Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

Communion With Christ

Dear Resurrection,

After describing the special communion we have with God the Father in love, John Owen goes on to describe the special communion we have with God the Son in grace (see 2 Corinthians 13:14).

This grace includes what Owen calls “purchased grace” (the blessings of forgiveness and acceptance with God that Jesus earned for us through what He did). But it’s not just that. Owen wants to focus our attention on what he calls “personal grace”—the grace that is found in Jesus Himself—who He is. Jesus came to earth “full of grace” (John 1:14). He is everything that the king described in Psalm 45 was meant to picture: “You are the most excellent of men and your lips have been anointed with grace” (Ps. 45:2a NIV).

As fully God and fully man, Jesus “fills up all the distance that was made by sin between God and us; and we who were far off are made near in him.” Whatever you lack, Jesus can give. “Is [a person] dead? Christ is life. Is he weak? Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God.” Guilty? “Christ is complete righteousness. . . . Whether it be life or light, power or joy, all is wrapped up in him.”

Owen is especially interested in the biblical image of Christ as the church’s heavenly husband. This spiritual marriage union is a mutual self-giving where “Christ makes himself over to the soul . . . and the soul gives up itself wholly to the Lord Christ.” In this relationship, everything lovely about us is given to us by Christ. “He loves life, grace, and holiness into us; he loves us also into covenant, loves us into heaven.”

As our heavenly husband, Christ delights in us (“As the bridegroom rejoices over the bride, so shall your God rejoice over you,” Isaiah 65:2b), and we respond by delighting in Him. (“Delight” Owen defines beautifully as “the flowing of love and joy.”) Christ values us as His treasured possession, and we respond by valuing Him above anything else in the world. Christ shows compassion to us, and we respond by giving ourselves in exclusive loyalty to Him. Christ showers us with His bounty of provision and blessing, and we respond with willing obedience. That is what communion with Christ in grace looks like.

Grace-Based Action Point

Owen challenges us to ask ourselves how our desire for Christ compares with our desires for other things. “What have you gotten by them?” Owen asks. “Let us see the peace, quietness, assurance . . . that they have given you?” Owen challenges us to fill our hearts instead with Christ. “You love him not, because you know him not,” which is why we spend so much of our lives “in idleness and folly, and wasting of precious time.” Owen asks the probing question: “Has Christ his due place in your hearts? Is he your all? Does he dwell in your thoughts?” So often we live as though we “prefer almost anything in the world” to thinking seriously about the glory and goodness of Christ. “What poor, low, perishing things do we spend our contemplations on!” when Christ’s “excellency, glory, beauty, depths, deserve the flower of our inquiries, the vigour of our spirits, the substance of our time.”

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons

P.S. All quotations are from this edition.