Question 11How are mutual love and communion among believers testified and confirmed in their observation?

AnswerIn that they are appointed by the Lord Christ for that end, and in their own nature, as attended unto in their assemblies, are in an especial manner suited unto that purpose.

John 13:35; 1 Cor. 10:16,17,11:18,19; Eph. 4:3-6.

Explication — The principles of mutual, spiritual love among believers arise from their relation unto one Father: Matt. 28:9, “One is your Father, which is in heaven,” who giveth unto all them that believe in Christ “power to become the sons of God,” John 1:12; and their being all children of the same family, — that family in heaven and earth which is called after the name of God, the Father of it, as the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Eph. 3:14,15; — and unto Christ Jesus as their elder brother, who “is not ashamed to call them brethren,” Heb. 2:11, being by him born of God; — and from their participation of one and the self-same Spirit, which dwelleth in them, as they are “the temple of God, and the Spirit of God dwelleth in them,” 1 Cor. 3:16; as also in all the fruits of that one Spirit, 1 Cor. 12:4-8, and in that one faith and hope whereunto they are called: Eph. 4:3-6, “Endeavouring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace.

There is one body, and one Spirit, even as ye are called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.” And that love which is not built on these principles and foundations is not evangelical, whatever other ground it may have, or occasion it may pretend unto.

Communion of saints consists in their mutual love, duly exercised according to rule; and all communion is an effect of union.

In union therefore must lie the springs of love, and this consists in a joint incorporation of believers into Christ; “for as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body being many, are one body, so also is Christ; for by one Spirit we are all baptized into one body;” — and this they have by the means before mentioned, namely, their adoption, faith, and inhabitation of the Spirit.

Now, in the joint celebration of the ordinances of God’s worship, they all together make profession of these principles, and act that one faith, hope, and love jointly, whereof they are made partakers, and thereby grow up more and more into the head “by that which every joint supplieth,” Eph. 4:16.

And some of them are peculiarly designed by the Lord Christ for the testification of their love and union among themselves: 1 Cor. 10:16,17, “The cup of blessing which we bless, is it not the communion of the blood of Christ? The bread which we break, is it not the communion of the body of Christ? For we being many are one bread, and one body: for we are all partakers of that one bread.”

The Life and Works of John Owen Vol.15