men and women who imagine they are Christians because they made a profession of faith at one time or another... [Christ said] “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven.”
      A Christless Christian is a man who imagines that he is all right because he made a profession, but who has no evidence in his life. There is no middle road, it is either heaven or hell.
      Let me ask you...Are you a Christless Christian? Are you a nominal Christian [a Christian in name only]? You have all the trappings of religion, but no experience. You know about Christ in your head, but you can’t say, “Thank God I am saved.” You must humble yourself, be honest with God, and forget about your stinking pride, and your past professions, and your Churchianity. You must go like a poor, lost sinner to Christ (ibid, pp. 41-44).

On the day of Pentecost the Apostle Peter said, “God hath made that same Jesus, whom ye have crucified, both Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Yes, you crucified Him. Your sin sent Him to the Cross. You are as guilty as Hell! Your sin sent Him to the Cross. But you could care less! You are happy with yourself the way you are! You want a little “religion,” but you do not want to “go like a poor, lost sinner to Christ.”

“Now when they heard this, they were pricked in their heart, and said...Men and brethren, what shall we do? Then Peter said unto them, Repent...” (Acts 2:37-38).

Repent! Repent! Turn away from your dead religion. Throw it out! You say you are a Christian, but you are nothing but a hypocrite! Nicholson said, “You say you are a Christian! If you were, I would rather go to hell and live with the devil than to be with you.” Get right with God, no matter what it costs! Forget about what people will think! Force your way into the kingdom! Jesus said, “The violent take it by force” (Matthew 11:12). Force your way in! Get to Jesus no matter what it costs! Throw out your churchianity! Repent, and take Jesus “by force”! Don’t go on the way you are another day! Repent! Repent! Cry out to Jesus, “Jesus, thou Son of David, have mercy on me” (Mark 10:47). Cry out to Him, “Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!”

Mercy rewrote my life.
Mercy rewrote my life.
I was lost in sin,
But Jesus rewrote my life.

Repent and throw yourself on the mercy of Jesus! There is no other hope for you! Did you hear that? THERE IS NO OTHER HOPE FOR YOU!!! NONE!!!

Dr. Tozer said, “A widespread revival of the kind of Christianity we know today in America might prove to be a moral tragedy from which we would not recover in a hundred years” (“No Revival Without Reformation,” in Keys to the Deeper Life, 1957, p. 12).

You don’t need what most people have in our American churches! No! Away with it from the face of the earth! You don’t need their dead religion! You need a living Saviour! You need real Blood, from a real Saviour, to wash away real sin, and save you from the real wrath of a real God, who is really angry with you for your sin! You need the real Blood of Jesus to propitiate the real wrath of a real God! Cry out – “Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!” Cry out to Him with all your heart, like they do in China, where the greatest revival in modern history is going on right now! They cry out with tears, “Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me! Jesus, have mercy on me!” Cry out as they do – until the Son of God comes to you with healing in His nail-pierced hands!

As we sing that little chorus, please go to the back of the room and Dr. Cagan will take you to the prayer room. Cry out like Bartimaeus, “Jesus, have mercy on me,” until He comes and brings peace to your troubled soul!

Mercy rewrote my life.
Mercy rewrote my life.
I was lost in sin,
But Jesus rewrote my life.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Dr. Kreighton L. Chan: Mark 10:46-52.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Revive Thy Work” (by Albert Midlane, 1825-1909).