The reason why the ministry of Jesus, the Apostles, and the Prophets had such impact was because it flowed, first and foremost, from communion with God. And it leads inexorably to a crossroad that cannot be avoided: we either disdain or embrace such fellowship, as proud or humble.
Paul is explaining to us in I Corinthians 10:1-12 that the fathers of Israel had communion with Christ: they were under the cloud, they passed through the sea, were baptized unto Moses, ate the same spiritual meat, drank the same spiritual drink from the Rock that followed them: and that Rock was Christ. Yet they rejected the communion they had already experienced and chose instead lusting, idolatry, fornication, tempting Christ, and murmuring against God by calling Him a liar. It is a serious thing to reject communion with God, since we could fall as they did. All of this was “written for our admonition, upon whom the ends of the world are come” (v. 11).
Scripture will use many other ways to explain communion. For example, in Genesis 14:18-19, after the capture of Lot in the battle of the kings, Abraham amazingly rescues him. After this heroic act, “Mechizedek, king of Salem brought forth bread and wine: and he was priest of the most high God. And He blessed him, and said, Blessed be Abraham of the most high God, possessor of heaven and earth: and blessed be God, which hath delivered thine enemies into thy hand.” The ‘elements’ of the communion with God are: first, the battle won by faith; second, the bread and the wine served by Christ (cf. the Lord’s Supper in Matthew 26:20-29); and third, the pronounced blessing upon Abraham by Melchizedek (cf. Hebrews 7:1-28). The result: communion with God. It prepared him to believe God and his promise in Genesis 15:1-6. Awesome.
Let’s check out another example. In Acts 4, Peter and John are in prison overnight because they brought Christ’s healing power to the lame man who had never walked before. Annas, the high priest, and Caiaphas, who had crucified Jesus, are interrogating them. Imagine that. They demand, ‘By what power, or by what name, have ye done this?’(v. 7). Peter, “filled with the Holy Ghost, said unto them . . . be it known unto you all, and to the people of Israel, that by the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, whom ye crucified, whom God raised from the dead, even by him doth this man stand here before you whole. This is the stone which was set at naught of you builders, which is become the head of the corner. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men whereby we must be saved” (vv. 8-12). Peter didn’t pull any punches.
Carefully note the reaction of the corrupt leaders who heard this: “Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marveled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus” (v. 13). Get this: the Apostles breath-taking boldness came from ‘being with’ Jesus, i.e., from communing with him. The components of communion are: first, denying and scattering from Christ at the Cross; second, they were eye-witnesses of his bodily Resurrection from the dead; and third, then were filled the Holy Spirit. This communion brought forth the power to heal and boldness to tell what it meant, which is this: you crucified him but God raised him from the dead. To repeat: they ‘saw the boldness.’ It came directly from being with Jesus. That’s what communion does. Nothing else does that.
Back to Genesis 14 – Notice how the Old Testament bears witness to the New Testament experience of ‘breaking bread’ and ‘lifting the cup’ as illustrated by Abraham and Melchizedek. See it again where simply ‘being with Jesus’ in Acts 4 is foretold in Exodus 29. Here God is instructing Moses about the tabernacle. The altar of burnt offering is “most holy: whatsoever toucheth the altar shall be holy” (v. 37). The material of this communion is the prophetic depiction of Christ on the altar of the Cross where he embodied the altar of sacrifice in Exodus. Jesus is ‘most holy’ and whoever touches him becomes holy. We ‘touch’ him by sharing in his Cross as our own (Galatians 2:20), and being “baptized into his death” (cf. Romans 6:3). This is the very “fellowship of his sufferings, being made conformable unto his death” (cf. Philippians 3:10). We touch Christ; the result is communion with God.
Concerning ‘touching God’, when Moses first meets the Lord, he is told to take his shoes off. Why? Well because Moses needs to be in intimate contact with ‘holy ground’ (Exodus 3:5). It would be the most exposure he could survive. Sometimes the word for ‘worship’ is (yishtakvu) in the Old Testament, which means ‘eyes, nose, and mouth to the ground.’ It is the posture of a dead man with nothing to offer God, yet he craves intimate contact with the Holy. It is holy communion with God, man’s profoundest worship.
Another look at Exodus 29 – There is a continual burnt offering on that altar. Its location is at the door of the tabernacle. It is here that the Lord would “meet you, and speak there unto thee. And there I will meet with the children of Israel, and it shall be sanctified by my glory. . . . And I will dwell amongst the children of Israel” (vv. 42-46). God will not negotiate about it. What he wants is communion with his people. But notice: Christ is not only the altar, he is also “the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture” (John 10:9). This ‘finding pasture’, ‘finding entrance’ is access to God. It is conversing with him, fellowshipping, and communing with him. It is an intimate connection, and the whole reason for atonement of sin. God wouldn’t have anything less in the Old Testament or the New.
In I John 1 he tells us – “that which we have heard, seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life.” i.e. Jesus. All this intimate relational language has created something called ‘fellowship’. John simply says, “Truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ” (vv. 1-3). It is this divine fellowship that creates fellowship with people. It is the whole entail of the New Covenant. It is the goal of the Cross and Resurrection. It’s personal, it’s intense, it’s what you’re aching for but the world can in no way duplicate. But before any ministry happens with people, he wants communion with you, from which all ministry flows. And communion with God will produce impact with people. So, commune with God. Don’t be distracted by anything less.
Can we bring this communion with God into the unholy world? Yes. We must. Here’s what happened yesterday. I’m staying at my son Jason’s cabin. There are two girls who are sisters that came to clean the cabin; that’s their business. They arrived as I was just leaving for a couple hours to get out of the way. I began to pray for them and was thinking of how I could share the Lord with them. But as I pondered this, I felt the Lord quicken to me to go another way. I felt compassion for them and confidence and peace to share what God was bringing to me.
When I got to back to the cabin, thank God, they were still working but just waiting for the sheets to dry. It was a perfect time to share the Lord. What a source of revival that alone is. And I did. I said, ‘Hey, I was praying for you two and I think God showed me something. I think one of you has a broken heart, and that Jesus heals the broken-hearted, for it is written, “He hath sent me to heal the broken-hearted”’ (Luke 4:18). Sharing the written promise of God is critically important. “Is that a need here?” I asked. One of the girls could hardly wait for me to stop describing her heart, her eyes welling up in tears. It was so surprising that this was actually happening for her; we weren’t in church or anything. I didn’t know if they were believers or not. Whatever the case, she took a risk herself and told me a little of her story, of a young Marine, her boy friend, who had invited her out to live with him on his base. She had told him no, but was heart-broken that she had given that answer. She assured me that he would wait for her till she was ready. I had told her that the right man would indeed wait for her and put her before his rifle, fishing rod, boat, pickup, or his boots. She should trust God through it. I think she needed to hear that. It felt so good to say that.
The point here is that communing with God had made me ready to follow the Spirit. And I was prepared to take the risk of speaking that message out to them. And she, along with her sister, was astonished that God knew her need. The gifts of the Holy Spirit, the word of knowledge in this case, brought her into communion with God if she’d just walk in it. Her faith was building as she realized Jesus was actually healing her as we talked. Her sister listened to the whole thing and compared her own heart to it, and confirming what was being said.
As we discover the moment the Lord is in, we find his power and love as we share that moment with others. They can enter into the communion of the Lord that we walk in. That creates fellowship or communion with one another. A bond in Christ had instantly been welded between us and the Lord, all done by the Son of God. And we felt the wonder of that moment. Now that’s a good day.