You Simply Receive
Excerpt taken from The Key to Everything, by Norman Grubb, published by CLC Publications, Copyright 1960. www.clcpublications.com.
Essentially from eternity there has been only one Person. This is difficult to realize. Yet throughout the Word of God it is underlined. God was before all: He is the beginning and the end, the alpha and the omega. He is love, He is inconceivable beauty. He is the all. If that is so, then the link between HIm and us, whom He has created, is the link between the One and the means of manifesting or making known the One. In other words, our relation to Him is that of containing Him in such a way that He may be recognized.
That is why the primary function of all creation, animate and inanimate, is receptivity. Your basic function, and mine, is the same—to simply receive.
This is demonstrated, silently, around us all the time. It’s never better seen than in the spring-time.
If there were no receptivity in the trees and flowers and shrubs, we would have a desert around us. These things spring to life because of their quiet reception of the sunlight and moisture poured on them. What they receive they utilize. But utilization is secondary to reception.
In Biblical language, we call this faith.
Better Seen Than Said
But no finite language can completely portray the infinite. So different illustrations are necessary in order to complete the picture of our relation to Him.
Look at the number of times the Bible calls us vessels. “We have this treasure in earthen vessels that the excellency of the power may be of God, and not of us.”1 We are “vessels unto honor, sanctified, meet for the Master’s use, prepared unto every good work.”2
Now you see at once the beauty of the illustration: a vessel is a hollow object made to contain something. And God has made us vessels.
Of course, if God makes us vessels, His intention is to fill us. God doesn’t fool with His creation; if He made anything to be filled, He must see to it that it gets filled.
This fact underscores receptivity—our receptivity. The whole function of the vessel is to receive something.
Now get this clear: the vessel never becomes the liquid, nor the liquid the vessel. I add this because we humans are so proud that there creeps into us the idea that we can be deified. That is blasphemy. There is no such thing as self-deification, except that of Satan, the pseudo-god, and what we share with him. The divine can dwell in the human, but forever the human is the human and the divine the divine. God has said, “I will not give My glory to another.”3
That is the vital importance of the vessel illustration: we are forever the container; He is that which we contain. That relationship never changes.
But there are other illustrations which both Jesus and Paul used which give us an enlarged picture of our position as receivers.
The famous one is that used by Jesus when He likened Himself and ourselves to the vine and the branches. Now we get a vital, active relationship. We begin to see that the illustration of the vessel is only part of the truth. A vessel is a dead thing and separate from that which is poured into it. From the vessel illustration you might be led to picture us as simply passive containers. But we’re not.
So Jesus gave us the vine and branches illustration. Through this our eyes are opened to the secret of the universe: union—the mystery of the universe: how two can be one and yet remain two.
In this dimension, infinite truth is always in the form of paradox. We never get beyond facts that are seemingly contradictory to common sense. In this dimension we can never fully comprehend truth through our senses. Our reason cannot teach it to us. We have to live with opposites which don’t meet, with facts that are, to our understanding, not completely logical. It is good for us to recognize this, and to learn to accept both sides—both ways of knowing—in their proper proportions.
This illustration of the vine and the branches is one of those paradoxes.
The living God, the living Christ, and I actually become one person and function as one person. Separation is impossible. It has disappeared. We function entirely and forever and naturally as one person. And yet we remain two!
The Mystery We Live In
Two in one; one in two. We see the paradox in the vine and the branch illustration because, though the vine and the branch make one, Jesus says that the branch must “abide in the vine.”4 Though the vine is the life and the branch the channel, yet the branch does things. It utilizes the sap and produces leaf and flower and fruit.
But its activity is secondary to its receptivity. This is where we fail. We make activity a substitute for receptivity. It is its outcome.
Paul gave us another illustration: that of head and body. Head and body make one organism, one life.
You can’t divide head and body. My name is Norman Grubb. But my head is not Norman and my body Grubb! You can’t divide the two.
The Bible tells us the same thing. For instance,
1 Corinthians 12:12 speaks of the body of Christ as being Christ. It says, “As the body [the body is, of course, the believers joined to Christ] is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.” The body is called Christ—not just the head.
The New International Version puts this even more clearly: “The body is a unit, though it is made up of many parts; and though all its parts are many, they form one body. So it is with Christ.”
We are part of a vital organism which is an ascended, glorious, perfect Christ—the eternal Christ.
We are part of Him, yet we remain ourselves.
Self-Confidence Is Not Security
In that relationship we are all dependent. Exactly as the body is dependent on the head and the head governs the body, so we forever remain the dependent member in the union.And the union is never safe until we know that.
So, until you have a few good knocks on the head and discover your conceited self, you’re not safe to know the union. Maybe you’ve had plenty of knocks. They’re the healthiest thing we can have. We’ve got to be made safe and understanding for this tremendous relationship.
He is the Lord. We are the cooperators. We are receivers.
Basically every one of us has regarded life as something we must live, although we are glad to have the help and grace of God to assist us. Even though we are redeemed people, without realizing our error, we rely mainly on our self-activity.
Basically, every one of us has thought, “We’re the people; let’s get on with the work.”
That is the reason for the long periods of training through which, we read, God took all His servants in Bible times. Look at Moses. Few can equal his consecration. He threw away a throne as “the son of Pharoah’s daughter,” with all “the treasures of Egypt” and “the passing pleasures of sin.” And he did all this for the mysterious Christ who had not even come—for he “esteemed the reproach of Christ greater riches,” the record says (Heb. 11:24-26).
Yet there was one thing that Moses had not renounced. That was Moses.
“Learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians,”5 highly trained, highly educated, “mighty in word and deed,” it says he thought the enslaved Israelites would understand that he was their obvious deliverer, and he set out to deliver them. Angered by an Egyptian maltreating one of his people, he beat and killed him.
But Pharoah sent the police after him—and what did Moses do? All he had left was a good pair of legs. So he ran.
A healthy body is useful—but you need more than two good legs to carry you through life for God! Moses had thought he could do the job; now he found he couldn’t. He couldn’t find God because, until he had come to an end of himself, God was a distant Person to him.
Unless you have come to the bottom of self you don’t know basically in a crisis just how to find God. (Actually, you can’t find God—because He’s already found you. He’s just there.) So the Spirit must teach you. You need to say, “That’s fine, Lord, carry on.” That’s the honest and thoroughly natural thing to do.
I believe in being thoroughly irreverent with God! That’s putting it in extreme form, but what I mean is that a great deal of our pious talk and reverent attitudes and language is a cloak for insincerity. Men of God, God’s familiars, God’s friends, talk back and forth with Him in plain language.
But Moses, like every one of us, had to learn that you don’t do God’s work by self-effort and self-wisdom.
Forty years later, Moses saw what he had not been ready to see before. He saw a queer object near where he was tending sheep in the wilderness. It was a common bush of fire. But the curious thing, as he watched it, was that it didn’t go out.
That is where God showed Moses what humanity is meant to be: a common bush aflame with God.
But a man must be common first. Moses, in his own opinion, had been a very uncommon royal bush, and God doesn’t live in uncommon royal bushes. Then Moses saw this sight: God’s presence, God’s word out of a common bush—and as the divine fire consumes the bush, it refuels it. “The bush was not consumed.”6 That’s exactly what God does. The divine life keeps flowing in, as you give it out.
That is receptivity: the key to true humanity. Then you move out into activity.
No one can be active like a Christian—because the believer is motivated by the divine resources, the divine power, the divine Person. We’ve got to learn by our hard knocks to clear out of the way and recognize Another functioning—get His voice, His plans, His resources. Then we come back into the situation as servant, not boss.
Once you have come to understand that your basic function is a constant recognition of Another, the whole of life is transformed.
It is no longer a matter of inviting Him to come into your life, because you already have received Him. But it is the recognition of Another.
Another is the functioning one.
Another is the Person who inspires the prayers and imparts the faith and thinks the thoughts through our minds and expresses His compassion through our hearts and puts our bodies into action.
Once you’ve seen that, you see that He is the illimitable One. Then you relax and say, “This is what life is basically: Another living His life in me.”
You’ve got your key to everything.
Every problem becomes an opportunity. Every tough spot becomes a chance to enjoy the luxury of seeing Him deliver us out of it. And you welcome such spots.