Communion With God (John Owen)

About the "reset"

I started to process, for my own benefit, Communion with God, using the "IEW" method, but it just wasn't working for me. So I "hit the reset" on it

People with reading disabilities should be able to have access to meaningful texts. I've self-published a book of Aesop's Fables that have been brought into alignment with the program that I use for tutoring, and I'm working on another.

I have decided to tackle a huge project - Communion With God.

Problems with the text

John Owen is difficult for me - there is archaic language, odd sentence structure, and complex words. Two of the "readability factors" are the number of words in a sentence, and the number of sentences that use the "passive voice". Owens loses on both.

Owen loves run on sentences and paragraphs that last for several pages.

He sometimes doesn't just say what he wants to say, he alludes to what he wants to say and then says it three sentences later.

Snippet of the Day

The manifestation of grace and pardoning mercy, which is the only door of entrance into any such communion, is not committed unto any but unto him alone in whom it is, by whom that grace and mercy was purchased, through whom it is dispensed, who reveals it from the bosom of the Father. Hence this communion and fellowship with God is not in express terms mentioned in the Old Testament. The thing itself is found there; but the clear light of it, and the boldness of faith in it, is discovered in the gospel, and by the Spirit administered therein.

Communion With God, John Owen, page 15.

The words I have the most problem with are manifestation (sounds like a ghost), dispensation (sounds like the rapture and tribulation) and administered (sounds like a school principal).

All of these words have a modern meaning and then they have the meaning that Owen used.

Owen is saying is that the saints of the Old Testament didn't enjoy the clear fellowship and full communion with God. Jesus had not yet been made incarnate and the church had not yet been given the Holy Spirit.

Communion and fellowship are there (in the Old Testament saints) but they are not clear and bold. This boldness and clear access to God is discovered in the gospel and it is shown to us by the Holy Spirit.

My writing above is a paraphrase, not a decoding.

The decoded version:

The only path into communion with God comes by the gift of grace and forgiving mercy. This gift is not given to everyone, but only those who whom grace and mercy are purchased. They come through Jesus Christ - the One the gifts flow through, and through the Holy Spirit - the One who reveals it from the heart of the Father.

This communion and fellowship with God is not found in plain terms in the Old Testament. Communion and fellowship are found there, but the clear language of them, and the boldness of faith are both discovered in the gospel and by the Spirit delivered in that gospel.

In the last post...

The author spoke about the world and why the world would find communion with God and fellowship with the saints to be undesirable.

Communion with God is desirable

John told his readers that unbelievers would indeed see disadvantages in the fellowship of believers, but those disadvantages were only apparent to the worldly eye. But to believers, to the saints, this fellowship is very honorable, it's glorious and very desirable.

We can boldly say with the apostle, "the Saints of God have communion with Him."

and indeed our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ. (1 John 1:3)

This fellowship is holy and spiritual and it is written in the Scriptures so succinctly that Owen will fully upack it and open the meaning up to us.

The block of the day

To prevent or remove these and the like exceptions, the apostle gives them to whom he wrote to know (and that with some earnestness of expression), that notwithstanding all the disadvantages their fellowship lay under, unto a carnal view, yet in truth it was, and would be found to be (in reference to some with whom they held it), very honourable, glorious, and desirable.

For “truly,” saith he, “our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”This being so earnestly and directly asserted by the apostle, we may boldly follow him with our affirmation, — namely, “That the saints of God have communion with him.” And6a holy and spiritual communion it is, as shall be declared. How this is spoken distinctly in reference to the Father and the Son, must afterward be fully opened and carried on

Communion With God, by John Owen, Christian Classics Ethereal Library

MzEllen's posts

Communion with God (my intro)

Communion With God 1.1

Part 1 - We have communion with God, but our communion is specific - we have a distinct fellowship with each Person of the Trinity.

Christians are assured by John that the fellowship of believers (the invisible church) is "and indeed (or truly) our fellowship is with the Father and with his Son Jesus Christ." (1)

John uses the "indeed" or "truly" to give us the force of his declaration. He doesn't just want us to know this, he wants us to absorb this.

The next paragraph I'm going to do backward:

The world will ask: Why should I want communion with "them" (believers). Communion with them will bring nothing but trouble, shame, mocking and all sorts of bad things.

But believers do invite the world to join them in fellowship, they invite unbelievers to partake with them the precious things of eternity.

To the world, these believers looked like the were the dregs of society, "very mean and contemptible". Their leaders were counted as filth and rubbish. Why would the world want fellowship with them?

The Text of the book: Part 1. Of Communion with each Person distinctly - of Communion with the Father

Chapter 1.That the saints have communion with God — 1 John i. 3 considered to that purpose — Somewhat of the nature of communion in general.

IN the First Epistle of John, chap. 1, verse 3, the apostle assures them to whom he wrote that the fellowship of believers “is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ:” and this he does with such an unusual kind of expression as bears the force of an asseveration; whence we have rendered it, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.”

The outward appearance and condition of the saints in those days being very mean and contemptible, — their leaders being accounted as the filth of this world, and as the offscouring of all things, — the inviting others unto fellowship with them, and a participation of the precious things which they did enjoy, seems to be exposed to many contrary reasonings and objections:“What benefit is there in communion with them? Is it any thing else but to be sharers in troubles,reproaches, scorns, and all manner of evils?”

(1) 1 John 1:3

Communion With God, by John Owen, Christian Classics Ethereal Library

Communion with God (my intro)

So...I've been interested in the Puritans, but not real motivated. Our pastor highly recommended that we read Communion With God by John Owen, so I started doing the book study and was following the text really well, but not retaining.

John Owen Author Biography | Banner of Truth USA

This is going to be tedious, but a good exercise for me. I've taken a student through a segment of "Institutes for Excellence in Writing" and used the concepts with a couple of other students so I'm taking it for a test drive here.

The main idea is to pull key words from the text, step away for a few minutes and then rewrite the sentence using the *three* key words. For students with comprehension issues, this has been a lifesaver!

For the purposes here, with "Communion with God", just highlighting the key words has helped me.

My first issue is that Owen is, let's say...stingy...with paragraph breaks. My brain needs more breaks than that, so I'm taking them in chunks of just a few sentences.

I'm also trying to put the sentences in outline form, just so that I can better organize the thought process.

I'm using a study guide by Ryan McGraw (Alliance of Confessing Evangelicals - Meet the Puritans) we go.