From Disciples to Apostles
Continuing from the last issue, Norman discusses the practical application in daily life of the third fatherhood level of faith.
We experience a total move over, by the compulsion of the Spirit, to a life of unceasing love-activities in spirit and bodyfrom the discipleship to the apostleship level, from the apprenticeship to the proficiency level, from the school of faith to the life of faith yet all (as ever) on the cant help it level, with all the zest of living, the enthusiasm, the gaiety-at-heart of a permanent seriousness, where the zeal of Gods house has eaten us up.
But what does this actually mean to us individually? It means that we recognize that we never again have any other meaning to our lives except His loving others by us. For as He is the God of love and thus the total self-giver for His universe, so are we. We no longer regard our lives from the aspect of our own convenience, or pleasant or unpleasant situations or relationships, not even our physical well-being. This is the outcome of what was settled within us on our discipleship (learning) level. Jesus had to speak of that in drastic terms to awaken us from any comfortable tendencies to drift along with the tide. He had to say it shockingly: If any man hate not his father, mother, wife, children, brethren, sisters, yea, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple (Luke 14:26). Hold hard! What can that mean? How could Jesus say that? He said it like that to shock us into thinking it through. It seems so wrong, and even ridiculous, that we are forced to ask, What did He mean? It cant mean that! But when we do think it through, we see that all that ever motivated us in our unsaved days was selflove. Our love of others was really only to satisfy our self-love. My father, my mother, my wife, my children. The my was the real thing to us, not the them. The me, my, mine is all I had. And it is menot the loved ones that I hate when I come to Christ. Then when I have come, and He to me, the miracle is that the me, my, mine is changed to you and yours. I am now a you-lover, not a me-lover. And now I have the kinsmen all backto love them, rather than to be loved by them.
An Inner Detachment
But wait a minutesomething has happened! Though we do have them back to love and serve them, an inner cutoff has taken place in which we really love only One and are joined to One, and our loves for others are secondary expressions of our one love. It is no longer God first and others second. No, it is God only, and all others we love as forms of Him. There is a detaching here which will certainly bring opposition, and maybe persecution, from some loved ones who feeland rightly so that they are replaced in the center of our hearts by our Eternal Lover. But during our disciple days, lets be careful. Again, it is not by works: its not that we try to cut ourselves off from anything or anybody. No! He does the cutting off, and all He does is always beautiful; and, of course, it does not result in less concern for our loved ones but in more total concern for them to become the total people they really will be in Christ once they come to know Him, though meanwhile our attitude may appear to them as hate or neglect. Neither do we cut ourselves off from the normal way in which God provides our material security, by our jobs or investments. But in His own way He does an inner cutting off, by which we know Him as our true source of supply. Even if our employment or financial securities are taken from us, we only praise Him because He is giving us our chance of proving His faithfulness according to His Matthew 6:31-33 word about taking no anxious thought about food or clothing, but rather, seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things shall be added unto you. Many of us have proved that through the years. But again, remember, it is He who lovingly loosens us from all earthly ties until by the Spirit weve taken that flight from the alone to the Alone. He will certainly do it, because He must have us for our eternal destiny as sons expressing the Father in His Father-nature of love, and in which alone you and I can find our heart and lifes delight. But He always has His own clever ways, so that what we might fear turns out to be a joy and blessing. For all is for His good pleasure, and what He enjoys He will see to it that we also enjoy.
You should read the life of Rees Howells, the Welsh intercessor, to see a perfect example of how God turns a disciple into an apostle. He got Rees Howells point by point, to the place where the Holy Ghost had no rival in his life, until He had him finally fitted-out for his great lifes ministry of intercession.
So we see that there must be a serious weighing-up of our position on the third level, just as there has been on the first and second. We count the cost, as Jesus said. We need to face the fact that it means that we dont assess life any more on the grounds of What do I get out of it? What happens to me? or Will I achieve what Im meant to be? And when things happen to us in life, we no longer may say Why this?, as if implying we have been hardly done by. No! We see it all in terms of His fulfilling some love and saving purpose for others through it, even though at the moment we cannot see that in it.
Rivers of Living Water
While that is the negative side of this third-level life, the positive is tremendousso tremendous that it appears fantastic to our human sight. The positive is what Jesus taught about the Spirits filling. It is not simply that we thirsting ones may fully drink of Him and remain filled, but Jesus says, Stretch your believing further. The Holy Spirit didnt come merely to fill you; but from your fullness others will be filled. In other words, He is in you now as rivers of living water flowing out from you. This is Jesus fantastic statement in John 7:38: He that believeth on Me out of his inmost center shall flow rivers of living water. John, in verse 39, points out that because Jesus spoke this before the Spirit was poured out on all believers at Pentecost, therefore the shall has been fulfilled and now is!
But out of us will never flow these rivers if we forget our union reality and look at ourselves in our humanity. It then becomes a joke. Riversthrough me? But once again, there is only the one wayfaith. He that believeth on Me. So we are right back where we started. Of course, again that takes the heat off us. Jesus can save me, a sinner? Yes! Just transfer your believing to Him and you are saved. He can deliver me from the efforts of my striving self? Yes! Just reckon yourself as dead to sin and risen in Him, and now He replaces that spirit of error in you. There can be rivers of living waters flowing through me? Yes! Drop your negative believing in your weak little self, stuck away in your small, local situation and look to Him who said that rivers are flowing through those who are believing.
I took my first step into that third level (of John 7:38) as a young man, when starting out on my call to the Congo. I was so hesitant, and it seemed so absurd that rivers of the Spirit could flow out of me, that, though I did believe, I was a bit like the man who said to Jesus, Lord, I believe; help Thou mine unbelief. So I said, Lord, I believe this word, at least for a muddy trickle to flow out! But I did believe! And He has surely done more than I asked or thought! So BELIEVE which is not one whit different from the believing in John 3:16 for salvation and in Galatians 2:20 for oneness. Stand there, laughing, maybeas I didat the absurdity of its ever being fulfilled. But remember: faith is substance!
I hope that I have made it plain that the full entry by faith into this apostleship level is definitely a crisis experience involving a fixed inner knowing, as with the other two. Even so, it is true that when we came to Christ we began to be other-lovers and intercessors and witnesses, from our new birth onward. We might say that was the muddy trickle stage!
Counting the Cost
But we are now, again, speaking of something total, from which we dont look back, which becomes as fixed in us as did the other two. We are now fathers, apostles, bondslaves, co-laborers, cosaviors, intercessorsand the Spirit seals it to us. It requires of us that kind of serious counting the cost that Jesus spoke of in Luke 14:28. It is the taking up of our cross voluntarily (and for keeps), just as there was our coming to the cross, and then the taking of our place on the cross. This is now the cross-bearing for others.
I thank God that it was serious for Pauline and me. In our engagement days He was working in my heart in that direction, and He had to work on hers to seal it to us both. She got frightened when, perhaps unwisely put, I told her on one occasion, after I had been stirred by reading Charles Finneys Revival of Religion, that I had a battle and was alarmed about whether I loved her more than Jesus. So she gave me back the ring, and that really hit me, because what had seemed so clearly of God in our six-month engagement seemed to be completely broken in pieces. But the Lord kept me faithful to my Congo calling, even though in those days we were really only a family mission with half a dozen of us living in the Ituri Forest and I had to face it, now our engagement was broken, that a friend of mine had his eyes on Pauline and I might find myself in the Congo forest living side by side in the next hut to Pauline and her husband! Then an uncle of mine suggested that I drop going to the Congo and take an opening he offered as a missionary in India. It was a temptation, but I knew Gods voice well enough to know that He had called me to the Congo, so I could not turn back. When this news got back to her, she realized that we did love each other and sent an invitation to me to return. I say she proposed to me this time! So we wentand thank God we went! But the main point is that what had bothered her was now settled for both of us. Apparently she had at first said to herself, If I marry that man, God will be first, Gods work will be second, and Ill be third; and Ill be third in no mans life! But she still is, after sixty years, and I am third in hers. That settled our apostleship calling, and it was so serious a settlement that by Gods grace we have never gone back on it, and have often renewed it together.
So by one means or another, the Lord will get us fixed as firmly into this third level as He has in the second. If you see this as Gods highest and ultimate calling to you, then MOVE IN BY BELIEVINGas you did when you first reckoned on the union, before the realization came. So believe and He will confirm.
There is one other precious word which fits in with John 7:38. It is Galatians 2:8, where Paul says the Lord is mighty in me toward the Gentiles. He is in you and me, but now He is mighty, not for our interests, but with a power which will establish Him in others. Mightytoward the Gentiles. TAKE IT!
The Way of Faith
In what ways does the Spirit flow out of us as rivers? Have we any clear pointers? Yes, there are two. We shall see that He flows out of us as Spirit through spirit and Spirit through body and we shall see how He does this.
Let us look into the most basic first: the way He flows out through our spirit. That way, of course, is the way of faith, for the Spirit way is the faith way. We shall be foolish if we think we already know plenty about that way. We have hardly begun! We shall soon find, as I have, that there is plenty more to learn and apply through the whole of life.
The faith way is the one and only way by which the Spirit has flowed into us, and it is the one and only way by which He flows out. As I near the end of my days on earth, I have no more fascinating and fruitful occupation than living the life of faith in action. I join not only with those men of Hebrews 11 in their exploits of faith, but also with great men of faith of my earlier years, such as George Müller and Hudson Taylor, from whom I have eagerly picked up invaluable lessons of faith. But crowning all, for me, have been my years of intimacy with that man of faith and intercession, Rees Howells.
It was not now the faith of my own relationship to God in new birth or union that was interesting me. It was faith applied, and applied effectively, to every incident of my daily life; and beyond that, to the lives and needs of all to whom I was and am sent, or who come to me. This required of me, first, a new expansion to my seeing of things. I had learned that before I can believe, I must see what I am to believe. First, seethen believesingle sight, then simple faith. But I had double sight, and that was my confusion. I saw two powers, good and evilwith plenty of evil. How could I bring the evil within reach of effectively believing God is dealing with it?
Not Two PowersOnly One
So my first step of enlarged understanding was to discover the single eyeto step from seeing God personal to God universal. It cost me a year to get this finally and completely settled. Thank God, He put me through that painful period. It has altered all my many yearsthis seeing and knowing how to believe with no weak spots in any situationand made me able to help others to do the same. As I say, the change didnt depend on the believing, but on the knowing what I could believe. There had to be an expansion of my inner understanding before there could be an expansion of believing.
I first had to have a shockand this was Gods way of shocking me: In the course of my reading, I ran across William James Varieties of Religious Experience. As I read, it seemed to me that he was saying that Pauls conversion was just an inner self-adjustment, not an outward meeting with God on the road to Damascus. I may have misread him, but God meant me to read it like that, for my benefit: a negative to fit me for a total positive! Its effect on mecrazy though it may seem to you of more settled faithwas suddenly to make me wonder whether, after all, there is a human self-sufficiency with no need of Godand perhaps even no God! In other words, I did not have an all-encompassing faith which answered all possible doubts and questionings. But I needed a God with no possibility of a hole in Him.
That sent me on a desperate search. I must have a total God or nothing. Indeed, I went so far as to say to God, if there was a God, that Id had a twentyyear love affair with Him He was all in all to me so if He really was phony and non-existent, I would choose to be phony also, and in my love would cling to Him and be a phony along with Him. Love weathered the storm when the faith boat was being rocked. I went through a years search with much agony of spiritbelieving, yet not believing. I need not go into details, except to say that, helped somewhat by the great mystics in their pursuit of and finding union with God, I too finally had a great inner recognition that He is all. That is why I am so strong on that now His being all has meant for me, ever since, that whatsoever there is in the universe, of whatever kind whether good or evil, negative or positive, including Satan and all his worksGod is the source of all, for He is the True All, the Alpha and the Omega. (I am not saying at this moment how that can include evil as well as good, but will explain that shortly.) But it became burned in me like a brand that I am one with Him in whom the universe is one. It is like a permanent inner light in me, for He is light and we are light. Some talk of a cosmic consciousness, and this became that to me, and I am branded.
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 also carried on a huge personal correspondence with individuals throughout the world. He was the author of many books and pamphlets, a number of which are available through the Zerubbabel Book Ministry. Norman lived with his daughter, Priscilla, in Fort Washington, PA. Norman P. Grubb entered the Kingdom at 98 years of age.