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)

Friday, July 29, 2016

The all-inclusive secret, part 2 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.

   "And knowing Christ is what? Just at present the claim is insistently made that modern theology has rediscovered Christ, as it is sometimes put—very absurdly put, as I think—and that we know Him now as He has not been known for long. We are told, what is no doubt true, that by laying too great stress on creed the Church has lost touch of the Christ behind the creed. We are told, what is no doubt partly true—but only partly—that by carrying ourselves back in thought to the Christ as He lived and walked among men, we get to know Him far, far better than if we come into contact with Him only through what Churches have said about Him and systems they have formulated about Him. The watchword of the newer thought—the watchword so persistently repeated that it will soon come to have as much cant and unreality about it as the repetition of a creed could ever have—is "Back to Christ." But we may adopt that watchword, and yet not really know Christ. What the newer thought has done and is doing for us, and what we may all rejoice in, is this— it brings clearly before us the conditions under which Christ lived, makes His human life real to us, sets that life before us in all its grand and yet simple beauty, helps us to appreciate it, to picture it to ourselves, as it has not been appreciated and pictured before. We seem to hear Him speak, to be with Him as He went to and fro and ministered and healed, to perceive His wonderful sweetness and His radiant grace. That is all clear gain. But valuable as it all is, it is not really knowing Christ. When all is said, it is little else than an exercise of the historical imagination, and that will never, never redeem a soul. Can you fancy the text reading, " This is life eternal, that they should possess a vivid historical imagination, and be able to bring clearly before them the picture of the earthly life of their Lord "? We may listen to lectures about the geography and customs of Palestine till we know precisely the conditions amid which Christ's human life was lived—we may criticise this reported saying of Christ's, and cut out here and amend there, till we know precisely whether He said this particular thing once or whether He said it twice, and that this other thing, which we have always supposed Him to have said, He never said at all—and we may not know Christ, with any knowing that has eternal life in it, when the whole business is done. What He was and said and did we may know, yet not know Him.
    Then what is it to know Him? Is it to trust Him? Not simply that, if you trust only in something He did long ago. Is it to love Him? Not simply that, if you love Him only as He stands far back in the past, for the redemption He achieved then. What is it to know Him? It is to have Him pressing Himself, with all the power that ever was in Him, still in Him, upon our hearts to-day. It is to be conscious that He is for ever taking my life afresh and impressing Himself upon it afresh. It is to hear Him calling to me, not down the centuries from long ago, but from here—close at my side, with a voice that is newly lifted to-day, an invitation that is newly given to-day. It is not to be inspired by what He was, but to feel His power now coming straight from the living heart of Him to me. It is to experience, not the reflex influence of what He did far back in the history of mankind, but the direct influence of what He does. It is to discern, amid the figures which crowd the canvas of our life, that One Figure moving ceaselessly to and fro. The Real Presence, if you like. To know Christ in this sense—that every moment He comes with a new ministry to snatch me out of my littleness into His greatness—that is eternal life. To know Christ in this sense—that He gives the secret of life newly to me ever and ever again—that is eternal life. To know Christ in this sense—that He repeats to-day every blessing He bestowed in other days, changing the form of it to meet the changing need, answering to every hour's requirement with grace newly-born out of His great and loving heart—to know Him so is to take life from Him now, is eternal life. Not the historical imagination which reconstructs the life He lived, but the quick, living insight which discerns and makes the soul surrender to the life He lives—that is the knowing Him which sends the flood-tides of eternal life upon us. Know Him as He presents Himself livingly to us now. So does He take us and identify our living with His—makes our life great and eternal as His own.
    And it is belief in this possibility of a direct communication of life to us, not from a Christ of so many hundred years ago, but from a Christ strong as ever to-day—it is this belief which distinguishes the ever-powerful and ever-living Christianity from the many other Christianities so invitingly held up for the acceptance of mankind. That Christ did something and said something which has been and will be an undying inspiration to the world, all are ready to acknowledge. But that does not make Christianity. If Christ only did that, and is not doing more than that still, then He is not now the Giver of life to the world. He spake great and noble words, they all confess. But that does not make Christianity. If He speaks no more—if He has uttered no other word since that last cry on the cross—if the listening soul cannot catch His accents now—oh, the utter loneliness and desolation! Oh, the empty, empty world! We do not know Him as the Giver of eternal life unless through all the veils that hide Him from our mortal vision He yet reaches out the hand to touch us, unless He grasps us so closely, holds us so near to His heart, beating with the life that is eternal, that He makes His eternal life to be ours.
    It is only a mystic's dream, is it? Nay, verily, it is the everlasting secret which redeems the world. When we no more strain and strain our look backward so much to catch the figure of the Christ as He was, but have our eyes opened to see Him as He is— when we no longer whittle down His great promise, "Lo, I am with you alway," and make it mean something about His influence, His inspiration, remaining with us, but take it to mean just exactly what it says— then shall we understand the fulness of the blessing of the gospel of Christ. And then shall we realise how wondrously true it is that He gives unto His own eternal life, and that none can pluck them out of His hand."

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 19-23)

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