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PRAYING FOR REVIVAL

A sermon written by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.
and preached by Dr. C. L. Cagan
at the Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Saturday Evening, April 29, 2017


Please turn to Acts 1:8. It’s on page 1148 of the Scofield Study Bible. Please stand as I read it. These are the words Christ gave to the first Christians,

“But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you: and ye shall be witnesses unto me both in Jerusalem, and in all Judaea, and in Samaria, and unto the uttermost part of the earth” (Acts 1:8).

You may be seated.

Some preachers say this refers only to the outpouring of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. They say that we cannot expect the Holy Spirit to come down to us as He did back then. But they are wrong. The last eight words of our text say, “And unto the uttermost part of the earth.” Since those early Christians did not go to the “uttermost” part of the world, Jesus was speaking to all Christians, for all time. He told them, and us, “Ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you.” Listen to what Peter said a little later, in Acts 2:39.

“For the promise [of the Holy Spirit] is unto you, and to your children, and to all that are afar off, even as many as the Lord our God shall call” (Acts 2:39).

The promise is for all Christians, for all time – for us!

So the Disciples went back to Jerusalem, and entered into an upper room to pray. What did they pray for? They prayed for the power of the Holy Spirit that Jesus had promised, “But ye shall receive power, after that the Holy Ghost is come upon you” (Acts 1:8). That promise did not end with Pentecost. Iain H. Murray said,

While Pentecost instituted a new era, the work of Christ in bestowing the Spirit did not end then... (Iain H. Murray, Pentecost Today? The Biblical Understanding of Revival, The Banner of Truth Trust, 1998, p. 21).

But we have seen only a little of that since the great revival of 1859. The main reason is the fact that most evangelicals don’t believe that conversions are miracles. They think conversions are nothing more than human decisions. They think all you have to do is get a lost person to say the words of a so-called “sinner’s prayer.” Just say those words and you are saved!

This is a return to the ancient heresy of Pelagianism – that man is able to bring about his own salvation – in this case, by saying a few words! Or by coming “forward” in a Christian service – or by raising your hand! This is raw Pelagianism – that ancient heresy, which teaches that a lost person can save himself by some action, or by saying the words of a prayer. I call it the “magic prayer.” It is actually “magic” rather than Christian. In magic you say certain words, or do certain actions, and those words or actions produce a supernatural result. It’s magic!

But every real conversion is a miracle. Listen to Mark 10:26.

“And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved? And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible…” (Mark 10:26, 27).

They asked, “Who then can be saved?” Jesus answered, “With men it is impossible.” Man in a state of sin cannot do anything to be saved or even help himself to be saved! But then Jesus said, “but not with God: for with God all things are possible.” The salvation of one person is a miracle from God! And Paul Cook correctly said, “The characteristics of revival are no different from the characteristics of any normal working of the Holy Spirit except in terms of intensity and extent” (Fire From Heaven, EP Books, 2009, p. 117).

When one person is converted it is a miracle from God. When many people are converted in a short period of time it is a miracle from God. The only difference is “in terms of intensity and extent.” When we pray for revival, we are praying for the Holy Spirit to work in the hearts of many people together.

What does the Holy Spirit do in conversion? First, “when he is come, he will reprove (convict)...of sin” (John 16:8). Paul Cook said, “People are never naturally convicted of their sin; by nature they are self-justifying. A specific work of the Spirit is required. And when the Spirit works, sin becomes abhorrent [horrible, repulsive], leading a person to hate it and forsake it.” As one girl said, “I was disgusted with myself.” If you do not have at least some conviction of sin like that, you will not have a real conversion. So we must pray for the Holy Spirit to give conviction of sin to those who are unsaved.

The second thing the Holy Spirit does in a conversion is to make Christ known to the person who is under conviction of sin. Jesus said, “He shall receive of mine, and shall shew it unto you” (John 16:14). A lost person will never know Christ personally unless the Holy Spirit makes Him known. But if you are not convicted of sin, the Holy Spirit will not make Christ real to you in salvation.

So, when we are praying for the Holy Spirit to come down in power, we are mainly asking God to send the Spirit to (1) convict the lost person of his awful sin-nature, and (2) for the Holy Spirit to reveal Christ to that person, so he may actually know the power of Christ’s Blood cleansing him from sin.

But most evangelicals don’t know what to pray for because they do not see the need of lost people coming under conviction of sin, and they do not believe in “crisis conversion” as our forefathers did. Our forefathers said that a person under conviction was “awakened,” but not yet saved. They said that an awakened person needed to go through the agony of turning away from sin, likened to a woman going through labor pains to have a baby. Only in this way, our forefathers said, could a person truly experience conversion (cf. the conversion of “Christian” in Pilgrim’s Progress).

My son, John Samuel Cagan, experienced a clear crisis conversion.

      Prior to my conversion I felt like dying...I could not find any form of peace...The Holy Spirit began to very definitely convict me of my sin in that time, but with my entire will I rejected all the thoughts I had about God and conversion. I refused to think about it, yet I could not stop feeling so tormented. By the Sunday morning of June 21st, 2009, I was thoroughly exhausted. I was so tired of it all. I began to hate myself, to hate my sin and how it made me feel.
      While Dr. Hymers was preaching, my pride was trying desperately to reject it, to not listen, but as he preached I could literally feel all my sin on my soul. I was counting down the seconds till the sermon would be over, but the pastor kept preaching, and my sins became endlessly worse and worse. I could no longer kick against the pricks, I had to be saved! Even as the invitation was given I resisted, but I just could not take it anymore. I knew that I was the very worst possible sinner I could be and that God was righteous to condemn me to Hell. I was so tired of struggling, I was so tired of everything I was. The pastor counseled me, and told me to come to Christ, but I would not. Even as all my sin convicted me I still would not have Jesus. These moments were the worst of all as I felt as if I could not be saved and I would just have to go to Hell. I was “trying” to get saved, I was “trying” to trust Christ and I couldn’t, I just could not will myself to Christ, and it made me feel so hopeless. I could feel my sin pushing me down into Hell yet I could feel my stubbornness forcing my tears away. I was stuck in this conflict.
      Suddenly the words of a sermon preached years before entered my mind: “Yield to Christ! Yield to Christ!” The thought that I would have to give up to Jesus so distressed me that for what seemed like a forever I simply would not. Jesus had given His life for me. The real Jesus went to be crucified for me when I was His enemy and I would not yield to Him. This thought broke me; I had to let all of it go. I just could not hold onto myself any longer, I had to have Jesus! In that moment I yielded to Him and came to Jesus by faith. In that moment it seemed as if I had to let myself die, and then Christ gave me life! There was no action or will of my mind but with my heart, with a simple resting in Christ, He saved me! He washed my sin away in his Blood! In that single moment, I stopped resisting Christ. It was so clear that all I had to do was trust Him; I can recognize the exact instant when it ceased to be me and it was only Christ. I had to yield! In that moment there was no physical feeling or blinding light, I did not need a feeling, I had Christ! Yet in trusting Christ it felt as if my sin was lifted off my soul. I turned from my sin, and I looked to Jesus alone! Jesus saved me.

John had a crisis conversion. He didn’t pray a quick sinner’s prayer. He went through the pain of conviction and striving. And he trusted Christ. He had what the Apostle Paul experienced. I agree with Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones that the Apostle Paul gives us an example of a real conversion in the last two verses of Romans 7. Dr. Lloyd-Jones said these verses describe Paul’s own conversion. Paul said,

“O wretched man that I am! who shall deliver me from the body of this death?” (Romans 7:24).

That is conviction! – when the sinner gives up on himself and is disgusted with his sinful heart that has enslaved him. But then Paul said,

“I thank God through Jesus Christ our Lord” (Romans 7:25).

That is conversion – when the tormented sinner is delivered by Jesus Christ the Lord! It is here, for the first time, that the sinner, who has been made to see that he is a hopeless slave to sin, finally turns to Jesus and is cleansed from sin by His Blood.

So, these are the things you must pray most for if you want our church to have a revival. First, pray for God to send His Spirit to convict lost people of sin. Second, pray for God’s Spirit to reveal Jesus to them and draw them to Him, for pardon through His death on the Cross, and cleansing from sin through His precious Blood! Thirdly and most importantly, we must pray for those who are truly saved to confess their sins openly.

Pastor Brian H. Edwards said that revival prayers are focused on “the converted, the anxious (awakened), and the unawakened” (Revival, Evangelical Press, 2004 edition, p. 127). Why are revival prayers focused on the “converted” as well as the “anxious” and “unawakened”? Because those who are converted can be backslidden. At the First Chinese Baptist Church the revival started among saved people who had sin in their hearts. They began to confess their sin openly, with tears, in front of everybody. Some had bitterness toward others in the church. Some had allowed secret sins to come into their lives. They had excused their sins, saying they didn’t matter. But as the Holy Spirit came down, they were broken hearted. They realized they were cold and dead in their prayers. They realized that they were bitter and angry toward others in the church. Others refused to do something they knew God wanted them to do.

There may be a Christian in our church who refuses to obey God on something. This can hinder revival! When revival came to Asbury College in Wilmore, Kentucky in 1970 hundreds of truly converted students felt they had to confess… publicly. They stood in line, sometimes for hours, waiting to get to the microphone in the chapel so they could confess…their [disobedience] and ask for prayer.

The man who was leading the Asbury meeting did not preach. Instead, he briefly gave his testimony, and then issued an invitation for students to talk about their own Christian experiences. There was nothing particularly unusual about that. One student responded to his offer. Then another. Then another. “Then they started pouring to the altar,” he said. “It just broke.” Gradually, inexplicably, students and faculty members alike found themselves quietly praying, weeping, singing. They sought out others to whom they had done wrong deeds and asked for forgiveness. The chapel service went on for eight days [24 hours a day].

This is exactly what happened at the First Chinese Baptist Church as well, about the same time as the Asbury revival. It went on for hours, as the young Chinese people confessed and prayed. Open confession was common in the 1910 Korean revival. Today open confession by Christians, with tears, is common in China, in the great revival going on there. Evan Roberts cried, “Lord, bend me,” as he yielded to God and became a leader in the Welsh Revival of 1905. How about you? Will you pray for God to bend you? Will you openly confess your sin? Will you get right with brothers and sisters in the church? Will you experience revival and the joy it brings? Listen to the words of “Search Me, O God.” 

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me and know my thoughts:
And know my heart;
Try me and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
   (Psalm 139:23, 24).

Now listen to the chorus, “Spirit of the Living God.”

Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.
Melt me, mold me, Break me, bend me.
Spirit of the living God, Come down, we pray.

That can happen in our church if God sends down His Spirit in a revival. Listen again to “Search Me, O God.”

“Search me, O God, and know my heart:
Try me and know my thoughts:
And know my heart;
Try me and know my thoughts;
And see if there be any wicked way in me,
And lead me in the way everlasting.”
   (Psalm 139:23, 24).

Now let me speak to those of you who are lost. Jesus shed His Blood to wash away your sin. If you trust Him you will be saved. If you would like to speak to us about trusting Jesus, please stay here in this auditorium and we will talk and pray with you. Amen.


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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Scripture Read Before the Sermon by Mr. Noah Song: Isaiah 64:1-3.
Solo Sung Before the Sermon by Mr. Benjamin Kincaid Griffith:
“Revive Thy Work, O Lord” (by Albert Midlane, 1825-1909).