Intercession in Action
We begin this issue with a fascinating description of the five intercessions Norman Grubb gained throughout his life. Norman encourages us to know who we really fully are, and how we are to function as “royal priests”–with that fuller understanding and application of God’s ways through us.
Intercession has been understood by the people of God mainly as a form of intensified prayer. But plainly it was much more than that in the life of Rees Howells and, as we understand it, in the lives of the men and women of the Bible and in the history of the Church of Christ.
To put in print as maybe my last written word at the age of 95 the account of the five gained intercessions of my life can seem an egotistical thing to do, but I can’t help that. It is to me the ultimate summing up of the grace of God in the years since He first took charge of my life at age 18, to now 95, even as Paul wrote of his “abundant labors” as “yet not 1, but the grace of God with me.” They have been gained intercessions in commission, cost and completion; and I boldly say that this is the Spirit’s purpose in all our lives as manifesting the self-for-others nature of our Lord Jesus Christ in His body-members.
The Great Intercessor spoke of “the baptism I am baptized with until it is accomplished,” and His last word on the cross was “It is finished.” Paul, awaiting execution in Rome wrote, “I have fought a good fight, I have finished my course.” The two men who had such a marked influence on my life, with their dying breath were saying “Hallelujah!” three times breathed by C.T. Studd in the heart of Africa, and “Victory, Hallelujah!” in a whisper by Rees Howells, to whose life story was given the title of lntercessor. So my purpose in writing this record of “Intercession in Action as a Royal Priest” has been to outline the route, for those who have ears to hear, from Intercession Commissioned to Intercession Gained, with the principle of John 12:24 laid down by Jesus in between the two.
The Commonest of Human Clay
It may be that many of us, to the best of our understanding, have gone all the way with God. By experience we know His total indwelling of us and our inner union with Hirn as His means of expressing Himself in action. We are being royal priests, and thus intercessors, though we have not recognized ourselves as such by those terms.
It may also be, as a consequence, that we do not function and operate as royal priests and intercessors as boldly and fully as we should through “lack of knowledge” of who we really are! It is for this reason that I am bold to run over the details of my own life’s experiences. As you follow along with me, I will seek to outline the wonderful operations of the Holy Spirit by which He was Himself in action in my human form.
God works His mighty works in the commonest of human clay and with total unexpectedness, as in me. He turns simple, ordinary lives, who do give Hirn His lordship into a whole series of intercessory death and resurrection processes which result in the gaining of intercessory objectives. Just as Jesus said of the Spirit’s operation with the “born again,” that the wind blows who-knows-where-and-how, so it blows us into the undreamed-of-operations and “gainings” (Rees Howell’s favorite word) of the life of royal priesthood.
It may be the same for your life, perhaps even largely unrecognized by you in its earlier stages. And it may be that the reading of this might awaken you to know by the revelation of the Spirit who you really are and enable you to function more realistically as both king and priest.
Prayer a Stepping Stone to our Word of Faith
All of us are affected by the needs around us: a child or a neighbor or fellow worker who needs to find the Savior, someone we have been praying for for years perhaps, a fellow believer whose life is a mess, or the needs on a missionary’s heart. The point is to go on from merely prayer—even intense, continued prayer—to specific believing for specific ends. Can I really say God will do this? Can 1 say by faith what will happen in the village in Africa? People see me by my word. This is how my thinking and desiring come into public form.
You can’t throw out your word of faith like confetti, though. It takes time, having been pressed by a sense of need, to say what God will do. We collect our praying together in ourselves. This may include others–a group. Then we put it on God: “You must do this.” Our word of faith, spoken either individually or collectively, puts us into action as intercessors. I have said, “This will come to pass.” Now whenever that need comes to my attention, I affirm my spoken word of faith: “lt shall be done.”
Christ must many times have gone over the whole process of the Cross. And every choice we make, whether big like this or tiny by comparison, is a “death.” As we persist in believing, there will be a cost. But our frustrations are really our opportunities. We stick with Romans 8:28, knowing that God means Satan to do what he does, and that God will work whatever evil comes to us, whatever seeming block to our word of faith, to its more-than-perfect accomplishment. We “see” God only.
As king, we have the authority of one seated with Him on the throne, thus able to “command deliverances in Jacob” and bring things into being by achieving faith, as told us by Jesus in Mark 11:22-24 and exemplified in Hebrews 11:1-34. As priest, we are brought by the Spirit into the Lamb Life. We lay down our lives vicariously as intercessors, taking the places of those for whom we intercede. Death works in us, but life in them; and we gain the end of the intercession.
A Brief Overview of the Five Intercessions
Soon after my new birth, I began to be conditioned for being an intercessor for others. My first painful obedience of faith brought about an adjustment in living from inflow to outflow.
The first intercession took place during my five army years in World War I. This was a discipleship period of bold witnessing in my infantry battalion, both among officers and other ranks. This led to public humiliation and refusal of promotion by my colonel. A startling reversal in my battalion’s failure came when I, with my platoon, was sent in as the last hope of capturing a fortified farm. The successful capture was publicly honored by the battalion and the king. Those years headed up in my true life’s calling as an intercessor, when in hospital after being wounded in the battle of Paschendaele, I heard and responded to that call.
Then came my university period, in which a second intercession was completed in the founding of the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, now in many colleges and universities in the world. We were rather like David in his youthful encounter with and conquest of Goliath, as the little band of us stood squarely against absorption by the popular Student Christian Movement, which did not adhere to Christ crucified as its foundation. How great has been the outcome of that apparently contemptible boldness of faith.
A vital third intercession in the Congo as translator of the New Testament followed. Little did I know that when I chose to translate the New Testament into Bangala, the more common but rather despised market language of the area, it would one day become the official language of the country. And then came the last two intercessions for which I see my whole life was planned by the Spirit-Intercessor, each totally unexpected.
The first of these, and my fourth intercession, was my 35 years being cast unexpectedly and unfittedly (giving the Spirit His rightful place in a helpless earthen vessel!) into the upbuilding of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade (WEC). The WEC has grown into its present worldwide expansion from 35 workers to 1200, all on the faith basis of supply. Subsequently, there was the birth and development of the living Church of Christ in 40 countries and the birth out of WEC of the Christian Literature Crusade (CLC). CLC now has 150 literature outreach centers in 45 countries and a staff of 600.
The second of these, and presumably final intercession, has resulted in the birth and spread of our Intercessor magazine and literature, and the outreach with the message of the total reality of Christ in us and we as His re-expression in our liberated selves. Paul declared it as his second ministry of Colossians 1:23-29; and it is the glorious fact about the whole redeemed body of Christ, as each comes to “possess his possessions.”
As you run through these accounts, the Spirit may open your inner eyes (as He did mine, largely through Rees Howells) to who you really fully are, and how you are and function as a royal priest. Formerly we functioned without knowing how, but now we can do so with that fuller understanding and application of God’s ways by you and me.
For many years after his retirement as General Secretary of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, Norman Grubb traveled extensively sharing the truth of our union with Christ. He was the author of many books and pamphlets, a number of which are available through the Zerubbabel Book Ministry. Norman P. Grubb entered the Kingdom at 98 years of age.