Monday, December 08, 2008

Communion as Mutual Communication

John Owen in Volume 2 of his Works enlarges upon the subject'Of Communion with God the Father, Son and Holy Ghost'. He defines 'communion is the mutual communication of such good things as wherein the persons holding that communion are delighted, bottomed upon some union between them.'

'Our communion, then, with God consisteth in his communication of himself unto us, with our returnal unto him of that which he requireth and accepteth, flowing from that unions which in Jesus Christ we have with him. And it is twofold: - 1. Perfect and complete, in the full fruition of his glory and total giving up of ourselves to him, resting in him as our utmost end; which we shall enjoy when we see him as he is; - and, 2. Initial and incomplete, in the first fruits and dawnings of that perfection which we have here in grace; which only I shall handle.'

While Owen stresses communion with each member of the Godhead, he also emphasises the role of Christ the Mediator in access to God and these communications.'In every thing wherein we are made partakers of the divine nature, there is a communication and receiving between God and us; so near are we unto him in Christ.'

'The Father will have him to have "in all things the pre- eminence," Col. 1: 18; "it pleased him that in him all fulness should dwell," verse 19; that "of his fulness we might receive, and grace for grace," John 1: 16. Though the love of the Father's purpose and good pleasure have its rise and foundation in his mere grace and will, yet the design of its accomplishment is only in Christ. All the fruits of it are first given to him; and it is in him only that they are dispensed to us. So that though the saints may, nay, do, see an infinite ocean of love unto them in the bosom of the Father, yet they are not to look for one drop from him but what comes through Christ. He is the only means of communications. Love in the Father is like honey in the flower; - it must be in the comb before it be for our use. Christ must extract and prepare this honey for us. He draws this water from the fountain through union and dispensation of fulness; - we by faith, from the wells of salvation that are
in him.'

'That which lies hid in Christ, and is revealed from him is full of love, sweetness, tenderness, kindness, grace. It is the Lord waiting to be gracious to sinners; waiting for an advantage to show love and kindness, for the most eminent endearing of a soul unto himself, Isa. xxx. 18...'

How do we cultivate this mutual communication? 'The way and means, then, on the part of the saints, whereby in Christ they enjoy communion with God, are all the spiritual and holy actings and outgoings of their souls in those graces, and by those ways, wherein, both the moral and instituted worship of God doth consist.'

Yet these return communications are all through Christ. 'Our returns are all in him, and by him also. And well is it with us that it is so. What lame and blind sacrifices should we otherwise present unto God! He bears the iniquity of our offerings, and he adds incense unto our prayers. Our love is fixed on the Father; but it is conveyed to him through the Son of his love. He is the only way for our
graces as well as our persons to go unto God; through him passeth all our desire, our delight, our complacency, our obedience'.

There are a few marks of this communion and mutual communication drawn from Song of Solomon chapter 2.

(1.) Sweetness."He brought me to the banqueting-house," 'The grace exhibited by Christ in his ordinances is refreshing, strengthening, comforting, and full of sweetness to the souls of the saints.'
(2.) Delight. "Stay me with flagons, comfort me with apples; for I am sick of love." 'Upon the discovery of the excellency and sweetness of Christ in the banqueting-house, the soul is instantly overpowered, and cries out to be made partaker of the fulness of it.'
(3.) Safety. "His banner over me was love," 'The banner is an emblem of safety and protection, - a sign of the presence of an host...[there follows a phrase well worth committing to memory] All their protection is from his love; and they shall have all
the protection his love can give them.'
(4.) Comfort. Supportment and consolation, verse 6, "His left hand is under my head, and his right hand does embrace me." 'Now, "the hand under the head," is supportment, sustaining grace, in pressures and difficulties; and "the hand that does embrace," the hand upon the heart, is joy and consolation; - in both, Christ rejoicing, as the "bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride," Isa. 62: 5. Now, thus to lie in the arms of Christ's love, under a perpetual influence of supportment and
refreshment, is certainly to hold communion with him.'