A relationship with God is precious. Unfortunately, many people in the world like to say that they have a relationship with God but He would say otherwise. In order to have communion with God a person must be in union with Him. The Bible makes it clear that the only way to enter into a mutual relationship with God is through His Son, Jesus Christ (John 14:6; Acts 4:12; 1 John 5:12; for more see The Mutual Love of God & His Saints). No union means no communion.
Almost as sad and attempting communion with God without being in union with Him is the situation of some Christians who neglect their relationship with Christ. In the introduction to the book Communion with the Triune God by John Owen, Kelly M. Kapic unveils Owen’s insight and thoughts on this matter:
Communion with God, however is distinct from union. Those who are united to Christ are called to respond to God’s loving embrace. While union with Christ is something that does not ebb and flow, one’s experience of communion with Christ can fluctuate. This is an important theological and experiential distinction, for it protects the biblical truth that we are saved by radical and free divine grace. Furthermore, this distinction also protects the biblical truth that the children of God have a relationship with their Lord, and that there are things they can do that either help or hinder it. When a believer grows comfortable with sin (whether sins of commission or sins of omission) this invariable affects the level of intimacy this person feels with God. It is not that God turns from us, but that we run from him. Sin tends to isolate the believer, making him feel distant from God. Then come the accusations – both from Satan and self – which can make the believer worry that he is under God’s wrath. In truth, however, saints stand not under wrath but in the safe shadow of the cross.
While a saint’s consistency in prayer, corporate worship, and biblical meditation are not things that make God love him more or less, such activities tend to foster the beautiful experience of communion with God. Giving in to temptations and neglecting devotion to God threaten the communion but not the union. And it is this union which encourages the believer to turn from sin and to the God who is quick to forgive, abounding in compassion, and faithful in his unending love. Let there be no misunderstanding – for [John] Owen, Christian obedience was of utmost importance, but it was always understood to flow out of this union and never seen as the ground for it.
Any true relation requires what Owen elsewhere calls mutuality, and we should not shy away from the fact that we are invited, by the Spirit, to actively commune with God. This communion assumes the security of the union. Keeping in mind Owen’s distinction between union and communion, one is better able to make sense of his conclusion: “The Spirit as a sanctifier comes with power, to conquer an unbelieving heart; the Spirit as a comforter comes with sweetness, to be received in a believing heart.” Though the Spirit will never abandon a believer, it should not surprise us that neglecting such receptivity to the Spirit’s movement compromises our sense of intimacy. For Owen, grace must be understood as the ground of this relationship, from first to last, from justification to preservation of the saints, from Gods’ acceptance of us to his glorifying the saints – grace is the bottom of the entire understanding of the saints’ security and privilege before God. This grace, however, demands, rather than denies human response. (pp 21-23)