Communion with God (32)

Other attributes of God manifest supremely in Christ.

Wisdom

Creation, providence and God’s governing the world exhibit his wisdom. “How manifold are his works in wisdom has he made them all; the earth is full of his riches,” Ps. 104:24. So in his providence, his supporting and guidance of all things; for all these things “come
forth from the LORD of hosts, who is wonderful in counsel, and excellent in working,” Isa. 28:29. His law also is for ever to be admired, for the excellency of the wisdom therein, Deut. 4: 7, 8. But yet there is that which Paul is astonished at, and wherein God will for ever be exalted, which he calls, “The depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God,” Rom. 11:33; — that is only hid in and revealed by Christ. Hence, as he is said to be “the wisdom of God,” and Christ to be “made unto us wisdom;” and a “mystery; even the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the world was; which none of the princes of this world knew,” In Eph. 3:10, it is called, “The manifold wisdom of God;” and to discover this wisdom angels only learn it by observing the building of God’s church.

The recovery of Eden, nay the surpassing glory of the new creation, that was lodged in Christ’s bosom from eternity, to recover things to such an estate as shall be exceedingly to the advantage of his glory, infinitely above what at first appeared, and for the putting of sinners into inconceivably a better condition than they were in before the entrance of sin.
“This is a great mystery,” Eph. 5:32, says the apostle; great wisdom lies herein.

Communion with God (31)

Owen goes on to speak of the patience, forbearance and longsuffering of God. There is no question he exercises his patience in providence and does not requite sinners as their deeds deserve. Notwithstanding all the providential good he does to wicked men are to make them all the more guilty. So the patience and forbearance out of Christ  actually contribute to men’s destruction.  Rom. 9:22, “What if God, willing to show his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much long-suffering the vessels of wrath fitted for destruction?” It was but to leave them inexcusable, that his power and wrath against sin might be manifested in their destruction. And therefore he calls it “a suffering of them to walk in their own ways,” Acts 14:16; which elsewhere he holds out as a most dreadful judgement.

However in Christ these qualities, particularly the last, are revealed clearly and pre-eminently in the salvation of his people. He only suffers long with his people (II Peter 3:9). He waits to be gracious to them (Isaiah 30:18) and his forbearance is salvation (Rom.3:25).

Adapted from John Owen

 

Communion with God (30)

God’s mercy and forgiveness is wholly wrapped up in the Lord Christ, and that out of him there is not the least conjecture to be made of it, nor the least morsel to be tasted. Had not God set forth the Lord Christ, all the angels in heaven and men on earth could not have apprehended that there had been any such thing in the nature of God as this grace of pardoning mercy. The apostle asserts the full manifestation as well as the exercise of this mercy to be in Christ only, Tit. 3:4, 5, “After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared,” namely, in the sending of Christ, and the declaration of him in the gospel. Then was this pardoning mercy and salvation not by works discovered.

His vindictive justice. God has, indeed, many ways manifested his indignation and anger against sin; so that men cannot but know that it is “the judgement of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death,” Rom. 1:32. He has in the law threatened to kindle a fire in his anger that shall burn to the very heart of hell. And even in many providential dispensations, “his wrath is revealed from heaven against all the ungodliness of men,” Rom. 1:18. So that men must say that he is a God of judgement. Consider:

  • The angels for sin were cast from heaven, shut up under chains of everlasting darkness unto the judgement of the great day
  • Sodom and Gomorrah were condemned with an overthrow, and burned into ashes, that they might be “examples unto those that should after live ungodly,” 2 Pet. 2: 6
  • God’s wrath could not be diverted from sinners without the interposing of a propitiation. God would admit of no atonement but in his (Christ’s) blood.

John Owen

 

Communion with God (29)

Owen states that God can only be truly known through Christ and to this Scripture agrees: 1 John 5:20, “The Son of God is come and has given us an understanding, that we may know him (God) that is true.” Christ in the revelation he makes of God and his will, is the great prophet of the church. God is known by creation in his eternal power and Godhead, but the life of this (full) knowledge of God lies in an acquaintance with his (that is Christ’s) person, wherein the express image and beams of this glory of his Father do shine forth, Heb. 1:3.

Other properties of God which, though also otherwise discovered, yet are so clearly, eminently, and savingly only in Jesus Christ; as

  •  His vindictive justice in punishing sin.
  •  His patience, forbearance, and long-suffering towards (elect) sinners
  •  His wisdom, in managing all things for his own glory
  •  His all-sufficiency, in himself and unto others. TBC

 

Communion with God (28)

Only in Christ can men know:

Love and pardoning mercy:—

[1.] Love; I mean love unto sinners. Without this, man is of all creatures most miserable; and there is not the least glimpse of it that can possibly be discovered but in Christ. The Holy Ghost says, 1 John 4:8, 16, “God is love;” that is, not only of a loving and tender nature, but one that will exercise himself in a dispensation of his love, eternal love, towards us, — one that has purposes of love for us (his sheep or elect) from of old, and will fulfil them all towards us in due season. But how is this demonstrated? how may we attain an acquaintance with it? He tells us, verse 9, “In this was manifested the love of God, because that God sent his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him.” This is the only discovery that God has made of any such property in his nature, or of any thought of exercising it towards sinners, — in that he has sent Jesus Christ into the world, that we might live by him.

[2.] Pardoning mercy, or grace. Without this, even his love would be fruitless. What discovery may be made of this by a sinful man, may be seen in the father of us all; who, when he had sinned, had no reserve for mercy, but hid himself, Gen. 3:8. He did it when the wind did but a little blow at the presence of God; and he did it foolishly, thinking to “hide himself among trees!” Pardoning mercy, that comes by Christ alone; that pardoning mercy which is manifested in the gospel, and wherein God will be glorified to all eternity, Eph. 1. Pardoning mercy is God’s free, gracious acceptance of a sinner upon satisfaction made to his justice in the blood of Jesus; It is forgiveness, tempered with exact justice and severity. Rom. 3:25, God is said “to set forth Christ to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness in the remission of sins;” his righteousness is also manifested in the business of forgiveness of sins: and therefore it is everywhere said to be wholly in Christ, Eph. 1:7. So that this gospel grace and pardoning mercy is alone purchased by him, and revealed in him. And this was the main end of all typical institutions (e.g. blood sacrifices), — to manifest that remission and forgiveness is wholly wrapped up in the Lord Christ. Had not God set forth the Lord Christ, all the angels in heaven and men on earth could not have apprehended that there had been any such thing in the nature of God as this grace of pardoning mercy. The apostle asserts the full manifestation as well as the exercise of this mercy to be in Christ only, Tit. 3:4, 5, “After that the kindness and love of God our Saviour towards man appeared,” namely, in the sending of Christ, and the declaration of him in the gospel. How this is to be had the Holy Ghost tells us, 1 John v. 20, “The Son of God is come and has given us an understanding, that we may know him that is true.” By him alone we have our understanding to know him that is true. Now, these properties of God Christ revealeth in his doctrine, in the revelation he makes of God and his will, as the great prophet of the church, John 17: 6.

John Newton

Communion with God (27)

Further revelation (after creation).

Wherefore the Lord goes farther; and by the works of his providence, in preserving and ruling the world which he made, discovers and reveals these properties also. For whereas by cursing the earth, and filling all the elements oftentimes with signs of his anger and indignation, he has, as the apostle tells us, Rom. 1:18, “revealed from heaven his wrath against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men;” yet not proceeding immediately to destroy all things, he has manifested his patience and forbearance to all. This Paul, Acts 14:16, 17, tells us: “He suffered all nations to walk in their own ways; yet he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave rain from heaven and fruitful seasons, filling their hearts with food and gladness.” A large account of his goodness and wisdom herein the psalmist gives us, Ps. 104 throughout. By these ways he bare witness to his own goodness and patience; and so it is said, “He endures with much long-suffering,” etc., Rom. 9: 22. But now, here all the world is at a stand; by all this they have but an obscure glimpse of God, and see not so much as his back parts. Moses saw not that, until he was put into the rock; and that rock was Christ. There are some of the most eminent and glorious properties of God (I mean, in the manifestation whereof he will be most glorious; otherwise his properties are not to be compared) that there is not the least glimpse to be attained of out of the Lord Christ, but only by and in him; and some that comparatively we have no light of but in him; and of all the rest no true light but by him.

Communion with God (26)

The sum of all true wisdom and knowledge may be reduced to these three heads:—

1. The knowledge of God, his nature and his properties.

2. The knowledge of ourselves in reference to the will of God concerning us.

3. Skill to walk in communion with God.

God, by the work of the creation, by the creation itself, did reveal himself in many of his properties unto his creatures capable of his knowledge; — his power, his goodness, his wisdom, his all-sufficiency, are thereby known. This the apostle asserts, Rom. 1:19–21 displays his eternal power and Godhead; and verse 21, a knowing of God: and all this by the creation. But yet there are some properties of God which all the works of creation cannot in any measure reveal or make known; — as his patience, long-suffering, and forbearance. (Or I would add his holiness, love, justice etc.-JK)

From John Owen.

Communion with God (25)

Another reason Christ is dear to us:

True wisdom, consists of the knowledge of God and this is hid in Christ alone, similarly no true knowledge of ourselves but in Christ, consisting the knowledge of sin and also of righteousness and of judgement. True wisdom is practised by walking with God  in Christ.

In I Cor. 1:24, the Holy Ghost tells us that “Christ is the power of God, and the wisdom of God:” not the essential Wisdom of God, as he is the eternal Son of the Father (upon which account he is called “Wisdom” in the Proverbs, chap. 8:22, 23); but as he is crucified, so he is the wisdom of God; that is, all that wisdom which God layeth forth for the discovery and manifestation of himself, and for the saving of sinners, which makes foolish all the wisdom of the world, — that is all in Christ crucified; held out in him, by him, and to be obtained only from him. And thereby in him do we see the glory of God, 2 Cor. iii. 18. For he is not only said to be “the wisdom of God,” but also to be “made unto us wisdom,” 1 Cor. 1:30. He is made this by ordination and appointment: Col. 2:3, “In him are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

Communion with God (24)

Christ is altogether lovely.

Lovely in his perfections, beauty, and comeliness; he is all wholly to be desired, to be beloved; —Lovely in his person, — in the glorious all-sufficiency of his Deity, gracious purity and holiness of his humanity, authority and majesty, love and power. Lovely in his birth and incarnation; when he was rich, for our sakes becoming poor, — taking part of flesh and blood, because we partook of the same; being made of a woman, that for us he might be made under the law, even for our sakes. Lovely in the whole course of his life, and the more than angelical holiness and obedience which, in the depth of poverty and persecution, he exercised therein; — doing good, receiving evil; blessing, and being cursed, reviled, reproached, all his days. Lovely in his death; yea, therein most lovely to sinners; — never more glorious and desirable than when he came broken, dead, from the cross. Then had he carried all our sins into a land of forgetfulness; then had remade peace and reconciliation for us; then had he procured life and immortality for us. Lovely in his whole employment, in his great undertaking, — in his life, death, resurrection, ascension; being a mediator between God and us, to recover the glory of God’s justice, and to save our souls, — to bring us to an enjoyment of God, who were set at such an infinite distance from him by sin. Lovely in the glory and majesty wherewith he is crowned. Now he is set down at the right hand of the Majesty on high; where, though he be terrible to his enemies, yet he is full of mercy, love, and compassion, towards his beloved ones. Lovely in all those supplies of grace and consolations, in all the dispensations of his Holy Spirit, whereof his saints are made partakers. Lovely in all the tender care, power, and wisdom, which he exercises in the protection, safe-guarding, and delivery of his church and people, in the midst of all the oppositions and persecutions whereunto they are exposed. Lovely in all his ordinances, and the whole of that spiritually glorious worship which he has appointed to his people, whereby they draw nigh and have communion with him and his Father. Lovely and glorious in the vengeance he taketh, and will finally execute, upon the stubborn enemies of himself and his people. Lovely in the pardon he has purchased and does dispense, — in the reconciliation he has established, — in the grace he communicates, — in the consolations he does administer, — in the peace and joy he gives his saints, — in his assured preservation of them unto glory. What shall I say? there is no end of his excellencies and desirableness; — “He is altogether lovely. This is our beloved, and this is our friend, O daughters of Jerusalem.”

From John Owen’s treatise:

communion

Communion with God (23)

Remember we said that in our likening the covenant between Christ and his people to a marriage the love between the two consisted:

  • Mutual resignation of one to the other
  • Mutual delight in the other.

So on our part we freely, willingly consent to receive, embrace, and submit unto the Lord Jesus, as our husband, Lord, and Saviour, — to abide with him, subject their souls unto him, and to be ruled by him for ever. This we do initially upon conversion but also subsequently all our days.  The delight in Christ, for his excellency, grace, and suitableness, far above all other beloveds whatever, preferring him in the judgement and mind above them all. In the place above mentioned, Song of Solomon 5:9, the spouse being earnestly pressed, by professors at large, to give in her thoughts concerning the excellency of her Beloved in comparison of other endearments, answereth expressly, that he is “the chiefest of ten thousand, yea,” verse 16, “altogether lovely,” infinitely beyond comparison with the choicest created good or endearment imaginable. The soul takes a view of all that is in this world, “the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life,” and sees it all to be vanity, — that “the world passeth away, and the lust thereof,” 1 John 2: 16, 17. These beloveds are no way to be compared unto him. It views also legal righteousness, blamelessness before men, uprightness of conversation, duties upon conviction, and concludes of all as Paul does, Phil. 3:8, “Doubtless, I count all these things loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord.”

Adapted from John Owen’s “Communion with the Triune God.”

 Owen