Yesterday we shared a great definition of the Gospel taken from the Forward to the forthcoming Crossway book, Communion with the Triune God.
Today we will share more words from the introductory portions of that book which will explain this further and show the emphasis Owen placed on an experience of God: “I pray God with all my heart that I may be weary of everything else but converse and communion with him.” (John Owen, letter to Sir John Hartop, cited on page 14.) The editors explain this further:
. . we will begin by considering our relationship with God. To experience communion there needs to be fellowship and communication—e.g., shared affections, response, delight, and satisfaction. In other words, when Owen speaks of our communion with God, he really means active communion, and not merely a state of passivity. “Communion consists in giving and receiving.”
But to appreciate how this informs his view of spirituality, it is important to note that Owen maintains an essential distinction between union and communion. Believers are united to Christ in God by the Spirit. This union is a unilateral action by God in which those who were dead are made alive, those who lived in darkness begin to see the light, and those who were enslaved to sin are set free to be loved and to love. When one speaks of “union,” it must be clear that the human person is merely receptive, being the object of God’s gracious action.
This is the state and condition of all true saints. Communion with God, however, is distinct from union. Those who are united to Christ are called to respond to God’s loving embrace. While union with Christ is something that does not ebb and flow, one’s experience of communion with Christ can fluctuate.” (Page 21)