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BIOLA GOES THROUGH FINNEY'S
RITUAL - WITHOUT REVIVAL

 

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

A sermon preached at the Fundamentalist Baptist Tabernacle of Los Angeles
Lord’s Day Evening, November 12, 2000

 

"All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart"
(Jeremiah 9:26).

 

What does God mean when he tells the prophet that the people were "uncircumcised in the heart"? It is a term used in Deuteronomy 30:6,
"And the Lord thy God will circumcise thine heart…to love the Lord thy God" (Deuteronomy 30:6).

This term is also used in the New Testament:

"He is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit" (Romans 2:29).
These verses show that the "circumcision of the heart" refers to conversion and the new birth. A person who is "circumcised in the heart" is converted. A person who is not "circumcised in the heart" is lost.
Evangelical commentator John MacArthur writes:
It (circumcision) was a symbol of the need for the heart to be cleansed…The real essential surgery needed to happen on the inside (MacArthur Study Bible, note on Jeremiah 4:4, with a cross reference to 9:26).
Thus, God was telling the prophet Jeremiah that the people were lost; that they had never been converted; that they had never been saved.  Now look at our text again:
"All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart"
          (Jeremiah 9:26).

Matthew Henry gives this comment on the verse:

They are heathens in their hearts, strangers to God, and enemies in their minds by wicked works (Matthew Henry's Commentary on the Whole Bible, Hendrickson, 1996 reprint, note on Jeremiah 9:26).

Outwardly these people had religion and believed in God, but inwardly, as Matthew Henry points out, "They were heathens in their hearts, strangers to God, and enemies in their minds by wicked works." In other words, these people were lost!

Now look at the text yet one more time:
"All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart"
          (Jeremiah 9:26).

Notice that God told the prophet that "all" the people were lost! Yes, God said "all" of them! Incredible? No - because God said so! Perhaps there was a remnant, but God does not say so here! They were in a condition similar to that of the world at Noah's time, when only eight people in the whole world were saved, and all the rest went to Hell (II Peter 2:5).

"All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart"
          (Jeremiah 9:26).
Now, that is quite similar to the situation among evangelicals today. W. A. Criswell thought that 75% of the members of his church were lost. Bob Gray of Trinity Baptist Church in Jacksonville, Florida said the same thing - 75% of his people were lost! A. W. Tozer gave an even higher figure when he said that nine out of ten evangelicals are lost (see Dr. Hymers' book, Preaching to a Dying Nation, for the sources of these figures, pp. 42-43).
A. W. Tozer believed that if you saw ten evangelicals standing in front of you, 9 of the 10 would actually be going to Hell! We have almost reached the point where God will say
"All…are uncircumcised in the heart" (Jeremiah 9:26).
This brings us to an event that happened at Biola University beginning on September 15th. It was widely reported as a "revival," but I question that. Here is the report of what happened, taken from the Internet. I am giving you the entire report, unedited, from the Internet:
From "InterPrayer World"
InterPrayerWorld-owner@listbot.com
To: List Member ahouk@juno.com
Date: 27 Sep 2000 22:18:53-0000
Subject: PRAY FOR BIOLA UNIVERSITY, FRIDAY,
SEPTEMBER 29, 2000, 9:30 AM - PLEASE PRAY AND
PASS ALONG!
InterPrayer World
La Mirada, CA
Biola University, one of the leading Christian Universities in the Nation, will be having a special Chapel on Friday, September 29, beginning at 9:30 in which students will be invited to share their experiences in the ongoing Spiritual Awakening and Revival.
In addition, large containers will be placed at the front of the gymnasium which also serves as the Chapel for students to place items ranging from pornography to books, letters that they have been convicted of having.
Urgent prayer is being requested for this special time that the ongoing Spiritual Awakening and Revival will continue.
Those praying are requested to send a note to
biolarevival@hotmail.com.

BIOLA UNIVERSITY EXPERIENCING REVIVAL!

La Mirada, CA
BIOLA University, one of the leading Christian Universities in the nation, experienced a Spiritual Awakening and Revival which is still continuing.
Following a regularly scheduled Chapel Service on September 15 in which the speaker shared what God had done at past Revivals on College Campuses one of the students shouted out, "Why can't God do it here!"
Suddenly, the students began to file down towards the front of the Gymnasium which the school uses for their daily Chapel services and which holds over 2,000. One after another students came to the mike [to] ask for prayer and confess sin ranging from addiction to pornography to homosexuality to a host of other sin.
Other students laid hands on other students and the confession of sin, repentance and prayer has continued. Subsequent Chapels followed the same pattern with students staying after the official chapel to continue the prayer, confession and repentance on a 24 hour basis all night, all day.
A similar Awakening happened in 1977 and students of that era had been praying for God to "do it again."
Often criticized as being simple emotionalism one alumni recalling what happened 23 years ago commented upon hearing what was happening at Biola, "I will never forget the day! My life was changed and it has stayed to this day."
Beginning in 1977 students had been praying and as some left others took up the mantle of prayer - one student staying at Biola for over 10 years solely to pray for Revival and most recently one who has been at the school solely to pray for Revival for the past seven years!
An associate confirmed this report by telephoning Ron Hafer, the Chaplain of Biola. Hafer said that for several days after the September 29 chapel service:
"Students were confessing sins openly in front of a microphone, giving and receiving forgiveness from each other publicly. After a person confessed openly, others gathered around him to pray for him. Four hundred students participated in the first chapel service, two or three hundred at a second chapel, and many others in subsequent chapels."
Chaplain Hafer went on to say that many were fasting and praying and that there are several weekly prayer meetings on the campus. He also said that four students were converted and that this was the usual number professing Christ in the fall quarter.
All of these activities were called "revival" by Hafer and by the Internet article, when it titled the article "Biola University Experiencing Revival."
Now, I am glad that these young people are praying. I am glad they are throwing away pornography and dirty books. These are good things to do - but they are not revival!
I wish people would go back and actually study the great revivals themselves. If they did that, if they studied the beginnings of the First, Second, and Third Great Awakenings, they would find that the activities at Biola were not revival at all! They were just a sad repetition of the rituals outlined by the false prophet Charles G. Finney, rituals which have never produced revival! (See Today's Apostasy by Dr. Hymers and Dr. Christopher Cagan. This book gives a full historical and theological examination of our position).
We will now deal with this subject of revival under three headings:
I. What revival is not.
II. What revival is.
III. What this means to you.

 I. What revival is not

 

Before we attempt to give a Biblical definition of revival, we will consider the subject negatively - what it isn't. I say that revival is not any of the things that happened at Biola. I say that those activities were just another hopeless repetition of the rituals and "rules for revival" given by Charles G. Finney, which have been adopted by evangelicals all around the world in our day.
In his book Revival Lectures Finney gave this definition of revival, under the heading, "What a Revival Is."
It presupposes that the Church is sunk down in a backslidden state, and a revival consists in the return of the Church from her backslidings, and in the conversion of sinners.
    1. A revival always includes conviction of sin on the part of the church. Backslidden professors cannot wake up and begin right away in the service of God, without deep searchings of heart…
    2. Backslidden Christians will be brought to repentance. A revival is nothing else than a new beginning of obedience to God…
    3. Christians will have their faith renewed (and will then be moved to win souls).
    4. A revival breaks the power of the world and of sin over Christians.
    5. When the Churches are thus awakened and reformed, the reformation and salvation of sinners will follow.
                 (Charles G. Finney, Revival Lectures, Fleming H. Revell, n.d., pp. 7-8).
Bill Bright, founder of Campus Crusade, re-gives Finney's "rules" for revival. In his recent book Preparing for the Coming Revival, Bright writes:
    How Will Revival Come?
    Revival comes…as a result of Christian people meeting God's conditions by responding to the Holy Spirit…in which God:

    --Grips His people with deep conviction, repentance, forgiveness and deliverance from personal sins.
    --Fills His people with the Holy Spirit…
    --Fills the Church and community with His presence and power
    --Ignites in His people, young and old, a passion to bring the lost to Christ…
    --Causes non-Christians to earnestly seek Him.

    (Bill Bright, Preparing for the Coming Revival, New Life, 1995, p. 10).
Here is the Finney/Bright formula which supposedly "brings revival." I am simplifying the ideas to clarify them:

       

    1. The Christian people come under conviction and decide to obey God.
    2. This leads to the lost getting saved.
Those points have been put out for so long that many think they have always been believed. But they haven't. In fact, since those ideas have been embraced, there has been no major revival!
I wonder why people don't go back and actually read what happened at the beginning of the First, Second, and Third Great Awakenings! I wonder why they don't read what happened in the revivals recorded in the Book of Acts! The points given by Finney and Bright, and copied at Biola just are not there - in history or the New Testament!
For instance, the First Great Awakening did not come about by "Christian people getting right with God." That just isn't what happened! It began in England with the conversion of John and Charles Wesley and George Whitefield. It began in America with the conversion of a large number of church people. That's how it started! There was no "preparation" of Christians! The same was true of the Second and Third Great Awakenings. Yes, a few people were praying - but the revivals came suddenly with large numbers of professing "Christians" actually getting saved.
The main theme of the Book of Jonah is revival. In this key Biblical book, even prayer itself did not precede the revival which swept tens of thousands of people into the kingdom of God. God sent the revival without anyone even praying! The preacher himself was a carnal man, certainly not an example of a Spirit-filled Christian! The entire Book of Jonah stands as evidence that God can send revival without prayer, without a Spirit-filled preacher, and without preparation of any kind. This book shows that God does not require preparation before He sends revival.
Sometimes, as in Josiah’s day, there is a preparation (II Kings 23:4-27). But we must be careful to recognize that this kind of preparation has only happened a few times historically, and is greatly overshadowed by the number of instances, such as the Book of Jonah, where there was no preparation at all. In our day "preparationism" has become a fetish, a requirement not found in Scripture.
I believe that preparationism, in this modern sense, as given by Finney, Bright, Biola and so many others, is evil because it glorifies man and actually hinders real revival!
And don't quote II Chronicles 7:14 to me. First, because it refers to "healing their land," not to reviving a New Testament church. And second, because it does not refer to you as a lost person! Lost evangelicals cannot take II Chronicles 7:14 as a promise to them because God has no covenant with them, as He did with Israel. The only covenant God has with a lost evangelical like you, is His promise to send you to Hell if you go on like you are (Revelation 21:8).
Take a look at the revivals in the Book of Acts. Where are the four "preparations" of Finney? Where are the four "preparations" of Bill Bright? They just aren't there!
Bang! God comes down and the lost are "pricked in their heart" (Acts 2:37).
Bang! God comes down and "believers were the more added to the Lord" (Acts 5:14).
Bang! God comes down and "many believed in the Lord" (Acts 9:42).
Bang! God comes down and "the word of God grew and multiplied" (Acts 12:24).
We just do not find the four points of preparation (from Finney) anywhere in Christian history or the Book of Acts!
What happened at Biola never happened in an historical revival! What happened at Biola did not happen in the Book of Acts!
Why do I make this into a major point? Simply because it is a major point! If God depended on "prepared" Christians to bring about revival, then those "prepared" Christians would get the credit - or at least part of the credit! But God says,
"For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another" (Isaiah 48:11).

God will not give His glory to anyone else. All glory must go to God alone. That cannot happen if Finney's "preparationism" is followed. A great deal of glory will go to man. That's why such "preparationism" has never preceded a major revival.

If you will go back over the account of what happened at Biola, you will notice that very little mention is made of God. A student speaks. Another student shouts. The students file forward. The students pray and confess sin. The students throw away pornography. The students lay hands on each other. And when all of this is over they say they had been praying "for God to do it." For God to do what? Everything that was done was done by man. There was no need for God to do anything to produce the activities seen at Biola. But in real revival, in classical revival, God does something which no human being can do - He awakens religious but lost professors to the curse of the law and the terror of damnation!
That is what a human being cannot produce and it is what must happen for a true classical, Biblical revival to occur.
And, another thing: "Preparationism" turns God into a "force," an impersonal "power." Like Christian Science and "name-it-and-claim-it" Pentecostalists, "preparationists" turn God into a metaphysical "power source." They say:
"Just do four things and God will flow down with power. He'll do it every time. It's the law of revival."

They believe there are "laws." If a human being obeys these "four laws," the power of revival will automatically be "turned on." That is actually an evil twisting. It turns the personal God into a "force" or "law." It is evil! God can and will decide whether to send revival. He cannot be manipulated into doing so as if He were a machine!

"For mine own sake, even for mine own sake, will I do it: for how should my name be polluted? and I will not give my glory unto another" (Isaiah 48:11).

II. What revival is

 

I have spent a great deal of time on point one, because it is a major error in our time. But now let us consider briefly - what revival is.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe that we need to pray for revival. But you cannot effectively pray for something unless you know what it is. And most people in our day have no idea what revival is - so their prayers go out like wind - into the air. We need to know what we are praying for.
Duncan Campbell, who preached in the last great regional revival of the western world, defined revival as "a community saturated with God" (quoted in Revival: a People Saturated With God, by Brian H. Edwards, Evangelical Press, 1990, p. 26). I think that is the clearest and most Biblical short definition I have read. It is true to the Bible and it is true to history. It is also what I personally experienced as an eye-witness of two classical revivals in Baptist churches (1972 and 1992).
The whole thing is God. God comes down. God makes sinners tremble with fear. That’s revival! Now listen to the prophet's prayer for revival in Isaiah 64:1,
"Oh that thou wouldest rend the heavens, that thou wouldest come down, that the mountains might flow down at thy presence…to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence!" (Isaiah 64:1-2).
When God "comes down" there is a terrible conviction of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment (John 16:8). Men and women cry out in the night for fear of judgment and Hell. They cannot be quieted or calmed. Church people know they are lost. That is what we should be praying for. We should be praying that God would come down and make lost evangelicals "tremble at (His) presence" (Isaiah 64:2; cf. II Corinthians 5:11).
This always happens in classical revival - at the beginning! Those who thought they were saved become undone and realize that they are actually lost! Confession of sins? When did it happen in church history - except in the Roman Catholic Church? Where is it in the Book of Acts? Confession of sin will bring no relief whatever from terror and conviction - when God comes down! All through the Book of Acts, religious but lost people were shown by God that they were lost and were then converted. That is what we need today. That is revival. When it comes, a whole lot more than just four people at Biola will get converted!
When God comes down to you, you will sweat and cry and tremble. Nothing will comfort you. That's revival! You will go for hours in horror. You may well go for weeks under condemnation, fear, and horrible self-hatred - when God comes down!
Millions of lost evangelicals will be torn by God when He finally does come down. They will look with horror into the open pit of flames - realizing that a just God is about to cast them in - and He is right to do so - they will then realize with terror.

 

 

III. What this means to you

 

This means that you need God to come down now - to you personally. Each conversion is a microcosm (a little picture) of revival. What God does for many in revival, He does for a single person in a conversion.
Look at Isaiah 64:2. Here the prophet prays for God to come down
"to make thy name known to thine adversaries, that the nations may tremble at thy presence" (Isaiah 64:2).

When God comes down to you, you will tremble at His presence. You will realize that you are a sinner - in the hands of an angry God! You will fear God for the first time in your life (cf. Romans 3:18). You never feared God before, but now you will actually become afraid of God.

This is very healthy and very necessary for you. Unless you become somewhat afraid of God you will never have a real conversion. "'Twas grace that taught my heart to fear." Oh, pray for the fear of God. Pray for God to come down and fill you with terror. Oh, may you experience the awful truth of Cowper's hymn:
My former hopes are fled, My terror now begins;
I feel, alas! that I am dead In trespasses and sins.
Ah, whither shall I fly? I hear the thunder roar;
The law proclaims destruction nigh, And vengeance at the door.
When I review my ways, I dread impending doom;
But sure, a friendly whisper says, "Flee from the wrath to come."
           - "My Former Hopes Are Fled,"
                     by William Cowper (1731-1800).

This was a well-known hymn of the Second Great Awakening. Alas - how few have such an experience now! Alas - how few are converted! And you are certainly not converted. You are lost! And the judgment of the law of God hangs over you as a curse (cf. Galatians 3:13).

There is no hope for you unless you feel something like that. You will never come to the Mediator unless you feel the terror of God.
"The fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge"
      (Proverbs 1:7).
"For there is one God, and one mediator between God
       and men, the man Christ Jesus" (I Timothy 2:5).
Without the fear of God, you will never see the need for the Mediator. You will never see the need for the Blood. You will never see the need for Christ, Himself. You will be content in your religion until you are damned.
Pray for God to come down and terrify you - as He did in the great revivals of the past! Oh God, open the pit of Hell and show it to lost evangelicals as their own place of torment - for ever! Oh God, terrify lost evangelicals one more time! Make "the nations tremble at thy presence" (Isaiah 64:2).

 

Scripture Read Before Sermon: Matthew 25:1-10

Solo by Benjamin Kincaid Griffith: "Revive Thy Work," by Albert Midlane, 1825-1909.

 

THE OUTLINE OF

BIOLA GOES THROUGH FINNEY'S

RITUAL - WITHOUT REVIVAL

 

by Dr. R. L. Hymers, Jr.

 

"All the house of Israel are uncircumcised in the heart"

(Jeremiah 9:26).

 

I. What revival is not, Isaiah 48:11.

                                    II. What revival is, Isaiah 64:1-2.

                                    III. What this means to you, Isaiah 64:2; I Timothy 2:5.