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)

Thursday, July 28, 2016

The all-inclusive secret, part 1 of 3

"And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send, even Jesus Christ."—John xvii. 3.

   "We may take these few words as a revelation of Christ's inmost consciousness: they contain His own account, His own condensed and epitomised account, of His mission and His gospel. Christ appears to rise to His height here, just because the awful end was near: almost at the foot of the cross, He speaks of eternal life and of Himself as the Giver of it. He seems to put His whole secret into one brief sentence. It is simple, yet daring in its simplicity. Men are going to murder Him, and still He knows that He has so impressed Himself upon the world and will so impress Himself upon the world, that through Him, through knowing Him, men and women may to all time escape out of their imprisonments and limitations into eternal life. He seems to survey the world, to look as if for the last time on the struggling, tired crowds, and to bethink Himself, "What they want is to know God—they would be lifted out of their struggle and weariness into eternal life then." And then there comes the further consciousness that to know Him, the Christ, is to know God, and that so by knowing Him eternal life is won. Men were soon to slay Him, but still He knew that He was the One "whom Thou didst send." Though so near His dying, He yet makes for Himself the stupendous claim that to know Him is everything, to know Him is to know God, to know Him is eternal life.
    The one secret of blessedness, then, according to Christ's own account of it, is to know Christ. All else is included in that. The discovery of Christianity, if one may put it so, is that the secret of all life lies, not in doing anything, not even primarily in being anything, but in establishing a relationship between ourselves and One who has done everything needful and who is everything needful. There are struggles in our life: what we are to do is not first of all to try for victory in the struggle, but to know Christ. Then we shall be lifted out of the struggle, for it is eternal life to know Him. There are mysteries hanging about this life and the next: what we are to do is not first of all to try and solve the mysteries, but to know Christ. Then the mysteries will, so to say, solve themselves, for it is eternal life to know Him. There is sin in our own hearts spoiling our life: what we are to do is not first of all to engage in a useless attempt to crush the sin, but to know Christ. Then we shall be taken out of the range of the sin, for it is eternal life to know Him. He gathers up in Himself all the secrets, and we have only to relate ourselves to Him. What lies at the beginning of true life is not "finding salvation," in the sense in which we sometimes use the phrase, not even finding Christ, but simply recognising, "knowing," the Christ who has found us. We have more or less discarded the old formularies about Christ having done all for us and about there being nothing left for us to do. Yet they had great truth in them. Perhaps they were rightly discarded: perhaps they had come to be interpreted in mistaken ways and had been robbed by continual use of their true significance: yet, I say again, they had great truth in them. For the one outstanding, distinctive idea of the religion of Christ— the idea which imparts to it its undying inspiration and its inexhaustible power, and makes it the support which does not break beneath us in our living or our dying—is this, that all we have to do is to establish ourselves in a right relation to Him who has done everything, that the answer to every riddle and the satisfying of every need and the correction of every imperfection is gathered up in the One Personality, and that we have nothing to do but to connect ourselves with Him. Simply to know Him is everything, even eternal life.
    It is the elementary fact which underlies, or ought to underlie, all our living of the Christian life, that all things are given to us, all our problems solved, all our difficulties surmounted, this world set beneath our feet and the other world assured to us, as we relate ourselves to Christ, as we "know" Him. I say that this is the one outstanding, distinctive idea of the religion of Christ. For all other struggles Christ substitutes the struggle to know Him, and says to man, "Carry that struggle through, and all your other struggles settle themselves." Yet we do not always understand that; and much of the difficulty that still clings around our Christian discipleship, much of our failure in it, comes from not understanding that. We begin by trying to reach out after a high life as after something to be attained by strife and labour. We want goodness, and we try to school ourselves into it: we want rest of spirit and calm of heart, and we try to force ourselves by self-discipline and continual watch into calm and rest: we want, we know, the touch of eternal life upon our souls, and we seek feverishly and with pain to raise ourselves toward it. And we find that we can't do it. We are far from goodness still. Rest and calm are still not ours. And as we confess our failure, we turn to Christ thinking that surely He will give us help in our efforts to reach the better and more peaceful life we long for so much. Our strength is not enough for it; but He will make our strength greater. That is what at first we take Christ's blessing to mankind to be; and some of us have not got beyond that conception of it yet He will supplement our power: He will make us strong where we were weak; and the effort that was vain will be crowned with triumph as we look to Him. The struggle is still upon us, we think: it is still our part to win the goodness and the peace; but He is with us to hearten and to strengthen us now, while we stood alone before. But we are forced to a further step soon. We fail and fail again, even though we have sought for the help of the strong One: the bitterness of our struggle is not past, even though His presence be near. And so we cast ourselves down before Him at last, and say, "I cannot win the holiness and the restful heart I want. Thou hast them, and must give them to me as I call." And we stretch the hand toward Him, since salvation and rest and all good gifts are in His keeping, and look for Him to give them into ours. Yet even that is not the inmost secret of Christianity. "This is life eternal, that they should know Thee the only true God, and Him whom Thou didst send, even Jesus Christ." To know Him —to know Him. Not to be strengthened by Him in the effort to win eternal life, but to know Him, and to find that eternal life is ours in the very act of knowing Him. Not to have Him offer to us the gift of eternal life from outside, as it were, but to know Him, and to find that eternal life is ours in the very act of knowing Him. We want so many things, but we shall never win them. Instead of trying to win them, try only to know Christ; and we shall win them all, so. We need to call in our energies from the many pursuits on which we have sent them forth: we need to concentrate them then on the one pursuit, the one aim, of relating ourselves rightly to the Christ —the pursuit, the aim, of "knowing" Him; and as we know Him, all that we had in vain sought to win is ours. This is Christianity, its supreme distinction, its glorious redeeming truth. The Christ comes to the struggling world, to men torn with desires for a nobler life they cannot reach, racked and rent with aspirations they cannot satisfy, and says to them, "I gather up in Myself all the secrets for which your hearts yearn. For all the desires that burn unfulfilled within you, possess the one desire to know Me, and, as you know Me, all other desires are answered. For all the aspirations that torture you, possess the one aspiration to know Me, and, as you know Me, every other aspiration is satisfied." Other leaders have spoken words of wisdom to men in their efforts to rise higher, and have spoken them truly and well; but Christ does more than speak the words or give the power to help us rise: He is Himself the touch of the highest life upon the low. Other religions have supplied inspiration in the struggle for a better life, and have done it nobly; but Christ does more than supply inspiration: He is Himself the Life and Light of men. All the secrets are His: the blessings long and vainly sought for are gathered up in Him; and to know Him is all that is left for us to do. In the right relationship between us and Him, in the contact of His personality with ours, is the secret of every blessing, of eternal life. We have but to know Him."

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 14-19)

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