John Owen on the Gospel and Communion With God

Yesterday I began a series of posts inspired by the introductory materials to the forthcoming Crossway book, Communion With the Triune God by John Owen.

One major preoccupation of this blog which has been overarching much of my writing has been that of the Gospel itself. In an age which tends to assume or even deny the Gospel, I have been eager to examine it again. This major theme has been inspired by the Together for the Gospel Statement, which I will return shortly to blogging my way through. I have also looked at the atonement, which is the foundation of the Gospel, how we are to preach that Gospel, and how we can be missional and share that Gospel. Owen’s emphasis on the goal of the Gospel is vital for us today.

The theme of Owen’s book is an experiential relationship with God, which is also no stranger to this blog. I love the way that Owen identifies this with the Gospel. It reminds me of John Piper, who insisted in one of his books that it is God himself who is the Gospel.

In the following quote from the Forward of Communion With the Triune God we find the following Owen-inspired definition of the Gospel:

“The gospel is the good news that in Christ there is union and communion with God. According to Owen, communion involves “mutual relations” between God and humankind—a giving and receiving—but it does not follow that God and humankind are equal partners. Only God can bring about the union that establishes and enables the subsequent communion. Humans enjoy fellowship with God, therefore, only by actively participating in what God has unilaterally done for them in Christ through the Spirit. Owen may here have something to teach contemporary theology concerning the nature of human participation in God’s triune life, namely, that participation, like communion itself, is neither a legal fiction nor idle piety, but rather the meat and drink of the Christian life. We appropriate the friendship God offers through the workings of his Word and Spirit in and through our natural human faculties.” (page 12)

I pray that the 21st century Church will learn to “appropriate the friendship God offers.” What better description of the Christian experience could there be? Join me tomorrow as I share another gem from this forthcoming book.

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