Friday, April 5, 2019


This is from an email Rodger sent to me. I found it incredibly helpful, and I'm sure others will as well. He gave me permission to share it here, after making some minor edits.

The very fact of there being the word of God makes it vividly clear that God wants to communicate with us. As we look into the contents of His word, we find that this is the overwhelming message from beginning to end. Whether it is that He calls to Adam (after Adam had disobeyed Him, fled from Him, and hid from Him), because He wants to converse with him; or that Jesus, the Son of God was in the world at the lowest level of society, where He was reachable by all, and was there the Teacher; or that when all is rectified in the creation, the central conclusion is "Behold, the tabernacle of God is with men, and he will dwell with them, and they shall be his people, and God himself shall be with them, and be their God" (Revelation 21:3). The prevailing truth is that God desires the company and communication of people with Himself. How tremendous is the fact of the Manhood of Christ, and the sonship of those indwelt by the Spirit? The closeness between God and man brought about in Christ could not be more.

We have many expectations, which may be misconceptions, about what should be in communion, and these all need to be brought under the scrutiny of the word of God.

First of all, that communion involves a sense of ecstasy or overwhelming emotion, or even just strong emotion. Basically, a high and pleasant state of emotion. We are emotional by created constitution, but obsessed with our emotion by the ruining of sin. Emotion there may be, but most often that becomes our focus: to reach emotion is to reach the height of communion, its end. But now we are turning in on ourselves, delighting in our own emotional state, rather than in God Himself. To know God, to delight in Him, may cause emotions, but these must be "put in their place," so to speak.

Secondly, we often think we must be in a certain perfection of life and spirituality to commune with God. This puts us in a position where we think falsely about God, and deceive ourselves about ourselves. We play spiritual dress-up, and speak to God in a costume that we know we both can see through. It is all false and hollow.

Is communion interrupted by sin? Yes, so far as we are in sin turned away from God. But at the moment we are honest and open, at that exact point, we commune with God about the matter. We know Him and ourselves really, but this brings us together, rather than apart. There is a perfect correspondence in God to what we are in our sin, and that is mercy and grace. When He made Himself known to Moses it was as "The Lord, The Lord God, merciful and gracious, longsuffering, and abundant in goodness and truth, keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin, and that will by no means clear the guilty; visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children, and upon the children's children, unto the third and to the fourth generation" (Exodus 34:6–7). He has not changed, He remains merciful and gracious, which is what our sin needs; but now it is far greater, it is all in the light: 1 John 1:3–7. He is no longer God in thick blackness, whose back only may be glimpsed, but who is fully and continuously seen in Christ. Our sins are out in the open, and God is out in the open, and the blood of Jesus Christ cleanses us from all sin.

To commune with God we must primarily know where we stand in relation to Him. This brings us back to the thing that most defines us, and that is the act of Christ, on our behalf as our Substitute, upon the cross. The conclusiveness of what took place at that moment has entirely and irreversibly redefined us.

The Christian is one who is entirely in Christ. It is a position, but not just a position: a position within a Person. This makes it not just a location, but personal and relational in its whole nature. They are entirely identified and associated with Him: they are in Christ. Not just a Person, but the Son of God, the Son who always has and will please the Father; and a Man of constitution like ours, a Man who has taken total responsibility for our condemnation, and now for our whole self and life. So, there is in who Christ is, the most perfect adaptation of God to man, most perfect acceptance of (M)an by God, and full expression of the Most High's desire for people to be in His company. And to have the position before God (as opposed to the former position we were in), of being in Christ, is the absolute consummation of this desire. It carries us so very near in nearness that can we say there is even a breath of distance between? And what could be more normal to such a place than to commune, to converse, to communicate freely and openly with God who now tells us to call Him Father? He has laid upon us the blessing of "boldness and access with confidence by the faith of (Christ Jesus our Lord)" (Ephesians 3:12).

There are two men who particularly illustrate a life of communion: David and Enoch. And the striking thing is that they greatly predate the salvation that is ours in the Lord Jesus Christ, following His death, resurrection, ascension and sending of the Holy Spirit. In the NT we do not have something functionally different than they had, but the same-plus. It shares the basic nature of the communion they had with the Lord, but is also far greater, in standing, relationship, knowledge, etc.

David was the man who continually referred his situation to the Lord (this has been said to be the reason he is called a man after the Lord's heart). That is, he turned to the Lord in his circumstances at once, both to tell the Lord about them, and to have the Lord's mind about them. There was a certain sort of immediacy and simplicity in the way he did this. He did not make a preparation to present himself to the Lord, but was ever ready to honestly cry out, and to confess, and to pour out his heart. We could say he had an open relationship with the Lord.

This made him sometimes, in his earnestness, do things that his fellows didn't understand, sudden actions or shifts in his direction. Whether dancing before the Lord as the ark came in, or deciding not to kill Saul, or pouring out the water from Bethlehem. David was a man who communicated much with the Lord, and it kept him in the consciousness of the Lord's sight and presence and activity, which flowed out into how he lived.

When we think of the NT, gospels and epistles, how many different modes of communication are given us, corresponding to the different facets and situations of our one life. But all these are through the one form of praying, or speaking to God. We are told to praise God, worship God, give thanks to Him, lay our burdens upon Him, call upon Him, make our requests known to Him, supplicate Him. All in all, to speak to God out of all circumstances, and concerning all things.

Enoch was the man known for distinctly walking with God. The thought of walking is forward motion and action, and this while in communication with God. We cannot think that Enoch walked with God in mutual silence, can we?

His life was a life of progress, down a certain path, and in continual company with a Person. All his activity was something done in company with the Lord: his work, his family life, his art, or whatever else. He lived with God, but not in stationary contemplation: Enoch was in motion with God. And the sum of his life was that he pleased God (Hebrews 11:5). The sense we get from Hebrews 11 and Genesis 5, is that God was so pleased that a man wanted to always keep company with Him, that He couldn't refrain from taking him to Himself.

The New Testament epistles make 30+ references to walking, across the writings of Paul, Peter, John and Jude. The outstanding statements are to walk after the Spirit, and walk in the Spirit (Romans 8, Galatians 5). This means that the Person of God has come to dwell with us, within us, bringing us into closest company. The result is that we walk with God: we go forward together in all the activities of life.

The final thing is that we must do it. We must commune with God. There is nothing to hinder us but our own hesitations, and He is waiting and wanting for us to communicate with Him. But this is the thing we so entirely hold back from. We go after all sorts of preparations, teaching ourselves so much, and keep out of the single thing we need (!), the thing we are called to: to do it, to practically commune with our God.

We must not wait for more knowledge, or a better state of heart, or to make preparations in any way. We tend so often toward being one-dimensional, reducing things to far below their potential, down into doing something in one way at one time, i.e. into a form or routine. But everything we see in the word of God, even in the examples of David and Enoch, is against this. We cannot be so narrow and small when we consider what God reveals He intends for us by communion. It is to be our way of life.

We must not hesitate, but do the only thing that makes sense in the situation we are placed as a result of the once-for-all act of our Saviour; the only thing that makes sense for us as in Christ.

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