Notes from Norman

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by Norman P. Grubb

Let us learn to discern between partial and complete faith. Let us learn to discern. If you discern you won’t kid yourself because a great deal of it is self-deception. Discern between partial and perfect faith. Now there are many instances in the Bible of partial faith which is not perfect faith. It is in the Bible and out of it. You take for instance, Zacharias and Elizabeth, the father and mother of John the Baptist. Now Zacharias had prayed with Elizabeth for a child for, we’ll say, 20 years, maybe 30 years because they were barren. He never believed his prayer. He prayed 30 years and never believed his prayer. The reason or proof is that the moment the angel said to him, “You shall have a son,” he said, “How can that be?” And immediately the angel said, “You have unbelief. That’s your trouble. Shut up your mouth for a bit.”

Now Elizabeth believed her prayer. Now that was an inner thing no one else could see. How do I know Elizabeth believed her prayer? For this reason. They had the child. You remember, the child was in her womb, and you remember that beautiful, holy incident when her cousin Mary, the mother of Jesus, came to see her, and the babe leaped in Elizabeth’s womb. What did Elizabeth say? “Whence cometh the mother of my Lord to see me for blessed is she that hath believed, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her of the Lord.” Only faith can see faith. And Elizabeth saw a marvelous thing—which no one else had seen—that the birth of Jesus wasn’t automatic, it was by Mary’s faith. It was one of the triumphs of faith in history. It wasn’t an automatic operation of the Spirit; it was the operation of the Spirit joined to the believing of Mary.

So Elizabeth said, “You believed you would have a Son in the impossible. You have believed more than Abraham. You’ve believed without a husband that you’d have a Son. You’ve believed in the virgin birth. You’ve believed something through eternity.” “Blessed is she that believed.” She believed it, and there will be a performance of it. Now Elizabeth could only say that because she had faith herself. Faith sees faith.

So we know therefore that Elizabeth believed for her John, the same as Mary believed for her blessed Jesus. But, poor old Zacharias failed. It’s always the husband in trouble! I’m glad to say Abraham put it over Sarah, anyhow! There’s one back. But that’s just one instance of partial faith.

Do you see what I mean? It isn’t that that godly man Zacharias had no faith, he only had partial faith. He had a sort of scrappy faith. He just didn’t have the faith which produced the substance which produced the experience of reality. Oh, no, he hadn’t that.

Karuizawa Japan Conference of 1954
Topic: “The Obedience of Faith”