2) Communion with God is his act of self-disclosure.
The prophet Isaiah calls God a ‘God who hides himself’. God has chosen to seem invisible to some, and conspicuously obvious to others. For the many who deny the inherent knowledge of conscience and the inarguable knowledge of creation, God’s “absence” seems self-evident. Sin makes what is plain seem hidden. Against this background of man’s willful suppression of truth, God chooses to reveal himself in a special way at his own discretion. Given that we all begin life pretending that he has no claim over us, how much he reveals of himself to different people is purely his decision. Considering our depraved state where none naturally seeks after God (Rom 3:10), we can be certain that none would ever know him if he did not initiate this self-disclosure. Jesus once rejoiced in the mystery and beauty of God’s plan of self-disclosure to humans who shut their ears and eyes to the knowledge of him.
At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank You, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. “Even so, Father, for so it seemed good in Your sight. “All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. (Matthew 11:25-27)
As a race, we have made it clear again and again how much we would like to know God. From Adam to Noah, from the Flood to the Golden Calf, from the apostasy of Israel to the rejection of Jesus to the present rejection of God for supposedly scientific reasons, man keeps voting to suppress the knowledge of God. God is fully within his rights to decide to whom he will reveal more of himself. He does not owe us anything. Should he hide himself from the whole race, he would not be unjust. It is we who have treated him unjustly.
Against this background, we see that knowing God is a God-granted privilege. In our sinful state, we do not naturally come to him. To know God is a merciful act of God. He has been spurned and rejected by us times without number. If we know him, it is because he has pursued us, refused our refusals, rejected our rejections and removed the blindness that kept us from seeing his beauty. We should treat knowing God as a deep and precious privilege.
Knowing God is not like knowing history or geography. It is not as if the knowledge of God is just sitting in a library where you can, at your convenience, go and start researching God. While people can learn all about God, and people can gain knowledge about the things of God, knowing God is a gift which God sovereignly gives. Jesus told Simon Peter that his knowledge of his Messiahship was evidence of having been blessed, or favoured, by God.
Simon Peter answered and said, “You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.” Jesus answered and said to him, “Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. (Matthew 16:16-17)
We should never treat the knowledge of God in a proud, cavalier way. However hard we might study, however diligent we might be in searching, it is the Lord who gives knowledge and understanding (Proverbs 2:1-6). We must always humble ourselves beneath this reality. We must plead with him to reveal himself to us, to enlighten our hearts (Eph 1:18), and to enable us to understand.
3) Communion with God is communion with the three Persons of the Godhead.
Communing with God results from an action of the three Persons of the Trinity. Since the Incarnation of Christ, believers now understand that knowledge of God takes place through all three Persons of the Godhead. The unspeakably beautiful doctrine of the Trinity lies at the very heart of knowing God.
The Father, the author and initiator within the Godhead, has chosen to reveal himself in his Son.
Jesus, God the Son, is the ultimate expression of God the Father to man. Since no man can see the essence of God and live, the invisible God has now been revealed in Jesus Christ.
No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him. (John 1:18)
For it is the God who commanded light to shine out of darkness, who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (2 Corinthians 4:6)
All of God’s glory is seen and reflected in the face of Christ. This is why he is called the Word in John 1:1. As words communicate ideas, all of God that can be communicated to human minds is found in Jesus Christ.
The Son has always been the radiance of the Father’s glory (Heb 1:3), but in the Incarnation, he has expressed the glory of God to man in unprecedented ways. In becoming the God-Man, we have seen the transcendent God made immanent. What was unknowable to human minds has now been expressed in human form. Eyewitnesses saw his glory (Jo 1:14), handling, hearing and seeing him (1 Jo 1:1-2), meaning that they had now seen the glory of the Father expressed through the Incarnation of the Son (John 14:9-10).
This incredible expounding of God’s glory through the person of the Son was limited to a particular time and place. The Son could only come in human history at a particular time, and appear in one place. This apparent limitation is what introduces the work of the Third Person of the Trinity. With Christ’s ascension, the Spirit now comes to do a far greater work (Jo 14:12). His primary work in this age is that of revealing the person and work of the glorified Son, and he is able to do this for any heart, in any place, at any time (Jo 15:26). Put simply, the Spirit reveals the Son, who in turn reveals the Father.
The Father has chosen to make his Son the focal point of salvation, and worship, according to Ephesians 1:10-12, Philippians 2:9-10 and Colossians 1:16-20. God is working all things towards the absolute supremacy of Jesus Christ. God the Father is delighted to have all attention point to Jesus as his ‘image bearer’, because it will ultimately redound back to him. The Spirit works toward the Father’s goal of exalting Christ, in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily (Col 2:9)
To know God, we must cooperate with the Spirit’s work of showing us the glory of Christ. In so doing, we know the glory of the whole Godhead. The Spirit’s primary way of revealing Christ in this age has been to inspire the Scriptures (2 Pet 1:21), indwell believers (1 Cor 6:19) and then illuminate hearts to understand God’s mind in Christ (1 Cor 2:1-14). When we look to know God in the way he has appointed, we will find the Spirit-inspired, and Spirit-illuminated Scriptures are entirely sufficient to this end (2 Tim 3:16, 2 Pet 1:3). To know God will be a process of seeking God in his Word, in total reliance upon the Holy Spirit.
Likewise, as we obey the second commandment, the Spirit will enable us to see and know Christ through what he has made, through what he loves, and through what pleases him. Illumination occurs not only in the study of God’s Word, but as we love what God loves, in God’s world.