Word of Encouragement
The following is a digest of John Owen’s excellent work entitled ‘Communion with the Triune God’ for those who may not have the time to read it right now but would like to benefit from the rich teaching.
John Owen on ‘Communion with God’ (Excerpts from his book and a digest of the truths therein).
How do I have communion with God? To experience communion with God we must first be reconciled to Him through faith in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ brings us into fellowship with the Triune God. Jesus reveals God to us and by His Spirit unites us to God. In God, we can have wonderful communion and fellowship with the Eternal God.
“…Our fellowship (communion) is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. And we are writing these things so that our joy may be complete.”- 1 John 1:3-4
Owen wrote: “To experience communion with God there needs to be fellowship and communication: shared affections, response, delight, and satisfaction. Communion is active communion of giving and receiving.”
We have the privilege in Christ to seek God and to find Him. And to find in God one we can share our thoughts, read and meditate upon His words to us and delight and be satisfied by this fellowship. Like the most intimate relationships we have on earth, true communion is to share oneself; it is to enjoy one another; it is to delight and be satisfied. Isn’t is an amazing truth that the God of the universe whom we by nature have offended with our sins, has sought us out in Christ to have intimate fellowship and relationship with us?!
We were created for fellowship with God. Only in God do we find what our hearts are ultimately desire; God alone satisfies our souls. God gives by His Spirit through His Word and we receive from Him the grace to live on Him and in Him.
The Spirit of God by His grace makes possible our communion with God. The Spirit of God is particularly the One who is sent as Sanctifier and Comforter of God’s people in Christ (John 14-16). The Spirit brings life from our deadened hearts, and unites us with Jesus Christ so that we might have fellowship and communion with God.
Owen wrote: “The Spirit as Sanctifier comes with power, to conquer an unbelieving heart; the Spirit as Comforter comes with sweetness to be received in a believing heart.”
The Spirit not only enables us to have communion with the Triune God, but He makes us desire communion as we seek after Him. The Spirit makes our communion sweet. Whatever rules over our affections, rules our emotions and thoughts and will. What we love the most; what is most sweet to us is what will rule the entire person.
But as Christians in this world, we still struggle against our sins, and so we must by faith seek the Spirit’s help in our communion with God. Our flesh will fight against us (“war against us” Gal. 5:16), and prevent us from doing what we desire in seeking God (Gal. 5:16-26; Romans 7:13ff). As we realize this inward conflict, we must seek Christ all the more for help by His Spirit. For those who recognize their emptiness and need, the Spirit takes us to Christ.
Owen wrote: “Assure yourself then, there is nothing more acceptable unto the Father, than for us to keep up our hearts unto Him as the Eternal Fountain of all that rich grace which flows out to sinners in the blood of Jesus.”
We have a constant, daily need for the grace of Christ. We are dependent upon Him for all things, and we submit humbly to Jesus for a greater and deeper communion with God. Our flesh will try to seek satisfaction from worldly things, even lawful worldly things, but we must never forget that God alone is the one who can satisfy the deepest longings of our soul. We must keep our hearts unto Him by His gracious Spirit, as we reflect on the death of Christ and the mercy God has shown to us in Him.
By nature, God is far from us, therefore we must always think of God’s divine attributes, or the truths about God, through the lens of Christ. We can be confident that in Christ as our Mediator, we will always receive mercy and grace in our time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16). Christ gives us confidence before God, and in Christ we can know that God is for us.
As sinful people, we learn in creation that God is above us (Rom. 1:19ff); in the Law we learn that God is against us (Rom. 8:3-4); in Christ Jesus we learn by God’s Spirit that God is for us and if God is for us, who can be against us?! (Romans 8:31). How are we to be confident and sure that God is for us in Christ? We have confidence by the fact that Jesus who died for sinners is also raised for us and seated at God’s right hand. God has received a down-payment of our flesh in heaven, and so has sent a down-payment of heaven to us by His Spirit.
Owen wrote: “For as God has given us the earnest (down payment) of His Spirit, so Has He received from us the earnest of the flesh, and has carried it with Him into heaven as a pledge of that completed entirety which is one day to be restored.”
This means that the Spirit takes from Christ and gives to us in our humanity all that we need for life and godliness. Christ satisfies our souls. The Spirit enables us to live for Christ and strengthens us against sin by taking from the glorified humanity of Jesus in heaven. The Spirit is a down-payment now of the full and eternal communion that awaits us for all eternity. We can have a part of eternity now as God has poured out His Spirit into our hearts and grants us His loving presence (Romans 5:5; 2 Cor. 1:21-22).
How does God draw us into close communion with Him by His Spirit? By teaching us of His loving thoughts toward us. God reveals His love to us so that we can delight in Him. Everything that Jesus did in His life, death, resurrection, and is doing in His ascended Heavenly ministry at God’s right, is for us, for His beloved.
Owen wrote: “From eternity He had thoughts of what He would do for us, and delighted Himself therein. And when Jesus was in the world, in all He went about, He had still this thought: ‘This is for them, and this is for them- -my beloved’.”
Let us think on the promises of God in Christ. All of God’s promises are “yes” and “amen” in Christ Jesus! We can draw from God’s promises to us in Christ so that we might draw nearer to Him and benefit from communion with Him.
Owen wrote: “The life and soul of all our comforts lie treasured up in the promises of Christ. God’s promises in Christ are the breasts of all our consolation.”
Our communion with God will encourage us to be more intentional in our obedience to God. We will know and experience more of the liberating power from the Spirit, and we will live more freely from our sins. Our communion with God will become more of a delight and liberty rather than a mere duty. Prayer will be more frequent and necessary for our souls to be filled up with Christ.
Owen wrote: “God’s Spirit brings spiritual freedom, love, and rest. This freedom is a freedom for obedience, not a freedom from it. Slaves take liberty from duty; children have liberty in duty….The soul is never more raised with the love of God than when by the Spirit it is taken into intimate communion with God in prayer.”
Let us rejoice in our communion with God and let us seek that heavenly communion with God now as we live here, hoping and awaiting heaven when all of our desires will be fully realized and satisfied.
ESV Colossians 3:1-4: If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
Ponder the love of God for you.
IN Christ’s love,