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)

Thursday, April 21, 2016

H.R. Mackintosh on the Christology of St. Paul, part 3 of 6

   "No part of the apostle's teaching has a more vital bearing on his thought of the Exalted One than his mystic conception of the believer's union with Christ.1 Round this idea his religious feeling crystallised. The phrase "in Christ" or "in the Lord" occurs nearly 240 times in the Epistles we have accepted as genuine, and it is used with reference to every side of experience. "I am persuaded in Christ," he writes (Ro. 14. 14); "if there be any consolations in Christ" (Ph. 2. 1); "the dead in Christ" (1 Th. 4. 16). It is as though Christ were the air or element in which the Christian moved and had his being, thinking with His mind and willing with His will. The believer has absolutely become the organ or instrument of the Lord, and is drawn, spirit, soul, and body, into His dominating and recreating life. It is a relation of spirit to spirit, yet not a relation individualistically realised; for— and this point is particularly accentuated in Ephesians— the Church is the body of Christ, in which old divisions of Jew and Gentile are done away. This final turn of thought, however, he has prepared for by the earlier conception of Christ as the Head of the body, of which individual Christians are the members; "we, who are many," he writes to the Church in Rome, "are one body in Christ." (12. 5). The bond uniting Christ and Christians is such that the same predications can be made of both. In His death we also die, only to rise in His resurrection to newness of life. His power is made perfect in our weakness; and it is no contradiction of this, but its true expression, that the apostle bears about in his body the dying of the Lord Jesus (2 Co. 4. 10), for only in proportion as the private forces of the believer decay can his natural capacities be absorbed and utilised by the higher power of Christ. The fact that St. Paul conceived this union or communion as mediated by the Spirit may possibly explain how he feels at liberty to change from the phrase "in Christ" and speak of Christ dwelling in us; for the interpenetration between the Spirit-life of believers and the Spirit of Christ is perfectly reciprocal. Plainly this faith-mysticism lets in a flood of light on the Pauline Christology. A single verse like 2 Co. 5. 7, "If any man be in Christ, he is a new creation," reveals in a flash the last ground of his religious conviction about the Lord. He with whom men can be thus in a relation of mutual vital possession has obviously a nature which is more than human; that entrance of His life into us, met and appropriated by our absorption in Him—whereby we are able to denude ourselves of an unrighteous past and live anew to holiness—involves on His side something of the universality and transcendence of God Himself. It has been argued that this synthesis of personality and spiritual immanence in the Christ of St. Paul is in reality unthinkable, inasmuch as the two sides of the combined idea are irreconcilably opposed, and to take the combination seriously can only lead to the depersonalising of Christ in a quasi-pantheism. But we may reasonably urge that this is to beg the question of His divinity, in a negative sense. The figure of the head and the members (Col. 1. 18) seems peculiarly fitted to represent the relation of Christ to His people in both lights—as characterised equally by transcendence and by mystic vital union.1"

- H.R. Mackintosh (The doctrine of the person of Jesus Christ, pgs. 56-57)

*See link for footnotes.

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