Communion with the Trinity (part 2): Fellowship with the Father
Too many Christians tend to think about communion with God in a way that could be predominantly characterized as abstract, detached and even impersonal. So, it is no surprise that we often view prayer as difficult and daunting, because we feel as though every time we try to pray, we are overcoming a distance that stands between where we are and the intimacy with God that we desire.
This is why it is very good news that the way in which our fellowship with God the Father is framed throughout scripture is in terms of his love for us, which tells us that meaningful communion with God the Father will be very difficult unless we get ahold of his love in a way that pushes beyond the realm of nice ideas into the world in which we live.
Owen writes, “This is the great discovery of the gospel!”
At one time it was impossible for us to know the Father in any way other than in terms of his just wrath, anger and indignation against sin, but through the transforming power of the gospel his unwavering disposition toward you is love. God the Father loves you and this reality is not some sort of nebulous abstraction. He has set his affection on you!
This is the unfaltering call of the writers of scripture, to see our relationship with the Father through the lens of his love …
Titus 3:4–6 — But when the goodness and loving kindness of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit, whom he poured out on us richly through Jesus Christ our Savior,
Don’t miss what Titus says here.
The fountain—the source—of your salvation is the Father’s goodness and love for you!
That is the jumping off point.
However, the sad reality is that this great discovery of the gospel has never permeated many Christian’s lives to the point that they are able to live in light of the fact that they have a Father who loves them and desires them to experience his affection for them! And because the application of this truth to their own lives has eluded them, their communion with the Father has necessarily suffered.
Notice three observations John makes about the Father’s love in 1 John 4:7-8…
1 John 4:7–8 — Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love.
In these two verses John provides at least three insights into the Father’s love…
1. God is the source of love (“from God”)
2. Real love is evidence of a relationship with God (“whoever loves…”)
3. Love is at the core of God’s nature (“God is love”)
But he knows that for some of us this is too ethereal; we may be prone to think of this simply as flowery pie in the sky. It sounds nice but fails to elicit significant change the way you see your life and walk with God. And so we get verse 9…
1 John 4:9 — In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him.
We can tend to think that because of what Jesus did, God the Father loves me… i.e., “Yeah, I know God the father had it out for me, but Jesus died for me and got me off the hook, so now the Father loves me.”
But the reality is that Jesus’ death on the cross is not the cause of the Father’s love for you.
Jesus death on the cross is the effect of the Father’s love for you, and this makes all the difference.
John 3:16 For God so loved the world that he gave…
The “so loved” comes before the “that he gave.”
Jesus’ death in your place for your sin is evidence of the Father’s love for you before Jesus went to the cross, not after.
Until you get a hold of the depth of God the Father’s love for you, you will not be able to commune with in him in the way that he desires to commune with you. Because his love is the gateway of you enjoying the fullest, deepest, most intimate fellowship with him.
**Throughout this series (see part one here), I want to make clear that I come at this whole idea not as an expert but as someone who is very much on the journey of growing in the grace of communion with God. John Owen, the puritan pastor and theologian, has been exceedingly helpful in opening my eyes to what must take place in my own heart in order for my fellowship with God to become what God has invited me to experience.