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by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

A sermon preached at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord's Day Evening, July 19, 2015

“This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29).

Yes, I am preaching another sermon on this text. But I will say more about it tonight. I must be doing the right thing, because I have been attacked by the Devil for several days! I have had more difficulty preparing this sermon than any other one in the past year or two. At one point I felt like I was being directly attacked by Satan. I know some people (even some preachers) may think I’m exaggerating. But I’m not. I am convinced that I have been under direct attack by demons since last Sunday night. From the time I preached on this text last Sunday night I have been sick and mentally blank. Then suddenly it became clear to me that God wanted me to preach on Mark 9:29 a second time. But Satan was doing a great deal to confuse me and keep me from doing it.

Last Sunday night (“Prayer and Fasting in the Age of Obama”) I gave you six reasons why the words “and fasting” should not be removed from the end of Mark 9:29. All the new translations remove those two words. The Greek text that removed those words was the Sinaiticus manuscript that Tischendorf (1815-1874) discovered in St. Catherine’s Monastery in the Sinai Peninsula, about 400 miles from Alexandria. That is the area where Gnosticism flourished, with its rejection of the physical world and its focus on the immaterial.

St. Catherine’s Monastery was built in 548 A.D. The Sinaiticus manuscript was copied by hand about 360 A.D. That seems to indicate it was transported from somewhere else, possibly from Alexandria itself. The more I study this, the more I am convinced that Gnosticized monks left out the words “and fasting” because it didn’t fit their views.

We have to look at a problem like this with a Christian mindset, a mindset that takes demons and Satan very seriously. Is it a coincidence that the Sinaiticus manuscript was discovered in the “last days” of this dispensation? Is it a coincidence that this manuscript was discovered during the same time that “decisionism” replaced conversions in our churches? Is it a coincidence that the churches were being infiltrated with demonic doctrines during the same time this manuscript was promoted throughout the world? Is it a coincidence that the “decisionism” of Finney, the baptismal salvation of the Campbellites, the three gods of the Mormons, the attacks on the Bible by the liberals, the works-righteousness of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, and the Sabbatarianism of the Seventh Day Adventists, all came into being within about 50 years of each other in the 19th century? Is it a coincidence that Darwin’s books on evolution were published during this same period? Is it a coincidence that the last major revival in the Western world occurred in 1857-59, during the same time period that Tischendorf discovered the Sinaiticus manuscript? Is it a coincidence that there has never been a major revival in the Western world since the words “and fasting” were removed by the discovery of the Sinaiticus manuscript? How could they be coincidences? No, this period saw some of the greatest attacks against orthodox Christianity in history – and the removal of “and fasting” is one of them!

We are given a special warning about demonic activity in the last days. The Apostle Paul said,

“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times [later times] some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils” (I Timothy 4:1).

Dr. Henry M. Morris said,

 These deceiving spirits, serving their prince, the Devil, are the invisible forces behind the latter-day departure from the faith. Their ultimate aim is to bring men and women to follow Lucifer, or Satan, but they must do this by devious, rather than open, means” (Henry M. Morris, Ph.D., The Defender’s Study Bible, World Publishers, 1995, p. 1345; note on I Timothy 4:1).

Though I disagree with him on the Blood of Christ, Dr. MacArthur said this demonic activity will reach “a climax shortly before Christ returns” (The MacArthur Study Bible; note on I Timothy 4:1).

I am convinced that demons “are the invisible forces behind” the great errors of the “later times” – errors such as “decisionism,” Campbellism, Mormonism, Seventh Day Adventism, liberalism, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Christian Science, and re-energized Islam. The Devil knew that prayer and fasting was a powerful tool in the hands of Christians. The Devil also knew that Mark 9:29 and Matthew 17:21 are the only places in the New Testament that tell us the power and necessity of fasting and prayer. Without those two verses there is no direct teaching on fasting from the mouth of Jesus. Think about that! No specific teaching of how and why we should fast when the words “and fasting” are removed! Is it a coincidence that our churches have become weak and powerless since the words “and fasting” have been removed? I don’t think so! Not at all!

In previous times pastors understood that the demonic was behind false religion. Also, in earlier times, preachers understood that Satan and demons could sometimes be so entrenched that they could not be overcome by prayer alone. They would then turn to Christ’s admonition, “This kind can come forth by nothing, but by prayer and fasting” (Mark 9:29). All of the evangelists and major preachers before the second half of the 19th century knew that John Wesley (1703-1791) was right when he said, “Some kinds of devils [demons] the apostles had cast out before this without fasting” – but “This kind of devils [demons] goeth not out but by prayer and fasting – What a testimony is here of the efficacy of fasting, when added to fervent prayer” (Wesley’s Notes on the New Testament, vol. 1, Baker Book House, 1983 reprint; note on Matthew 17:21).

All of the great Reformers fasted and prayed – Luther, Melanchthon, Calvin, Knox – all of them fasted and prayed! Fasting and prayer were used by great preachers like Bunyan, Whitefield, Edwards, Howell Harris, John Cennick, Daniel Rowland, McCheyne, Nettleton and many others. But now, to use the words of Dr. Lloyd-Jones, “The church is drugged and is deluded; she is asleep, and is not aware of the conflict [with Satan] at all” (Martyn Lloyd-Jones, M.D., The Christian Warfare, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1976, p. 106).

 Christ’s instruction to “pray and fast” should not be applied only to casting out demons, but in any case of conversion, especially hard cases – and, in the last days, all cases seem to be harder and harder! Dr. Lloyd-Jones said, “Even short of direct possession we must recognize the fact that our adversary, the devil [exercises] a tyranny and power over many. We have to understand that we are fighting for our lives against some tremendous power. We are up against a powerful adversary” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, part 2, Eerdmans, 1987, p. 148).

We are fighting a spiritual battle. The forces of Satan are growing ever stronger. We pray for the conversion of the lost and nothing happens. They do not come under conviction of sin. They do not feel their need for Christ. They refuse to come to Him. Their minds are dark, their whole understanding of spiritual things is darkened. We continue to pray, but still nothing happens. Very few new people come into the church and stay. We feel like giving up. But, wait! There is more! Dr. Lloyd-Jones said,

“I wonder if it has ever occurred to us that we ought to be considering the subject of fasting? The fact is, is it not, that this whole subject seems to have dropped right out of our lives, and right out of our whole Christian thinking” (Studies in the Sermon on the Mount, part 2, p. 34).

When the Wesley brothers prayed and fasted, things happened. Charles is often overshadowed by his brother John. But when Charles Wesley preached it has been reported that even greater numbers of conversions occurred many times. Can’t you feel the power of God coming down when Charles Wesley sings!

He breaks the power of cancelled sin,
   He sets the prisoner free;
His blood can make the foulest clean;
   His blood availed for me!

Jesus! the name the charms our fears,
   That bids our sorrows cease;
‘Tis music in the sinner’s ears,
   ‘Tis life, and health, and peace!
(“O For a Thousand Tongues to Sing” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788;
       to the tune of "O Set Ye Open Unto Me").

Jesus, Lover of my soul, Let me to Thy bosom fly,
   While the nearer waters roll, While the tempest still is high:
Hide me, O my Saviour, hide, Till the storm of life is past;
   Safe into the haven guide, O receive my soul at last!
(“Jesus, Lover of My Soul” by Charles Wesley, 1707-1788).

Those are beautiful hymns by Charles Wesley!

Turn with me to Isaiah, chapter 58. It’s on page 763 in the Scofield Study Bible. Isaiah 58, verse 6. Stand as I read it.

“Is not this the fast that I have chosen? to loose the bands of wickedness, to undo the heavy burdens, and to let the oppressed go free, and that ye break every yoke?” (Isaiah 58:6).

You may be seated. Please underline that verse in your Bible.  That verse describes the correct way to fast. It also shows the kind of fast God wants Christians to do. I want you to memorize it. It’s our new memory verse, Isaiah 58:6. A godly fast

(1) can loose the bands [chains] of sin.
(2) can undo heavy burdens.
(3) can set the captives free.
(4) can break every yoke.

Arthur Wallis said, “A fast will strengthen the intercessor [prayer warrior] to maintain pressure until the Enemy [Satan] is compelled to loosen his grip on the captive. This is [how God gives] deliverance from the power of Satan” (Arthur Wallis, God’s Chosen Fast, 2011 edition, p. 67). I want those who have already memorized the verses in Malachi to now memorize Isaiah 58:6.

We will have another day of fasting in our church this coming Saturday. I want to give you some points on how to do it.

1.  Make your fast a secret (as much as possible). Don’t go around telling people (even your relatives) that you are fasting.

2.  Spend some time reading the Bible. Read some parts of the Book of Acts (preferably near the beginning).

3.  Memorize Isaiah 58:6 during Saturday’s fast.

4   Pray for God to honor the fast by answering our prayers.

5.  Pray for the conversion of our unsaved young people (by name). Pray for God to do for them what He said in Isaiah 58:6.

6.  Pray that first time visitors today (Sunday) will be drawn back again next Sunday. Pray by name if possible.

7.  Pray for God to show me what to preach next Sunday – in the morning and in the evening.

8.  Pray for the invitation-only prayer groups our young people have (there are three of them). See John Samuel Cagan if you are interested.

9.  Drink lots of water. About one glass each hour. You can drink one large cup of coffee at the beginning if you are used to drinking it every day. Do not drink soft drinks, power drinks, etc.

10. See a medical doctor before you fast if you have any questions about your health. (You can see Dr. Kreighton Chan or Dr. Judith Cagan in our church.) Do not fast if you have a serious disorder, such as diabetes or high blood pressure. Just use Saturday to preay for these requests.

11. Begin your fast after your evening meal on Friday. Don’t eat anything after dinner on Friday until we have a meal at church at 5:30 Saturday evening.

12. Remember that the most important thing to pray for is for the lost young people in our church to be converted – and also for the new young people coming in during this time, to stay with us permanently.

Actually it will be the Lord Jesus Christ who looses the chains of wickedness, undoes the heavy burdens of sin, lets those who are oppressed by Satan go free, and breaks every demonic yoke. Jesus Christ does those works, but we must pray and fast to God for Jesus to release the power of God’s Spirit in our church, to give us salvation and deliverance among the new people and lost church kids! We will give you a printed copy of this sermon to take home. Re-read it, and go through those 12 points each time you pray on Saturday.

Now, I will give a few words to those of you who are not yet converted. Jesus died on the Cross to pay the supreme penalty for your sin, so you will not be judged for your sin. Jesus rose physically, in His resurrected flesh and bone body. He did that so He can give you everlasting life. Jesus ascended back to the right hand of God in the Third Heaven. You can come to Him by faith and He will save you from sin, and the judgment! God bless you. Amen. Dr. Chan, please lead us in prayer.

Below is an article on the Sinaiticus manuscript taken from a posting by “One Little Nail” on the “Puritan Board” blog, December 24, 2013.

Following is the story of how Tischendorf found the Codex Sinaiticus:

"In the year 1844, whilst travelling under the patronage of Frederick Augustus King of Saxony, in quest of manuscripts, Tischendorf reached the Convent of St. Catherine, on Mount Sinai. Here, observing some old-looking documents in a basketful of papers ready for lighting the stove, he picked them out, and discovered that they were forty-three vellum leaves of the Septuagint Version. Some enemies of the defense of the King James Bible have claimed that the manuscripts were not found in a "waste basket," but they were. That is exactly how Tischendorf described it. "I perceived a large and wide basket full of old parchments; and the librarian told me that two heaps like this had been already committed to the flames. What was my surprise to find amid this heap of papers..." (Narrative of the Discovery of the Sinaitic Manuscript, p. 23). John Burgon, who was alive when Tischendorf discovered the Codex Sinaiticus and also personally visited St. Catherine's to research ancient manuscripts, testified that the manuscripts "got deposited in the waste-paper basket of the Convent." (The Revision Revised, 1883, pp. 319, 342)

So, it certainly appears to me that the Orthodox monks evidently had long since decided that the numerous omissions and alterations in the manuscript had rendered it useless and had stored it away in some closet where it had remained unused for centuries. Yet Tischendorf promoted it widely and vigorously as representing a more accurate text than the thousands of manuscripts supporting the Textus Receptus. Furthermore, he assumed that it came from about the 4th century, but he never found any actual proof that it dated earlier than the 12th century.

Consider these facts and oddities relating to the Codex Sinaiticus:

1.  The Sinaiticus was written by three different scribes and was corrected later by several others. (This was the conclusion of an extensive investigation by H.J.M. Milne and T.C. Skeat of the British Museum, which was published in Scribes and Correctors of Codex Sinaiticus, London, 1938.) Tischendorf counted 14,800 corrections in this manuscript (David Brown, The Great Uncials, 2000). Dr. F.H.A. Scrivener, who published A Full Collation of the Codex Sinaiticus in 1864 testified: "The Codex is covered with alterations of an obviously correctional character—brought in by at least ten different revisers, some of them systematically spread over every page, others occasional, or limited to separate portions of the manuscript, many of these being contemporaneous with the first writer, but for the greater part belonging to the sixth or seventh century." Thus, it is evident that scribes in bygone centuries did not consider the Sinaiticus to represent a pure text. Why it should be so revered by modern textual critics is a mystery.

2.   A great amount of carelessness is exhibited in the copying and correction. "Codex Sinaiticus 'abounds with errors of the eye and pen to an extent not indeed unparalleled, but happily rather unusual in documents of first-rate importance.' On many occasions 10, 20, 30, 40 words are dropped through very carelessness. Letters and words, even whole sentences, are frequently written twice over, or begun and immediately cancelled; while that gross blunder, whereby a clause is omitted because it happens to end in the same words as the clause preceding, occurs no less than 115 times in the New Testament." (John Burgon, The Revision Revised)It is clear that the scribes who copied the Codex Sinaiticus were not faithful men of God who treated the Scriptures with utmost reverence. The total number of words omitted in the Sinaiticus in the Gospels alone is 3,455 compared with the Greek Received Text (Burgon, p. 75).

3.  Mark 16:9-20 is omitted in the Codex Sinaiticus, but it was originally there and has been erased.

4.  Codex Sinaiticus includes the apocryphal books (Esdras, Tobit, Judith, I and IV Maccabees, Wisdom, Ecclesiasticus) plus two heretical writings, the Epistle of Barnabas and the Shepherd of Hermas. The apocryphal Epistle of Barnabas is filled with heresies and fanciful allegorizing, claiming, for example, that Abraham knew Greek and baptism is necessary for salvation. The Shepherd of Hermas is a gnostic writing that presents the heresy that the "Christ Spirit" came upon Jesus at his baptism.

5.  Lastly, Codex Sinaiticus (along with Codex Vaticanus), exhibits clear gnostic influence. In John 1:18 "the only begotten Son" is changed to "the only begotten God," thus perpetuating the ancient Arian heresy that disassociates the Son Jesus Christ with God Himself by breaking the clear connection between "God" of John 1:1 with "the Son" of John 1:18. We know that God was not begotten; it was the Son who was begotten in the incarnation.

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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Abel Prudhomme: Mark 9:17-29.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“I Would Be True” (by Howard A. Walter, 1883-1918).