Yours in Christ: Pastoral Letters from Resurrection, State College

Communion With God the Father

Dear Resurrection,

Would you like to grow closer to God? When it comes to your relationship with God, do you feel like there’s a gap between your knowledge and your experience, your thoughts and your feelings? This month I’d like to share with you some gems from John Owen’s Communion With God, which is about how the Father, Son, and Spirit each draw near to you in a special way (Ephesians 2:18), inviting you into closer fellowship with God and helping you to grow in a deeper, living, heartfelt devotion to the Lord.

Owen starts with God the Father, focusing particularly on the Father’s “love—free, undeserved, and eternal love” (see, for example, 1 John 3:1, John 3:16; 2 Corinthians 13:14; John 16:27).  Some Christians know that Jesus loves them but aren’t sure whether the Father does. Instead, Owen encourages you to see the Father’s love “as the fountain from whence all other sweetnesses flow.” God the Father doesn’t love us based on our performance or because of anything good he sees in us. Rather, Owen says, the Father’s love “is the love of a spring, of a fountain,” and “every thing that is lovely” gets its loveliness from His love.

So how can this get lived out in your relationship with God? “Communion,” Owen says, “consists in giving and receiving.” So the first thing to do is to receive God’s love, and you do that “by faith.” “The receiving of it,” Owen says, “is the believing of it.”

The other half of communion is giving, and for a Christian that means loving God. Love, Owen says, is “an affection of union and nearness.” Proverbs 23:26 says, “My son, give me your heart,” and that is what God the Father is seeking from you, His beloved child.

Of course, when you single out the Father’s love for special attention, you shouldn’t forget how you come to know, feel, and experience that love—through Jesus! The Father’s love comes to you “through Christ,” Owen says, and in fact, when you return love back to the Father, you do that “through Christ” as well. Christ, he says, “is the treasury in which the Father disposes all the riches of his grace, taken from the bottomless mine of his eternal love; and he is the priest into whose hand we put all the offerings that we return to the Father.”

Grace-Based Action Point

In Psalm 116:7, David says, “Return, O my soul, to your rest; for the Lord has dealt bountifully with you.” “The soul gathers itself from all its wanderings, from all other beloveds,” Owen writes, “to rest in God alone—to satiate and content itself in him; choosing the Father for his present and eternal rest. And this also with delight.” So as you seek to grow deeper in your relationship with God, let your heart be “much taken up with . . . the Father’s love.” If you do, Owen says you “cannot choose but be overpowered, conquered, and endeared to him. . . . Exercise your thoughts upon this very thing, the eternal, free, and fruitful love of the Father, and see” God work in your heart “to delight in him.”

Yours in Christ,

Pastor Simmons

P.S. All quotations are from this edition.