The Universal Christ

"The resurrection gives us a Christ who is spiritually present; the Holy Spirit gives us a Christ who is universally present. By the coming of the Holy Spirit the risen Christ is made omnipresent, and the whole process of revelation here and now completed. Nothing higher can be looked for until the veil is dropped on the other side. Momentous consequences follow the acceptance of this truth. If the age of the Spirit under which we are now living marks the final outgoing of God to man; if the God who is manifested in Christ is every-where present in the Spirit; if through the medium-ship of the Spirit he dwells in the inner sanctuary of the soul; if he is not only with man, but in man; if through the Holy Spirit his presence within the soul is realized as the presence of Christ, then the time foretold by Jesus has come when temples and shrines are no longer indispensable, when every man has immediate access to God as the Father, and when every humble receptive soul may become "an habitation of God in the Spirit." "
- James Mann Campbell (The Presence, p. 89)

The New Covenant Gift of the Spirit

"Let us recall the three considerations that have been
mentioned. First, that our Lord Himself in His Divine-human nature was on earth, and is now in heaven, possessed of the fulness of the Spirit, and this in such a manner that the Spirit entered into all He was in the one sphere, and enters into all He is in the other. Secondly, that the Spirit given us by our Lord in His glorified condition is His own Spirit in the most definite and particular meaning of the words. Thirdly, that when the Spirit is bestowed upon us He must be made inwardly and experimentally ours, entering into all that we are in a manner similar to that in which He entered into all that Jesus was and is. Let us fix these three points distinctly in our minds, and it will follow that the Spirit promised as the chief gift of the New Covenant is pervaded by human as well as Divine elements. As the Spirit of the exalted and glorified Lord, He is not the Third Person of the Trinity in His absolute and metaphysical existence, but that Person as He is mediated through the Son, who is human as well as Divine. It is on this particular aspect of His being that He diffuses Himself through the members of Christ's body, and abides in them. Only as human, entering into and coalescing with what is human, can He be also our Spirit dwelling in a living and real way within us."
- William Milligan (The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord, p. 189)

Monday, March 21, 2016

Life in the Spirit, part 3 of 3

  "(3.) Lastly, the blessed outcome or issue of this "walk
in the Spirit" of God is (to put it in a single word) life.
The wages of our sin was death, but the gift of our God
is life. To bring out this contrast with as much force as
he may, Paul traces by easy steps how these two moral
states develop of necessity their proper consequences.
Take, first, the state of unspiritual and unchanged human
nature, the "flesh," as he terms it. We have seen all
along how it is characteristic of fallen humanity that it
does not submit itself to the Law of God. Whatever else
about it may be fair or hopeful, whatever wild-flowers of
sweet kindliness or manfulness it may bear, here you touch
its radical defect. What other lesson emerges from Paul's
self-anatomy in the seventh chapter but this: that the
pressure of the divine Law only provokes contrary desire
in the human heart? Leave a man alone and he may act
well to please himself. Urge God's will upon him and
the chances are he will wish to do the opposite out of con-
tradictoriness, or to assert his independence. He is not
subject to law, in fact; being what he is, he cannot be.
His nature is essentially a rebel. But this insubordina-
tion to God as moral Governor and Lord, indicates enmity.
It betrays a condition of hostility more or less suppressed,
more or less avowed; still at bottom hostility, not peace.
It means that the man is not on good terms with his
Maker. He cannot love the Lawgiver, since the mere
expression of the Lawgiver's will is enough to set the man
up in arms against it. Go deep enough, and you find
underlying all unregenerate life what Jesus detected in
it: "They have seen and hated both Me and My Father." 
God's law is good, even a bad man owns that. Why then 
does he rebel against it? Because he dislikes the Author of 
it, Whose authority lies at the back of it. Well: but what 
next? Work out this conception of human nature, and 
where will it lead you? To death. To hate is moral 
death. To hate God above all is death. To be at war 
with the Source of one's true life means to cut oneself off 
from the Fountain of goodness and of happiness and of 
moral being. This is to die. The fruit of insubordinate 
human nature can in the end be only this and nothing 
else — eternal, spiritual death: whatever that entirely 
means, which who can tell us? 
  Take next, by way of contrast, the new Christian state, 
which believers owe to their union with the incarnate 
Son of God. The determining force in the Christian 
(just as it was in Christ) is God the Holy Ghost. He is 
the Spirit of the Lawgiver. So far from being at variance 
with law, therefore, the mind of Christ must be the very 
genius of law, for it is the mind of the Legislator Him- 
self. Submission to the will of God is thus the keynote 
of a Spirit-ruled will. Nor does that mean in any sense 
a forced or a reluctant submission. The whole nature 
acquiesces. If the Spirit of God be the motive force in 
one's moral life, then the divine law is sweet as honey 
and precious as gold; for on its side are enlisted the 
deepest and most genuine likings, tastes, and moral ap- 
petites of the new nature. In a word, the believer sub- 
mits to law because he is at one with its Author. His 
mind becomes our mind. His Spirit our spirit, and His 
will our will. The development of this happy condition 
reverses the fatal chain which we found in the other case. 
The soul which cheerfully submits to divine law abides 
in the peace of God. It is moved to obey by affectionate 
and friendly concord with God — in brief, by love. And 
love drawing us ever more and more near to the centre, 
within the influence of the divine life, is life for us. 
  It appears, then, that God's sending His Son in the 
flesh has introduced into our race a new Divine Centre 
of life, destined to penetrate and quicken every one who 
is united to it. How far is this life by the Spirit meant 
to go? As yet there is but little of it to be seen. On 
the face of it, Christian men do not seem to enjoy any 
more immunity from death than other men. They are as 
weak as others: take ill, grow old, suffer and pine, and die, 
just like their fellows. St. Paul takes note of this diffi- 
culty at the end of our paragraph: but he is not discon- 
certed by it. The victory of the Spirit of Life over dead 
human nature is (he admits) a partial victory as yet. We 
do not see the whole of it: we do not even see the most 
conspicuous portion of it. For it has begun at the centre, 
in the secret heart of our manhood. It lies hid at the 
root of our moral personality, where the bottom springs 
of responsible life rise. In a word it is the "spirit" of 
the Christian that is already quickened. It is so in virtue 
of that righteousness, or submission to law, which is 
wrought in him by the Holy Ghost. To have a conse- 
crated heart, an obedient will, and a loving spirit means 
to be alive at the core of our manhood. It is to carry 
about with us a living spirit within the ribs of carnal 
death. As yet this is all the quickening we are permitted 
to see in Christian people: but it is not all that we are to 
see. The union of a Christian to the man Christ is some- 
how a union of the entire unbroken humanity of the two. 
Body and soul alike are brought into contact with the 
quickening principle. Sooner or later both alike must 
confess its influence. What the Divine Spirit did once 
for the incarnate Son as a Man, was done for His body as 
well as for His soul. Both have perfect life to-day. And 
Jesus Christ is the model to which saved men are to be 
assimilated. As He lives, so are they to live quickened 
in the spirit; quickened, too, in the mortal body. Here 
therefore is the pledge of a future victory over death 
which shall be conspicuous enough one day. Now, to be 
sure, the body of a Christian remains as good as dead 
because of the sin which still lingers in his members. Yet, 
"since it is the Spirit of Him Who raised up Jesus from 
the dead that dwells in you, He Who raised up Christ Jesus 
from the dead shall quicken also your mortal bodies by 
reason of the indwelling in you of His Spirit." Then 
shall the victory be at length complete."


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