Revivalist VI: Norman Grubb
Of all teachers of revival I believe God took Norman Percy Grubb to such a unique understanding of the phenomena, that A.W.Tozer recognized this remarkable gifting.
May we of The Christian and Missionary Alliance have the humility to learn from this missionary brother the way into a new place of revival and power. Our world-girdling movement had its birth in just such an atmosphere as is here described. . . . May God help us to recapture this glory—at any cost. - A. W. Tozer
Grubb referred to a “continuous revival” perhaps going further than Wesley in his perfection stance.
An acknowledgement is given by Grubb of the often perceived belief of revival being a “longed for ideal”
There is nothing God's people everywhere seek more earnestly or speak about more frequently than revival.
But always we look at it as something outside of ourselves, a longed for ideal, something whose realization we can only contribute to by prayer, but which, as an actual experience, is beyond our immediate reach and only comes as a visitation from on High.
But God has been teaching some of us differently.
The self renunciation emphasis which we see in Campbell’s teachings manifests here in relation to Grubb’s declaration that revival in essence is a revitalization “of someone gone dead”!
What is revival in its essence? The revitalizing of someone gone dead. And who goes dead? Anyone infected with sin unconfessed and uncleansed. In other words, a constantly "vivid" soul is a person living in unbroken union with God; a revived soul is one in whom sin has obtained lodgment but who has then recognized it, repented of it and been restored to living relationship again.
That is personal, daily revival. But take it farther as a Christian. I am no longer an individual; I am no longer even an individual united to Christ. I am a member of a body, which consists of Head and body the "perfect man" of Ephesians 4:13. I no longer live unto myself. I know my relationship with Christ. I know the rules of the abiding life: faith, obedience, the daily feet washing of John 13:10 (confession and cleansing) after there has been the initial bathing. 1 know thus how to walk with Him. But that is not enough.
Grubb goes onto talk of the plunging “into a fountain”, a place where inhibitions are left behind:
A "break" comes. Hard thoughts, barriers between one and another, even personal sins and backslidings come out into the open, and all rejoice as the fresh plunge is taken into the fountain. God has come down into the midst. But then, back we go into the old position—nice services, nice addresses, good fellowship on a certain level. But the inner center of each one of us has closed up; those inner battles, often failures, problems, even victories, go behind closed doors marked, "Strictly private." Why? Partly because we have not learned and are not taught to live as the members of the early church lived—confessing their faults one to another, sharing the Lord's dealings, exhorting one another daily, provoking one another to love and good works; but very largely also because we have a thing we cherish which we call reserve, but if given its proper name, is at least ninety per cent straight pride. We just don't want other people to know what God knows only too well, that we are not nearly the saints in our homes and hearts that we appear to be from our pulpits and in our pews.
An examination of this statement brings one to a point that there needs to be a plunging, a plunging into an area that is away from our present contemporary culture – a going back to the ways of the Early Church which we were discovering with Wesley. Grubb as with Wesley talks of a daily mortification, Grubb identifying daily excuses for sin like temperament, nerves, pressure of circumstances, difficult people etc., with “little” sins as they are regarded like hard feelings, criticism, dislike, resentment, self-pity, worry, anxiety, unbelief, pride, the unclean look and thought all in fact being sins for they fall short of the glory of God.
Grubb suggests on this quest to revival that face up to these “little” sins quoting
I John 1.
I John 1
That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life;
2 (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and s hew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
3 That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
4 And these things write we unto you, that your joy may be full.
5 This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.
6 If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness we lie, and do not the truth:
7 But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.
8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
Grubb sees a manifestation of this scriptures coming as frank talking one to another, the opening out of deep seated antagonisms between husband and wife, parents and children, the clearing of misunderstandings and moving on into a renewed walk. This in continued into Church life and fellowship meetings where the point of interest is not one polished Preacher but a place where the Church as a whole can hear from God.
Heb. 3: 13
But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin.
10:24: And let us consider one another to provoke unto love and to good works: Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.
Relating these principles into a harvest field Grubb wrote about experiences in Central Africa after just returning from there in 1951.
It might be helpful now to illustrate this from experience. I have recently returned from a visit to my old field in Central Africa. I there saw the field white for the revival harvest, with thousands of church members, many of them, I believe, truly born again and some sanctified and Spirit-filled, just ready for the match to be applied and the fire started (and a small fire was started here and there), but I did not know how to lead them into a fellowship-life where the fire would not only be started, but kept burning.
Then at the end of my visit, I went on to spend a short time in another Central African field where the fires are burning and spreading, and have been for fifteen years. Here I learned the secret. No new thing. Nothing could be simpler. No special person; only Jesus in the midst. No profound "principle," but just walking with Him. Not even the word "revival" used, lest it should divert attention from Christ to a "doctrine." Sin, repentance, the precious blood, cleansing, joy, witness—this was the language spoken.
We learn from this key words being applied here by Grubb and these are Sin, repentance, the precious blood, cleansing, joy, witness and we will be seeing how these concepts are applied in the modern revivals that seem to be bound by “new thing” teaching which will be examined also.
Grubb goes onto talk of a “breaking” work amongst the people who declared simple yet powerful testimony. The testimonies were costly with a principle of touching rock bottom and being taken up high applying to them all.
Nor let it be thought that this means companies of people sinning and being forgiven, and then sinning and being forgiven again. We speak here not of the grosser falls of the flesh, though of course we know that in all companies of God's people Satan does get in here and there in violent ways. There are companies of folk so sensitive to the light of God that they hate "even the garment spotted by the flesh." Any chance seeds of sin sown in their purified hearts are recognized, repented of, confessed, cleansed, and the experience shared with the brethren.
Thus, where we have known many an African brother in Christ to hide the growth of covetousness and worldly ambition in his heart till it bore sudden and evil fruit and carried him away into the world, among these, the first hidden desires for the world are exposed and judged and cleansed. The same with the awful pull of lust so powerful in all of us, but especially in those just dug out of the pit where they had been "working all uncleanness with greediness." How the African churches are devastated with these sudden falls into adultery, fornication and polygamy. But actually no such fall is sudden; it results from a hidden putrid growth in t he eye. the mind and the heart. Here among these simple folk those first unseen seeds are vigorously uprooted at the Cross by inward confession and outward testimony.
Does any of us know a sanctification where no daily washings of the feet are needed, even though the initial bathing of the whole man may have taken place long ago? No, I found in myself the hidden pride that did not want to "break" and witness to my brethren where I had hardness in my heart toward another brother. My sight of that sin of hardness and dislike was not so terrible to me that it broke me, as it broke my Lord on Calvary. He was publicly exposed for me there, but I wanted to get through without publicly exposing that sin in my heart. Like Saul, I said in my heart, "I have sinned; yet honour me now before thee lders of my people" (1 Sam. 15:30).I saw what they meant when they said that a soul can be bent, but not broken. I did "break" after two days, and of course as I brought the thing tot he light, the blood totally cleansed. But it taught me a deeply-needed lesson on the necessity of keeping my pride on the cross daily.
Confession before men is brought out by Grubb too as an act of major commitment. There can be no pride in revival and Grubb takes this major force into a context of affect these people whose hearts were before God in Central Africa.
I want to learn much more of brokenness, openness, fellowship and challenge. God has already begun to do much in our own ranks; there have boon movings of revival recently, but not yet the continuous flow I saw in Africa. In our own family life also, where revival always must start and continue, God has been much at work with my wife and myself arid our children, but still there's more to follow. And as for such a broken walk in the light resulting in an "up and down" experience, I find the opposite true; never before have I been able so clearly to lay hold of and experience full salvation in Christ. Yet coupled with this is a new sensitiveness to the least touch of sin, new facing and breaking and walking in the light with my brethren, with consequent new revival fellowship among us.