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, June 4, 2016

On whom is the new covenant gift of the Spirit bestowed?, part 1 of 3

    "IV. A fourth point in connexion with the mission of the Spirit remains to be spoken of. On whom is the gift bestowed ? We have seen that the Spirit promised in the New Testament is our Lord's own Spirit, the Spirit as it penetrated and pervaded Him. We have further seen that the Spirit can only be said to have been received by us when it penetrates and pervades our nature and diffuses throughout us the breath of a new life. And, once more, we have seen that the function of the Spirit is to lead the believer on to the perfection that is in Christ Jesus, each glorious attribute of the Lord finding its answer in him, enlisting his sympathy, attracting his love, and drawing out the longings of his soul to have the same attribute formed in himself. From all this it follows as a necessary consequence that the Spirit of Christ can be given in His fulness to the members of Christ's Body alone. That there is an initial work of the Holy Spirit upon the unregenerate, by which they are awakened and converted, is not, indeed, for a moment to be denied. But this work is general and preparatory. It is the work implied in those startling passages of the writings of St. John in which our Lord and His Apostle speak of the acceptance or rejection of the Gospel as dependent on a still earlier discipline of the soul than that of listening to the word then spoken: “He that is of God heareth the words of God: for this cause ye hear them not, because ye are not of God;" “But ye believe not, because ye are not of My sheep;” “Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice;" “They are of the world: therefore speak they as of the world, and the world heareth them. We are of God: he that knoweth God heareth us; he who is not of God heareth us not.”1 In these and similar passages the spiritual history of man is taken up at a different point from that at which the eye rests only on the natural disinclination of all to godliness. There has been subsequent to that, although previous to the Gospel call, a discipline by which the heart was tested; and that discipline has been carried on by the Holy Spirit as, in applying the lessons both of Providence and grace, He has sought to awaken the moral susceptibilities of man. Only, however, when these have been awakened, and when man begins to display a tendency towards the truth and God, so that he may now be said to be “of the truth” or “of God,” is he in a condition to receive those further communications of the grace and love of Christ which are implied in the promise of His Spirit. Then, drawn to Christ in faith, he is by faith united to Him and, in that union, is made capable of receiving those influences of His Spirit which, by the very necessities of our nature when we yield ourselves to another, demand sympathy on our part with Him from whom they come.
    Hence, accordingly, the words of our Lord, “And I will make request of the Father, and He will give you . . . the Spirit of the truth: whom the world cannot receive; because it beholdeth Him not, neither learneth to know Him:1 ye learn to know Him; because He abideth with you, and is in you.”2 The Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of the truth, the world cannot receive, because it has no perception of the things with which He deals, no relish for them, or adaptation to them. As it cannot “hear God's voice, because it is not of God,”1 so it cannot receive the Spirit in the more inward and effective communications of His power, because it has no eye for spiritual things. The Spirit in His first and preliminary actings comes to the world and would stay with it; but the world will not have Him for a guest, and it never attains to that experimental knowledge of Him which alone is worthy to be called knowledge. But the disciples are “of the truth”, they welcome the heavenly Guest; He “abides” with them; He “is” in them; and they advance to a continually deepening knowledge of what He is. Hence also the words of our Lord's High-priestly prayer, “I make not request concerning the world, but concerning them which Thou hast given Me.”2 Not because He would leave the world unsaved does our Lord so speak, but because it is impossible in the nature of things that the world should receive what He now asks for His own. He is thinking of the deepest and richest blessings of the Divine love. How can He ask them for a world which refuses to apprehend them? It may perhaps be replied that other words of our Lord in His last discourse to His disciples are inconsistent with this view. In promising the Advocate who should come after His departure, did He not say, “And He, when He is come, will convict the world in respect of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they believe not on Me; of righteousness, because I go to the Father, and ye behold Me no more; of judgment, because the prince of this world hath been judged”?1 and in saying so did He not promise that through His disciples there should be a work of the Advocate on the world which shall lead it onward to the loftiest heights of Christian truth? But an attentive consideration of the passage will show that, instead of being occupied with the conversion, it refers to the condemnation, of the world. The word “convict" has not the meaning of convert, and it is more than either to reprove or to convince. It implies that answer of conscience to the reproving, convincing voice by which a man condemns himself. The word “in respect of,”2 too, is wholly different from the word “of.” No work of conversion is, therefore, here alluded to, though it is not said that conversion may not follow. What the disciples are assured of is, that by their work that very world which was to scorn and persecute and kill them shall eventually be silenced and self-condemned, be overwhelmed with shame and confusion of face. The apparently conquered shall in the final issue be the conquerors. Rightly interpreted, therefore, these verses lead to no such thought as that of a gift of Christ's Spirit to the world.3"

- William Milligan (The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord, pgs. 216-220)

*See link for footnotes.

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