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)

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

The Spirit of Jesus, part 9 of 13

    "(c) In iii. 1 f. there may be an implicit contrast
between the Christian sacrament of baptism and the
ritual hope of regeneration which characterised
some of the mysteries and cults, but, if so, this
reference is wholly secondary to the main theme of
the passage, which is to present the Christian con-
dition of access to God over against the Jewish,
The setting of the idea in a dialogue between Jesus
and a Jewish rabbi is sufficient to suggest what was
in the writer's mind. Christian baptism, admitting
the convert to God's kingdom, is a regenerating
process which makes him in reality what the Jewish
proselyte was in name, ' a new-born child, 5 initiating
him into the mysteries of the divine household. 1
The subsequent allusion to light (verses 19 f.) corro-
borates this. Proselytes to the monotheism of the
Jews should be heartily welcomed, says Philo (De 
Poenitentia, i.), since 'although they were formerly
blind they have received their sight, beholding
light most brilliant out of darkness most profound.'
The radical change of nature upon which Jesus
insisted when He declared that men must turn and
become like little children before they could enter
the kingdom, is thus presented in the Fourth gospel
as regeneration, a birth from above, which works an
entire transformation of life. The necessity of this
birth from the Spirit is traced to the nature of man
as flesh. That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and 
that which is born of the spirit is spirit. As the pro-
logue had already pointed out, those who become 
children of God by faith in Christ are born of God, not
of any human impulse or effort. This is the theo-
logical interpretation, from the side of God, of the
experience which the synoptic gospels present as a
moral change upon the part of man in response to
God's call ; as a theological interpretation it bears
a predestinarian and semi-metaphysical appearance
which is characteristic of the Fourth gospel, the more
so that this gospel avoids terms like repentance and
turning. But elsewhere faith is presented as the
vital condition of the new birth, and even in the
context of this passage it is subsequently recognised.
From the outset baptism into the name of Christ
had connoted an inward personal union with the
nature of the Lord. Paul had deepened this relation
by his faith-mysticism, and in the Fourth gospel
there is as little sense of any contradiction or dis-
crepancy between the spiritual process and the rite
with which it was bound up in the normal practice
of the Church. The writer significantly lays stress
upon the work of the Spirit as the decisive factor.
Indeed there would be no difficulty in understanding
the thought of this passage were it not for the fact
that he once co-ordinates water incidentally with the
Spirit. Unless one is born of water and the Spirit he 
cannot enter God's kingdom. The clause would fall 
at once into harmony with its context, and with the 
deepest principles of the Johannine theology, if the 
words (see link for Greek) were omitted 1 as a later sacramen- 
tarian gloss. Even when they are retained, they 
cannot be assigned any primary importance for the 
argument, in view e.g. of the fact that baptism is 
elsewhere omitted (cf. i. 12) in the description of 
how men become children of God. Baptism is inter- 
preted as the initial act of entrance into the kingdom, 
on primitive lines, but the Spirit occupies the fore- 
ground of the argument, and it is no longer the Spirit, 
as in the primitive ecstatic view, but the Spirit as 
the creative power of God which produces the divine 
life. This is slightly closer to the Pauline conception 
than to the teaching of the sub-Pauline theology, 
e.g., in Titus iii. 5, where it is argued that God saved 
us not on the score of good conduct not, as John 
would say, by the flesh--but by the bath of regeneration 
(see link for Greek) and renewal by the holy Spirit 
which he poured out richly upon us through Jesus 
Christ, or again in Eph. v. 26, where Christ purifies 
the Church by the bath of water (see link for Greek). The 
Fourth gospel assumes the outward rite, but lays all 
the stress upon the spiritual attitude to God through 
Christ which lends value and meaning to it."


*See link for footnotes.

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