There is a Second Blessing
As a missionary with C.T. Studd in the Congo along with his wife, Pauline, Norman Grubb soon recognized that he did not have the love, power, and wisdom it took to fulfill his calling. The following excerpt from Norman ‘s autobiography, Once Caught, No Escape, describes how he discovered the solution to his (and our) dilemma: the liberating secret that we humans were not designed by God to become something but to contain Someone.
A friend of Pauline’s, Dr. Isa Lumsden, was sending her a little paper called The Overcomer, published by Mrs. Penn Lewis, well known in England as a Bible teacher. But what she wrote about didn’t make sense to us. She was not speaking about Christ dying for us, but of our being crucified and dead with Him, and risen with Him. That was all new to us. At first it didn’t register much with us, except that we felt there was something there we hadn’t got hold of yet. But our need was great. We had heard others at Cambridge and other places speaking of knowing that you are filled with the Spirit, especially Barclay Buxton, the father of Alfred, whom we undergraduates were fond of getting down to talk to us. Pauline and I knew that we had no such inner witness, and we desired it. We had one canoe journey to do for some days on the Aruwimi River, a tributary of the Congo, stopping at villages every now and then on the banks. I spent the intervening hours studying a commentary on Romans by an American, I think Stifler by name. Light began gradually to dawn on the meaning of this identification with Christ in His death and resurrection.
Finally, we were out for a visit to a dear and zealous African brother, Bangbani. He was the only light in his chiefdom, and what a welcome he gave us to his little plantation, throwing his well-oiled arms around us so that we came out of the embrace looking like zebras. That night he gave us his best, his cook-shed, with a few banana leaves strung around for privacy, and our two camp-beds in it. The equipment we brought to the Congo and which was our house furniture was a canvas camp-bed each, with mosquito net, a canvas camp table and chair, enamel plates and cups, and cooking pots. That, besides our clothing, which for us men was just khaki shirts and shorts, with stockings or puttees week in and week out–very sensible and comfortable–was the main part of our living necessities.
But when Bangbani left us we could not go to bed. The full moon was out and it was all quiet in the banana plantation except for the usual chorus of insects, with the moon shining between the great banana leaves. So we took the two little camp chairs and sat outside in the moonlight. There is not much trouble with mosquitoes in that area. We had decided together that we would wrestle this thing out with God, and specifically claim then and there that we should be filled with the Spirit. It was only later that we got our theology more in line–to discover that He in His fullness had always been there–His Spirit joined to ours, since we had been born again: and that what we needed was not a filling from outside, but a witness borne to the existing living relationship. We took Galatians 2:20 to be the fact by faith: “I am crucified with Christ, nevertheless I live: yet not I, but Christ liveth in me” and we went to our camp beds around 4 a.m., having accepted the matter as settled by faith. We awoke no different; but I took a postcard and drew a tombstone on it, and wrote “Here lieth Norman Grubb buried with Jesus.” Probably we all have to get settled on the reality of this death experience before the resurrection can be uppermost in our consciousness. At least that was the period I was in.
Nothing further happened to me in relation to this for a couple of years. For Pauline, it was different, and she tells how a few days afterwards, when sleeping alone in a native hut, the hut was filled with a consciousness of His presence and a voice confirming to her that their union relationship was fixed for ever.
Two years later I was at home and visiting this same Mrs. Penn Lewis whose little magazine had first awakened our interest. I had gone to her to talk over our perennial problem of tensions on the field, but I think she must have observed that beneath this I had my own need, for instead of talking about the problem she told me what happened when she had been “baptized with the Holy Ghost,” as she called it, and the power of God had come on a group of young people she talked with that night. As she talked, it was like a great light lit within me, bringing the inner awareness which has never left me since, of Christ living in me; and living in such a sense that it was not I really doing the living, but He in me, in His Norman form. The Scripture against which I had written my name and date that next morning in Bangbani’s village had become permanently alive to me–this great Galatians 2:201.
There was a great deal I had not yet got into focus; those clarifications had to follow later; but one tremendous fact had become fact to me, and the passing years and deepening understandings have only underlined it as the fact of facts–that the secret of the universe, and the key to my own life, is simply the Person Himself in me; as Paul had put it, “The mystery hid from ages and generations but now made manifest to His saints…which is Christ in you.”
I had been drawn to and sought an answer before in “holiness teaching,” especially through Barclay Buxton at Cambridge, and from him and others I had caught it that there is an inner fixation, a settling in by which we can know that we are not only born of the Spirit but filled with the Spirit, and which I knew I did not have. But I had some mistaken ideas. I had thought that I myself as a human would be made holy, and thus not respond as before to irritability, lust, pride and so forth; that an actual change would take place in me. I had tried this way, taken it by faith that this “entire sanctification” had become fact in me; but it had not worked. These same things continued to make their appearance in me. But now I was seeing something different. My humanity did not change.
I had to learn later that it is not meant to change, because every potential of my human nature is there to be an agency by which Christ can reveal Himself. Sin is not my various faculties or appetites, but shows itself in the misuse of them, when they are stimulated by temptation into action in a wrong direction, and I wrongfully struggle, as in Romans 7, to overcome what independent self can never overcome. It is the independent self which is the sin principle, for independent self is and can only be self-loving, therefore I am helpless in myself to resist the stimulation. But, another Self, God Himself–Father, Son and Spirit–has now so become the centre of my being that I am merely the vessel containing Him. Now, knowing this, my attention is no longer centred on myself, the vessel, and fighting against my fears or depressions or what not and expecting change in myself, and disappointed and condemned when it doesn’t happen. No, I accept myself. The vessel doesn’t change, but it contains Him, Christ living in me, joined to me, Spirit with spirit.
It is the same idea as when a room is dark. We don’t centre our attention on the darkness. The darkness is not wrong, unless it is misused; we accept it but don’t struggle against it; we just replace it! We look for the switch and turn on its opposite–the light. And when the light is on, where is the darkness? It is swallowed up. It is there in the sense that it appears immediately again when the light is off, yet it is not there to my consciousness with the light on. So now this awareness of Christ in me is the permanent switching on of the light, and the permanency is the importance. I now live in a new consciousness. At any time I am temporarily conscious of temptation which can lead to sin, but that does not mean that He who is the light has gone from my inner centre. He is the permanency; and the appearance of Him being not there, and of me being in the dark is an illusion. I have been tricked into moving back from eternal reality to temporary appearance. The change is in my consciousness, not in the fact.
So I learn to live by the repetition of recognition, which is the practice and habit of faith. He in me is the all, the joy, power, wisdom, victory–all. I transfer my attention, my recognition, my affirmation from the human vessel to Him whom it contains: and that is switching on the light; and the light swallows up the darkness; yet the darkness was needful to give manifestation to the light. And when I do fall into a sin, which I do, the forgiveness for all sins was pronounced from Calvary two thousand years ago; therefore the forgiveness was there before the sin, and I can boldly appropriate that.
So this had become the central fact of our lives–Pauline’s and mine–which has to become so in every life–call it by what name we like–the Second Blessing, Entire Sanctification, the Baptism of the Spirit, the Fullness of the Spirit, the Second Rest, the Exchanged Life. We can only live by what becomes part of us, not by something imposed from without and clung to by us. In the new birth, Christ has become real and personal to us as a Saviour, the Spirit has borne inner witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. So again in this second realization, Christ has become known to us, not merely as the Saviour from our sins but also as the One who is living our lives. Then it was His righteousness in place of my sins; now it is His Self in place of myself. This actually took place at the new birth, but, for nearly all of us, we cannot yet see deeply enough into the roots of our problems, which is our self-reliant selves, to be conditioned to see Him as the Divine Self living His life through our human selves. We have to go through our “wilderness” experience, all of us, redeemed but still regarding Him as separate from us; and we seeking to live the new standards of Christian living as best we can, but with constant failures, self-disgust, strains and stresses we cannot handle. We had a first collapse when we recognized our guilt as lost sinners and came to Him for salvation. We have a second collapse when, now redeemed, we discover our helplessness. First we had learned we had not done what we should. Now we learn that we cannot do what we should. And so, as after the first collapse, we were conditioned to see and affirm His blood replacing our sins; now, after the second collapse, we are conditioned to see and affirm Himself replacing ourselves.
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.