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)

Saturday, April 9, 2016

Newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter, part 1 of 2

" "Or are ye ignorant, brethren (for I speak to men that know the law), how that the law hath dominion over a man for so long time as he liveth? For the woman that hath a husband is bound by law to the husband while he liveth; but if the husband die, she is discharged from the law of the husband. So then if, while the husband liveth, she be joined to another man, she shall be called an adulteress: but if the husband die, she is free from the law, so that she is no adulteress, though she be joined to another man. Wherefore, my brethren, ye also were made dead to the law through the body of Christ; that ye should be joined to another, even to Him who was raised from the dead, that we might bring forth fruit unto God. For when we were in the flesh, the sinful passions, which were through the law, wrought in our members to bring forth fruit unto death. But now we have been discharged from the law, having died to that wherein we were holden; so that we serve in newness of the spirit, and not in oldness of the letter.''—ROM. vii. 1-6.

   It is surely superfluous to add that what makes Divine Law so worthless as an instrument of discipline was not its contents—these were "holy and good "—but the form in which it came, of an outward imperative command, claiming subjection on pain of the death-penalty. It was the sense of being constrained, not from within the will, but by a force without; constrained through fear and not inclination; constrained by a naked authority which is unsympathetic and unwelcome. All this St. Paul sums up after his manner in a single phrase, when he adds that the old discarded system was not "one of the spirit but of the letter." The expression was familiar to his thoughts at the time; because the same contrast is explained more at large in a well-known passage of his Second Letter to Corinth, written shortly before the date of this Epistle to Rome.* The lex scripta of Mosaism failed because it was only a lex scripta. It stood over against the fallen nature of man as the bare utterance of a stronger will, an imperative as cold and rigid as the stone it was graven upon, with nothing about it to quicken inward affection or move the deep springs of spiritual good in the human heart. Coming in a fashion like that, even the lovely and perfect will of the Most Blessed One became, to the rebellious instincts of His creature, a provocative to disobedience.
   This records an experience with which the modern mind can perfectly sympathise, because it corresponds with the facts of human nature still. Have not we also felt the risings of self-will in proportion as we realised the pressure of an authority which we could not but respect and yet had never learnt to love? And do we not know that neither the religion nor the morality which is extorted by such a system has the breath of life in it? So long as truth or temperance or purity is only observed outwardly through dread for the consequences of transgression, is not the real inclination of one's heart apt to take its own revenge for such an enforced and mechanical virtue of appearances, by some secret indulgence or an inward rebellion which is not a whit better than open vice would be?
   Such constrained virtue as this lingers even in the bosom of the Christian Church; since under the most evangelical teaching people who are not really renewed in spirit may remain thorough legalists. They may do their duty, not as an outgrowth of the inner life, but as a violence that is put upon their real inclinations; and they may hope to make themselves good at the last by working thus from the outside inwards, instead of from the inside outwards. But the goodness which can be forced in this way is not living goodness. Such conduct as results from the contact of an external law with an unrenewed will remains morally dead, and so the union is after all a sterile one. Christ could render no better service than to rupture that connection altogether. He could effect nothing worth calling "salvation" till He had ruptured it. It was broken for the believer by His death. When the Law was satisfied for us by His obedience unto the cross, it was silenced. He is "the end of the Law unto righteousness to every one that believeth" (Rom. x. 4).

* Compare 2 Cor. iii. passim.

No comments:

Post a Comment