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)

Sunday, April 17, 2016

The apostle Paul on the Spirit in relation to the person of Christ and to the Christian experience, part 7 of 8

   There is yet another (c) aspect of the matter. Paul had a gnosis or philosophy of religion which spanned heaven and earth. In several incidental allusions to this scheme of thought, the pre-Christian condition of humanity is described as a state of subjection to the elements or spirit-rulers of the world, that is, according to the Jewish tradition which Paul follows, cosmic spirits or angelic powers such as those who were the medium of the Law for Israel, or those who as gods many and lords many exerted upon pagans a fascination which passed into idolatry. To the latter cosmic powers Paul in one passage (i Corinthians ii: 8 f.) actually attributes the crime of the crucifixion. Their worship with its ritual — for Paul even refers the punctilious system of festivals and seasons to the seductive influence of these stars, etc., which regulated their recurrence—was contrary to the worship of the true God. Their wisdom or religious philosophy had no place for the Cross. But the crucifixion really proved their undoing. God forgave all of us our trespasses, cancelling the bond of legal enactments which stood against us—that he set aside, nailing it to the cross; disarming the Principalities and Powers, he exposed them and triumphed over them openly in the cross. This is one of the dark corners or dark passages in Paul, but the annulment of the Law evidently became for him part of a cosmic and supernatural drama; the crucifixion was the divine discomfiture of the angelic and demonic powers which had hitherto dominated man; Christ was now superior to all principalities and powers, and at the end he would be worshipped by them. Two practical inferences follow. In the first place, no Christian need fear the malign influence of such angelic powers. Paul is sure that neither death (when such spirits are most active), nor life, nor angels, nor Principalities, nor Powers shall be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. Jesus is now Lord of the universe which was created by means of him, and no power in that universe is more potent than the tie between him and his redeemed. The latter share in his spiritual nature, which is proof against all lower spirits. But this relief from the fears which haunted the imagination implied that believers must own Jesus as the sole medium of revelation and communion. Paul's argument is that every other kind of religious appeal ought to be a dead letter to them. Any recourse to the ministry of angels, or any subservience to the legalism and idolatry which they foster, would impugn that unique position of Jesus as Lord and as the Spirit which is implicit in Christian faith, and which, on animistic principles, involves the dislodgment of the evil power from human life.
   There are traces of this conception in the Gospels (see also a passage like Acts x : 38), where the work of Jesus on earth is occasionally regarded as the undoing of Satan's power and the overthrow of demons. But Paul develops it characteristically in connexion with his inherited Christology of a divine being, a preexistent heavenly Man, who generously stooped to enter the poverty and thralldom of men in order to redeem them from the tyranny of the dark, evil world-powers. The noticeable thing in this theosophy is that his conceptions of the preexistent Christ did not view Jesus as the incarnate Spirit of God; they drew rather on the ideas of wisdom and the Logos than on the Spirit, although, in his implicit polemic against the Philonic reading of Genesis i-ii, the apostle defined the last Adam as essentially Spirit, the archetype and head of a spiritual race. The word of the Cross was also a word of the Spirit, and no spiritual theosophy, however plausible and imposing, was valid if it ignored the former. This is the point, and it is a barbed point, of the passages to which we have just referred. They reflect a cosmic rather than a forensic view of the work of Christ, but they indicate the central truth on which all the lines of Paul's thought converge, namely, that the relation between Christ and men begins in the Spirit and in faith."

- James Moffat (Paul and Paulinism, pgs. 58-63)

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