PRAYER and the FOURTH DIMENSION
By: NORMAN P. GRUBB
For many years after his retirement as General Secretary of the Worldwide Evangelization Crusade, Norman Grubb traveled extensively sharing the truth of our union with Christ. He was the author of many books, perhaps best known for his book entitled “Rees Howells, Intercessor”. Norman P. Grubb entered into glory at 98 years of age.
(Stating that “Prayer is the product of our union with Christ,” Norman Grubb pierces into the mystery of that union in the following article, taken from God Unlimited. His revolutionary insight into the spirit dimension can transform prayer from hopeful pleading into thankful, confident acceptance of God’s real, but as yet invisible, supply.)
I believe a fresh approach to prayer is needed among many of us. The trouble is that we Bible believers, just because we tenaciously hold fast to “the form of sound words,” as Paul instructed Timothy to do, are in danger of interpreting in terms of this world’s concepts what are really the data of another world. The Bible can only use human language to express superhuman facts, so that it can be only shadow language; and if we are too literal in our interpretation, we can easily miss what it is meant to convey, just as the Jews failed to recognize the Christ when He came. The inner truth is there like a kernel in its shell, like the living God veiled in the incarnation.
The greatest failure in this respect is in passing over from the unreal sense of separation which this world conveys to us in all our relationships, to the actual reality of union, the Christ-in-you reality which Paul named as the mystery of the ages. In our average evangelical preaching we have rightly stressed separation from God through sin: we have proceeded to reconciliation through Christ: but we have rarely gone right through to unification of Spirit with spirit. And the reason is obvious. It takes us out of our depths in this three dimensional world of length, breadth and height, of line, plane and cube, where every person or object in its apparent existence is distinct from another. To talk of Christ in us, and we in Christ: to speak of multitudes of persons being one in Him: to be told of a day when everything will be gathered together in one: when God will be all in all: when time will be no more: when past, present and future will be all the same in Him who is already “the same yesterday, today and forever:” to be given multitudes of instances and statements in Old and New Testaments to prove that future events are already in existence in God’s sight, for He “declares the end from the beginning;” such facts and statements are uncomfortable to us in our down-to-earth world of space and time; and even though we accept them from the Scriptures, we really regard them as vague, rather unreal, spiritualities, rather than the actual facts, while what we call real is in truth the unreal!
Our complacency is being shaken, however. If we haven’t really accepted the Bible as speaking scientific truth on these subjects, we have suddenly had to wake up to an unexpected ally to the Scriptures-modern science! We find the real, as we see it, is the unreal! Solid matter, for instance, is actually billions of whirling units of energy-whatever that may mean. The empty air is crowded with myriads of sound waves. We laugh at our forefathers for thinking that the sun went round the earth; but we are just as big fools in our misconceptions. And what does all this tell us? They are broad enough hints to us to take heed to these strange Bible statements. There plainly is another world beyond our world of senses.
What does the Bible tell us? That there is another world-to-come, another dimension if we like to use a human term, and that some characteristics of it are revealed in dim outline, but clear enough for faith to grasp and to live by, or at least greatly to influence our outlook and conduct in this life; but that they are bound to run contrary to our normal three-dimensional outlook, and will usually meet with ridicule, or at least with a push-off as too starry-eyed for this competitive world.
The first characteristic is that persons in this new kingdom are not separate, as we regard persons here, but are really One Person. But because He is the All, all opposites are resolved in Him; therefore a part may contain the whole, as much as the whole contain the part. Thus the redeemed are all one Christ, yet a complete Christ is living in each!
God is the Three-in-One, One God, yet each Person of the Trinity is separately and distinctly complete God. God the Father, God the Son, God the Holy Ghost; and of Christ it is said, “The Word was with God, and the Word was God” and “in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” The Whole is one God, and yet the Parts are each the Whole! To human logic an absurdity: to faith a reality. And we redeemed humans are already introduced to this relationship, to this fact. We are actually part of the Ascended Christ: “as the body is one and hath many members… so also is Christ.” He is the one, complete Christ, the All in all of the body (Eph. 1:23); yet we remain forever separate persons in that One, and in each of us lives the Complete Christ! That is fourth dimensional logic!
A realization of this by believers gives a new sense of solidarity to our unity in Christ. We actually are one person, and Paul prays that our knowledge shall be increased to the point that we realize we are “one perfect man” (Eph. 4:13). This is already the fact, though not realized by our outward senses. It makes an absurdity of separation between believers to the point where we say we cannot have confidence in so and so. We may have plenty of differences between us, owing to our finite minds and easily-disturbed hearts; but basic division, no. If we have, we have divided with ourselves, we have no confidence in ourselves, or worse still with Christ, who is the real Self of every believer. As Paul asked, not, Is the church divided? but, Is Christ divided? (1 Cor. 1:13). I live in a large community of about eighty, at the headquarters of our Missionary Society; and the more closely we live together, the more room there is for personality differences: and I have found this the only basis of brotherly love – that we are one person, though many, and that we love each other eternally, as part of the one Christ, who also lives in each of us as our real selves.
Then there is the time question, and an understanding of this from a kingdom of heaven, a fourth dimensional outlook, brings us right up to the prayer question with which we started. Put together scattered statements in the Bible. “The Lord God Almighty, who was, and is, and is to come.” “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending:” “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and forever:” “I am the first and the last:” “I am God, and there is none like Me, declaring the end from the beginning.” Consider all the prophetic statements: “Christ… who verily was foreordained before the foundation of the world, but was manifest in these last times for you:” “Chosen in Him before the foundation of the world:” “Having made known to us the mystery of His will … that in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ:” “For whom He did foreknow, He also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of His Son:” “And sware by Him that liveth for ever and ever… that there should be time no longer.”
Then time is only a human convenience for spacing out events as they occur. Eliminate time, and what have we? …A continued unbroken series of events from eternity to eternity, with past, present and future all one, with neither the past non-existent nor the future still to come; all the activities of the One God who is the beginning and the end. Incomprehensible? Certainly to our three-dimensional minds, who can only live in an actual restricted present, like a horse in blinkers, to whom the past is finished and gone, and the future not yet in existence, and true realities are only what we are passing through now. But that just does not fit with what God has said of Himself in the quotations above, or what is said of Christ. It is plain that God sees the future as already there, and speaks and acts accordingly.
Election and fore–ordination were deep in the consciousness of the Savior, Peter, Paul and John, with continual references to them in their speaking and writing. Once again, with logic, the question is at once raised: if there is election, where is there room for freewill? And we are again pressed on beyond human logic, which can only think in terms of opposites (if there is black, there is white; if there is yes, there is no), to the fundamental unity in God where “separateness and inclusiveness are not opposed, but exist together and simultaneously, without contradicting one another:” and the answer is… that election and freewill are only two sides of the same fact, election in God works out in the freewill of man.
So now, while the world must think and move in time, living in a succession of events, with the past a mere memory and the future unpredictable… the believer has the veil at least slightly lifted on to reality. He has been introduced to the timeless world, where past, present and future are eternally one and in continuous existence. He knows himself, through grace, to be organically united to the living Christ as branch to vine, and thus also as branch to branch; yet the Vine is also in the branch.
Now to link that up with our present ministry of prayer. We said that we believed God’s people needed a fresh approach to prayer. Do we see why? Prayer is not some poor earth denizens reaching up to some distant Father in some remote heaven, very uncertain about the answers they will get, taking many a shot in the dark, not even always sure if their prayers reach above the ceiling. But get this other concept. God’s people are already a new organism, the Tree of life, which is Vine and branches, the “perfect Man,” who is Head and body. Human language cannot portray the actual relationship, because it is beyond human understanding. The nearest the Bible can use is the “in” statements: “Ye in Me, and I in you:“ we in Christ, He in us. These thus carefully preserve the fact that neither Christ nor we, lose our distinct identity through eternity, He God, we man; it is never a relationship of total absorption… where man ceases to be redeemed man, or Christ ceases to be God the Son. Yet at the same time these “in” statements can obscure from us the actual organic fact, which is also eternally true, of Christ and us having become one “heavenly Man,” and in that sense one Christ. We have already referred to such Scriptures as Eph. 4:13; 1 Cor. 12:12; 1 Cor. 6:17; and the identification implied in the word of the Ascended Christ when he charges Paul, the persecutor of the church, with persecuting Him (Acts 26:14). It is this latter fact of our organic identification with Him as one new Man which gives us our true orientation for the prayer life. We are actually part of a Christ who, having completed what was necessary for our salvation in His death and resurrection, is now “set down at the right hand of the Majesty in the heavens.” We are with Him there, of course, “seated with Him in heavenly places.”
Why, and what does that mean? The literal translation of the phrase “in heavenly places” is merely “in the heavenlies,” or “in heavenly things” – just the one word in the Greek. We stress that, because we have to get away from the idea that in some mysterious manner we are whisked away in spirit to some distant heavenly realm which is not very realistic for us down here. The truth is that “the heavenlies” are everywhere, only hidden from the natural eye, for God is everywhere. Therefore this reigning Christ (“far above all principalities and powers” of evil) of whom we are a part, is the enthroned Christ just where we are, in ourselves, in our circumstances, in our situations of need and apparent satanic mastery. And why does He thus reign and we with Him? Because He is wholly occupied, in the person of His Spirit, in making His saving grace now known to the world by the members of His body-ourselves-and in “adding to the church daily such as should be saved,” and “always causing us to triumph” in Himself, as He makes manifest by us “the saviour of His knowledge in every place… in them that are saved and in them that perish.” There is our praying ground. Not as suppliants in the sense of great distance from Him, of separation from Him, of uncertainty of His will and of a liberal answer; but prayer is seen to be a sharing of His mind on a situation, and our tongues being His mouthpiece in speaking the word of faith.
We are plainly told in Rom. 8:26-27 that prayer issues from God in our hearts, and not just from our hearts. It is He praying in us. He tells us what to pray for in our ignorance, which means that we have no business to remain ignorant. The verse says, “the Spirit Himself maketh intercession for us,” just because “we know not what to pray for as we ought;” and that does not mean that He is praying for our personal needs on our behalf, but that He is inspiring us to pray for the things and people we ought to pray for; we don’t know what they are, but He does, and makes these intercessory prayers in and through us “according to the will of God.”
But we may still be asking, How does He make us know what are prayers according to the will of God? The answer is by what He stirs our hearts to desire and ask. We need not be afraid of our “natural” desires. As we have already said, we are new men in Christ, and no longer the old man. As Christ lives in us, therefore, He is living the exact normal life we are living: it is actually He living it, running the business, doing our job, managing the home, cooking the food, looking after the children, active in our church fellowship. In the course of our lives constant need, problems, challenges, frustrations are arising, and in our hearts are longings for deliverances, guidance, supply, the salvation of others, and so on. Those desires are the groanings of the Spirit in us! Somehow we have got such a religious idea of prayer and approach to God, that we hardly dare think that our normal desires are His desires in us. But that is just what they are. They must be… if it is Christ living our normal lives in us. You see we have to get back, again and again, to this heavenly, this “fourth dimension” reality, that He and we are one person. All falls into place when we get the habit of recognizing this, which the Bible calls the walk of faith.
Back to our point then… Prayer is the product of our union with Christ. He in us is the Prayer. So that the first need in the prayer life is not to pray, but to relax! Quietly, naturally, recognizing the Real One within us, we sort out what warms or stirs our heart with a sense of definite need or challenge. Now we are ready to pray.
What form is our prayer to take? Supplication? Importunity? One fact seems to me to stand out from the lives of the men of the Bible. However they might start their praying, it must end up in faith. It must be the prayer of faith. Indeed they are all called men of faith, rather than prayer, in the Hebrews 11 survey, though it is true that their exploits of faith, when studied in detail, have a background of travail in prayer. And what is significant about their contacts with God? Invariably, as they meet with Him, He tells them that He has something already in hand which He is now going to manifest through them. For Abraham… there is God’s fixed assurance that he would become a great nation. For Moses… there is the sure word that God is going to bring the people out of Egypt and into Canaan, and that he can go before Pharaoh and through the trials in the wilderness in that certainty. For Joshua… it is the same; the crossing of the Jordan, the capture of Jericho are declared to him as settled facts, well before they took place. And so through all Biblical history, the Savior, Himself, knew all about His death and resurrection long before they came to pass, and kept telling His incredulous disciples. What then do all these evidences indicate? That in God’s sight these future events were already in existence in His timeless dimension.
And if there is no time with God, and the Bible says there is not: if past-present-future are a permanent and present reality to Him: if the many statements of Scripture on election and predestination, the many prophecies, the many declarations of coming events as already in existence, cover the whole of human history, then it is plain proof, at least to me, that what is true of large events is equally true of small. We, too, with God, may “call the things that be not as though they were,” because they really are. How do we do this? Well, personally, as this one or that one, or this or that situation, is on my mind, and I can regard it as within the compass of the interests which are my concern, I straightaway take it for granted that this is a thing already in existence in the invisible. I affirm it as so, I thank the Lord; and as the need, still unsupplied in the visible, keeps returning to my mind, I keep affirming and praising, and stating the fact… when it is the right occasion to do so. If my concern is for a fellow-believer, then I keep remembering that, if God has predestinated all believers to be conformed to the image of His Son, He will infallibly do what He says, and by faith I can keep seeing Him in that one, completing what He has begun.
So there it is. We are introduced by the eye of faith into another dimension, a world-to-come, where there is a dissolution in our consciousness, by the authority of the Word of God, of illusory separation; and some scientific discoveries of our day can help rid us of our inhibiting materialistic outlook, and to glimpse both through the Scriptures and by scientific hypothesis… our union with a timeless God; and that means the outworking, through the operations of His faith in us, of His purposes, which in His sight, are already in existence, and a faint fore-shadowing of the ultimate glory in our oneness in a one Christ in whom the whole universe will be one in us.
So learn to release your burdens, not carry them. Prayer itself may often be unbelief, for instead of glorying in a God who has already done, in the invisible, what is not yet apparent in the visible, we are nagging at Him to do it! Many a time we are so burdened and occupied in hopelessly hoping for an answer to a prayer we have not really believed, that we have no freedom or largeness of heart to encompass the burdens of others or of a world. A wife can set her husband’s salvation back by her “burden” for him, often expressed in unwise preaching at him! Whereas, if she releases him to God by the act of deliberate faith, and keeps repeating that act, she will be more occupied in hopefully loving him than in unbelievingly tearing him down. A mother can be so obsessed with the need of her unsaved children, instead of releasing them to God in faith in the accomplished fact, that she has no heart or vision for the thousands of other unsaved mothers’ sons. Prayer meetings also are dead affairs when they are really asking sessions: there is adventure, hope, and life when they are believing sessions, and the faith is corporately, practically and deliberately affirmed.
PRAYER and the FOURTH DIMENSION [Norman P. Grubb] 1