Prayer, Meditation and Fasting - Lesson 1

Communion with the Triune God

Fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the foundation and the source of our life in God.

John Piper
Prayer, Meditation and Fasting
Lesson 1
Watching Now
Communion with the Triune God

1. Introductory Illustrations of Communion with God

2. A Trinitarian Introduction to Communion with God: The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit


  • Fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit is the foundation and the source of our life in God.
  • God wakens and sustains our faith through his Word.

  • The presence of God is a mediated presence and the primary material of the mediation is the Word. Dr. Piper lists ten reasons to meditate and pray over biblical truth.
  • The purpose of prayer is communion with God, not to get things from him.  Whatever we pray for with the intent of glorifying God is worship. If we pray with wrong motives, it's idolatry. (1 Cor 10:13, James 4:1-5) Spontaneity is enhanced by discipline.
  • The essence of fasting is hunger for God. Bread magnifies Christ in two ways: by being eaten with gratitude for his goodness, and by being forfeited out of hunger for God himself. When we eat, we taste the emblem of our heavenly food – the Bread of Life. And when we fast we say, “I love the Reality above the emblem.” In the heart of the saint both eating and fasting are worship. Both magnify Christ. Both send the heart – grateful and yearning – to the Giver. Each has its appointed place and each has its danger. The danger of eating is that we fall in love with the gift; the danger of fasting is that we belittle the gift and glory in our will-power.

Prayer, meditation and fasting can help us learn to walk in communion with the living God. We can live a supernatural life that is empowered, led and filled with the Spirit.

We are thankful for John Piper's willingness to share these lectures with us. Copyright 2014 by Desiring God Ministries. Used with Permission. For more information, please visit www.DesiringGod.org.


Prayer, Meditation and Fasting 
Dr. John Piper 
Communion with the Triune God 
Lesson Transcript


The following message is by Pastor John Piper. More information from Desiring God Ministries is available at W WW dot desiring God dot org. Let's pray. So Father in heaven, my heart's desire is for me and these brothers and sisters to go deep with you in understanding the role of prayer in the Christian life, the role of meditation on, in your word, the role of fasting, so that we learn to walk minute by minute and hour by hour in communion with the living God, not treating the faith as a. A code or list of rules that we use our own willpower to follow. But. A serving in the newness of the Spirit, empowered by the Spirit, led by the Spirit bearing the fruit of the Spirit. Walking by the Spirit. Filled with the spirit. Look, this is the miracle life we're talking about here. It's a supernatural life. And so there's nothing I can do ultimately to make it happen. It's going to be you in these 5 hours we have together or it's not going to be. And so I invite you. Indeed, I plead with you to come and to give wisdom and to give life and to give boldness and to give us clarity and to give a sweetness and authenticity and intensity to our fellowship with you, in your word, by your spirit. Lord, if there's any in the room who doesn't have spiritual life, who've never been quickened, I pray that the spirit would so work upon them that they would find themselves wakening, as it were, the first time spiritually to reality, to know you as the living true God, so know you Christ as the risen Savior, to know you Holy Spirit as a distinct person in the Trinity.


So guide me now. Help me to speak biblically and to be balanced and to have right affections. Don't let me say anything that would be false or unhelpful or hurtful or misleading. Be a portion guide. The interaction we have together, I pray in Jesus name, Amen. In view of what I just said there, about an hour by hour, walking in communion with God, I thought I'd begin with John Newton because I just I'm still oozing Newton from the pastor's conference. And so I. I just wrote down a new a new way to introduce the seminar I used last time I taught this. I had just lectured on John Patent, so I used him. In fact, I may use him tomorrow morning as well. But here's Newton. John Newton wrote Amazing Grace lived a couple hundred years ago and was a British pastor after he had been a slave trader and a sailor and a real slut. He called himself a wretch. Remember Amazing Grace? How sweet the sound. That saved a wretch. And that was not an overstatement. It wasn't any gloss on his life. It was just for him a very sober understatement about what he'd become on the on the boat for 13 years of sin. And on March 21st, 1748, on board the ship Greyhound, on his way home after being at sea a long time and having been treated like a slave on the edge of Africa for two years, a storm hit. He was asleep. Middle of the night. Water started to fill up his little hole there, and as he broke for the deck, the captain was on his way down and said, Get a knife. And when you turned to get a knife, another man ran up before him and was immediately washed overboard was about one of about six instances of incredible providence in his life that made him think that he was appointed for something remarkable, which was so he went up and he manned the pumps for 6 hours.


He took the helm for a long time. He was scared to death. You would say, if anybody should ever say literally that the hell was scared out of him, this would be it without any exaggeration, because he had been absolutely dead to God and a blasphemer, as he called himself all his all his life from about age ten on. And now he was awakened, however. He did not see himself as fully converted because he did not yet know what communion with God was. And he read you his own words here, though I cannot doubt that this change so far as it prevailed was wrought by the spirit and the power of God. Yet still I was greatly deficient in many respects. I was in some degree affected with a sense of my enormous sins, but I was little aware of the innate evils of my heart. So one defect he thought was that he didn't yet understand the innate ness of his evil. See, a lot of people get saved thinking that they do sins, and that's the main problem. And they don't know that they are innately corrupt. They just don't understand their nature as a sinner. And you can learn these things later. You don't have to know everything upfront when you become a Christian, but you need to know them. Well, that was a piece of his defect, and it might be a piece of yours tonight that you just don't understand how bad you are. You know the kinds of things you do, but you probably have not gotten down to the root of where that comes from and what it says about you. And to see ourselves like that is a wonderfully gospel liberating thing hurts bad. And but that bad hurt will change your marriage.


I know a lot of you are married, but that's where I live. To know how bad you are will change your marriage. It will really help you love your spouse the way you ought to. Because if you think you deserve a lot from her, you'll demand a lot from her. And when you demand a lot from her, it won't work. That's all. I had no apprehension of the spirituality and extent of the law of God, the spirituality, the goodness, the sweetness and the spirituality of the law of God, how extensive it reached into human life and what it demanded of us or of the hidden and underlined this because this what we're about tonight, or of the hidden life of a Christian as it consists in communion with God by Jesus Christ. And here's His meaning of that. A continual dependance on Him for our relief supplies of wisdom and strength and comfort. That's what he didn't know. And some of you today don't know that you are trying to live the Christian life and you don't experience that. Continual dependance on him for hourly supplies of wisdom and strength and comfort. And that list could go on there. The best way to find out how to finish that sentence is to read the Psalms. Read them every day. This was a mystery of which I had yet no knowledge. I acknowledged the Lord's mercy in pardoning what was passed, but depended chiefly upon my own resolution to do better. For the time to come. In other words, he didn't understand future grace. This is why I wrote that book, Living by Faith in Future Grace, because I didn't understand it for a long time. And I think a lot of Christians don't get it.


They don't understand the the the futurity of grace and how how it's grace that's going to help me get through this seminar tonight. And if I don't lean on that grace tonight, you won't benefit from this seminar. Not if I have anything to do with it. If I lean on me and my resources, my intelligence, my understanding, my preparations, and not on grace, then the Holy Spirit will be choked off. There won't be the flow. Living by faith in future grace is what he didn't get. And it's the essence of Christianity. Or at least it's not overstated. It's the key part of the essence of Christianity. The past would look here and the pardon is crucial. But he depended chiefly upon his own resolution to do better for the time to come. I cannot consider myself to have been a believer in the full sense of the word till a considerable time afterwards. This is really significant. There's a big scholarly debate, I guess, among Newton people, Newton scholars, as to whether he was a Christian or saw himself as one at the time when the storm hit. Or six years later when he began to come under the influence of George Whitfield and John Wesley and others in the Great Awakening at that time in England, because he was on a boat as a slave trader. He was the captain of a vessel that traded slaves for six years after this experience. And it has hurt the cause of Christianity for that to be made known, because he said, Oh yeah, right. Get converted and deal in slaves. Right. That's good Christianity. Thank you. No, I won't have any. I don't care for that. But Newton himself, I don't think, dated the genuineness of his conversion until six years later.


Later in his life, he wrote a whole essay on his remorse and horror at having dealt in the slave trade. One more thing from Newton. His devotional life. Just to give you a glimpse, I know that I'm getting ahead of myself here, but that's okay. I just want to give you a taste of what's coming. Sometime between 1752 and 1756, he was born in 1725. So this is right around when he was 25 years old or so. On a morning in April, he wrote in his diary, prayed over a part of the Romans and others. He he his devotions consisted that day in praying over a part of the eighth chapter of Romans. How did he do it? In a way of paraphrase with some readiness. So one of the things I hope we pick up in this course is learning what it is to pray the word. So as you read through Romans eight, you paraphrase it into prayer. That's what he's saying he did here. So there is therefore now no condemnation to those who are in Christ Jesus. Paula's eyes closed, heart directed to God. Oh, God. Thank you from the bottom of my heart that there's no condemnation to me. Thank you for Jesus. Thank you for sending him. Thank you for the cross. Let me taste it. Grant me to experience as I begin this day that I'm not a condemned person. I'm a loved and accepted person. Pause. Read. That's what he did. While he may spent longer, I don't know. But do that. Learn to do this. I freely. I'll just admit right off the bat I'm a lousy prayer. Without the Bible, I can't pray long. Without the Bible, I can't pray with significance without the Bible.


It feels insignificant to me. All right. He he's he's. He's paraphrasing Romans eight. I greatly fail in the. The duty of meditation. And then forced to use some artifice with myself to do it at all. Hmm. What does he mean by artifice? Usually means. Thus, sometimes I turn them into a prayer form his meditations. Sometimes I suppose myself in imaginary conversation. Another artifice he uses sometimes that I am called upon to speak to a point. So imagines himself having to speak on a verse in Romans eight. And then he starts talking to his imaginary audience, I guess without something of this sort. I am not able to engage myself to attend with any fixed illness of thought and with it. Alas, how seldom I would remember to pray for grace and direction in this matter that my delight may be in the law of God to meditate there in day and night. So here's a man who's on his way, just like we're all on our way. And you see his struggle and his sense of inadequacy when it comes to his own. Devotion in Bible reading. Well, so much for Newt. No one raises any questions at that point or make a comment about Newton yet. Go ahead, ma'am. I'm sorry. Oh, right. Yeah, they were definitely written after Faith. That last one was written, However, during that six year period where he wasn't even sure he was a believer. So that was 52 to 56. The the the storm happened in 48. So he was awakened out of absolute wretchedness when he was 23 years old in 1748. We're talking. But for years, four to 4 to 6 years after that, so near the end of that period. So he's not a very long, mature believer at that point.


The first one was written later as a mature as a mature believer. Well, here's a partial response to your question, though. The people whose writings that we tend to quote from are people whose writings lasted precisely because they were wise people. Not everybody's wrote and not everybody was as wise as an Edwards or an Owen or a Newton. And God has just given preciously to the church a few dead saints that we housed in our bookstore. And so he's got books by a bunch of dead guys and a few live ones. And they are a treasure. They're a treasure to the church, Hebrews. The Book of Hebrews. Chapter 11 and Chapter 13. Make it real clear that we ought to love them, read them, study them, imitate them, and not idolize them, nor consider them perfect. In fact, the biggest one of the biggest mistakes you could make in this course would be to take tips you hear from me or one of these fellows and make that some kind of law or some kind of absolute or some kind of ideal, when in fact, here are two two reasons you shouldn't do that. One is that very likely, if I were to tell you what I do in my devotional life now, I wouldn't be doing it in five years from now, I'll be doing something different and you would have set it up as the thing to do. And then, lo and behold, if you heard this seminar in five years, you say, Oh, don't you do that anymore. It's a wonder that for a long time. But that's what was really fruitful in those days. So don't idealize or absoluteness things that are not explicitly biblical. And the other reason is just because it's a we're all fallible.


And even what we're doing now may not be the best thing to do. You need to find the biblical application of truth in your life and how you do it, where it fits in your day, and how long it should take you and and how you mingle prayer in the word and so on. Any other comment or question before I jump into communion with God. Now, what I want to do in these overheads that I'm going to put up here first is talk about communion Bible texts that point towards communion with God, how to do it in his Trinitarian reality. And so we'll begin with with passages that promise that each of the persons of the Trinity will be given to us for our own personal intimacy and experience with them. So we'll start with the Holy Spirit here, John. 14, 16 to 17. I will ask the father and he will give you another helper that he may be with you forever. That is the spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive because it does not see him or know him. But you know him because he abides with you and will be in you. I think that last clause there is a virtual ID. In essence, if not personhood of Christ in the Spirit. He is with you. He will be in you. I will give you a helper and I will give you my self in giving you the helper. I am with you now. I will be in you. Which is why he said it's better that I go away. While Jesus was here on Earth, He was limited in space and time because he was incarnate in a body. When he went back to the father and poured out the spirit, Who is the spirit of Christ? He's not limited anymore.


And everybody everywhere in the world who will have it may have a personal, intimate experience of the presence of Jesus Christ in your life. It says in Ephesians 414, Paul prays that Christians would be strengthened in the inner man through the spirit according the riches of your glory, and that Christ might dwell in your heart by faith. How how quickly and easily we pass over a sentence like that. Usually dealing with children, you know, invite Jesus into your heart or Jesus lives in your heart and don't realize what a stupendous thing we are. Say. I mean, he made the universe. He upholds it by the word of his power. He conquered death and hell. He commands demons. He commands winds and waves. And they obey him. And we say this one. Dwells cocked or Keppel inhabits lives in as a house our heart that is stunning, unspeakable reality that would cause a man like Jonathan. And to write 300 pages you talk more about about these old saints. One of the reason these All Saints left deposits of books behind is because when they set a sentence like that, they stayed on it for days and days and days and they turned it and turned it and turned it like a diamond with infinite number of facets and would not stop looking. They would not put it down. They would not just say, Oh, I see that, put it down, give me another nugget for tomorrow. They just turned it and turned it and looked and looked and wrote and wrote and thought and thought and prayed and prayed and applied and applied. They were so vigorous in the way they handled spiritual truth. And that communion that's that's getting out what communion with was God, the Holy Spirit is.


So he's given to us here the promise of the Father, Hebrews 13, five and six. Make sure that your character is free from the love of money being content with what you have. For he himself has said and now this is a quote from the Old Testament. That's why I'm treating it as God the Father, even though in the context here it could flow over into the Lord Christ, because I know that sometimes Old Testament quotes that refer to the Father or God in the Old Testament do refer to Jesus in the new. But it is a quote here I will never desert you, nor will I ever forsake you, so that we confidently say, The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid. What will man do to me? So here we have the father promising I will never forsake you. God. The Father Almighty speaks to his children. I will never desert you. I will never forsake you. Therefore, communion is possible. It's hard to commune with people far away. We do have telephones and email and faxes and so on. But that's different than sitting together over a table looking somebody in the eye. And God knows that distance is possible. You know, you send a telegram to God and the other side of the universe with your prayer if you want to conceive of it that way. But it's different to say. And there. He wants to he wants to communicate that to us. Another text on that Second Corinthians 616. What agreement has the Temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God. Just as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them, and I will be their God. And they will be my people.


The church is the temple of the living God. He walks among us. This is one of the reasons I'm not going to make a big deal in this course, and it's one of the defects of the course. About corporate communion with God. I have a whole seminar on worship, especially corporate worship, and here are mainly thinking about our personal communion with God. But I do want to underline the fact that this Temple of God is sometimes spoken of as our bodies being the Temple of God and sometimes the body of Christ, the church being the Temple of God. We are the temple, not temples. We are the temple of the living God. Just as God said, I will dwell in them and walk among them. So when the church gathers, when we're gathered here right now, under the word by the spirit in faith, there is a moving of the spirit here in this room, different than when you're at home alone. Not necessarily better, but different. And to have both of them is precious. God moves when his people gather among them, walks among them, does things among them, manifests himself among them in ways that he doesn't. When we're alone with him. And you'll hear when I use this text from John Payton tomorrow morning how precious the individual is. And I just want to make sure you you see that the corporate is precious as well. So the father has promised to be with us. The spirit is to be with us. One more on the on the farther Isaiah 4110. Do not fear for I am with you. Do not look anxiously about you, for I am your God. I will strengthen you. I will surely help you. Surely I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.


So here's God assuring the covenant people of God. With you. With you. Your God. Strengthening you. Helping you. Upholding you. Now, I'm going to argue in just a few minutes, but I'll say it here in advance that the way you experience communion with God in a promise like that is by believing it. The Holy Spirit moves in and through the Word to make the Father personally known and experienced. When we read that as the very personal Word of God to you, I don't know if I'll get to it, but. I use app tat is my own way of of drawing near to God and counting on him to draw near to me before I preach, before I teach like now or Sunday morning. App Ted stands for Admit that you can't do anything without God. P Pray for his help t Trust a promise and a act and to thank him for having helped you a tap tap. So when I come to that t trust so I'm going in the front pew. One of these guys is reading the text on Sunday morning and I'm in my head doing app tear. I can't do this without you. I pray for the gift of love. I pray for the gift of humility. I pray for the gift of balance. I pray for the gift of biblical faithfulness. I pray for a prophetic gift that penetrates to the heart. I pray for the liberty of tongue so don't stumble over my words. I pray for memory so I can remember what I've prepared. I pray for love to abound for these people and whatever else the Lord brings to my mind to ask for that moment. And then the next one is. Yeah. Will you trust me, John? You've just asked me to do a lot of things.


Are you just going to walk away from that request and kind of cross your fingers and. Well, maybe it'll happen. Maybe it won't. Are you going to trust me now? What warrants the trust at that point? And the answer is promises. Which is why you have to have a stack of them in your head. Or if you don't have a good stock in your head, why you have to get up early in the morning and get one into your brain. And then if your brain is not real good to carry around a little sheet, This is my sheet from this morning. So I read whole slug chapters in Exodus this morning, trying to catch up and behind. And I saw so much that my brain at age 55 tends to have a. Leak. It's a leaky bucket. And so I put a lot in in the morning. But about 9:00. What did I read? I know. I read the Bible this morning. Can't remember a thing I read. So I carry around these little sheets. Which is why I have to work real hard at memorization. So I wrote down. One, two, three, four, five, six, seven, eight, nine, ten, 11, 12, 13, 14, 14. Observations. Little bullet points on my little sheet so that any time during the day I could pull out my little sheet to fight back unbelief. One of them was that beautiful picture of getting to Mara. Mara means bitter in Hebrew. And the water is called Mara because it was bitter and the people got all bent out of shape with Moses and God and angry and. And God comes down and instead of just wiping these people out. It makes the water sweet for them. Sweet. Not just drinkable, but sweet.


Is that the way you treat people who grumble at you? Why did you do this? Why don't you get your own time? What? Why did you put it that way? Why did you write that? Why did you do this? Can I make your water sweet? Can I make you water Sweet. Administered to me that rebuked me. Assured me that I have a father like that that told me how to go down to talk to Noelle and Barnabas and Talitha. That gave me a clue about something you might need tonight. So I just lingered over that for a while and communed with my bitter. Turning into sweet God. How many provinces have you met in your life that were bitter? And now, looking back, he did something sweet for you. Painful, but sweet. The sun. We've talked about the spirit, the father, now the sun. A lot of checks on the son because he's the center of everything now that he's come into the world. Matthew 2820 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you in law, I am with you always, even to the end of the age. That was John Payton's favorite promise. And I'll give you some stories tomorrow morning about that. I will be with you always to the end of the age. You know, the Bible is a very thick book and a very daunting and very discouraging book in the sense that if you feel like and this is usually Satan talking, I get to know this whole book or memorize this whole book, or I got to know what's on every page in this book before I can really be a, you know, an effective witness or a sin conquering Christian. That's just a lot of baloney.


And here's one of the biggest evidences for it. Nobody in the first century had the whole Bible and they turned the whole world upside down. We've got the whole Bible, which means we've got a lot of places we can go, and we should be reading the whole thing through every year or something like that. But you need to pick out some things that are like dynamite to you, that you can go back again and again. And this would probably be one of them. Mingle with verse 18 All authority and heaven on earth is mine. There's 20. I'll be with you everywhere. I mean, just picture yourself now, just in the middle of the day. Something horrible and unexpected has come up at work. You're going to have to confront somebody. Or you just got a devastating phone call or something. And the bottom absolutely drops out of your life or your job or relationship or something. And everything in you feels like, I can't do this. I cannot handle this. I am over history, emotionally or physically. Now, what are you going to do at that moment? At that moment, See, that's where you find out how to be a Christian when things are just kind of rolling along. You all the natural resources are holding you up, your health is holding you up, your friends are holding you up. Your income is holding you up. Everything's holding you up. Who needs God, right? Wrong. He's doing all those things. But you don't feel it. It's when the bottom falls out that you find out whether you're leaning on him or not. So at that moment, you have to have a few of these. You have to, at that moment say, okay. You said you'll never, ever leave me and you'll be with me always to the end of the age.


And you said all authority is yours in heaven and on earth. So you have authority over the situation, over my little weak heart, and you'll never leave me. And so I count on you. Come through. Here we go. In there may be trembling and there may be shaking. And there may be sweaty palms and a dry throat and tears. Pushing up from behind the eyeballs as you move into this. Whatever happened but this, you can, by God. The sun will be there to be enjoyed. Commune with Revelation 320. Behold I stand in the door, knock If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him and he with me. This has spoken to Christians, not nonbelievers. We use it as an evangelistic verse and it's true as an evangelistic verse, but it's not in the context. In evangelistic verse, it's an intimacy verse. It's a communion verse. He's inviting the church to commune with him. He's saying, Church, Bethlehem. You've started to get all lopsided in some of your emphasis. You're forgetting me. Knock, knock, knock. And then we swing the door wide, and he'll always come. He'll always come in. And the picture he has is eating. I love to eat with people I love. Now we ought to eat with people we don't love to. You clear in Luke 14. Invite over the people that can't invite you back and you'll be rewarded in the resurrection. So don't only eat with the people that are your close friends, but that's appointed too sweet. And one of the best things you can do with your friends is eat with them. Right? We love to just eat with them because there's something about sharing a meal that you're relaxed.


I don't know what the dynamic of that is. Lots of different appetites are being. Satisfied or enjoyed at the same time. But that's what Jesus wants to do with us. He wants to dine with us. Eat with us spiritually. Matthew 1824, where two or three have been gathered together in my name, I am there in the midst. There's that corporate dimension again of being there in a special way. So now those are texts on the three persons of the Trinity offering themselves to us for our enjoyment of their communion. Here, now, close. Not far. So let's talk about our fellowship being with the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Fellowship or communion? I'm using those two words almost interchangeably. First Corinthians one nine. So texts that now talk about fellowship or communion with these persons of the Trinity. God is faithful through whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son. Jesus Christ, Our Lord. God is faithful through whom you were called into the fellowship of His Son. So there it is. We should live in fellowship with Jesus. If you enjoy fellowship with your close friends, you should enjoy something like that with Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Second Corinthians 1314. The Grace of the Lord Jesus Christ and the Love of God and the Communion of the Holy Ghost be with you. All that gourd communion there is Koinonia is the same word as the other one. Fellowship, Koinonia, the Fellowship of the Holy Go. So you got fellowship with the sun and fellowship with the Holy Spirit. Therefore Philippians two, one and two. Therefore, if there is any encouragement in Christ, if there's any consolation of love, if there is any fellowship of the Spirit. If any affection and compassion make my joy complete by being of the same mind, maintaining the same love united in spirit, intent on one purpose.


We have two texts here referring to communion or fellowship of or with or in the spirit. The Spirit should become a real living person to you that you talk to fellowship with. Version 1327. What we have seen and heard, we proclaimed to you also so that you may have fellowship with us. And indeed our fellowship is with the father. Now we have the third person of the Trinity. And the son. But here's the father. So we have fellowship with the sun set. Green is one nine. Fellowship with the Spirit, Grenadines, 13, 14 and Philippians two, one and two. And now fellowship with the father. This is why this book, Communion with God, by Owen, is built around the persons of the Trinity. He has long sections on fellowship with God as one in fellowship with each of the persons of the Trinity, which is really unique, I think, and I don't know another book like it. And with his son, Jesus Christ, these things we write so that our joy may be made complete in extending it to others. Now he's making his own joy complete. This is the message we have heard from him and announce to you that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all if we say that we have fellowship with him. And yet walk in darkness. We lie and do not practice the truth. So fellowship with God has a very definite moral effect. And if it doesn't, it's not true. It's not real. But if we walk in the light, as he himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another. Now, I wonder who that includes. Is it only horizontal? You and me or John and the people is writing to one another? Or is it also vertical? If we walk in the light as he is in the light, we have fellowship with one another.


And I'm inclined to think that since the fellowship has been spoken of here, as with the father and with the son. And then he broadens it out to have fellowship with the church. This one another includes both the vertical and horizontal. We have fellowship with one another and the blood of Jesus. His son cleanses us from all sin. So now we've seen a text that show that we're to have fellowship with the Sun, fellowship with the Spirit, fellowship with the Father. So the first set of texts were about the Spirit, the son and the Father coming to us, making themselves available to us and intimate with us. The second set of texts that we just looked at was about what we do about that, namely, fellowship with them, commune with them. Now, how is this fellowship experienced through the promises of God? Here's a long quote from Owen. How is it experienced through the promises? Because that's the way I think. We experience fellowship with God. We have his word and his word becomes his own intimate communication to us, especially the promises. So let's read Owen's way of understanding it. She's the life and soul of all Our comforts lie treasured up in the promises of Christ. They are the breasts of all our consolation. Who knows not how powerless they are in the bear letter. Even when improved to the uttermost by our considerations of them and meditation on them. In other words, if just left to ourselves without the spirit, even considering the promises is going to be powerless, as also how unexpectedly they sometimes break upon the soul with a conquering, endearing life and vigor. These promises here face deals peculiarly with the Holy Ghost. It considers faith, considers the promises themselves.


So we're looking at the promises. Looking at them. Looks up to him. The Holy Spirit waits for him. Considers his appearances in the word. In the Word. Depended on in the word. Depended on, isn't it? Look at that. His appearances in the word depended on. That's a very profound statement. The Holy Spirit makes his appearances. In the word trusted the trusted word. What does he mean? Unpacks it for us. Owns him in his work and efficacy. No sooner does the soul begin to feel the life of a promise. Warming, his heart relieving, cherishing, supporting, delivering from fear, entanglements, troubles. But it may. It ought to know that the Holy Spirit is there. Which will add to his joy and lead him into fellowship with him. Yeah. This is why Owen is so worthy of our attention. I think I probably had to read that ten times in order to get what he was saying here. Because what he's saying is. You don't do an end run around the Bible or around the word in trying to commune with the spirit. You don't shut your Bible, go off in the woods and say, No Spirit. Make yourself known to me. And hope for a falling down or laughter or fluttering eyelids or shaking knees or sweaty palms or palpitating heart or or some kind of manifestation. Those may come at any time in life. When the Holy Spirit moves in power, you can do anything he wants with us physically. But those things are absolutely negligible when it comes to real communion spiritually, because they can be there without the spirit and you can have the Holy Spirit without those things. So they are not the essence. The essence is this experience of the living person in his speaking.


And his conception is that when the soul pondering the word, considering the promises themselves, looking up to the Spirit, waiting for him, considering his appearances in the Word, depended on. So here you are, fear not frame with you be not dismayed, for I'm your God, I'll help you strengthen you. I'll hold you up. You focus on that and you say, God help me believe it. Holy Spirit, come and live in this promise. Arrive here, apply it to me. Make me to hear it as though you are standing here, speaking it to me yourself. And as you see that becoming true and strengthening you to do what you have to do. Witness Talk to somebody. Whatever. You know he's here. You know, he's here, as he says here. No sooner does the soul begin to feel the life of a promise. Warming his heart, releasing, cherishing, supporting, delivering from fear, entanglements, troubles. But it may. It ought to know the soul. May the soul ought to know that the Holy Ghost is there. The evidence of the presence of the Holy Spirit is the vitality and the life and the power of the Word. Changing you to have freedom from entanglement and fear and warming your heart and relieving you from anxieties and creating a cherishing in you and supporting you. These are the sweet things that we long for and we know he's there. And if we know he's there, then this will add to our joy in the word and leave us in fellowship with the Holy Spirit. You want to ask a question about that or making a comment about that dynamic right there? This is this is a spiritual thing we're talking about here. And unless you've ever tasted it may sound very strange, very foreign.


And if you haven't, you should just ask. You should ask that as you read the Bible, the Holy Spirit would minister the word to you in that way would come to you. Sometimes around Bethlehem, I hear people praying and I think we've all got it from the same place. And there's the text First, Samuel, which talks about God, stood forth from his word to Samuel, stood forth from his word. So we hear I hear people praying, Oh, Lord, stand forth from your word in your word by your word. Your question or comment on this particular. It is intangible. Good question. Person. Maybe. Maybe you're implying person things in person that I'm not. By person I don't mean body. I don't mean physical. But I do mean personality. I do mean will. Do you mean conviction or do you mean joy? I mean a being that has the capacity to experience personal dynamics Relate to somebody with a mind and with a heart. You just all over the New Testament, you find evidences that the Holy Spirit is not it? It's not it. For example, in Ephesians says Don't grieve the Holy Spirit, which you are sealed to Christ. You can grieve the Holy Spirit. It's neuter in many cases, but in some cases it's not. The only reason it's neuter is because in Greek, the word numa is neuter. When is neuter? The the gender in Greek is not female or male. Specific trees can be masculine or a boat can be feminine or, you know, gender in Greek doesn't dictate whether something is personal or not. What's remarkable is that I don't have the text right here in my hand, but in two or three places in John's gospel, the neuter numa spirit is followed by a relative pronoun in the masculine, which breaks the grammatical rule in order to make clear that John thinks of him as a person.


At least I think that's. That's John's point. Yeah. And we need to we need to check and see whether that's one of those cases. It may well be. It probably is where the who is is a masculine relative pronoun, whereas there is a neuter relative pronoun that you would use if you wanted to be grammatically consistent, which it doesn't use. Here's here's something I'd recommend if that's an issue for different ones of you. The personality, the personhood of the Holy Spirit. Get Wayne Graham's big blue book on systematic theology and go to the section of the Holy Spirit here to have a whole section on the the Person of the Holy Spirit. Was there a hand back there? This. Okay. The question is, will God, does God commune with us? Apart from his word. Got to be really delicate, I think, in how you say yes or no to that. If I if I say no, I think of a text like the heavens are telling the glory of God and the firmament declares his handiwork as though and I don't think it's as though it's real. You're to walk out tonight into this bitter cold and you're to think of a text like who can stand before his cold? From Jobe, 38. And your $0.02. God's doing this. This God's called. And you're to look up into the skies and say, if you see a star tonight. Well, if it's cold here. Between here and there. It's really cold. And then you're to remember that night on tonight pause forth knowledge. And so knowledge is to be streaming from those stars into your head about God. And as it comes to you about God, you're to commune with him. Now. But right at that point, I want to almost say, no, you won't commune with God and you shouldn't try to commune with God apart from his special revelation in Jesus Christ, because you won't get that.


You will not have any genuine spiritual communion with God if you don't have a relationship with Him and you can't get a relationship with him any other way than through Jesus Christ. And you can't get Jesus Christ any other way than through the Gospel, which is the word. And so we have to be nuanced and careful when we talk about, yes, there are revelatory works of God that are not in the Bible like nature, like our own consciences. And yes, every time God reveals something of himself, there should be a receiving of it on our part, a rendering back of proper acknowledgment and affections, which is a communion itself. Something's coming to me from God. Something's going back to God for me. And that's what I mean by communion. But all of that is possible because he's not my enemy. He's not. Wrath isn't resting on me. It's been removed by Jesus. And now I'm a son. And I can have access to a father. So that what is revealed to me there can become the stuff of friendly communion rather than the stuff of condemnation. So yes and no is the answer to that question with those qualifications. Yeah, Don. Right. And that's where a lot of people are living. And all of us live there from time to time, I say. I mean, Lord, what should I say? And what he brings to my mind right now is Psalm 40. I waited patiently for the Lord. He heard my cry. He lifted me up out of the miry pit, out of the bog. He put my feet upon a rock. He put a new song in my mouth. A song of praise to our God many will see and fear and put their trust in the Lord.


But here's the question. How long did I wait? No fly over those first words. I waited for the Lord. That's David talking. I remember about 19 years ago, standing right here, right in this spot. Pews, carpet, no junk in the balconies. A 200 people here on a Sunday night. I'm a brand new pastor and my first series on Sunday night or somewhere near the front end was some are Psalms, I call them. I think it was my first summer here, summer songs. And when I got to some 49 titled It In the Pits With the King. I still remember the title. I hardly remember any my sermons, but I remember that. But you know, some sermons you remember because of the resonance you get from your people. And that one got it struck a chord. Because everybody's in the pit lots of the time. That's where we live, lots of the time. That's why the Psalms are the most favorite book for most people, because the Psalms are so utterly, blatantly realistic about the frustrations of life and the pain of life. And David, who was a man after God's own heart, says, I'm in the pits, I'm in this slimy bog. It's like quicksand. It's like this slogging mud. How long I Wait, wait, wait. And God came. So the first thing I would say is, you're not alone. I get there too. David was there. Don't throw in the towel on. God. Be patient. I cry. Second thing I'd say I cried to the Lord. I cried to the Lord God, don't leave me here. Please have mercy upon me. Open the eyes of my heart. Third thing I might say is Psalm 32. Is there any concealed sin, anything that God wants you to get out? Because it says in Tom 32.


I hidden my sin. I did not confess it and my bones rotted within me. I confessed my sins and I was like a free. And so I would probe a little bit if this person, you know, gave me their time and their trust and their life. And I would say, talk to me about the rest of your life, not just your devotions. Talk to me about the way you treat friends, the way you act at work. I mean, I watched some people in there like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. I'll give you an example. I know a guy who's here every Sunday, every Sunday for. Forever. I could tell you where he sits every Sunday morning. Every time I talk to him, he's like a little teddy bear here. And I've called him at work. What? Oh, hi, Pastor. Something's wrong. Something's wrong. There's a disconnect here. So he came to me and said, I'm not getting anywhere in my devotions. I said, you know, I think there's a bigger issue here, bigger some bigger life issues here maybe. And I wonder if you are wanting relief from your own sins when you're not relieving anybody at work. You're making life really hard for people at work. There's a blockage to the sweetness that you want is not flowing through you. It's just getting blocked about 830. You're a bulldog to everybody. You need to soften up, sweeten up the money, get the clods out of the way. Something's got to flow through you. When it starts flowing through you, more will come in to you. So that would be one thing I'd say check, check your life for sins. A third, a fourth thing. I really got to stop because I can go on for 14 points here.


I have a little paper online. I mean, go on. There's What's the name of that document? How to. Yeah. How to help people be. How to help your people be satisfied. You can go into desiring Gorgie and read all 14 of them. This is the most common question I get asked on everywhere I go. If I talk about Christian hedonism and being happy and God and triumphing over sin and people everywhere raise their hand and say, But that's not where I live. How? How? And that's why I'm doing this seminar. That's what this seminar is about, is the whole question of the Christian life. And so there'll be more. But just be encouraged for you and for all those that you're speaking for and for me, that we're all there from time to time. And we have seasons of life and seasons of darkness. I can point to being the pastor now for 20 years and then before that, other other kinds of things. There have been lean seasons and there have been vital and lively seasons. And. I'm just very fortunate person that I'm surrounded by encourages. I got another email today and basically it was a response to the pastors conference we had, plus something else I'd done down at Moody whenever it was a day or two ago. And basically the last line said, Please join Piper. Don't ever give up. Don't ever give up. Don't ever give up. Said about five times. Right, Cross. Don't ever give up. Don't ever give up. Don't ever give up. Because this person just considers me, you know, with my books and my speaking as a sitting duck for Satan to be yet another one of those, you know, big shot pastors and bring reproach on the whole church of Jesus Christ.


And he just pleaded with me, Don't give up, don't throw in the towel. Don't make shipwreck of your faith. Hang in there. And so when you have a lot of people around you exhorting you and calling you to account and and correcting you and encouraging you, that's a great help. So I'd be a fourth or fifth thing. I'd say, Who's in your life helping you? Anybody helping you with this problem? You've told it to me now, but I want to say, who else do you talk about this with? Who? Because it says in Hebrews 313, exhort one another every day as long as it is called today, lest there be in you an evil heart of unbelief, leading you to fall away from the living God. Everybody is falling. A Christian life is like swimming in a river. The current is leading to hell. Heaven is at the headwaters. Anybody who coast goes backwards. When you get tired, who grabs you? As a water safety instructor when I was a teenager and worked for camps. And I was I taught I was taught how to get people out of the water when they were dead and when they were fighting you. You swim up to them, they're flailing around. They're going to drown you. If you get them right, they're going to latch around your head and drown you. So before you get there, you go down. You learn how to take their knee, switch them around, come to the top, give them a good hook around the neck. One arm under here. Where? In the neck. They're following all around. But you got one under control. You got one arm free and a scissors and a scissors kick. And you take them home. That's the way we should.


So here I am. I should do that for you. Or somebody should. So there's people in your life that are drowning right now, drowning in sand, drowning in indifference, drowning in lust, drowning and greed, drowning in sadness and depression and discouragement and overwork and bad management of their lives. And your main job is not to not to criticize them, but to go in there and and dive down our knees so they don't drown you with them. Switch them around, come up, give a good headlock. We're going to go talk about Jesus. Enough of own, I suppose. Yeah. It's okay. Is what the presence of the Holy Ghost is. Oh, I believe it is. I mean, you can't get equate the Holy Ghost, Holy Spirit with any particular warm feeling. But if other things that warrant that assumption are present, you can let me just restate what what he said, because I know all of you couldn't hear. He was told once upon a time in Christian like that, just the sheer raw act of praying was faith. Not that it was an experience you had in praying, and that he's come to see that That's not the way to look at it. I would agree with that. That that's not the way to look at it. And now the longing is that in and through prayer, there be a rising sense of how I'm going to use my own words. You tell me confidence that God is for you. That he's a father who's hearing you, that he loves you, that he's going to be there for you to do what you ask or something better, and that you want that to rise. And if it does, is that the work of the Holy Spirit? And it is it is the Holy Spirit bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.


Those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God. It's the rising sense that God's our Father. We say Abba Father, the spirit bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God when we cry from the heart, genuinely Abba Father and trust him, that's the spirit enabling us bearing fruit or bearing witness with our spirit that we are the children of God. And so, yes, I would say yes, that's the work of the spirit in your life. And you can, at that moment enjoy communion with him. And when that's absent, doubt tends to creep in and. Well, it should. I mean, it's inevitable. If you don't have faith, you're doubting then now there's this issue of faith and make little comment here. I don't mean that you must be absolutely assured that what the very thing you asked for in the very timing that you're asking for is going to happen. Or you have no faith. I think there is a kind of faith is a kind of faith that is granted like that from time to time. The gift of faith. I don't know that I've ever experienced. Which may be just an indictment of my own level of piety. I asked my father, who's a very godly evangelist. Have you ever experienced that kind of faith where when you prayed, you knew you had the specific thing in the timing you had? And he said. Maybe five times. In 50 years of ministry. Let's give you an example. And he said, well, one time I was in wherever, Youngstown, Ohio, or somewhere doing a crusade. My father's an evangelist, know many Billy Graham and a church or two would come together and there'd be 100, 200, 300 people for his nightly preaching, and he'd preach the gospel and nothing was happening.


He was discouraged out of his mind as a young man, and he got down on his knees. He said one night and he said, Lord, I've got to have a breakthrough. I don't know that I can keep on in the Ministry of Evangelism if you don't work through me, if I don't have a gift and I can't do it if you won't use me to bring people. And he said about two in the morning he received this. Call it what you will in a mystical assurance. Five people tomorrow night. Five people I give them to you. And he said he got off his knees and it was done. He said he'd never had it before and not many times since it was done. Five people are going to receive Jesus tomorrow night. So he walks in there and he announces that five people are going to receive Jesus tonight. Because God told himself, That's dangerous. You shouldn't do that. But he did it, and he preached and gave his invitation for people walk forward. He closed the service and turned them loose and just waited. And a person got partway home. And turn around and came back the fifth one. Turn around, came back. So here was my key question from my daddy. I said, Why don't you pray like that all the time? Stay up till two in the morning wrestling with God. You know what he said? I'd be dead. I'd be there. Meaning, you know, when you pray from 10 to 2 and sweat drops of blood and your heart is breaking and the emotions are so intense that you can hardly endure and you wonder if your whole life is. You could do that every night. You're not wired that way.


You're not intended to be that that intense all the time. So I don't know. For you, I think we have different gifts. I mean, if you read First Corinthians 12, the gifts of the Spirit, one's faith, one's miracles or healings, knowledge, prophecy. So some of you in this room might get that every other week. Might. I'll give you one this afternoon. Watch for it. Like that. Yeah. I cannot point to one instance of that in my life just to encourage the rest of you. I mean, that that is not. I mean, don't. Don't say. Well, if John doesn't get it, I'm not going to get it either. Don't say that because there may be weaknesses in me. There may be unbelief in me, there may be fears in me, there may be obstacles that I'm just going to be approved for someday when my heart is laid bare before the judge of all the earth. I'd like to see why now, and I'm open to that. But don't stop seeking him. So here's the point. Back to your question. When I say you should always have faith, and I'm giving you I'm reading my ideas into your head. Now, when you say you want faith in all in all, you're praying. I mean something different than what my dad experienced that night. I mean, the confidence. God is hearing me. God loves me. God's going to do what's good for me. No doubt about it. Okay. Either he gives me what I'm asking or his delays are wise and for holy and good purposes. And you submit, you say, nevertheless, not my timing, but time. I mean, I don't know how to handle prayer any other way because, you know, if you if you develop a nifty little program, it says, okay, you get whatever you ask for if you have to carry the will of God.


That was one premise, too. It's the will of God that everybody be. Say, premise three. I am now praying for my son, Abraham Salvation premiers for he's going to be. Baloney. Because otherwise I could pray for everybody. It'd be saved. Of course, God desires all to be saved in one sense. And of course, we should ask according to his will. But there is too much experience and too many other texts to be that simplistic about what faith really is. You don't run the world. God runs the world. Prayer is a mystery to me. Great mystery. Asking from your finite, sinful perspective that God would do things the way you think they should be done. Like give us $9 million to tear this building down. Build another one here and another one and decided we're going to tell God that's the way to run the world. I think not. But he tells us, Ask me. Ashley. I love to do things for my children when they ask me. You have not because you asked not you ask and don't receive because you asked wrongly to spend it on your private, worldly passions. This is a very amazing thing. I call it weird. And I spoke to Perspectives Class a few weeks ago. I said prayer is one of the weirdest things in the world. And I would just give you a little tip here, because you all I presume you come to this thing because you care about these things. And if you care about them, you probably want to go out from here in the weeks and years to come and and bless people with none of bless them with your lives. You want your lives to count. People do not get enamored or helped by a Christianity that glosses over its weirdness.


And tries to make it easy and palatable. And. Boring. Christianity comes alive to people when they see it as weird. And you say, Yeah, it's wildly weird. Why it's so weird is true. In fact, one of the weirdest things about it is that it's true. And instead of running away from its weirdness like prayer prayers, one of the weirdest things of all is to just push its weirdness. Thank you for listening to this message. By John Piper, Pastor for preaching at Bethlehem Baptist Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Feel free to make copies of this message to give to others, but please do not charge for those copies or alter the content in any way without permission. We invite you to visit desiring God online at w WW dot desiring God dot org. There you'll find hundreds of sermons, articles, radio broadcasts and much more all available to you at no charge. Our online store carries all of Pastor John's books, audio and video resources. You can also stay up to date on what's new at Desiring God. Again, our website is w WW dot desiring God dot org. Or call us toll free at 1888346 4700. Our mailing address is desiring God. 2601 East Franklin Avenue. Minneapolis, Minnesota. 55406. Desiring God exists to help you make God your treasure because God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in Him.