By Norman P. Grubb
TWO quite recent and unsolicited testimonies have come our way which particularly illustrate the hunger in the hearts of many Christian people for a fuller life than they experience at conversion. They are worth quoting: one from a householder, wife, mother, and active Christian worker; the other from a young minister of a great denomination. The lady writes: "I sat for seventeen years under a minister mighty in the Scriptures, who has turned many from darkness to light, and under his preaching I myself grew greatly in the knowledge and love of the truth.
"But in his preaching he dwells continually on the doctrine of the believer's two natures. Romans 7 he presents as the experience of the believer all through his life. It is the perpetual struggle of the two natures within. In this chapter the new nature is impotent, the flesh almighty. He pictures the old nature as a caged lion always ready to spring, as a gushing torrent always pressing to overflow. He says that, though provision has been made through the Holy Spirit for victory, nevertheless there will never be a day actually when that lion will not spring and that torrent gush. He cannot conceive of teaching denying the presence within the believer of an old nature, unredeemed and unredeemable, yet which does not necessarily presuppose eradication and perfectionism.
"The result of this preaching upon me was that I presented myself to the Lord somewhat in this fashion: 'Lord, I yield myself to Thee completely, this worm Jacob-my heart which Thou has cleansed, yet which is deceitful above all things and desperately wicked; my carnal mind, which is at enmity against Thyself; my flesh, in which dwelleth no good thing; my will, which is rebellious and impotent; my body, which is dead because of sin.' And for the succeeding ten years what misery I lived in, off and on! Not infrequently I got on my knees and said: 'Lord, why don't You let me die and take me to heaven before this terrible old nature of mine breaks out again and increases the number of my sins!' And, incidentally, though as best I understood how, I had yielded myself, I never felt that the Lord had received me. The only thing that saved me really was that early in my Christian life my minister had spoken of a line in Moody's Bible: 'This book will keep you from sin, and sin will keep you from this Book;' and I made up my mind that sin should not at any rate keep me from the Book; that I would persist in going back to it in spite of sin.
"For years, as I pondered the Scriptures, I caught glimpses of the blessedness of the life 'hid with Christ in God' and of the 'Sabbath rest of the people of God who rested from their own works', but I knew in my experience very little of that blessedness or that rest. And the more I sought them the more I seemed shut up to the life described in Romans 7.
"Then, one day, by a train of circumstances I will not go into, the Lord placed in our home a missionary of a certain mission. It did not take me long to discover that he had something in his Christian experience that I had not. We had comparatively little conversation, but he did say two things which stuck: 'One must get out of oneself', and 'He that is joined to the Lord is one spirit' - that's a great verse.' Neither of these remarks did I understand at all, but every now and then I pulled them out of my mind and chewed them over and wondered what in the world he meant.
"Then, in the wondrous sovereignty of God over our lives, one after another of the missionaries of this society came to stay in our home for longer or shorter periods, and about some of these too there was that indefinable something that there had been about the first, which irresistibly drew me. Christians are 'salt.' One of the attributes of salt is to make thirsty. These Christians made me so thirsty for Christ that I got to be in the state of the bride in the Song of Solomon: 'sick from love' of the One I could not lay hold of; though, as old Matthew Henry puts it in his commentary: 'It is better to be sick of love to Christ than at ease of love to the world.'
"The last to come was 'X', and he was here the longest. I bombarded him with questions, to which he usually gave the exasperating answer: 'I don't know.' He was with us over Christmas day, and Christmas night as we sat about the table he let drop that he did not believe in the doctrine of the two natures. It went through me like an electric shock. A young girl who was there and who lives a most triumphant life in Christ, but who had been taught and accepted the doctrine as a matter of course, said easily, when 'X' explained that he thought he had been the old man and was now the new man: 'Oh, I think we are just talking about the same thing under a different terminology.' I mention this because I believe there are many Christians who, not having analytical minds, grasp the truth of identification and escape the bondage into which the doctrine of the two natures plunges those who, like myself, do have analytical minds.
"When 'X' dropped his thunderbolt, I knew at once he was presenting an idea drastically different from that which I had been taught. It tormented me. So when he left, I got my Bible open to Romans 7 and got on my face before the Lord and said: 'Lord, I simply have to know what this means and I don't care what it costs.' For about three months I poured over Romans 6, 7 and 8. I shall never forget the experience. It was the exact spiritual counterpart of physical travail. I would be in terrible labor over some point, perhaps go to sleep pondering it, and get up with a clear understanding and such rest. Only to find another knot, to know the labor again, and again the rest, as it was cleared up. This went on and on. One by one the Holy Spirit loosed the chains and gave me a deeper insight into Romans 7 than I had ever had into any portion of the Word, and the day came when I knew that Christ had been born in me. It meant deliverance out of Romans 7 into 'the glorious liberty of the children of God', that life where the believer, through reckoning himself dead to sin and alive unto God, becomes henceforth 'just a channel, Christ the Power; just a branch, Christ the Vine; just a vessel, Christ the Treasure; just a lamp, Christ the Light; just a cup, Christ the Water.'
"As I trace the Lord's dealing in my life, I can but worship. I went to the Cross at that time and found the Altogether Lovely One. Before that, Christ had been only God to me, and a rather unreasonable God I thought in my secret heart, since He had given me this sinful nature so that I couldn't help sinning, and then expected me to be grateful to Him for saving me, which seemed to me the least He could do and be respected as God. But I met the Man Christ Jesus at the Cross, and learned that either I must die at His hands or He must die at mine, and that He had chosen to die at mine. And as I yielded Him my tears and my faith and my love which He had never had before, He took me to Revelation 12:10, 'Now is come the salvation, and the power, and the kingdom of our God, and the authority of His Christ: for the accuser of our brethren is cast down, who accuseth them before our God day and night.' And I knew the horrible truth that it is not for our sins of omission and commission that Satan accuses us before God, but that he mocks Christ for the unbelief of those who profess salvation, who nevertheless confess the lordship of Satan in the words of Romans 7:16,17;' I do... yet no morel ... but Sin which dwelleth in me,' one of whom I had been. I learned that 'sin' was none other than the unholy spirit (Ephesians 2:2) and that the Greek word here translated 'dwell' means 'to make a house of,' and that I had let the unholy spirit make a house of me, whereas it was the right of the Holy Spirit to make a house of me. I learned that the old man was the house of the unholy spirit, and that that house had been destroyed on the Cross; that he had no rights whatever in the new man and was to be cast out (Proverbs 22:10).
"I believed at first in the death of self, but I see how right the position is there - that there is no such thing as death to self or self dying, but rather that self alive from the dead and offered up, is given back to its owner, even as Isaac, and becomes the servant of the Spirit; that self is absolutely necessary to the purpose of God, for apart from self delivered unto death there can be no manifestation of the life of Christ in our mortal body (2 Corinthians 4:11).
"I have such a totally different view of salvation that I am not sure that even yet I could put it into words. I believe that if any so much as turn his head in the direction of the Light, Christ will move heaven and earth, if need be, to get the Gospel to that one. I see the urgency of the great commission: not only that those who have never heard might hear, but also that Christ might possess the lives for whom He died, that He might be set free to roam up and down this earth once more, into every corner of it, in the bodies of those He has redeemed. I see the morality of faith's being reckoned for righteousness, faith being the agent through which the living seed of righteousness is implanted in the heart to grow and produce experimental righteousness.
"I used to think that the 'flesh' and 'the old nature' were synonymous terms, but the Lord showed me that Eve had the flesh before she sinned and that it was through the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye, and the pride of life that she was tempted, even as was the Lord Jesus and as we are.
"I also thought that all Christians were overcomers, basing it on 1 John 5:4. But the Lord showed me that that referred to the world, and was comparable to the deliverance of the Children of Israel from Egypt; whereas we are to overcome Satan, which is comparable to the conflict in the land of Canaan.
"The Lord gave me a very precious lesson on claiming deliverance for others from Acts 9. He showed me that, though Paul was the instrument for revival, Ananias was the key to it; and that, before Paul could be filled with the Spirit, Ananias must be changed from a hard-hearted Christian, doing Satan's work of accusing the sinner, to a Calvary-hearted Christian doing Christ's work of identifying himself with the sinner, manifested by the outward sign of laying on of hands. 'I and the children whom thou hast given me.'"
The young minister writes:
"All my life I have hungered to know God better. I looked in the book of Acts, and the description of the Christians there did not correspond with the lives of the Christians I saw around me. I looked for an answer. I read books. I went to hear evangelists. I searched and prayed, but all to no avail. I knew the Lord was my personal Savior by faith, but there was such a hunger and thirst to know Him better, and to be conformed to His image. Others seemed to be warm, but to me the Bible was more or less a dry book. I even tried the world, thinking a thorough conversion from sin might solve the problem. But it did not. My heart was still hungry.
"I don't say that my life was constantly bleak. I experienced periods of joy that were unspeakable, which lasted for months at a time, followed by periods of depression. I graduated from the art department at the University of M., but had no joy in contemplating that career. In 1936 the Lord led me to take up theology. I graduated from theology in 1939, and accepted a call as pastor in northeast M. in that year. I was eager to see souls saved, but the people were not willing, and my preaching dried up. In desperation, an old deacon and I met together daily for prayer and Bible study, and to our surprise we saw things in the Word of God which seemed to upset our childhood teaching. We faced God on the price it would cost, agreeing to pay it. Then in July about four and a half years ago, the Lord revealed to me the wonderful fact of my identification with Jesus in His death and in His life; that it was no longer I that lived, but Christ was now my life.
"My entire life changed. The Bible became a new book. God gave me the gift to lead others into sanctification. He gave me Bible classes. He led hungry souls to me. He opened the radio broadcast for the purpose of making known the life of identification with Christ on the cross, in the grave, in the heavenly places. Hungry hearts have come from everywhere. The group has grown until now there are three churches in M. who preach entire sanctification. Persecution has resulted. Bitterness has sprung up, but through it all the joy of the Lord and His grace and love have been our strength. God has been leading us on from truth to truth. For some time He has been trying to teach me the glorious, central key of strength through weakness. This summer He made it practical in my life in a very real way, when He showed me that I had no right to have others right. It was God's right to keep them wrong until I was right, and that this was true also with reference to circumstances and temptations. I learned that I was not to fight them but embrace them, and accept present circumstances and people and even temptations as God's most powerful instruments for good. This was one of the most important revelations of my walk in sanctification."