Communion with Jesus: A Lost Practice in the Church?

Communion with Jesus: a lost practice?

Is communion with Jesus a lost practice in the church?

Has it ceased to be a normal experience for those who say they believe in Jesus?

On a typical Sunday morning, congregational prayers are addressed only to God the Father.  No personal prayer of worship or adoration is addressed to Jesus.  Even prayers spoken before and after a sermon, in which Jesus is exalted, are offered only to God the Father: to whom, it is said, “Be all the glory!”  Likewise, thanks are given to the Father for giving us Jesus.  But seldom is thanks given to Jesus Himself for coming and dying.  And for rising from the dead and being highly exalted at the right hand of God.  Seldom is adoration and praise given to Jesus Himself for the things He has done and for the wonderful Person He is.

But this is not the reality in Revelation 5.  In light of that, our worship, as expressed through prayer, bears little resemblance to the manner in which it is conducted in heaven.

So.  Are Christians in effect practicing a “Christless communion” with God?  Or, more seriously, do their prayers actually reflect their daily walk with Jesus Christ?  Or, the absence of such a relationship?  After all.  You usually speak to those you love.  Right?

I know.  This is a disturbing thought!  But it’s only a suggestion.  And yet.  Unfortunately.  It is a valid possibility.  As you know: “Out of the abundance of the heart, the mouth speaks.”  Our mouths can reveal what’s really going on.  Besides.  Why would our private prayer life be different than it is when we pray in public?

My communion with Jesus

When Jesus came to live in me, fifty years ago, I communed with Him every day, and, I think, nearly every waking moment!  It was my delight to talk to Him in the prayers of my heart.  His fellowship was my joy!  It still is.  Yes.  I gained a new Father after I was saved.  And I communed with Him as well (Eph. 3:14,15).  But my Savior, Jesus, lived in me (Col. 1:27; Gal. 4:6; 2:20; Rom. 8:10)!  That was the thing that really amazed me!  It was an experience I had never known in all my life before then.  How often I thanked Jesus and worshipped Him!  I also thanked my Father and worshipped Him (Col. 1:12,13; John 4:23).

Something strange

Now, after some fifty years of walking with Jesus and my heavenly Father, something surprised me recently.  Someone told me, you don’t pray to Jesus.  You pray only to the Father.

Oh?  That thought had never even crossed my mind all these years!  It would be very strange, don’t you think, for Someone to live in you, who you never talked to or had communion with?

And yet, today, the church seems to fill too many pews (or chairs) with “believers in Jesus” who have no relationship or communion with Jesus.  Seldom are expressions of love given to Him in prayer.  The Father is almost always the primary recipient of any “communion” with God.  But John taught us: “Our fellowship is with the Father and with His Son, Jesus Christ” (I John 1:3).  And in Jesus’ prayer to His Father, He said: “This is life eternal, that they might know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent” (John 17:3).

When Thomas fell before the risen Christ, he did not say, “Thank you, Father, for Jesus!”  Rather, his worship and adoration were given directly to the Lord Jesus Christ Himself!  Thomas said spontaneously to Him, in absolute amazement, “My Lord and my God” (John 20:28)!  By the way, the Father is pleased and glorified when homage is given directly to Jesus in this way (Phil. 2:10,11; Matt. 3:16,17; Luke 9:28-35; Col. 1:19).

A simple fact

So it all comes down to one simple, yet very profound fact: without a personal knowledge of, and fellowship with Jesus, we have no reason to believe we are saved (Matt. 7:23).  Saving faith is knowing and embracing a Person.  Giving conventional academic assent to His historical life as presented in the Gospels and creeds is not the same as knowing Him personally.  It is in the sense of “believing into” Jesus (John 3:15,16), immersing yourself in Him, as one who dives into a pool, that is the true meaning of saving faith.  You gain an intimate, personal knowledge of Him when you take a spin off the diving board.

So, if we have come to know Jesus, why the hesitancy, or even refusal, to pray to Him, as we do to our Father, in public or private worship?  Do we stop communicating with our wife once the wedding is over; and, from then on, just keep thanking her “daddy” for giving her to us?

Everyone knows the answer to that.

Communion with Jesus and the state of the church

What does it say about the state of the church of Jesus if it is not speaking to Him, its Head, and the Author and Finisher of its faith (Eph. 1:22,23; 4:15,16; Col. 2:19; Heb. 12:2)?  How can the body function if the cable to the Head has been essentially severed?

This makes me very sad.  And concerned.  Something is seriously wrong if the church Jesus is building, and of which He is the Head, needs to be told it should talk to Jesus.

It is beyond my comprehension.

A defense for non-communion with Jesus

Still.  There are many who defend praying only to the Father, by saying, “Jesus taught us to pray, ‘Our Father, who is in heaven. . .'”  But why do we stop there?  Seldom does anyone go beyond “Our Father” and repeat the entire prayer every time they pray, because we know that’s not what Jesus intended.  It is a model prayer He gave His disciples while He was still on earth, and He Himself often prayed to His Father in a similar way (without the “trespasses” part, of course: see John 17:11-“Father, hallowed be your name”; Matt. 26:42-“your will be done”; John 6:11-“our daily bread”; Luke 23:34-“forgiving those who sin against us”; Luke 22:31,32-“deliverance from evil”).

Yes.  This is one way we pray.  But it’s not the only way.

Prayer is something that comes from our hearts.  And it is directed by the Spirit of God within us.  Therefore, it varies moment by moment with each new experience we face.  It was not meant to be a liturgical straitjacket.  Prayer is a living thing (II Cor. 3:17)!  And it opens doors for captive birds like us to fly freely to the mountains and the sea.

The NT witness to praying to and communion with Jesus

As we will see, praying to and communing with (and having personal experiential knowledge of) Jesus is not a novel idea.  And it is far from unscriptural.  Let the New Testament be a witness to that.  A good example, to begin with, is Acts 7:59 and 60: “And they were stoning Stephen as he was calling on [the Lord] and saying, ‘Lord Jesus, receive my spirit. . .  Lord, do not charge them with this sin.'”

Also look at Acts 9:4-6,10-17,27; 18:8-10; 22:7-10,17-21; 26:14-18; II Cor. 12:7-9; I John 5:13-15; Rom. 10:9,12; Rev. 22:20 (I Cor. 12:3 – the original wording is: no one can say “Lord Jesus” [also the original words in Rom. 10:9] except by the Holy Spirit); John 10:14,27; 12:26; Rev. 3:4; John 14:13,14,18,21,23; 15:7,15; I John 1:3; 2:24,28; I Cor. 1:9; Rev. 3:20; 2:28; Col. 2:6; I Cor. 2:16; Eph. 3:17-19; Phil. 3:8-10; II Pet. 3:18; Eph. 4:13; (OT) Song 3:4; John 13:23; Matt. 11:28,29; Luke 10:38-42; 24:13-16,25-32; Matt. 18:20; I Cor. 5:4; Matt. 28:20; John 17:3; I John 2:14a/1:1; and Matt. 7:22,23.

John Calvin said Jesus is the one “in whom we believe and hope, to whom we pray. . .  The prayer of faith is addressed to him [Jesus]” (Institutes, Vol. 1, pages 109 and 121: underlines mine).

Likewise, the following is one example among many recorded prayers of Martin Luther: “O my dearest Lord Jesus Christ, you know my poor soul and my great transgressions. . .  You have called us to come to you for consolation. . .  I cry to you as Bishop of my soul in all my needs. . .  Your will be done, and your name be praised forever.  Amen” (Die Gebete Luthers, #31).

The NT witness to the worship given to Jesus

So, what about this personal worship Martin Luther gives to Jesus Christ (“your name be praised forever”)?  Let’s face it.  As Christians, we have a problem today.  Why do we even wonder if we should worship Jesus in public or private prayer?  Instead, we ought to ask why we don’t typically do it.  Because we also have the clear witness of the New Testament to the worship that is given to Jesus.  See Matt. 2:1,2,11; 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9; Mark 5:6; Luke 24:51,52; John 9:38; 11:4; 20:28; Heb. 1:6; Rev. 1:17,18; 5:8-14; II Thess. 1:12; Col. 1:14-20; Phil. 2:9-11; Eph. 1:10,19-23; 3:8; 4:10; Acts 17:31; John 5:22,23; 17:24; II Cor. 4:6; 3:18; and from the Old Testament: Ps. 2:12.

D. Martin Lloyd-Jones wrote, “How easy it is to turn the New Testament into a philosophy or a set of rules and regulations and a scheme for life and living, a general outlook. . .  I do not accept the Christian philosophy primarily; I accept Him.  I believe on Him, I bow my knee to Him, the Person. . .the individual; Jesus Christ is Lord, He is my Lord; it is a personal relationship, and a personal confession” (Life of Joy, pages 153,154; emphasis mine).

So, if Scripture presents the personal worship of Jesus so clearly and unequivocally, how is it, we see Him as Someone who is

Less than the Father?

And somehow, less worthy of worship (than the Father) when we pray.

Believers in the first century didn’t think so.  Nor did those in the centuries that followed.

But, regarding the question of whether Jesus is “less than the Father,” what about John 14:28?

What is the meaning of this?

These words of Jesus relate to the humanity He took upon Himself when He came into the world (Phil. 2:7,8; John 1:14; Rom. 9:5).  See John Calvin’s statement below, under the heading, “No secondary divinity. . .”

There is no Scriptural support for Jesus taking a “backseat” to the Father.

No backseat

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God” (John 1:1).  The Father and the Son were face to face: equals for all eternity.  Then, near the end of His time on earth, Jesus prayed, “And now, Father, glorify me alongside yourself [with glory matching yours], with the glory which I had [shared] with you before the world was” (John 17:5).  Have times changed?  No.  They have not.  Here, at the end of His life on earth, He asks His Father to “restore the shared glory we have always had.”

There is more.

“Not only was [Jesus] breaking the Sabbath, but He was also saying God is His Father, making Himself equal with God” (John 5:18; 1:1 [the Word was God]; 10:30-33; also Rom. 9:5, Tit. 2:13, Col. 2:9, Phil. 2:6).

Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58,59; Ex. 3:13-15).  Jesus is Yahweh.

He is also El gibbor: The mighty God (Isa. 9:6: the same name for God as in Deut. 10:17,18, and corresponding to the declaration in Heb. 1:3: “upholding all things by the word of His power”), and immanu-El: God with us (Isa. 7:14).

Christ is also in the Elohim – a plurality in unity – Father, Son, and Spirit: the Creator and omnipotent, governing Sovereign of all that is (this first name given to God in the Bible is used 35 times in Gen. 1:1 to 2:4; and in 11:7 and Isa. 6:8).

Therefore, Eternal Father is also a name for Jesus (Isa. 9:6).  What can we learn from this name?  And it’s not rocket science either.  The Eternal Father is certainly not Someone who is less than God the Father, but, instead, actually reveals who the Father is (John 1:18; 14:7-11; Col. 1:15) because He is “the express image” of the Father (Heb.1:3)!

A question of honor

So, what is the purpose of these teachings of Scripture about our Lord Jesus Christ?

God gave them to us “So that all might honor the Son just as they honor the Father.  The one who does not honor the Son, does not honor the Father who sent Him” (John 5:23; also I John 2:23).

It is becoming quite clear, isn’t it?

Well.  Yes.  But only if we have ears to hear.  Traditional ways of thinking are usually hard nuts to crack.  Even when presented with Scriptural evidence.

The honor shared by the Father and the Son

John personally witnessed the honor shared by the Father and the Son: appropriately given to them, by all of creation.  “And I heard all creation which is in heaven and on the earth and below the earth, and on the sea, and all that dwell in them, saying, ‘To Him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be the blessing and honor and glory and dominion forever!  Amen!’  And the four living creatures [also] saying the Amen.  And the elders fell and worshipped [the One who sits on the throne and the Lamb]” (Rev. 5:13,14).

(By the way.  The “Creator of all things” in Rev. 4:11 is identified as the Son in Col. 1:16, John 1:3,10,11, Eph. 3:9, Heb. 1:2,10 [Ps. 102:25-27], and Gen. 1 and 2 [Elohim].  Being the Creator is not something exclusive to the Father.  This is the clear teaching of the Bible.  So, communion with Jesus is communion with our Creator.)

Likewise, the last words we have from Peter, match John’s witness to the honor shared by the Son with His Father: “Grow in grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.  To Him be the glory [a clear reference to Christ in the original] both now and into the day of eternity.  Amen” (II Pet. 3:18).  Just as Martin Luther prayed.

Let the Word speak for itself. . .

To our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ be the glory both now and into the day of eternity.”

But ask yourself how could it be any other way, after what He has done!  That’s why we have Revelation 5.

“The all in all”

However.  Some argue from I Corinthians 15:28 that once all things are subjected to the Son, the Son will subject Himself to the Father so that the Father becomes the ultimate “all in all.”  But this is not what the text says.  Rather.  Jesus’ subjection to the Father is for this purpose: that “the God” (the original words), not the Father alone, but the eternal Triune God, Elohim, Yahweh, may be the all in all.  God: the God of Old and New Testament Scripture–the “Father” in verse 24 and the “Son” in verse 28, plus the Holy Spirit (“the name” in Matt. 28:19: one name which incorporates all Three)–is to be “the all in all” eternally.

That’s what this verse says.  So how has it taken on a life of its own?  Because the deeply secured rails of conventional understanding have a way of “permanently” removing us from the truth.

So, let us walk, only where the pathways of Scripture take us, as we walk in communion with Jesus.

No secondary divinity or inferiority to the Father

John Calvin wrote: “When [Jesus] says to the apostles, ‘My Father is greater than I,’ he does not attribute to himself a secondary divinity, as if in regard to eternal essence he were inferior to the Father. . .  He places the Father in the highest degree, inasmuch as the full perfection of brightness conspicuous in heaven, differs from that measure of glory which he himself displayed when clothed in flesh.  For the same reason Paul says that Christ will restore ‘the kingdom to God, even the Father, that God may be all in all’ (I Cor. 15:24,28).  Nothing can be more absurd than to deny the perpetuity of Christ’s divinity.  But if he will never cease to be the Son of God, but will ever remain the same that he was from the beginning, it follows that under the name of Father the one divine essence common to both is comprehended.”

(From Calvin’s Institutes, Vol. 1, pages 135,136,139.)

As I said above, quoting Paul, “the God,” the eternal Triune God (Rev. 4:8) will be “the all in all” in the everlasting kingdom to which we go.

A question

So why do some insist that Jesus will hand over “the keys of the kingdom” to the Father, in spite of the promise Gabriel gave to Mary: “[Jesus] will reign over the house of Jacob forever; and of His kingdom, there will be no end” (Luke 1:33; also I Chron. 17:11-14; 22:10; Isa. 9:6; Dan. 2:44; 7:13,14; Heb. 1:8; Rev. 11:15)?  No.  The Father will not be taking over His Son’s eternal reign.

How do we know that?

Consider this. . .

Who is reigning forever?

Revelation 11:15 and I Corinthians 15:24 mark the same point in earth’s history: “the end,” when the curtains close on the old earth.  So.  In light of this: understanding their relation to one another as parallel passages, notice what Revelation 11:15 says.  The words “The kingdoms of the world have become [are now the possession] of our Lord and His Christ” are followed by, “and He will reign forever,” without identifying specifically who “He” is who is reigning forever.  Why is that?  Because, once the Son delivers the kingdom to the Father, and is subject to Him, what follows is a joint rule, the rule of God: Father and Son (and Holy Spirit).

Trinitarian glory

John MacArthur explains what this means.  “Christ will continue to rule [at the end of old-earth history] because His reign is eternal (Rev. 11:15), but He will reign in His former, full, and glorious place within the Trinity, subject to God (I Cor. 15:28) in the way eternally designed for Him in full Trinitarian glory.”

Or, as R.C.H. Lenski puts it. . .

  The Triune God  

“From that moment onward [the moment spoken of in I Cor. 15:24 when all earthly powers are brought under the control of the Son, which completes the earthly, mediatorial phase of His eternal kingdom], ο Θεóς [‘the God’ in I Cor. 15:28], the Triune God in all three persons conjointly, one God, with all His glory fully revealed, shall stand supreme amid glorified humanity in the new heaven and the new earth” (Lenski, I and II Corinthians, pp. 686,687).

“‘God,’ not one person merely but the Triune God, Father, Son, and Holy Ghost, shall be ‘all in all,’ supreme in eternity” (ibid. p. 686).

The Heavenly UPS

So.  What Jesus is delivering to the Father is, in effect, a task completed, a mission accomplished: a mission which was given to Him by His Father at His ascension to the right hand.  Once all the necks of the conquered are gathered under His feet, and He has sailed into the Eternal Harbor with every single elect brother and sister in His Church safely secured on board, He will, in essence, say to His Father, what He said nearly two thousand years ago: “I have completed the work you gave me, that I should do” (John 17:4).

Then “the throne of God and of the Lamb” (Rev. 22:3; 11:15), Father and Son ruling conjointly with the Spirit, will endure without end into eternity.  This marks the eternal phase of Christ’s endless reign.

Walk in communion with Jesus

My dear brothers and sisters.  I have shared this concern of my heart with you, in Christ’s love.  I encourage you to walk in communion with Jesus.  He is the Lover of our souls (Eph. 3:19).  Walk in love with Him (I Pet. 1:8).  May your most beautiful paths be those you share with Him.  Your most beautiful memories, those you make with Him.  May your prayers and praise be to Him, as well as to your Father in heaven.  For, Jesus desires our fellowship in the same way as we should also desire His (Rev. 3:20).  Charles Spurgeon said, “I believe [Christ] finds no sweeter happiness even in heaven than the happiness of accepting his people’s prayers and praises.  Our love is very sweet to him” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 18, page 95).

So, let us

“Bow down before Him, love and adore Him” (from “His Name is Wonderful”).

Communion with Jesus: there is no friend like Him

Most of us have friends.  Some are very dear and faithful to us.  But is there any friend like Jesus?  As you go through life, you will find (or have already found), there is no friend like Him: not in all the universe!  And communion with Jesus is the sweetest communion you will ever experience anywhere, in this world or the next.  Therefore, those words of His, “They will walk with Me in white” (Rev. 3:4), are the most beautiful words!  Aren’t they?  For us, there can be no greater hope than this.

But we begin the walk down here, in our blue jeans.  On a country road.  Or a footpath beside the ocean.  Or in our “prayer closet.”

As for my dear friend, Brad: he “walks” with Jesus in a wheelchair.

But the experience is unique and personal for each one of us: as the old hymn says. . .

“He walks with me, and He talks with me, and He tells me I am His own.  And the joy we share as we tarry there, none other has ever known.”

communion with JesusCommunion with Jesus: final exhortation

I exhort you with these final words from Spurgeon.

“I would beg every believer. . .to ask himself a few questions, such as these: ‘Am I walking in constant fellowship with Christ?  If I am not, why not?'” (Metropolitan Tabernacle Pulpit, Vol. 18, page 89)

I’m afraid the state of the church in America is accurately expressed in what a Native American once said around the turn of the last century.  “The white man goes to his church and talks about Jesus.  We talk to Jesus.”

“If God were your Father, you would love Me” (John 8:42; Eph. 6:24).

 

Learn more about knowing and walking with Jesus:

Yeshua – Is Jesus the Jewish Messiah?

 

© James Unruh 2023 and beyond

This entry was posted in Theological Studies and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Communion with Jesus: A Lost Practice in the Church?

  1. Ostlund says:

    Excellent information.

  2. Nichole says:

    Wonderful post again! God the Father and Jesus Christ the Son are one, including the Holy Spirit, creating the trinity. God is the Creator – He is the Alpha (the Beginning who has always been), He came to us in human form (Jesus) and lives in us to guide & direct us (Holy Spirit). Praying to Jesus is also praying to God and is honorable to Him.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *