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, June 5, 2016

On whom is the new covenant gift of the Spirit bestowed?, part 2 of 3

    "We return to the only answer that can be given to the question before us. The gift of “Holy Spirit,” in its New Testament sense as the Spirit of the glorified Lord, belongs to none but the members of Christ's Body. In the Church of Christ alone can the perfections of the King in His beauty be displayed. The Divine seed may be scattered broadcast in the world, but the plant that springs from it must be nourished in the communion and fellowship of the saints. It must grow in the atmosphere of a well-diffused Christian life. It must be strengthened by the faith and hope and love of others growing beside it and helping it to grow. “There is one body, and one Spirit, even as we were called in one hope of our calling;”1 and the peace of God which is to rule in our hearts is a peace to which we are called “in one body.”2 And this is the case, not because the Church is substituted for Christ by the sacred writers but because, in her, men are brought into contact with Christ in the very seat of His power, in the very centre of His enlightening, quickening, and comforting grace. The Church can no more be a substitute for Christ than Christ for the Father. Christ is “the way” to the Father, and the Church is the way to Him, if not always in the first stirrings of the awakened conscience, yet in that further progress by which we press forward to the end of our Christian calling. “It is necessary to receive the life of Christ, that the Holy Spirit may make us His home; and when that life is ours He dwells in us for ever.”3
    The full truth, therefore, is not expressed by the formula, Christ first, the Church afterwards. If we rightly honour our Lord by preserving the idea of the Church as His Body; if we realise the fact as clearly as we ought that in the Church He actually dwells, and that through her He bestows His choicest blessings, we shall rather say that He and His Church act together in meeting the wants of men. He is in the Church, and the Church, if not always as a whole, yet always in a faithful remnant, is in Him. According to His own word, “He that receiveth you receiveth Me.” Christ, indeed, is always first, prior alike to the Church and the individual convert. But it is through His Church and His power working in her that He perfects those who come to Him in faith. Nor has the Church failed from the earliest times to bear witness to this truth. In the Apostles' Creed the Articles, “I believe in the holy Catholic Church” and in “the communion of saints” immediately follow the Article, “I believe in the Holy Ghost,” taking precedence of those that are occupied with the application of redemption to the individual soul; and the meaning is that in the holy Catholic Church and in the communion of saints is to be found, according to God's plan, everything that ministers to redemption in its fullest sense—“the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.”
    There is no proof that the highest influences of the Spirit are given except to those, and therefore through those, whom the Redeemer has called to a saving knowledge of Himself. The Christian Church is His Spirit-bearing Body. She is the channel by which He communicates the Spirit in His power, the “vessel” with the lamp out of which He maintains His light ever burning in the world. Upon the Church of Christ rests the responsibility of every advance that is to be made either in the power or the beauty of holiness upon earth, and that responsibility she dare not throw upon her Lord in heaven, as if it were exercised by Him directly, and not through her.
    Let the Church then beware of finding an explanation of her weakness, of her shortcomings, of her failure to convert and renew the world, in the thought of the world's obstinacy, of the difficulties of her own position, or of the mysteriousness of God's ways. Let her seek the explanation where it will be found—in herself. As a Body how often has she been no better than the world! How often has she yielded to difficulties instead of looking upon them as a discipline by which to gain strength! How often, to excuse herself, has she drawn a veil of mystery over what God has made plain! She has been unwilling to accept the full privileges of the Gospel or the perfect heavenly life; and she has thus choked the channels by which the all-conquering Spirit of God goes forth to victory. Let her frankly acknowledge the fact that the Spirit in His power belongs to her alone, and that only through her can they who sit in darkness receive the light of life."

- William Milligan (The Ascension and Heavenly Priesthood of Our Lord, pgs. 221-223)

*See link for footnotes.

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