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)

Monday, August 8, 2016

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

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

   "And third, Christ is commander. When we have understood and accepted His witness to the highest and greatest things, and when we have found that from Him there descends upon us the inspiring influence beneath which we feel that the highest and greatest things may become ours, then He claims from us an entire submission, an absolute obedience. He doesn't ask for it without first proving His right to demand it: He doesn't claim to direct all our life and order all our activities until He has shown us that He possesses the secret and the power by which life and action may be directed and ordered aright: He is first witness and leader, before He takes the authority of a commander. But from those to whom the witness of the Christ has come with conviction and on whom the inspiration of the Christ has descended in might—from those the Christ asks next that their obedience be complete, and that all their way shall be appointed in accordance with His command.
    And we really need to be commanded. We see what life means, what life ought to be, according to the witness of Christ: we feel beating through us the mighty tides of power with which our leader inspires us, and we are persuaded that in striving to realise life's highest meanings we are following a quest which must and shall succeed at last. But it is only for a while we can preserve that perfect assurance and be conscious of that tide of inspiration. So weak and easily moved are we, that the strain of following on after the loftiest things soon grows too much for us, and we can't keep ourselves under the incoming floods of power which descended upon us, and our confidence breaks down, and the high hopes and aims and purposes which appeared to be so near us recede and recede till they seem almost utterly lost. Our hearts are not great enough and strong enough to experience always the Leader's inspiration. But then the Christ comes to us in our lowness, and by His ever-present Spirit commands us day by day, and bids us Do this! and Go here! and points out this duty and that responsibility, and tells us that by faithfulness and obedience to His command in these things we are little by little pressing forward to the furthest goal that life can reach. It is as though He said, "You see the great things to which I bear My witness, and you feel in some exalted moment the all-powerful inspiration of My leadership; but that dies in you after a while. Well, then I come to you to command every moment, to press one duty after another upon you; and if you are faithful and true in these commands of Mine which daily come to you you will step forward toward those great things just as truly and surely as you would have done under that sense of mighty inspiration which you lost." When we look upon life's great meanings, life's great aims, and try in our hours of exaltation to reach them, it is like human vision seeking to look right into the heart of the sun. And as the dazzled eyes drop before the unbearable brightness, the Christ comes to us and says to us—" You cannot look upon that glory for long, but by My command I lead you on step by step toward it; and, though you cannot gaze upon it now, you shall reach it at last." The exalted hours when we feel that we can be and do great things come and go: the witness Christ bears to what we ought to be is so great as to overwhelm us sometimes: the strength and confidence with which, as leader, He inspires us so quickly passes. But the daily command remains; and to that at least we can seek to be faithful. Behold, He is given as commander to the peoples! Day by day the pressure of His Spirit upon us indicates the way by which in our obedience and faithfulness we may attain at length to the highest and the best.
    There are some who will take the Christ as witness and leader, but not as commander. That He has brought to light for us the innermost secrets and meanings of human life is acknowledged: that the thought of Him and the speaking of Him may inspire mankind to noble struggles is acknowledged; but so many will use Christian principle and the Christian spirit as they themselves please, yet will not be slaves to the Christ. That Christ's personality and the influence of Christ's personality have done much for the world is not disputed, but from the word "authority" men shrink away. Yet so something must surely be lost. We cannot look into our own natures without finding out that unless there be some spirit near to us whose dictates we can rely on and implicitly obey, we can never realise all the possibilities that are in us. The man who is not willing to be ruled does not know much about himself. It is something more than a commonplace of religion—it is the result of a careful and accurate research into the depths of our souls— that it is not in man that walketh to direct his steps. And so I come back to this—that for the attaining of the best we know we need the constant pressure of command upon us, and the constant obedience of our hearts to it. Keep firm hold upon the witness Christ bears to our greatness and our destiny: believe for ever that you are meant for great and noble things: hold unfalteringly to the assurance which in our exalted and inspired moments comes on us, the assurance that the best we have ever seen afar off shall be ours some day. But work and win your way to the great destiny and the far-off good by steady, persistent faithfulness to the command which day by day and through many channels the Spirit of Christ imposes.
    For not otherwise can we find rest. Our peace, our only peace, is in submission to this commanding authority of Christ's. Not much sweetness or restfulness in the word "authority" usually, perhaps; but in His authority is refuge and rest. For He has been witness and leader first. The witness is of such great things that fear may mingle with the hope it brings: under the leading we may grow bewildered and fall back. But then He draws near again, with the quiet voice of command now; and "This is the way: walk ye in it," keeps us, if we listen and obey, in the path which leads to immortality and perfectness and God. Do the nearest duty, and do it always, and it will win the furthest, noblest grace the spirit can wear. Be faithful to the daily command, and be faithful always, and all the possibilities of perfection to which the Christ bears witness will be consummated for the faithful one in the end.
    "Behold, I have given him for a witness to the peoples, a leader and commander to the peoples." "

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 49-53)

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