Finally, brethren, farewell. Be perfect, be of good comfort, be of one mind, live in peace; and the God of love and peace shall be with you.
~ 2 Corinthians 13:11
For thou, Lord, art good, and ready to forgive; and plenteous in mercy unto all them that call upon thee. But thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.
~ Psalm 86:5, Psalm 86:15
Until the day break, and the shadows flee away, turn, my beloved, and be thou like a roe or a young hart upon the mountains of Bether.
~ Song of Solomon 2:17
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.
~ Revelation 22:17
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
~ Hebrews 12:6
Communion with the Father, by John Owen. The following contains an excerpt from his work, “Communion with God Of Communion with God the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost,Each Person Distinctly, in Love, Grace, and Consolation; or The Saints’ Fellowship with the Father, Son, and Holy Ghost Unfolded.Fellowship with Father, Son and Holy Spirit”.
‘God is love’ (1 John 4:8).
‘Tell me, O thou whom my soul loveth, where thou feedest’ (S. of S. 1:7).
‘Make haste, my beloved’ (S. of S. 8:14).
‘Grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption’ (Eph. 4:20).
‘Now there are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. And there are differences of administrations, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of operations, but it is the same God’ (1 Cor. 12:4–6).
The chief way by which the saints have communion with the Father is love—free, undeserved, eternal love. This love the Father pours on the saints. Saints are to see God as full of love to them. They are to receive Him as the One Who loves them and are to be full of praise and thanksgiving to God for His love. They are to show gratitude for His love by living a life that pleases Him.
This is the great truth of the gospel. Commonly, the Father, the first person in the Trinity, is seen as only full of wrath and anger against sin. Sinful men can have no other thoughts of God (Rom 1:18; Isa 33:13-14; Hab 1:13; Psa 5:4-6; Eph 2:3). But in the gospel, God is now revealed especially as love, as full of love to us. To bring home to us this great truth is the special work of the gospel (Ti 3:4).
God is love. In 1 John 4:8, “God” refers to the Father. This is clear from the following verse, where God is seen as distinct from His only begotten Son Whom He sends into the world. “Now,” says John, “the Father is love. He is not only infinitely gracious, tender, compassionate, and loving in His nature, but also He is One Who gives Himself supremely and especially to us freely in love.” So, John declares this in the following verses. This is love, this is that which I would have you specially to note about the Father. The Father shows His love to you in sending “his only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through him” (4:9). The Father “loved us, and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (4:10). And what is especially to be noted is that God’s love for us was before all that Christ has purchased for us (Eph 1:4-6).
Love is distinctly ascribed to God the Father. In 2 Corinthians 13:14, Paul ascribes grace to our Lord Jesus Christ, fellowship to the Holy Spirit, but love to God the Father. The fellowship of the Spirit is mentioned with the grace of Christ and the love of God because it is by the Spirit alone that we have fellowship with Christ in grace and with the Father in love.
The Father Himself loves us. In John 16:26-27, Jesus said, “I say not unto you, that I will pray the Father for you:For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.”
But doesn’t Jesus contradict Himself? Has He not plainly said, “I will pray the Father (for you)” (Joh 14:16)?
Jesus had spoken many gracious words to His disciples. He had given them many comforting and faithful promises. He had revealed heavenly truths to them. So, they were fully convinced of His great love for them and that He would continue to care for them. They knew that He would not forget them when He had gone from them back into heaven. But now all their thoughts were on the Father. How would He accept them? How would He treat them?
Jesus, in effect, says, “Don’t worry about that. I do not have to pray that the Father may love you, for this is His special attitude towards you. He Himself loves you. It is true indeed that I will pray the Father to send you the Spirit, the Comforter. But as for that free, eternal love, there is no need for Me to pray for that because above all things the Father loves you. Be fully assured in your hearts that the Father loves you. Have fellowship with the Father in His love. Have no fears or doubts about His love for you. The greatest sorrow and burden you can lay on the Father, the greatest unkindness you can do to Him is not to believe that He loves you.”
The Holy Spirit sheds abroad in our hearts the love of God. In Romans 5:5, Paul says, “The love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.” God, Whose love this is, is clearly distinguished from the Holy Spirit Who pours out His love. In Romans 5:8, God is clearly distinguished from the Son, for it is from the love of God that the Son is sent. Therefore, Paul is speaking of the Father. And what is it that Paul especially ascribes to the Father? It is love. Paul declares God’s love to us in this wonderful way in order that we may wake up to it and wholeheartedly believe it and receive it. To impress this truth on us, Paul calls the Father “the God of love” (2Co 13:11). John tells us that God is love and that whoever wishes to know God or to dwell in fellowship with God, must dwell in Him as He is love (1Jo 4:8, 16).
In God there are two sorts of love. There is His love of good pleasure and His determination to do good, and also a love of friendship and acceptance.
It was His love of good pleasure and His determination to do good that was the reason why He sent His only begotten Son (Joh 3:16; Rom 9:11-12; Eph 1:4-5; 2Th 2:13-14; 1Jo 4:8-9).
Then, there is His love of friendship and acceptance. “If a man love me,” says Christ, “he will keep my words:and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him” (Joh 14:23). The love of friendship and acceptance is especially ascribed to the Father. Christ says, “We will come,” that is, the Father and the Son, “to such a one and dwell with him,” that is, by the Spirit. Yet in all this, Christ would have us take note that in the matter of love, the Father has a special right or privilege. “My Father will love him.”
This love is especially to be recognized as in God. So, this love of the Father is to be seen as the fountain or source of all other acts of God’s grace to us. Christians are often very worried as to whether God loves them or not. They are fully persuaded of Christ’s love and goodwill to them, but the difficulty they have is whether the Father accepts them and loves them. Philip said, “Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us” (Joh 14:8). Such thoughts ought to be far from us. The Father’s love ought to be looked on as the source from which all other loves flow. Paul said to Titus, “But after that the kindness and love of God our Saviour toward man appeared” (Ti 3:4). He is here speaking of the Father’s love, for he goes on to say that that love revealed itself in His mercy in saving us through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Ghost, Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior (vv. 5-6). It is this love of the Father to which Paul points us that brought us into our present state of being saints, for Paul reminds us that “we ourselves also were sometimes foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another” (v. 3). But what brought the great change in us? It was “the kindness and love of God our Saviour” (v. 4). And how did that kindness and love of God show itself? Why, it showed itself in His merciful salvation and the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, Whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior.
In order to assure us of His love to us, the Father compares Himself to a father, a mother, a shepherd, a hen protecting her chicks, and the like (Psa 103:13; Isa 63:16; Mat 6:6; Isa 66:13; Psa 23:1; Isa 40:11; Mat 23:37). No further proof is needed. So, we can clearly say that there is in the person of the Father a special love to the saints by which He has communion with them.
If we are to have communion with the Father in love, two things are required of us. We must receive the love of the Father, and we must show gratitude and love to the Father.
Believers must receive the love of the Father. Communion or fellowship lies in giving and receiving. Until the love of the Father is received, we have no communion with the Father in love. How then is this love of the Father to be received in order that we may have fellowship with Him? There is only one way, and that is by faith. To receive the love of the Father is to believe that He does love us. God has so fully, so clearly, revealed His love that it may be received by faith. “Ye believe in God,” said Jesus (Joh 14:1). Jesus is here referring to the Father. And what is that which is to be believed in the Father? His love is to be believed, for God is love (1Jo 4:8).
It is true that we do not come directly to the Father by faith. We can only come to Him by the Son. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life:no man cometh unto the Father, but by me” (Joh 14:6). Christ is the merciful high priest over the house of God, by Whom we have access to the throne of grace. By Christ, we have access and acceptance with the Father. By Christ, we believe in God (1Pe 1:21). Through Christ, then, we have access to the Father; we behold the Father’s glory also and enjoy fellowship with the Father in His own special love. All this we receive by faith. As we come to the Father’s love through Christ, so the Father’s love comes to us through Christ. The light of the sun comes to us by its beams. By its beams, we see the sun; and by its beams, the sun touches us. Jesus Christ is the beam of His Father’s love; and through Him, the Father’s love reaches down and touches us. By Jesus Christ also, we see and experience and are led up to the Father’s love. If we, as believers, would meditate on this truth more and live in the light of it, there would be great spiritual growth in our walk with God.
This growth in our walk with God is what we are to aim at. Many dark and disturbing thoughts arise to hinder our walk with God. Few can rise to the height of the Father’s love by faith, so as to rest their souls in His love. They live far below it in the troublesome region of hopes and fears, storms and clouds. Abiding in the Father’s love, all is peace and quiet. But how to rise up to the height of the Father’s love they do not know. It is God’s will that He should always be seen as gentle, kind, tender, loving, and unchangeable. It is His will that we see Him as the Father and the great fountain and reservoir of all grace and love. This is what Christ came to reveal. Christ came to reveal God as a Father (Joh 1:18). It is the name of God as Father that Christ declares to those who are given Him out of the world (Joh 17:6). And this is what Christ leads us to because He is the only way of going to God as a Father (Joh 14:5-6). He leads us to God as love. By this, Christ gives us the rest that He promised us. We believe in God through Christ (1Pe 1:21). Faith seeks out a place for the soul to rest. This rest is presented to the soul by Christ the Mediator. By Christ the soul has access into the Father’s love (Eph 2:18). Believers find that God is love and that He loved them from eternity. Believers learn that it was God’s will and purpose to love them from everlasting to everlasting in Christ and that all reason for God to be angry with us and treat us as His enemies has been taken away. The believer, being brought by Christ into the bosom of the Father, rests in the full assurance of God’s love and of never being separated from that love. This is the first act of communion that the believer has with the Father.
The response from us that God looks for, in return for His love, is love. God says to us, “My son, give me thine heart” (Pro 23:26). And God commands us to love Him with all our heart, soul, strength, and mind (Luk 10:27). This is the response God wants from us in return for His love to us. When the believer sees God as love, sees Him to be infinitely lovely and loving, and finds rest and peace for his soul in that love, then the believer has communion with the Father in love. This is love, that God loves us first; and then we love Him in response to His love. Love is a feeling or emotion of union and delight and desire to be near to the object loved. So long as the Father is seen as harsh, judging, and condemning, the soul is filled with fear and dread every time it comes to Him. So, in Scripture, we read of sinners fleeing and hiding from Him. But when God, Who is the Father, is seen as a father, filled with love, the soul is filled with love to God in return. This is, in faith, the ground of all acceptable obedience (Deu 5:10; 10:12; 11:1, 13; 13:3; Exo 20:6).
Paul tells us that God in His love chose us in Christ before the foundation of the world in order that we should be holy and without blame before Him (Eph 1:4). It all begins in the love of God and ends in our love to Him. That is what the eternal love of God aims to produce in us.
That the bodies of believers are the temples of the Holy Ghost; that God dwelleth in them by His Spirit; that they have received the Spirit of God; that they are led by the Spirit, walk in the Spirit, and have communion with the Holy Spirit; these truths are either expressed or strongly implied in almost every page of the New Testament.