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, May 1, 2016

The Spirit of Jesus, part 6 of 13

    "Now, this is a conception of the Spirit which is
significant in several directions. As Baur has pointed
out, 'The Spirit only comes in His fulness after the
close of the earthly life of Jesus, and thus stands, as
the universal Christian principle, high above the per-
sonal authority even of the apostles.' 1 The word-
ing of this statement is not beyond criticism, but it
is substantially accurate. Elsewhere in the Fourth
gospel the author is not content, like Luke, to ignore
the special claim on behalf of Peter, which had led in
some Jewish Christian circles to the shaping of the
saying in Matt. xvi. 19 ; he is careful to suggest
Peter's subordination to the favourite disciple.
Furthermore, he broadens out even the general
promise of Matt, xviii. 18 into a promise 2 for the
disciples as a body, and associates it with the Spirit.
Finally, this incident in the upper room is the
Johannine equivalent for the Lucan story of the
bestowal of the Spirit at Pentecost. The writer's
aim is to connect the Spirit as closely as possible
with the person of Christ, a connection which is not
prominent in the Lucan story, where moreover the
Spirit is ecstatic or explosive rather than an expres-
sion for the indwelling presence of the living Christ.
According to the Johannine pragmatism (xv. 26,
xvi. 7, etc.), this reception of the Spirit follows the
return of Jesus to the Father, and it is therefore
possible that the latter change is supposed to have
taken place between ver. 17 and ver. 19. In any
case there is no such interval of time as in the
Lucan story or even in Matthew's gospel (xxviii. 20).
Jesus is glorified and the Spirit is forthwith bestowed
by Him directly on the Church, without any sugges-
tion that it was to be mediated to others through
the agency of the apostles. 1 This does not imply
that the author was indifferent to the historical
function of the apostles in the course of early Chris-
tianity. It simply marks his desire to emphasise
the significance of the Spirit as the very life of Christ
in men, and to connect that Spirit, on the one hand,
with the risen Jesus directly, and on the other hand,
with the experience, 2 not merely with the particular
activities, of the Church. The description of the
Spirit being breathed upon the disciples is not
exactly harmonious with the semi-personal concep-
tion which pervades the previous chapters (xiv.-xvii.):
it is more realistic than we might expect from what
precedes. But the motive of the incident obviously
is to safeguard against the idea that the Spirit in the
Church is anything else than the Spirit of Christ
Himself, or that it can be mediated except through
direct personal touch with Him. 3 According to
the Johannine view, the faith and fellowship of the
Church rest not upon the Spirit of God so much as
on the Spirit conceived as the Spirit of Christ, on
the Spirit as the alter ego of the risen Jesus, whose
functions are bound up with the revelation of God in
His Son. The indwelling of the Spirit is equivalent 1
to the presence of Christ in the heart of Christians. 2
The Spirit is another 3 comforter, who carries on in
the new conditions the relation of Jesus to His dis-
ciples on earth, and raises that relationship to an
eternal and spiritual tie between men and God.
The Fourth gospel reproduces the synoptic concep-
tion that the Spirit did not exist for the Church
till Jesus died and rose again (vii. 39). The precise
form in which the thought is expressed is not synoptic,
but the thought itself is. There could be no Spirit,
in the Christian sense of the term, until Jesus had
passed from earth; only when He was glorified
could the Spirit come into play within the sphere
of faith as an inspiring and animating power."

- James Moffat (The theology of the gospels, pgs. 187-189)

*See link for footnotes.

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