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, August 6, 2016

Christ is witness and leader and commander to mankind, part 2 of 4

"Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples."—Isaiah lv. 4.

   "Christ is given to us as witness. He is witness to the world of great spiritual facts which might, without His witness to them, remain unknown or become crowded out and forgotten. He speaks to men of God, of their relation to God, of the higher and nobler issues of life, of goodness, of an eternal Fatherhood and an everlasting love, of conscience, of immortality. And He bears witness of these things (let us understand this) not so much by what He says as by what He is. Christ spoke of these things, and never man spake as this man spake; but His witness to these sacred and eternal things is greater than any words even of His could be. It is by what He is that He bears His testimony: it was the wonder of His personality that preached to men and women in those earthly years with a message they could not repudiate or argue away: it is still the wonder of His personality, as we seek in our thought and meditation to reconstruct the lines of it and to make it vivid to our apprehension, that makes divine facts most real to us and compels our faith in them to-day. It is one of the most wondrous powers in Christ that, as we look upon Him, we know that there is a God not far from us who cares for us and to whom we belong— we know that our life consists not in the abundance of the things we possess, but looks also in other directions and has other and nobler ends—we know that right and truth and duty are the all-important things to live for, the aims and objects that make nothing of all other aims and objects—we know that death is nothing but just one short step, as God takes our hand and bids us come, from the sand which shifts beneath our feet over a firmer foothold on the eternal rock. I say we know all these things as we look on Christ: by what He is He is witness to them; and so long as He is there, we couldn't believe any thing else. The higher world is in Him, and God looks forth on us through Him, and immortality comes down to touch our mortal life by Him—and by His wondrous personality He is witness to the peoples for ever of all these things! How all materialisms, and all views of life that leave God out of account, and all belittlings of human destiny, and all denials of the spiritual and eternal—how all these things grow powerless to shake the deep calmness of our faith, if we do but look on the Christ who is witness! We may doubt sometimes whether we are not befooling ourselves when we name by the name of Father a distant God whom we have not seen and cannot see; but one glance upon the Christ, and we brush the doubt aside, for He is the witness who carries certainty by what He is! We may sometimes, gazing forward at the unknown future, for a moment see some cloud upon the prospect, and question with fear whether we shall ever come to the city which hath foundations, or ever behold any heaven with opened gates for us to enter in; but one glance upon the Christ, and the cloud is lost in new outflashing of sunshine, for He is the witness who carries certainty by what He is! Always the wonder of His personality, the wonder of what He is, the wonder of Himself, makes doubt impossible and scatters our uncertainties, and brings back the God and the heaven which in some failing moment we may have seemed to lose.
    Our great need, the great need of the whole world, is so to behold Christ as to apprehend this witness of His. He speaks for Himself as no other can speak for Him. Perhaps it may be that sometimes Christ is so much talked about, and what He does for us is so much talked about, that we lose the vision of the Christ Himself in the many words about Him. Yet all our speaking about the Christ should lead at last to the quiet contemplation of Him in which the full power of His witness may make itself felt, and in which His presence silently confirms our faith in all sacred things. Here and now, at any rate, let it be ours to take the Christ first of all as witness, to try and make our sight of Him so clear, our contemplation of Him so undisturbed, that through Him— through what He is—the facts of the spiritual world and of our relation to the spiritual world and to God, may re-assert themselves for us to the strengthening of our faith.
    One of the best men our Congregational ministry ever possessed (although he died almost unknown except to his own particular circle)1—and I might add, one of the most intellectual men too, one who in no wise undervalued intellect or its exercise or its results—tells us in the preface to his book that at one time he passed into a period of anxiety and doubt, during which he began to fear that his old faiths were lost to him for ever. But he was induced, he goes on to say—he was induced, he knew not how, to read the Gospels over again, to come to them as it were to a new book, and to let the influence of the story they told play upon him as it would. And as by the reading of the Gospels the Christ came to stand clearly before him once more, the time of stress and difficulty and doubt passed, and the earlier joyful faith returned. And so it will ever be. Let the voices of unbelief be numerous and loud and persistent as they may, let "the spirit that denies " pervade the whole atmosphere around us as it may, yet so long as in some way—by the reading of the old story of what Christ was, or by the study of the ever new story of what Christ is—so long as in some way we can draw the picture of Him for ourselves in the innermost recesses of the mind, our grip on the things that are unseen and eternal (all the more true because they are unseen) will not be loosened. Behold, He is given for a witness to the peoples! Doubts and questionings and denials cannot live where He is; and we laugh at our want of faith as the vision of the Christ grows upon us.
    Our acceptance of the testimony Christ bears lies at the foundation of discipleship. He will never be leader, for we shall not trust Him—He will never be commander, for we shall lack the impulses to obey Him—unless He is first witness. He speaks to us of God, of our relation to God, of the higher and nobler issues of life, of goodness, of an eternal Fatherhood and an everlasting love, of conscience, of immortality.
    Christ is witness.

1 The reference is to the Rev. J. Ogmore Davies, of Blackburn, who died in 1892. The book is entitled "Sunrise on the Soul, or the Path for the Perplexed." "

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 41-45)

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