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Continuous Revival: 5. Testimony

By Norman P. Grubb


      But that is not all. That is still leaving out the further step which is the missing link in our evangelical living, the very link which releases the revival in our hearts and others. Remember again that saving faith, the first act of brokenness, was a two-way faith. Remember that the costly part of that faith was not the heart-believing before God, but the mouth-confession before men. Remember that, while it cost more, it gave us more, for as we confessed before men, it was as if Jesus confessed us before God His Father in heaven, and the Spirit confessed the Savior in our hearts. The joy of the Lord became our strength; we were saved. Finally remember that the mouth-committal horizontally was the real proof of the genuineness of the heart-committal before God.

      Initial brokenness was roof off, walls down. But now in the daily life? Roof still off, but what about the walls? Continued brokenness in continued revival, and continued brokenness has implicit in it the continued two-way testimony. But here we want to watch carefully. The confession that matters in the Scripture, and which is most referred to, is the confession of CHRIST, rather than of sin (although there are such verses as 1_John 1:9 and James 5:16 where FAULTS is in the original SINS); and it is to the constant confession of Christ that I am called. That is my duty. That is my privilege. That is the way both to get blessing and to transmit it. Indeed, perhaps the word CONFESSION has become so misused through its use in the confessional, that it is better and clearer to use the word TESTIMONY. Testimony to Christ is our duty and privilege. Now the first testimony we make has no reserves about it. We were sinners and said so. Probably in many cases our sins were already known in our community, and the liquor addict, the gambler, the loose-liver, the proud, the self-righteous, the dishonest, gives open glory to God that he has been saved from these things through the power of the precious blood. The emphasis is not on the sin, although that may be mentioned, but on the Savior from sin. It is not a morbid self-revelation, but a glorious magnification of Christ.

      Now it is that form of daily testimony which is the missing note in our present-day Christianity. We were sinners and were saved. We gloried in saying so. But we still so often "come short of the glory of God" in daily life. No longer those old, deliberate, gross sins of the fallen days, or old false attitudes of pure self-centerdness or pride; for if we are that, we are not saved. But we know too well we are still open to the assaults of Satan. The flesh still makes its appeal to us, and we respond, although our normal position in Christ is "not in the flesh, but in the Spirit" (Romans 8:9). Even those who have entered into a sanctified experience by faith, and the witness of the Spirit, as in my own case, making real in their experience such statements as in Acts 15:8-9; Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 2:6, still know constant temptation. The cases must indeed be rare where Satan does not make actual inroads by some subtle form of sin, either by unbelief, fear, worry, depression, hardness towards a brother, dislike, self-pity, pride, coldness of heart, impatience, criticism, unkind thoughts, the sharp word, jealousy, envy, partiality, hypocrisy, strife, the lust of the eye, evil or impure thoughts, sloth, selfishness, and the like.

      So now, as we entered the way of salvation by a two-way brokenness, we must continue in the way in the daily walk. Something comes in which stops the flow if the Spirit. It is seen to be sin, however "small" we may like to call it (is any sin small which crucified my Lord?); it is confessed and forgiven. But brokenness is two-way. There is the testimony to give before men, as God gives the opening. Nothing need stop me giving it except that it would hurt my pride, my self-esteem. That is how I glorify God -- by testifying, as occasion arises, to His fresh deliverances, the fresh experiences of the power of His cleansing blood in my life. Some would narrow this down and say, "should we not merely put a sin right with any against whom we might have committed it, such as hard words between husband and wife, and leave it at that?" Certainly the sin must be put right with those against whom it was committed, but the testimony to God's deliverance belongs to the whole Church. For actually no sin is committed privately. None of us lives unto ourselves. Our faces, our attitudes, our very atmosphere is poisoning or blessing all those with whom we come in contact. A quarrel between husband and wife, for instance, reaches out in its effect far beyond those two. It affects the whole household. It affects visitors in the home, workmates in the business, and above all fellow-believers in the church. Remember it is not a question of confessing sin, but of praising for a deliverance, and giving others the chance of praising with us.

      Daily testimony before men in this way is an ever fresh confession of a saving Christ; but to be honest testimony, it involves some account of what the deliverance is from. It is that which puts teeth into the testimony. It is also proof of our genuine repentance and genuine brokenness, just as confession before men at conversion was the proof of the reality of my new-found faith. To be really wide open before God and man is to be ready at all times to tell of His dealings with me.

      It is yet more than that -- and this is of utmost importance. We remember that it was the confession of Christ before men that made Him so real to our own hearts. It did something for us, which mere heart-faith did not. Now it is just the same concerning the daily walk. The real reason why we are usually so insensitive to the "little sins of our daily walk, and why we pass them over without much concern, is just because we are not too ashamed about them, or not too repentant, or even in some cases we have given up hope of any lasting deliverance. And why so? Because, while we only wait with the roof off and deal in secret with God alone about our daily affairs, we have the convenient sense of a God of great mercy, or a Christ who died for us, of our security in Him, of an easy-going forgiveness, and so frankly we do not get too concerned about our present inconsistencies! But if we start walking in the light with others about the Lord's daily dealings with us, telling them when the shadow of sin has darkened our path and how God has dealt with us over it, we shall suddenly find two things: one, that we have an altogether new sense of shame for sin; and two, an altogether new sense of cleansing and liberation from the sin.

      We just have to face the fact that we are very human, and our human relationships are usually more vivid to us than our fellowship with God. Thus we have a far more vivid sense of shame about a sin when we tell our brethren, than when we just tell God. It is a simple fact that this openness before men does something in us. It sharpens us up concerning daily sin as never before. It is part of the secret of daily revival. It is amazing how, when walking in the light with our brethren as well as with God, we begin to come alive to attitudes, or actions, of sin in our lives which we just never noticed to be sin before, or perhaps we took for granted would always be part of our make-up.

      With all this there is also the effect on others of this open testifying. We know that the way salvation is spread is by our telling the unsaved what the Lord has done for us; it does something in their hearts, quickening a desire for the same experience. So it is with testimony among God's people. The joy and praise leaps from one heart to another when we hear what the Lord has done for another. The more direct, open, and exact the testimony, the more we rejoice.

      It does yet more. It convicts. Our hearts are fashioned alike. The way the devil tempts you is almost certainly the way he tempts me. When I hear you tell of the Lord's dealings down where you really live in your home relationships, in your business, and so on, it surely reaches me on some spot where I need the same light and deliverance. That is exactly how great revivals break out and spread. The way is always the same. Sin is suddenly seen to be sin in some life. Someone breaks down (brokenness), and doesn't mind who is present; he can only see himself as a sinner needing renewed cleansing. So out he comes, maybe with tears; public reconciliations are made; the conviction spreads, till dozens are doing the same thing. "Revival has visited this church," we say with joy. So don't you see that when there is a continuous sensitiveness to the smallest sin that stops the cups running over, when there is recognition of

      the sin in the light, confession, forgiveness, and the thankful public testimony to the glory of God of what the Lord has done, there is a daily revival? Yet one more point on this heart of the matter. Many of God's people, including the writer, know something of God's deliverances from sin; but there is some spot still in the life which may be given the name mentioned in Hebrews 12:1, "the sin which doth so easily beset us': and at this "weak spot" we really give up any idea that God can really, fully, and permanently deliver. It may not be some big thing, as the world calls big; perhaps it is so hidden that it is just a mere touch of sin known only to the person himself ("the garment spotted by the flesh") but hope of full deliverance is really given up. Then we enter into this revival walk in the light step by step. We are made sensitive as never before both to the reality and the shamefulness of sin. We find that as we walk brokenly with God and one another, sins which used to beset us easily lessen in their power and falls are fewer. Then it suddenly comes to us as light that this special spot of weakness, taken for granted through the years, can be dealt with and deliverance found, if recognized as sin to be faced and hated each time it arises; the emphasis not being so much on a once-for-all crisis deliverance, but on the daily and immediate dealing with the evil thing the moment it shows itself. Another discovery has been that the reason why besetting sin does not get dealt with is that we find a certain sweetness in the flesh; not in actual sin, of course, but on the outer edges of it, as it were. That sweetness has to be recognized as a manifestation of the flesh, and must be hated. Indeed, true repentance is hatred, and where there is hatred of sin, God's hatred in us (Hebrews 1:9), power for deliverance is found in the blood.

      In this walking with one another in the light, careful distinction must also be made between temptation and sin. We think that many earnest souls continue in bondage and under false accusation because they are looking for the impossible -- deliverance from even temptation; and also because they mistake temptation for sin, and accept condemnation, and a sense of defilement when they should not do so. It also makes them confused about how far to go in open testimony and fellowship. The distinction between the two is clear. James 1:14-15 settles it for us. Temptation is continuous and will be while we are in this fallen world. Jesus was tempted in all points like as we are, and continuously -- "Ye are they that have continued with me in my temptations," Temptation is the stimulation of our natural desires (the correct meaning of LUST in verse 14) whether physical appetites or the faculties of soul or spirit. Jesus was tempted in all these three realms on the Mount of Temptation. But the sudden impulse to think this wrong thought, or say this, or do that, the attraction of the eye in an unlawful direction, the first motion of fear, worry, resentment, and so on is temptation for which we are not held responsible as willful sin. It is "when lust (desire) hath conceived, it bringeth forth sin." It is when we allow the temptation to find lodgement in us, when we continue the wrong thought, allow the resentment to remain, keep on looking, speak the hasty word, and so on, that temptation has become sin. Obviously, therefore, if we withstand the temptation as it arises, by abiding in Christ, we should not accept condemnation, and our testimony to His praise should be to His keeping power in the evil day.

      Let us also be watchful to maintain liberty in testimony. How easily we can slip back to legalism, instead of walking in the glorious liberty of the sons of God. We can endeavor to walk by rule, instead of by the gentle but free compulsions of the Spirit who leads, not drives. Thus we can get into the bondage of thinking that we are under strict compulsion to testify to the Lord's dealings on all or on fixed occasions. Testimony of this kind can become as much a set form with one group as absence of any testimony is a set form with another! We must never allow ourselves to be driven. We are not mere human imitators, feeling compelled to say something just because our brother does, or because it is the usual thing on certain occasions. We "walk with Jesus" even in the matter of testimony. There is a divine compulsion, when we know from Him within by inner conviction that we must open our lips, and when we can draw power from Him to do so; that is quite a different thing from the drive of the law, or of imitation. Sometimes the best testimony might be to testify that God has given me nothing to say! "Stand fast, therefore, in the liberty wherewith Christ hath made us free, and be not entangled again in the yoke of bondage."

      Equally we must avoid that subtle pressure on others to see the same as ourselves, and that subtle criticism of those who do not. Of course we want others to have any light God has given us; but it was God who GAVE it us in His own time and way. Let us, then, leave it to God to GIVE it to our brethren as He pleases. Our only job is humbly and joyfully to testify to what God shows us. It is impressive in the Gospel of John to see the rest of Jesus among fierce critics and opponents on the simple basis that people can only see and receive what God GIVES them to see.

      Thus, this living in revival, personally and in our community, is the freedom of the Spirit. It is not a question of forming now sects or fellowships or cliques which cause divisions in churches and give an "I am holier than thou" impression. It is just to live in revival, in the light, in brokenness, in cleansing, in testimony, just as God leads, in the home, in the church, everywhere.

      Questions are sometimes asked about to whom we should testify and if there should be any reservations in our testimony. Should we, for instance, tell unsaved people of the Lord's personal dealings with us? Perhaps a simple answer, subject always to the individual guidance of the Spirit, would be that we should always testify even to the most opposed and indifferent if we have sinned in a way which was obvious to them, such as by heated words. It is to the glory of God that we humble ourselves before them and tell them of the Lord's gracious restoration, as we have repented. But if our testimony is concerning things in our lives about which the Lord has dealt with us unknown to our unsaved friends, then it may be that we would keep that testimony for our brethren in Christ.

      As for reservations in testimony, one matter about which wisdom and restraint may be needed is those sins which have such a deep hold on all mankind and which take first place in all lists of sins in the Scriptures -- uncleanness, lasciviousness, impure thoughts, fornication, adultery. God has put a barrier between the sexes which it is His will we preserve, and therefore in mixed meetings only veiled language can be used in referring to these things. Yet at the same time, of all temptations and sins this is the one which in one form or another eats most deeply into lives. Maybe the only way in which we can go to the bottom in the light with God and one another in this respect is when men get together among themselves, and women likewise. And there certainly is a need for this.

      Perhaps no criticism is more strongly made against open fellowship than when someone speaks in the open unadvisedly on sex matters. It seems as if the human mind leaps to seize on this. We have all heard stories of such indiscretions, and sometimes they are used to discredit open fellowship. Certainly, as we have said, they should be avoided and discouraged, and I found that the maturing fellowships in Africa, where one might expect more "raw" testimonies from new believers come up from the grossness of heathendom, have learned to stop any such statements and to tell the speaker just to say that God had been dealing with him over the sins of impurity. But I would also say this. Why do we express such disgust when an unwisely open testimony is given? Here is some poor soul deep in the mire of these loathsome sins, but at last coming to the light, finding the glorious power of the blood, and not recognizing, perhaps through the past defilement of his mind, that such things should not be talked about; in his zeal and new-found joy, or perhaps under deep conviction, he pours out the sewerage of his soul. Is God shocked? I reckon not. I reckon that the joy in heaven over a poor soul delivered and cleansed is more than distress at his unwise statements. Look how open the Bible is! So let us keep a balance in these things. Let us avoid saying things which could put unclean thoughts into the minds of others, or which are not seemly; but if such things are said in honesty, but with unwise zeal, let us not be over alarmed, but take an occasion for a quiet word in season concerning restraint on future occasions.

      Brokenness is obedience; indeed revival is the simple outcome of obedience to the light. But for many of us the brokenness to which we are not referring, including openness before men, starts by being really costly. The reason is obvious. The walls of reserve and self-esteem have gone so high, probably without our ever realizing it, and so the first step into this brokenness is probably a big one. It is the walls of Jericho which have to fall down flat! I certainly found that, and so have many others. In my own case I suddenly found myself face to face in Central Africa with a brother whom I had met and disliked in England! I had disliked him only because he was too open for my taste, although I had not at that time traced the real cause of my dislike; I was not ready enough for the light in those days. But here I was in a revival company where dislike was only another ward for hate which was faced and brought to the light as sin; and I was carefully pretending that I had brotherly love for a man whom in the white and black terms of 1_John, I "hated!" It was then I found how high those walls of pride are. I just could not bring myself to admit in public that I had the sin of dislike against him, and equally the sin of hypocrisy against all my brethren in pretending that I did like him. As a senior visiting missionary, I could not let on that I had such a "foolish" thing in my heart. But it was not foolish, it was sin which crucified my Lord. To say I could not bring it out was to deceive myself; I could, but I wouldn't, that was all. I had to learn obedience to the light. At last, after two days, under the constant inner compulsion of the Spirit, I just took the step of cold-blooded obedience, brought it into the light before the brother and all, and of course the blood reached me at once; there was the cleansing, the love of God in my heart, and the joy of the whole company. I love and honor that brother today. That is why the first step into brokenness is probably a big break.

Back to Norman P. Grubb index.

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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