John Owen

B. Childress
Jan 1 2010 08:00 A.M.

Part of our wisdom is to walk with God.  Now, that one may walk with another, six things are required: agreement,
acquaintance, a way, strength, boldness, and an aiming at the same end.  All these, with the wisdom of them, are hid in
the Lord Jesus.


The prophet tells us that two cannot walk together unless they be agreed (Amos 3:3).  Until agreement be made, there
is no communion, no walking together.  God and man by nature (or whilst man is in the state of nature) are the greatest
enmity.  He declares nothing to us but wrath (Romans 1:18); whence we are said to be children of it; that is, born
obnoxious to it (Ephesians 2:3): and whilst we remain in that condition, 'the wrath of God abides on us' (John 3:36).  All
the discovery that God makes of Himself to us is, that He is inexpressibly provoked; and therefore preparing wrath
against the day of wrath, and the revelation of His righteous judgment.  The day of His and sinners' meeting, is called
'The day of wrath' (Romans 2:5-6).  Neither do we come short in our enmity against Him; yea, we first began it, and we
continue longest in it.  To express this enmity, the apostle tells us, that our very minds, the best part of us, are 'enmity
against God' (Romans 8:7-8); and that we neither are, nor will, nor can be, subject to Him; our enmity manifesting itself
by universal rebellion against Him: whatever we do that seems otherwise, is but hypocrisy or flattery; yea, it is a part of
this enmity to lessen it.  In this state the wisdom of walking with God must needs be most remote from the soul.  He is
'light, and in him is no darkness at all'; we are darkness, and in us there is no light at all.  He is life, a 'living God'; we are
dead, dead sinners - dead in trespasses and sin.  He is 'holiness', and glorious in it; we wholly defiled - an abominable
thing.  He is 'love'; we full of hatred - hating and being hated.  Surely this is no foundation for agreement, or, upon that,
of walking together: nothing can be more remote than this frame from such a condition.  The foundation, then, of this, I
say, is laid in Christ, hid in Christ.  'he,' says the apostle, 'is our peace; he has made peace' for us (Ephesians 2:14-
15).  He slew the enmity in his own body on the cross (verse 16).

  1. He takes out the way the cause of the enmity that was between God and us - sin and the curse of the law.  He
    makes an end of sin, and that by making atonement for iniquity  (Daniel 9:24); and he blots out the hand-writing
    of ordinances (Colossians 2:14), redeeming us from the curse, by 'being made a curse for us' (Galatians 3:13).
  2. He destroys him who would continue the enmity, and make the breach wider (Hebrews 2:14) 'Through death he
    destroyed him that had the power of death, that is, the devil;' and (Colossians 2:15), 'spoiled principalities and
  3. He made 'reconciliation for the sins of the people' (Hebrews 2:17); he made by his blood an atonement with God,
    to turn away that wrath which was due to us, so making peace.  Hereupon God is said to be 'in Christ, reconciling
    the world to himself' (II Corinthians 5:19); being reconciled himself (verse 18), he lays down the enmity on his
    part, and proceeds to what remains - to slay the enmity on our part, that we also may be reconciled.
  4. And this also He does; for 'by our Lord Jesus Christ we do receive  the atonement' (Romans 5:11), accepts of the
    peace made and tendered, laying down our enmity to God; and so confirming an agreement betwixt us in his
    blood.  So that 'through him we have an access to the Father' (Ephesians 2:18).  Now, the whole wisdom of this
    agreement, without which there is no walking with God, is hid in Christ; out of him God on his part is a consuming
    fire - we are as stubble fully dry, yet setting ourselves in battle array against that fire: if we are brought together
    we are consumed.  All our approachings to Him out of Christ are but to our detriment; in his blood alone have we
    this agreement.  And let not any of us once suppose  that we have taken any step in the paths of God with him,
    that any one duty is accepted, that all is not lost as to eternity, if we have not done it upon account of this.


There is required acquaintance, also, to walking together.  Two may meet together in the same way, and have no
quarrel between them, no enmity; but if they are mere strangers one to another, they pass by without the least
communion together.  It does not suffice that the enmity betwixt God and us be taken away; we must also have
acquaintance given us with Him.  Our not knowing of Him is a great cause and a great part of enmity.  Our
understandings are 'darkened,' and we are 'alienated from the life of God' (Ephesians 4:18).  This also, then, must be
added, if we ever come to walk with God, which is our wisdom.  And this is also hid in the Lord Christ, and comes forth
from him.  It is true there are sundry other means, as His word and His works, that God has given the sons of men, to
make a discovery of Himself to them, and to give them some acquaintance with Him, that, as the apostle speaks (Acts
17:27), 'they should seek the Lord, if haply they might find him;' but yet, as that knowledge of God which we have by His
works is but very weak and imperfect, so that which we have by the word, the letter of it, by reason of our blindness, is
not saving to us if we have no other help; for though that be light as the sun in the firmament, yet if we have no eyes in
our heads, what can it avail us? - no saving acquaintance with Him, that may direct us to walk with Him, can be
obtained.  This also is hid in the Lord Jesus, and comes forth from him, 'He has given us an understanding, that we
should know him that is true' (I John 5:20) - all other light whatever without his giving us an understanding will not do it.  
He is the true Light which lights every one that is enlightened (i John 1:9). He opens our understandings that we may
understand the Scriptures (Luke 24:45); none has known God at any time, 'but he has revealed him' (John :18).  God
dwells in that 'light which no man can approach to' (I Timothy 6:16).  None has had any such acquaintance with Him as
to be said to have seen Him, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.  Hence he tells the Pharisees, that notwithstanding all
their great knowledge which they pretended, indeed they had 'neither heard the voice of God at any time, nor seen his
shape' (John 5:37).  They had no manner of spiritual acquaintance with God, but He was to them as a man whom they
had never heard nor seen.  There is no acquaintance with God, as love, and full of kindness, patience, grace, and
pardoning mercy (on which knowledge of Him alone we can walk with Him), but only in Christ; but of this fully before.  
This, then, also is hid in him.


There must, moreover, be a way wherein we must walk with God.  God did at the beginning assign us a path to walk in
with Him, even the path of innocence and exact holiness, in a covenant of works.  This path, by sin, is so filled with
thorns and briers, so stopped up by curses and wrath, that no flesh living can take one step in that path; a new way for
us to walk in must be found out, if ever we think to hold communion with God.  And this also lies upon the former
account.  It is hid in Christ.  All the world cannot, but by and in him, discover a path that a man may walk one step with
God in.  And therefore the Holy Ghost tells us that Christ has consecrated, dedicated, and set apart for that purpose, 'a
new and living way' into the holiest of all (Hebrews 10:20); a new one, for the first, old one was useless; a living one, for
the other is dead: therefore, says he, 'Let us draw near' (verse 22); having a way to walk in, let us draw near.  And this
way that he has prepared is no other but himself (John 14:6).  In answer to them who would go to the Father, and hold
communion with Him, he tells them, 'I am the way; and no man comes to the Father but by me.'  He is the medium of all
communication between God and us.  In him we meet, in him we walk.  All influences of love, kindness, mercy, from God
to us, are through him; all our returns of love, delight, faith, obedience to God, are all through him; he being that 'one
way' God so often promises His people: and it is a glorious way (Isaiah 35:8) - a highway, a way of holiness, a way that
none can err in that once enter it; which is farther set out (Isaiah 42:16).  All other ways, all paths but this, go down to
the chambers of death; they all lead to walk contrary to God.


But suppose all this - that agreement be made, acquaintance given, and a way provided; yet if we have no strength to
walk in that way, what will all this avail us?  This also, then, must be added; of ourselves we are of no strength (Romans
5:6) - poor weaklings, not able to go a step in the ways of God.  When we are set in the way, either we throw ourselves
down, or temptations cast us down, and we make no progress: and the Lord Jesus tells us plainly, that 'without him we
can do nothing' (John 15:5); not anything at all that shall have the least acceptance with God.  Neither can all the
creatures in heaven and earth yield us the least assistance.  Men's contending to do it in their own power, comes to
nothing.  This part of this wisdom also is hid in Christ.  All strength to walk with God is from him.  'I can do all things
through Christ, which strengthens me,' says St. Paul (Philippians 4:13), who denies that of ourselves we have any
sufficiency (II Corinthians 3:5).  We that can do nothing in ourselves, we are such weaklings, can do all things in Jesus
Christ, as giants; and therefore in him we are, against all oppositions in our way, 'more than conquerors' (Romans 8:
37); and that because 'from his fulness we receive grace for grace' (John 1:16).  From him have we the Spirit of life and
power, by which he bears, as on eagles' wings, swiftly, safely, in the paths of walking with God.  Any step that is taken in
any way, by strength that is not immediately from Christ, is one step towards hell.  He first takes us by the arm and
teaches us to go, until he leads us on to perfection.  He has milk and strong meat to feed us; he strengthens us with all
might, and is with us in our running the race that is set before us.


Whence should we take this confidence as to walk with God; even our God, who is 'a consuming fire?' (Hebrews 12:29).  
Was there not such a dread upon His people of old, that it was taken for granted among them that if they saw God at
any time, it was not to be endured - they must die  Can any, but with extreme horror, think of that dreadful appearance
that He made to them of old upon mount Sinai; until Moses himself, who was their mediator, said, 'I exceedingly fear and
quake?  (Hebrews 12:21), and all the people said, 'Let not God speak with us, lest we die?' (Exodus 20:19).  Nay,
though men have apprehensions of the goodness and kindness of God, yet upon any discovery, of His glory, how do
they tremble, and are filled with dread and astonishment!  Has it not been so with the 'choicest of His saints?' (Habakkuk
3:16; Isaiah 6:5; Job 42:5-6).  Whence, then, should we take to ourselves this boldness, to walk with God?  This the
apostle will inform us is 'by the blood of Jesus' (Hebrews 10:19), so 'in him we have boldness, and access with
confidence' (Ephesians  3:12) - not standing afar off, like the people at the giving of the law, but drawing near to God
with boldness; and that upon this account:  The dread and terror of God entered by sin; Adam had not the least thought
of hiding himself until he had sinned.  The guilt of sin being on the conscience, and this being a common notion  left in
the hearts of all, that God is a most righteous revenger thereof; this fills men with dread and horror at an apprehension
of His presence, fearing that He is come to call their sins to remembrance.  Now, the Lord Jesus, by the sacrifice and the
atonement that he has made, has taken away this conscience of sin; that is dread of revenge from  God upon the
account of the guilt thereof.  He has removed the slaying sword of the law, and on that account gives us great boldness
with God;  discovering Him to us now, no longer as a revenging Judge, but as a tender, merciful, and reconciled Father.  
Moreover, whereas there is on us by nature a spirit of bondage, filling us with innumerable tormenting fears, he takes it
away, and gives us 'the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry Abba, Father,' and behave ourselves with confidence and
gracious boldness, as children: for 'where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty' (II Corinthians 3:17); that is, a
freedom from all that dread and terror which the administration of the law brought with it.  Now, as there is no sin that
God will more severely revenge than any boldness that man takes with him out of Christ; so there is no grace more
acceptable to him than that boldness which He is pleased to afford us in the blood of Jesus.


But one thing more to add; and that is, that two cannot walk together unless they have the same design in hand, and
aim at the same end.  This also, in a word, is given us in the Lord Jesus.  The end of God is the advancement of His
own glory; none can aim at this end, but only in the Lord Jesus.  The sum of all is, that the whole wisdom of our walking
with God is hid in Christ, and from him only to be obtained; as has been manifest by an enumeration of particulars.

And so have I brought my first demonstration of what I intended to a close,  and manifested that all true wisdom and
knowledge is laid up in, and laid out by, the Lord Jesus; and this by an induction of the chief particular heads of those
things in which confessedly our wisdom consists.  


COMMUNION WITH GOD, by John Owen, Copyright 2007, Christian Focus Publications 2007.