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, June 1, 2016

How, then, is the mission of the Spirit after the Ascension to be distinguished from what it previously was?, part 1 of 3

    "It has been said that, whereas under the Old Testament dispensation the Holy Spirit was only an effluence or Divine communication to the saints, He is now to the children of God a personal presence; that He dwells among us and within us—a real person, knowing, loving, aiding us, and co-operating with Jesus in our salvation.1 But the actions of the Spirit in pre-Christian ages were not less personal than they are now; and to speak of two real persons dwelling in us and co-operating for our salvation is to depart from the general strain of New Testament language. Again, it has been said that, whereas individuals of the ancient theocracy enjoyed the gift of the Spirit, they received Him only for particular and well-defined purposes; that, even while they were enabled by His inspiration to fulfil their mission, He did not pervade their whole being; that He came to them fitfully, and was not a central fountain in the heart. The idea is so far correct, but the contrast which it suggests does not explain the peculiar nature of the New Testament gift, which is bestowed not merely for the general consecration of the man, but to be the strength of the particular energies distinguishing the members of the Christian Church from one another.2 Once more, it has been urged that the difference lies in the measure of influence now exercised by the Spirit; that it is less of kind than of degree; and that, while the lives of the Old Testament saints were in reality the same in principle as ours, they had only a smaller impartation of the heavenly grace.1 In this idea as in the last there is also a certain measure of truth. The Old Testament saints were in a weaker condition than those of Gospel times, and they knew their weakness. They mourned over their want of the Spirit in His power, and they looked forward to the Messianic age as a season when He should be bestowed with a fulness of which they had no experience.2 Yet this merely quantitative differentiation of the two gifts fails to explain the unique importance attached to the gift of the Spirit in the New Testament, while at the same time it only takes the question a stage further back, without showing us why the difference should exist. These explanations, therefore, are insufficient for their purpose; and the true grounds why the Spirit could not be given as “Holy Spirit” until our Lord was glorified are to be sought in the internal necessities of the case, in the essential characteristics of His Person and Work.
    1. Before the Incarnation of our Lord the Spirit to be given had not assumed that special form which He was to possess in New Testament times. Had the gift been merely outward, such as a Divine Person may bestow in the plenitude of His grace; or had it been only the gift of the Third Person of the Trinity, viewed in His Eternal existence and Divine attributes, it would be difficult, if not impossible, to understand why the Spirit should not have been granted in the same sense, though perhaps not in the same degree, to the saints of the Old Testament as to those of the New Testament age. But we have already seen that, as the Spirit interpenetrates our Lord in His human as well as His Divine nature, so our Lord in His human as well as His Divine nature interpenetrates the Spirit. The Spirit bestowed upon us as the fulfilment of the promise of the New Covenant is the Spirit of Christ as He is now. With, by, and in this Spirit we receive Christ Himself, together with all that He is as the Redeemer of men. By faith we become really and inwardly one with Him, and the energies of His life pass over into our life. These may be stronger or weaker, fuller or less full, according to the capacities of the vessel receiving them. But in character and essence they must be the same to every believer. All Christian men are members of the Divine-human Body of which Christ is the Head. They are branches of the Vine of which He is the Stem. They are in organic connexion with the Stem; and our Lord Himself says, “Apart from Me” (not “without Me”) “ye can do nothing.”1 The beloved disciple, who records these words of Jesus, has taught us the same lesson: “Ye have an anointing (not the act, but the result of the act) from the Holy One”; and “The anointing which ye received from Him abideth in you.”1 In other words, as He who was anointed with the Holy Spirit is The Anointed One, so are ye in like manner anointed ones; and His Spirit is not given you only outwardly, it abideth in you. This, however, implies in the nature of the Spirit an adaptation to human nature, a possibility of His interpenetrating human nature, which can only be reached by means of His possessing a human element; and that human element could not enter into the Spirit of the Christ before the Christ assumed humanity."

- William Milligan (The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord, pgs. 208-211)

*See link for footnotes.

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