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, July 27, 2016

Conversion or control, part 2 of 2

"And it came to pass, when Israel was waxen strong, that they put the Canaanites to taskwork, and did not utterly drive them out."—Judges i. 28.

   "Turn for a little while to this other and truer view of religion (though I have in truth anticipated much of what needs to be said of it) which makes its function to consist, not in controlling and keeping down, but in casting out, the foes within our hearts. I say that is Christ's programme for us—the perfection of God Himself within us. Far away—worlds and worlds away—from our religious life and experience as the idea contained in that phrase seems to lie, yet there is at any rate no escaping from the fact that the phrase expresses the true idea of religious life and experience; for it is the phrase which Christ Himself employed. We are to be perfect as our Father in heaven is perfect. So are the heart's Canaanites to be driven out, till in that chosen country of God which lies within our souls no trace of their contaminating presence remains, and God can have it to Himself. The chosen things of God are to be in undisturbed possession of our hearts as their home: every evil impulse must be driven out, and driven out so far that its return is impossible forever; and the base passions are to be, not drugged into insensibility, but slain so utterly that we can, so to say, put up into its sheath the sword which has slain them, never needing to draw it again. I know that our poor hearts might well faint with the very contemplation of such an ideal as that: I know that you and I would need to confess ourselves unspeakably far from such purity as that ideal demands; but I do say unhesitatingly that we are not answering wholeheartedly to the requirements of true religion until that is the ideal on which our hearts are set. For religion asks for conversion—and conversion is that. Nothing less than that is worthy of the name. Oh, it is a great idea, and must not be belittled! This is what we have set before us, and this is our call—the absolute casting forth of the wrong, the pulling up by the roots of every foul and rank growth of evil, so that it can never flourish any more. Well to watch, but the higher aim is to be so purified in the inner nature of us that the watch is needed no more. Well to fight with ourselves and to conquer, but the loftier thing is to be transformed in the essential life of us, so that there shall be nothing left to fight, and that within us the peace of perfect holiness may reign. And though now, in our weakness, we need to keep the watch unrelaxed and have to bear the heat and weariness of the battle, let us at least remember that this is not the fulness of the better life. Strive for something more. Strive to cast out the Canaanites, that within your heart God and the things of God and the thoughts of God and the purity of God may be truly at home. That is conversion; and that, I say again, is our hearts' great call.
    It is the unique glory of the Christian religion that it deals in such an utter moral transformation as that. There is no other religion in the world, and never has been, that comes anywhere near such a conception. Other religions, other methods, patch up the moral life and apply little peddling remedies to the heart's sinfulness and give this precept and the other precept for the observance of their devotees; but the miracle of "casting out" is beyond them—beyond their thought even, in most cases, certainly far beyond their power to perform. But Christianity deals in this—in this utter revolutionising of the inner life. It asks for it: it requires it; but it brings to bear the moral leverage which makes it possible too. Certain it is—do not our best hours bear witness ?—that in the personal relationship of our souls to Christ, if we only preserved that relationship unimpaired, there is influence enough, not only to put our inward foes to taskwork, but to drive them utterly out. And that we have not reached that serenity and quietude of spiritual experience is no proof that Christ's power cannot make us reach it; for now and again, when surrender to Him has been more nearly complete, we have felt His life baptizing us in such wise that we have been brought near to His own perfectness. And, were we always so surrendered, so always and still more entirely would He transform our inner life to the sacred purity of His own. His power can do it: it is we that have failed. And this is the crowning glory of Christianity, of Christ's work in our hearts, that they deal in, ask from us, and make possible to us did we do our part, not simply self-restraint, but the substitution for all that has been bad in us of the very goodness of God. Others may have known some method of keeping men right: Christianity has the secret and the power which leads to righteousness in the inward parts.
    And thus (we may reverently say it) the greatness of the moral result in us is proportioned to the greatness of the means whereby it is accomplished. Would God waste His ministries and His love and His Christ and His Cross for less? I said others have known some method of keeping men right— surely all that wondrous sacrifice was made to do something more for us than had already been done! But to cast out from us the evil—not to subdue or restrain it, but to cast it out—to make us what God is—so to clear out of us the foulness that its very existence might also be forgotten, and it should be as though it had not been—perhaps we may reverently say that so mighty a miracle as this is worth even Bethlehem and Gethsemane and the Cross.
    To believe in this sense in "conversion," and to preach it—to that must the Christian Church come back. I know that the word has been abused: I know that a great deal of modern evangelicalism has understood very little about the conversion which has been for ever upon its lips. But do not let us, because the word has been misused, lose our belief in the thing. The Christian Church has been forgetting, I fear, what it ought to summon the hearts of men to go through: it has been simply taking the place of one among many moral educational forces; and its ministers and its members have been trying to teach goodness as the schoolmaster teaches his lessons in the schools. Secrets of self-control, methods of moral improvement, programmes of goodness—we have been dealing in these things, and forgetting to say, "These things are not enough. When they are all done, Christ wants so to work upon you that from base to summit of your natures you shall be re-created and formed anew." And I say that this message must the Christian Church proclaim with louder voice, would the Christian Church fulfil her rightful part.
    But for our own hearts, first of all, must we seek that transforming power. To begin the casting out of the Canaanites, at least, let us set ourselves, lest our Master, looking upon the hearts which should be entirely His own, should see, in spite of outward quietude and restraint, the alien presences lurking there. Let there be an end of the correcting and the improving and the controlling—at any rate let there be an end of being satisfied with that; and let us be renewed, re-made, through all the ranges of our being. Christ, if we would fall back on Him and into Him with full surrender, would make us begin afresh, with all that we were wiped away. Not control of the old life, but the giving of a life that is new, is what He will do and what He wants to do for us. And only then—when we have been converted and become as little children, living out the good spontaneously because of the goodness He has implanted within us—only then shall we be worthy to enter into the kingdom of heaven."

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 8-13)

No comments:

Post a Comment