Summing It Up
In the following article, taken from the end of his autobiography, Once Caught, No Escape, Norman Grubb summarizes the truth of our union with Christ that he discovered through a dark personal crisis of faith. In his own words: "The heart of the stabilizing revelation to me, and what has become the total answer to all life for me, has been that there is only One Person in the universe, and that the whole universe is His myriad forms of Self-manifestation."
Is there here an answer for the greatest inwardness, the human spirit in its rebellious self-centredness? Yes, when we discover the possibility of God as Spirit joined to the human spirit through Christ. God was form the beginning of time revealed as Spirit, confirmed by Jesus who said outright, "God is Spirit"; and Spirit is the Person within, as our human spirits are within our bodies.
So He as the author of the universe is the inner life of it. He "fills heaven and earth," therefore, is within them. He is to be finally revealed as what He really is–All in all, wh ich leaves nothing but Himself. "The beyond in the midst," the Transcendent in the Immanent. And as the One Person in the universe, He can only manifest Himself as a Person by persons.
So Jesus lived His human life, as the archetypal man, by the Father dwelling in Him (John 14:10), which was the startling surprise to His disciples who, ini their separated human outlook, expected an external revelation, when they asked Him to show them the Father. And He went on to say that this was why He had come as redeemer, so that God the Spirit who was in Him would be God the Spirit in an inner unity with all who receive Him. And that was Pentecost; not the outward manifestations which were but a means; but the end–and inner fixed consciousness of their union with Him–He in them–they in Him.
The Law of Love
So here is the final answer to the human problem. If all resources for all things on all levels are found within, what final resources are there for the most inward of all-the human self? What solution for the insurmountable self-centredness of the human spirit which is the cause of all the human chaos? And here is the answer. Christ within. The Holy Spirit within. God dwelling in us: then in that realized union through free choice, in Christ’s cross and resurrection, the human spirit of self-centredness is united to the divine Spirit of self-giving. "Dead to sin and alive unto God," man becomes a human expression of God who is love: a perfectly normal man in his perfectly normal environment with his normal human reactions and human weaknesses, yet God’s strength so made perfect in weakness that it is not we living, but He by us; just as a branch is a normal expression of the life of the tree of which it is a member.
It is John who puts into one short phrase the character of this One Person in the Universe-God is love; and love means existing to meet the need of others, with total indifference to what happens to yourself. Love belongs to need, just as Jesus who was Love in the flesh, likened Himself to bread, which ceases to live its own life in a cornfield and finds its true end in being the means by which others live. All forms of creation demonstrate this to be so, and that they are involuntary manifestations of Him whose forms they are, because everything finds its true end in being something for others: the tree becomes a table for me, the metals in the earth become my conveniences for living. But God as the Person can only be a person through persons, so that in this living union in Christ, as He is limitless love, so we are love in endless variety of expression, for "as He is, so are we in this world."
The Law of Choice
But to be a person with limitless potential means conscious freedom. To be a person is to be conscious of endless variety and to be capable of making choices from among the variety. Freedom is not being anything, but is freedom to make choices. All life is making choices, but the significance is that choices make destiny. I become what I choose. The law of choice, which is the same as saying the law of faith, is that what I take takes me. I take food. What I eat takes me! I choose a profession. I choose to become a carpenter, for instance. I apply myself and carpentry takes me over. Carpentry becomes my second nature, and I express my freedom in practicing my carpentry.
This is even said of Almighty God. How can the Scriptures say He is Almighty and then there is something He cannot do? Because they do say so. Paul says, "God that cannot lie." It is because God is the First Self, and a conscious self makes choices, and there is one fundamental choice a self makes. Should he be a self-lover or a self-giver? A liar is a self-lover, and God "cannot" be that. He is fixed by His choice. He can only be love-the Other-lover, the Self-giver.
But we humans have been caught up in the opposite choice. Through the Fall, we became enslaved to the one who had become by choice the opposite to our God of love, Satan, the devil, once called Lucifer, who became fixed by his choice as the god (the originator) of self-centredness. According to the Bible, he, as the spirit of error, entered humanity (Eph. 2:2; 1 John 4:4 and 6), and took us captive, so that it is natural to us to be self-seekers and self-lovers. And how can we be rescued ?
We have become stolen property, manifesting the character of the wrong god, and already reaping some of its poisoned fruits leading on to an eternal destiny of "everlasting destruction from the presence of the Lord and the glory of His power."
God’s Love–Our Rescue
But love belongs to need, and God is love, and we are in need. Indeed, the character of love is that need has a claim on love. That is why Paul calls himself a debtor to take the gospel to the Gentiles (Rom. 1 :14), because need is always the creditor which can claim payment from love the debtor. And that is why we are told to love our enemies, because if I deliberately hurt you as your enemy, I hurt you outwardly, but I am hurt inwardly by my wicked intent. It is not the one hurt who is in need but the hurter: and love belongs to need. So God is hurt by our rejections of Him, not because we hurt Him but because we are hurting and damning ourselves. So, being love, He gives Himself to meet our need in the person of His Son, "God in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself and not imputing their trespasses unto them." What happens to Him is not the point. Love is unconditional, and if God must die at the hands of His enemies to save His enemies, then He will die.
So Jesus lays down His life on the cross, none taking it from Him except by His own choice, and God raises Him from the dead. The whole of Scripture interprets this for us as the judicial removal of the inevitable separation of the human race from God for eternity, which is the consequence of us being law-breakers (sinners), guilty, cursed, condemned. This was completed by Him Himself voluntarily taking the place of separation from God on the cross in our place, "bearing our sins in His own body on the tree"; His outpoured blood was the evidence of the completed sacrifice. There would be no efficacy in the death of one man for another.
That is why the root of our faith, John says, lies in the fact of the incarnation, "God manifest in the flesh"; so that this was God in human form, the source and upholder of the human race, being "the propitiation for our sins" in His death. The resurrection was the evidence that the atonement was so complete that all consciousness of sin and separation had disappeared for ever, and we who believe are "justified" (Rom. 4:25), legally pronounced as like the risen Christ Himself with "no stain on our character." Forgiveness would not be enough, because though forgiven we remember what we did. Justification means we are as if the thing never happened.
A Total Deliverance
Yet the blood of Christ shed for our sins would not be enough, if Christ crucified and risen was not the means of a total human revolution, the change of gods in the centre of our personality-from occupation by the spirit of error to occupation by the Spirit of truth (1 John 4:6). To have the consequences of a permanent condition of being law-breakers, a life in hell, removed by "the precious blood of Christ," would not be enough if we humans remained possessed and continually motivated by this spirit of error. Only if there is a change of inner indwelling god, and thus change of motivation, can there be this full deliverance. And this Paul revealed to us as having been revealed to him, particularly in his Romans and Galatians letters.
When Christ died, this was the human race on that cross, for He was our representative. So in that identification He was in God’s sight "made sin." Sin is the character of the sin-spirit which produces the sins, and the human race has this spirit within it. Then in His death, it is said "He died unto sin," for death separates body from spirit, and this separated all who believe from that Use god. His burial (still representing all of us "buried with Him") indicated that there was a dead body in the tomb with no spirit. The resurrection (still we risen with Him) was the entry and union of the Spirit of God with the dead body which represented the human race. And here was the change of gods, by the grace of God, completed for all of us who exercise our free capacity of choice in receiving, recognizing and affirming our union with Him.
Now our choice changes, when through repentance (change of mind) we are ready to discard our old faith in our self-life, recognize our wrong-doings, and transfer our choice of faith to salvation through Christ. What we take, takes us. We take Jesus, He takes us; and the consequence is God’s love shed abroad in our hearts. We begin, compulsively, not of duty but by a new dynamic, the tremendous revolution of a human being, the new birth, in which for the first time in our human history we begin to love some-body else more than ourselves. We start by loving Him who died for us. But when we love Him, we also begin to love people, for He is identified with people. But it is not our love. By no means so, because human love can only be self-love. It is God’s own love shed abroad in our hearts by His Spirit (Rom. 5:5). We have begun to be, not to have the eternal love.
We have come home, the prodigal to the Father. Only it is an inner spiritual home-coming of which the parable is an outer symbol. Our home-coming is a union of spirit with Spirit. We have become branches of the Vine, one entity, one person as Head and body make a person; and as a branch is the spontaneous expression of the tree-life, we are the tree in one of its local forms.
This is what the creation of man in the image of God meant-that we should be little Christs, Jesus in human form. This is why God was manifest in the flesh in Jesus-that the meaning of manhood might be completely seen in Him and then become possible through His atoning work.
The Second Collapse
That earlier second experience I had in the Congo is what establishes us in the permanent awareness of this unity. I have sought earlier to explain a little of what it meant, but it is important enough to warrant a little repetition. At our new birth we find by painful experience that however anxious we are to be what we should be, the redeemed human self can never by itself rise above its human selfhood. We learn the hard way, by what we call "the wilderness experience," not just the guilt of not having been what we should but the helplessness of not being able to be what we should be, and the great liberation of discovering that we are not meant to be different; we cut the words "ought to" (Rom. 7) out of our vocabulary! We have this second collapse-that the self will never be more than a container of the Divine Self; the self will not change, and will not become better and is not meant to, but contains the One who is all change.
We are then conditioned to see the fact of the eternal unity, our humanity the containers of His deity: He the all, not making us something different, not giving us love or power or peace or wisdom, but Himself being all that in us; He through the unity manifesting Himself in all these characteristics of the One God by us, so that it is the fruit of the Spirit which is love, joy, peace and the rest in Galatians 5:22, 23, and not our human fruitage. So we come home. This second crisis of faith affirms this relationship, and what we take takes us: and the Spirit in His own way and time bears witness with our spirits that He and I are a unity.
Now we live the normal human life. We accept ourselves for He has accepted us; and when we accept instead of reject ourselves, we accept others instead of rejecting them. we just are ourselves, that’s all; for we are the will of God, and we are the light of the world, and we are as He is in this world. And we are free. We dare to be ourselves, instead of the old watchful fear of constant failure, because in this unity we are held, not we hold Him; and we leave Him to do the holding while we live our normal lives. We leave Him to mind His own business, and we are His business.
Finally, Our Purpose
Life has fewer strains, battles and problems-for a very good reason. As local expressions of God, and He is love, we are love in action. We are in a world, and are a part of it, which is torn asunder by the opposite of that love. We see it and feel it and are meant to see and feel. It is only when we have reactions that we are involved in situations. This is the purpose of us being humans. It is not wrong to have a human reaction to people or things. We are meant to; and our human reactions are normally negative-fear, dislike, anxiety, hate, disgust. If we were of the world, we should get caught up by these feelings and know no way of deliverance from them. Now we recognize them as having a purpose, not for ourselves; we are the branches of a Vine which is producing fruit for others; we are the body of the Person who is the Saviour and Intercessor for the world. We have passed on from a Christ for our convenience. He has become that now, fixed and settled. We are now part of a Christ for others. So we take a different point of view in our disturbing situations.
He has put us where indifferent neighbours, blasphemous workmates, disturbing social conditions have their impact on us. We have our family problems, our unsaved loved ones, our church and mission discords, our physical sicknesses, our economic uncertainties. But now they are for a different purpose. They are not for our betterment or further training or sanctification (though they may have some incidental side effects that way). They are God’s ways of revealing Himself to others by us. All life is now an intercession. We accept the unpleasant situations as from God, though apparently sometimes from the devil or man. This is what Paul meant in 2 Corinthians 4:10 by "always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus." As Jesus died to Himself at Gethsemane in accepting a death which He wished He could escape, so we die to our desire to resist or refuse what we would like to escape. This is the dying fulfilled in our bodies.
But where there is a dying there is a rising. As we by acceptance die to our hurt selves, we have a consciousness of Him living His life in us. We have a poise, faith, peace, liberty, which hurt self does not have. The life of Jesus is being manifested in our mortal body, and people see some-thing different from the usual way of behaviour in unpleasant circumstances. Then also, being freed from self-pity and self-hurt (though there is the constant hurt), we can now see along with God into something of His purposes in revealing Himself to others by us. We are freed to co-operate by the word of faith that God will do what He plans to do in the specifics He shows us in the situation. We are free to love those whose very antagonisms are proofs that they are really crying out for love, and to give acceptable witness as occasions arise.
The very hurts we so deeply feel become redemptive in stirring us to aroused human reactions which become a springboard for faith-this dying and rising with Him. God can come through to others, where He could not come through unless He first had His dying and rising human agent. So, as Paul summed it up: "Death works in us, but life in you."
What Is The Word Of Faith?
What was frustration is now adventure. But we are active agents, not passive recipients. So we go further. Faith is the one way by which we humans involve ourselves actively in anything. We think over a thing, we make a decision that we will do that thing, and then we do it. That is faith- thought, word and deed. A carpenter thinks over what kind of chair he will make (thought). He decides and maybe designs the type he will make (word). He then proceeds to get his wood and tools and makes it (deed). That is faith in action. But note that the decisive moment is the Word. That is why creation was said to be by "The Word," and why all dramatic deliverances and supplies in the Bible records of the men of faith centred in their spoken word of faith. Speaking the word for us humans means that we have come out of our inner undecided selves into becoming people of decisive action: "I will do so and so." The deed is really the outward clothing of the word, and proceeds naturally and easily from it. In creation, God as The Father was The Thinker. God as The Son was The Speaker. And from Them proceeded God the Spirit as The Doer.
A human by his faith in action can only go as far as he has human resources to utilize-a carpenter must have his tools and his wood. But we, in God, participate in the eternal resources. It is not our paltry human thinking, human affirming, human action. It is we as being He-He thinking, speaking, acting by us. So now we must watch against that sin of all sins-the sin of unbelief. Unbelief is really negative faith. It is believing the wrong way round, believing human appearances, in the hopelessness of things, in our weakness, in the dark situations of which life is full, producing fear, anxiety, pessimism. Unbelief is faith in the power of evil.
We are to replace negative faith by positive. As "gods" (John 10:34,35) we are to do as Jesus said: Express God’s faith and "say" to our mountains "Be thou removed." We are to speak the words of faith which are creative and reproductive, just because it is the word which is the decisive committal. Not asking for a thing, but declaring it as done. Calling "the things that be not as though they were." As we do this, the Spirit moves to transmute the faith into substance, because it has all along not been our human faith or human word, nor will it be our human deed. Having the mind of Christ, we take it that the direction of our thoughts and desires is His, He working in us to will of His good pleasure. Speaking the word of faith, we boldly say it is He speaking it by us; it is not we having faith in God, but having and expressing the faith of God (according to the correct marginal translation of Mark 11:22). He who gave the thought and constrained us to speak the word, does the deed.
That may include Him saying to us, "Now, I’ll do it by you." Certainly. A missionary says yes to that. It may take four or forty years. Jesus fulfilled His faith by the offering of His body to be crucified, in faith for the resurrection. He never saw the outcome of His faith this side of the grave.
Faith is the whole man in action: therefore it involves our bodies, and there is a sense in which we answer our own prayers. "It all depends on God and it all depends on me" has truth in it. That is the faith James speaks of, which without works is dead: "I will show thee my faith by my works." Having spoken the word of faith, we expect to be involved to any limit in fulfilling it. Salvation was by the offering of the body of Jesus. If love belongs to need, and we are an expression of that eternal love, then it will involve our time, our money, our physical labours, our homes, our earthly security.
There is a law, a principle at work in this, to which Jesus referred when He said, "Except a corn of wheat fall into the ground and die, it abideth alone, but if it die, it bringeth forth much fruit." Whatever form it may assume, this we take for granted-that the whole of us will be involved. Not by self-effort, not by pressing ourselves to get into action, but we shall find our-selves compelled: "the love of Christ constraineth me." We have to, and love to, right in the midst of the cost of it. For the joy set before us, we too endure our cross. Faith works by love in action. Yet through it all we know it is not our efforts, our so-called sacrifices, which bring the results. It is the faith which even through years of waiting has already declared the outcome.
This I understand to be the meaning of life and the adventure of loving. It is all inclusive, because I see the devil only as God’s agent; there is no permissive but only directive will of God. He works all things after the counsel of His own will, and it is the good pleasure of His will. He enjoys it, and so do we by faith. So there is a wholeness to being: no second causes. Even where the enemy, operating through the perverted freewill of man, appears strong and dominant, we see him under God’s directive control, already defeated at the cross, and we with the Victor "far above all." We are the privileged ones to be the channels of faith and love through our self-giving, by which the victory will be visibly manifested. The shout of a king is among us.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 13 No 2
- Summing It Up
- Editor’s Note
- Moments with Meryl
- A Look at a Book
- "Having nothing, yet possessing everything."
- The Rescue: A Trilogy of Faith – The Prodigal
- The Rescue: A Trilogy of Faith – A Sister’s Faith
- The Rescue: A Trilogy of Faith – Reunion
- Tape Talk
- Questions & Answers
- The Total Remedy
- The Mailbox
- Words to Live By…