I learned the speaking of the word of faith as a regular principle of life through my friend Rees Howells. I listened to him in his daily talks on how the men of God in the Bible came to the point of speaking that word of faith. It gradually soaked into me that this was not some occasional, rather exotic way of handling lifes challenges, but the normal one. I saw it in the men of the Bible, and supremely in the life of Jesus Himself. Moses announced the ten plagues to Pharaoh one by one, crossed the Red Sea, got water from the rock, assured the people of daily manna each by some specific word, such as Stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord which He will show you today; for the Egyptians whom ye have seen today, ye shall see them again no more forever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peacewhen the Israelites were terrified by the chariots of Pharaoh pursuing them. Joshua, when the priests blew the trumpet, commanded the army around Jericho: Shout, for the Lord hath given you the city; David declared to Goliath, This day will the Lord deliver thee into my hand; Elijah told Ahab, There shall not be dew nor rain these years but according to my word.
Those great Bible examples could seem out of reach to us ordinary twentieth- century folk. But I observed Rees Howells at his Bible College put faith into present-day action. And I have since seen multitudes of instances of this during my years in the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade.
I had, as a young man, joined C.T. Studd in the heart of Africa, after my army years in World War I and a time at Cambridge. I had been attracted by his new venture, then called the Heart of Africa Mission, because it was founded on the principle that God alone would be the supplier of all needs according to His promises, with no appeals made to man, and no needs mentioned except to God. The Crusade has remained wholly faithful to this principle these sixty-eight years of its existence. Pauline and I lived like this with C.T. Studd and our fellow workers in the Belgian Congo, and experienced Gods faithfulness.
Meanwhile, back in Britain I had become a close friend of Rees Howells, and the first link between us was his sense of oneness in spirit with C.T. Studd, whom he had never met. From Rees Howells I learned not just an almost unnoticed walk of faith regarding the daily supplies coming from God, but a principle of faith to be definitely applied to every challenging circumstance of life, the way Jesus plainly acted in meeting every variety of need. My Waterloo came when C.T. Studd in the heart of Africa was glorified (the way we always speak of the death of Gods servants), going to the Lord in 1931 with Hallelujah! Hallelujah! as his last words. He had commissioned Pauline and me to return to the home base in England and carry on the Crusade with the thirty-five workers in the Congo, and just we two at home. That first month at home we received $500 for those workers for a month! And it was precisely then, at the bottom of a dry well, as it were, that I looked up to the glimmer of light at the top and was challenged to put into practice on my own what I had learned from others.
Speaking The Word Of Faith
I am writing this not from any special interest in the incident, but because it illustrates what we are talking about how to use the word of faith. The way we then did it is the way I and so many others still do it today. Not one iota of difference. That is why I mention it in detail: as an example of practicing the faith way as the only waythe only workable wayof living, applicable to every detail of our lives. For though learned, perhaps, in a crisis, it is then to be practiced in all our daily situations.
There were four of us together one day at the house which was our London headquarters in 1931. There was Pauline and I, one missionary recruit, and one missionary on furlough. What did we do? First we faced our negatives. Things were at the collapsing point: Trouble had arisen and many had left us. The Depression had hit and money was practically nonexistent. We had plenty of advice to give upclose the small mission, or offer it to others. (This situation was of the same kind that we are all confronted with at times, with pressing, even disastrous negatives: What shall I do about this mountain, this hopeless situation, this impossible person?)
Well, I had learned the first step from Rees Howells. Not calling on God and asking Him for deliverance; nor listening to manbut listening to God. In other words, not what we think about it, but what has He to say to us about it. Whats up, God? This is revolutionary (and has remained so) because it reverses prayer. It is not we talking to Him and bringing Him our needs, but giving Him the chance to talk to us.
For us at that time it certainly was the difference between collapse and continuing. We listened. But how does God talk to us, or we hear His voice? We have already gone into that: by knowing our inner spirit-union, then catching on to what comes to our minds as what He is saying to us. On that occasion, a thought came to us fully suitable to our special calling. We remembered that our founder, when he first went alone as a pioneer to the heart of Africa, wrote that God had spoken to him on board ship in strange fashion and said to him, This journey is not only for the heart of Africa but for the whole unevangelized world. He had added, when he wrote this home to his wife, To human reason it sounds ridiculous, but faith laughs at impossibilities and cries, It shall be done!
Well, that was certainly absurd to us. Our thirty-five in the Congo were almost at starving level, and here God was coming back to us through our founder and saying, Not only for the heart of Africa but for the whole unevangelized world. But we knew it was the word of the Lord in all this impossibility, and we accepted it. For C.T. Studd had said specifically: Faith laughs at impossibilities, and this was where he and Rees Howells talked the same languagefaith!
So the next thought that came to usHis mind in our mind (We were not doing any official praying, not on our knees. We were sitting talking, and this was our prayer!)was, What does faith mean when it comes to a matter not of theory but of action? That led us to the Bible, which was always our foundation the Bible interpreted to us by the Spirit. It seemed practical to us to turn to the experience of Joshua, for he was Moses successor and in a minute way we were successors to our Moses, C.T. Studd. So we read Joshua chapter one, and that was where Gods mind speaking through our minds put us right into focus, put us right along the lines Rees Howells had always talked about and showed us in his own life. We read how God spoke to Joshua and told him to pick up the torch that Moses had laid down and go forward into the promised land, crossing the Jordan River.
Well, that was still theory to us. Exhortation wasnt what we needed. It was how to get into action. So we read further. That interview with God closed with verse 9. Then the paragraph mark: change of subject. And here was our key illuminationa lifelong one to me. We read that Joshua called together the officers of his army and told them to make practical preparationscommissariat, food, etc.for Joshua said, Within three days ye shall pass over this Jordan. That was what struck us. By what authority did Joshua name three days and then say with total confidence that they would then cross the flooded river? God had not said that to him.
Then we saw. We got into focus how Joshua and all such men spoke their words of faith. They named their needs. They, not God. What things soever ye desire. This was the secret. The hidden key. This life is not to be we men pathetically depending on God, calling on God as though at a distance and not too willing to help. It is Gods marvelous plan of entrusting Himself to man, joining Himself to man as man. It is man speaking as God. It is union in action, just like with Moses, Elijah, and the rest. It was Joshua who, as a military commander, calculated the days needed for preparation and then fixed a timetable by the word of faith. He had got it! He understood that God had entrusted His own plans and the power for their fulfillment to His anointed agentswhich we all are. You define what you need and how much you need. Then you say so. Thats all. You say it is coming. That it is there already in your sight. Within three days ye shall pass over.
It is always our speaking our word of faith which puts a person into action. But this is not human action. It is Godaction, Spirit-action, and the river will dry up and the people cross. So we see that all hangs on this spoken word of faith, and thats all; because it really is God the Father speaking His word by His son or daughter, through whom the Spirit then moves into manifestation. Do we see this?
We did that morning. We sat together and spoke that word. We calculated our three days to be that God would start sending new recruits, the first of a great army, to fill gaps in the Congo as well as going to other lands. (We took no note of the needs of the existing workers, for we knew that was Gods normal business.) We named ten, and that as the first token of a world-wide advance to begin in the Congo. They would come in a year, by the first anniversary of C.T.s glorification. We said it, named the number, and the dayJuly 16, 1932and used that scripture we have already quoted in Mark 11:24. We believed we had received, as it says.
Next day as we gathered, one of us asked the Lord to remember and send the ten. The Spirit rebuked us. Do you ask for what youve got? If you got it yesterday, shouldnt you give thanks? So for the rest of that yearno man knowing what was happeningwe thanked, watched, and often laughed, as the ten came: called (with Bible-school training), financed, and commissioned to the Congo where they all went. The last one, Ivor Davies, was given the name Kumi in Africa, which means ten. The last £200 needed for his passage there came three days before the anniversary. We were in Belfast, in a prayer conference which began five days before, watching each mail, and the telegram came from Pauline in London: 200 pounds for the ten, Hallelujah. We heard later that it had come from two old ladies whom we had never met. So thank God for old ladies!
The next year we moved on to fifteen, the next twenty-five, the next fifty, the next seventy-fiveand they came. There would be no point in giving further details, for we are looking at principles. But I thank God that the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, coupled with the Christian Literature Crusade (which was born out of it), together have some 1500 workers, establishing the gospel in over forty fields. Thank God, today thousands around the world have confessed Christ and are themselves now forming national churches, spreading the gospel witness. The whole company of Crusaders are still living with enthusiasm on the promises of God, applying these same principles of faith to all kinds of advances. Millions of dollars now come in annually when it was but five thousand that first year. I do not mean to disregard the fact that there have been failures en route. And trials. For some there has been the glory of martyrdom, as they have laid down their lives for Christ. There are objectives of faith not yet in the visible; but on the whole, we have seen overwhelming evidences of the truth of Gods wordthat faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
What if It Doesnt Happen?
Now the question is this: Does this illustration bring home to us the fact that faith is consummated in our word of faith? For third-level living requires a catching on to the mind of God through our minds in a situation, replacing our negative thinking; then boiling it down to a clear, specific objective; then stating that objective in its direct, practical form by my word of faith; then believing that it is already in existence, because there is no time factor (past, present or future) in Gods fourth dimension. So we also, as He, call the things that be not as though they are.
Then, having done that by our word of faith, we never repeat it again in the form of a request; we dont ask, we thank. We continue repeating our thank you in our inner recognition of what is coming, for our faith has within it a sense of the thing anticipated. We already see in faith as well as speak that word of faith.
Never, of all things, do we ask, Why hasnt it happened? We surely give ourselves totally away, if, when the answer has not yet come (or even after it cannot come, for the time for the answer has passed with no answer) we say, He hasnt done what I believed for. It hasnt happened. Faith doesnt work. By that we would imply that the answer depended on our faith, and this has failed; or we have believed amiss, or something. But it is His faith expressed by us, and we are saying He has done it. Not we, but He. Therefore, if it is a done thing by the word of faith, we never say it hasnt been done. Never! For our word of faith means that we have said it has happened in the spirit. It has happened, and if someone says it hasnt happened, we still say it has happened. God will fulfill His own word. It was He who told us to say to that mountain Be gone! and to believe that, when we pray, we have received. So it has happened. Hold on! Even if we do not see things until the other side of the grave! For it was said of the men of faith in Hebrews, These all died in faith, not having received the promises but having seen them afar off, and were persuaded of them, and embraced them. But even if they did not receive the fullness, they did have a good slice of the cake en route! I believed God for a solution to a problem in our missionary work forty years ago. I expected the answer, but did not see it come, and was tempted to say, No answer. I must have been mistaken. But just now the answer is appearing.
Of course the temptation is to question. Was it my faith at fault? Was my motive right? Was I mistaken or presumptuous in speaking that word of faith? Never accept those questionings which come from our souls. They come from the recurring temptation to move back into separationas if it is not God speaking by us in our fixed union, but that we still have our separate, selfcondemning selves. Condemnation accompanied by darkness comes from beneath. Conviction accompanied by light and peace comes from above. Go back to our spirit-centers where the word is Be still, and know that I am God. If I totally trust Him with a single eye, I shall see that what appeared to me to be a mistake, or to have had some flesh motivation behind it, is not; God will give the perfect and fully satisfying fulfillment. Such times, when apparently faith does not become substance, are given us to establish us more thoroughly in the fact that we have the mind of Christ and must not recognize the false possibility that we are back in our old, divided, self-motivated outlook.
As for presumption, what that really means is that my word of faith had behind it a desire for my own satisfaction or self-display, rather than being solely for the glory of God or the benefit of others, or perhaps was meant to test Gods faithfulness. Dont be frightened by such a barb. Dont accept that in our union relationship with Christ our motives are flesh-centered. Stand to your launch out in faith, and believe that God meant it.
Sometimes, as with Paul, the exact desire, as first named, is refused: not with a No but with a far vaster Yes. Because if Paul had gotten the removal of his thorn in the flesh, we should all have forgotten about that as an incident of history. But we never forget the answer he receiveda support to the whole church of Christ in all of the pressures of lifethat Gods strength is made perfect in weakness (2 Cor. 12:7- 11). And so inwardly conscious of this did Paul become that he went on to say, Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christs sake; and then, no longer mentioning God in it, for when I am weak, then am I strong. That is union. That is Paul speaking and living as God. A far vaster answer for the centuries than a temporary healing. So here it is. Keep speaking the word of faith, as I do, all the time. Say again and again, This has happened, that has happened, for I inwardly see it has happened. Watch for the happening, and enjoy the many times you see it happen.
By now it is surely clear that this is radically different from the normal underlying faith by which all who are born-again live. In that sense all Christians walk by faith and not by sight. But on the third level, father grade, of which we are now speaking, faith is the operating agent, the one and only means by which every situation of life is authoritatively handled. We are mountain-movers. Like those in Hebrews 11, we are stopping the mouths of lions; out of weakness we are made strong. We have an appetite for tight corners, as C.T. Studd said, to give us the luxury of seeing God deliver us out of them. We are now in permanent faith-action, as Jesus was on earth. This is the commissioned third-level life, using the word of faith as naturally and continually as we make normal human decisions. It is our common habit and practice.
We say this to underline that thirdlevel livingwith the rivers flowing outward, with the Spirit mighty in us towards allmeans life is constant faith-action, way beyond the normal way of life in which, on occasions, prayer or faith is a useful resource. On this level, all life is faith-in-action. We are fathers in action.
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.
More Articles from The Intercessor, Vol 21 No 4
- Faith Lessons
- Editors Note
- To Think About
- Tape Talk
- Bible Study: The Old and New Man
- The Laugh of Faith Part 2
- A Look at a Book
- Greater Love Hath No Man
- The Intercession of Rees Howells – Queen Esther
- Letters from Norman
- Words to Live By
- What Is Flesh?
- Where Things Went Wrong, and Why
- Body, Soul, and Spirit