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Continuous Revival: 2. Brokenness

By Norman P. Grubb


      The next point is BROKENNESS. A picturesque word, a key word, indeed THE key word, in continuous revival. It is not a word that comes a great deal in Scripture, though more than we think, if we examine a concordance; but it comes enough to show that it is a picturesque, as well as true, way of describing the sinner's only and constant relationship to his Savior. We first learn that salvation is only possible for lost men through a BROKEN Savior: "This is my body which is BROKEN for you;" "Reproach hath BROKEN my heart." In Gethsemane He had a broken will, and on Calvary a broken fellowship even with His Father; for the One who is our Substitute and who was made sin for us had to take upon Himself the proud, unbroken ego of fallen man, and had to be broken at Calvary in his place. But man also has to be "broken." He sees his sinful condition before God, as he realizes the coming judgment and wrath, and as he is pointed to the slain Lamb, he has to "break" at the foot of the Cross. The proud, self-justifying, self-reliant, self-seeking self has to come just as a lost, undone sinner, whose only hope is a justifying Savior. David said it, when at the supreme moment of his own total brokenness, in Psalm 51, the Spirit caused him to comment, "The sacrifices of God are a BROKEN spirit, a BROKEN and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise."

      Here we come to a crucial point concerning the way of brokenness, as indeed concerning all relationships of the Christian life. It is the most crucial point in this whole way of continuous revival; the point, as we shall see later, that has to be re-learned by twentieth-century Christians surrounded by all their respectability. It is this. All Christian relationships are two-way, not one-way. They are horizontal as well as vertical. That is to say, we are a two-way people. We are not just isolated units living in a vertical relationship with an isolated God; we are members of a human family also with whom we live in horizontal relationships, and our obligations are two-way all the time. We cannot, for instance, say that we have become righteous before God through faith in Christ, yet continue unrighteous among men. The Bible says that would be living a lie. Equally we cannot say we love God and hate our brother, for the Bible says, "He that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen?" This comes out particularly in John's first epistle, where the two-way fellowship is mentioned in the first chapter at verse three, two-way righteousness in the third chapter at verse seven, and a two-way love in the fourth chapter at verse twenty. But now this is true of the way of brokenness, that is, of repentance and faith. "The word of faith," we read in Romans 10:8-10, is a two-way, with the heart towards God and with the mouth before man. Indeed it takes it further and says that to experience in our hearts and lives the full benefit of our faith, we MUST express it both ways, for "with the heart man believes unto righteousness," that is to say, the heart-believer is accounted righteous before God; but it is "with the mouth" that "confession is made unto salvation," that is to say, we realize in our experience the joyful fact that we are saved. Confession before man does something in our hearts that heart-faith alone never does. There are many sincere believers, in churches where they are not taught to witness before men or to expect assurance of salvation, who truly trust in the mercies of God through Christ, yet do not even know for sure in their hearts that they are saved, and have none of the joy of the Lord, because there is no mouth confession. But when we do the much more costly thing of telling men that Christ has become our Savior, something happens in our own hearts. We are saved and know we are saved! Any soul-winner also knows that if a seeker were to say, "Yes, I'll accept Christ in secret, but don't let anybody know," we would say to him, "Brother, that's not a genuine faith or brokenness. If you really mean business and are really committed as a lost sinner to the mercies of your Savior, the proof is that you are committed before men as well as God. If you don't confess before men, we may well doubt the genuineness of your faith and the reality of your salvation."

      So saving faith, the attitude of brokenness, is a two-way activity, towards God and man, as are righteousness and love and indeed all the relationships of Christian living. Indeed, we can put it this way. We can liken a man to a house. It has a roof and walls. So also man in his fallen state has a roof on top of his sins between him and God; and he also has walls up, between him and his neighbor. But at salvation, when broken at the Cross, not only does the roof come off through faith in Christ, but the walls fall down flat, and the man's true condition as a sinner saved by grace is confessed before all men.

      But the trouble soon begins again after conversion, and here lies the basic hindrance to continued revival. Continued revival is continued brokenness, but brokenness is two-way, and that means walls kept down as well as roof off. But man's most deep rooted and subtle sin is the subtle sin of pride: self-esteem and self-respect. Though hardly realizing it, while we are careful to keep the roof off between ourselves and God through repentance and faith, we soon let those walls of respectability creep up again between ourselves and our brethren. We don't mind our brethren knowing about successes in our Christian living; they can know if we win a soul, if we lead a class, if we get a prayer answered, if we get good things from the Scriptures, because we too get a little reflected credit out of those things. But where we fail, in those many, many areas of our daily lives -- that is a different question! If God has to deal with us over our impatience or temper in the home, over dishonesty in our business, over coldness or other sins, by no means do we easily bear testimony to our brethren of God's faithful and gracious dealings in such areas of failure. Why not? Just because of pride, self-esteem, although we would often more conveniently call it reserve! The fact is we love the praise of men as well as of God, and that is exactly what the Scriptures say stops the flow of confession before men (John 12:42-43).

      But let us note that the key to the reality of the whole of the Scriptures is the openness of the men of the Bible. We know of God's most intimate dealings with them, their sins and failures every bit as much as their successes. How do we know the details of Abraham's false step with Hagar, of Jacob's tricks with Isaac and Esau, of Moses' private act of disobedience concerning speaking to the rock? Of Elijah's flight and God's secret rebuke, of the inner history of Jonah? How did the disciples know the inside story of Jesus' temptations to record for us? Only because they were all open before their contemporaries. They lived in the light with each other as with God.

      All through history men have turned in their fears and sorrows and doubts to the Psalms. Why? Because they are the heart experiences of men in fear, and doubt, and guilt, and soul-hunger, describing how they had felt and how God had met them.

      Why was David's repentance acceptable to God, and yet Saul's, for a much less apparently carnal sin of failing to slaughter all the Amalekites, unacceptable? The reason is plain. Both kings, when faced respectively by the accusing finger of the prophets Nathan and Samuel, admitted their guilt before God, and said, "I have sinned" (1_Samuel 15:24 and 2_Samuel 12:13); but Saul's repentance was demonstrated to be insincere because he desired that his sin be hidden from the people (1_Samuel 15:30), whereas the proof of David's utter brokenness was that he told the whole world in Psalm 51 what a sinner he was and that his only hope was in God's mercy. Openness before man is the genuine proof of sincerity before God, even as righteousness before man, and love to man are the genuine proofs of righteousness before God, and love to God.

      Note also that hiding the truth about ourselves before men, pretending to be better than we really are, is the supreme sin which Jesus drove home to the Pharisees, the sin of hypocrisy, and was the direct cause of their crucifying Him. It was not the open harlot or publican, but the religious men who pretended to be holy, and covered their inner condition, who drove Jesus to the cross rather than have the truth about themselves exposed any more. Note also that the first sin judged in the early church was the sin of hiddenness before men, Ananias and Sapphira pretending before their brethren that they were making a bigger surrender than they really were. And finally note that in every dealing of the believer with God recorded in the Scriptures, every step taken in the walk of faith, the Scripture shows that that transaction of inner faith had to be expressed in the spoken word, the faith had to be confessed before men; it was the clinching act which sealed the faith and committed the believers. See it in the lives of all men of faith from Abraham right through to the apostles; what they had believed in their heart, they declared with the mouth as something God had said to them and which would assuredly come to pass.

      So far then we have learned these two lessons: that continuous revival is the simple daily walking with Jesus, and also walking in a brokenness two-way which is expressed in the heart to God and by the mouth before men. We will see in a moment, in practical detail, how this works out more fully in the daily life.

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See Also:
   Continuous Revival: Preface
   Continuous Revival: 1. The Walk
   Continuous Revival: 2. Brokenness
   Continuous Revival: 3. Cups Running Over
   Continuous Revival: 4. Conviction, Confession, Cleansing
   Continuous Revival: 5. Testimony
   Continuous Revival: 6. Exhortation
   Continuous Revival: 7. Revival

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