Notes from Norman

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by Norman P. Grubb

It is good to recognize partial faith and perfect faith. I had an instance which I often quote because it struck me as so very clear on that very point. Some years ago when I was back in England I was speaking to some students at Oxford University. And there was a group of students there from the China Inland Mission. I spoke something along the lines of which I have spoken to you, Romans 6 and so on, stressing an experience of faith. They wouldn’t take that at all. And, you know what that means. They said, “Brother, reckon, reckon, reckon.” Well, I knew what that meant. They mean reckon it isn’t so at all, really. Just reckon, that’s all. When people are in that condition, you can’t say anything.

But there’s an interesting little incident which followed. Curiously, I met the brother in Indonesia a few weeks ago, a beloved brother now in the C.I.M., and I told him about it. He was delighted. He was one of these three men who went out to China and went through the language learning period. In the course of doing so, they seemed to get dried up in soul. They’re not the only ones, are they? And they said, “Oh, I haven’t what it takes to do my job.” And so very rightly at the end of their language learning period, they applied for permission to have some days alone with God. They were going to fight this battle out. They hadn’t the necessary equipment to take the gospel to the Chinese, although they now had enough of the language to get on. And they wrote back a circular letter. That’s how I knew—I received the circular letter. They wouldn’t remember the past incident—only I remembered that, of course. In the letter, they made this remarkable statement: “We weren’t long in God’s presence before He said to us, ‘You know, you say you reckon yourselves to be dead unto sin and alive unto God in Christ Jesus. What you really mean is, you reckon but you don’t believe it a bit. That’s what you really mean.’” And they saw then their imperfect—I wouldn’t say hypocritical—faith, for they had done their best but their faith was imperfect. That self-deluding faith. They said they had reckoned themselves. In their hearts, they didn’t believe it.

When you believe it you have it. Faith produces reality. It produces its own evidence. It produces its own witness that you possess it. And God challenged them then and they went through to a faith that had it. But you see they learned to differentiate between that other thing which isn’t the real faith, which isn’t completely faith, and the complete faith.

I believe I have a book in my hand. The implication is that it might be a serpent or something. See what I mean? There’s a slight doubt in putting the words “believe in.” But I don’t say that, do I? I just say, “I’ve a book.” That’s the faith that has. That’s the faith that realizes the fact. I don’t say, “I believe I have it.” I have a book. Of course I have a book. That’s faith. And I said, “That’s the difference between faith which is the real faith and the imperfect faith.” There you are.

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