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 1, 2016

Paul's method of goodness, part 2 of 5

"That I may know him, and the power of his resurrection, and the fellowship of his sufferings, becoming conformed unto his death ; if by any means I may attain unto the resurrection from the dead."—Philippians iii. 10, 11.

   "But Paul had previously been trying other methods of attaining to that which was good: he had been zealous about it more than most; and it was not until he had proved for himself how in other methods there lay only failure, that he came to the method which led him, or which was going to lead him, to success. He had gone the round of Jewish ritual and had fulfilled every requirement of the Jewish law: as to these things, at all events, even down to the minutest punctilios of ceremonial, he had nothing wherewith to reproach himself; and whatever moral benefit there was to be obtained out of a careful observance of the moral programme prescribed in the Jewish faith, ought most assuredly to have been his. Yet, after he had kept it throughout, it had done for him nothing at all.
    So there are methods of goodness whereon we waste our strength—and that even after we have recognised and confessed that the secret of all our spiritual success is in Christ. As to how Christ and discipleship to Christ is to bring about our moral and spiritual perfecting, we have very often only a confused and clouded thought. That Christ came and lived, that He comes to us and lives now, in order to help us toward goodness, of course we know; but in what way His inspiration toward goodness is to seize and influence our hearts, we have often hardly begun to understand.
    Sometimes we try the method of self-control. Did not Christ come to enable us, by His presence and His Spirit within us, to hold ourselves constantly in check, to keep more untiring watch, to set under more rigid restraint the passions that are so apt to leap to life in us and make us captive to their power? Is not that Christ's ministry? Is not that how He helps us toward goodness? Self-control indeed there must be. Yet in self-control, were it never so perfect and enduring, there would be no real inspiration to spiritual progress for us: we might by means of it keep ourselves away from the bad, but could not make our way toward what is best; and though by a careful and rigid guardianship of Our own natures we may prevent ourselves from getting worse than we are, that negative sort of goodness is surely not all that Christ's followers are to strive after and to attain. More than that must He intend to do for us. Then shall it be self-sacrifice? Is the method and secret of goodness to be discovered in that? Does our Master demand self-sacrifice from us, and make self-sacrifice possible for us, and impose that on our hearts as the one condition of reaching to that which is good? Self-sacrifice indeed there must be. But in merely emptying our natures there can be no real, no positive virtue: give up this and surrender that, and, although your heart may have bled as from a hundred wounds with the pain of the surrender and the giving up, the soul will not rise into the calm serenities of holiness by that rough and wearying way. More must Christ intend to do for us than enable us to bear the wrench of sacrifice and the pain of denying self. His secret of goodness must be greater and deeper far than that.
    And this is it, as Paul interprets it for us: "That I may gain Christ, and be found in him "—" that I may know him "—that is it. "I change the whole direction of my striving now. I don't spend myself on that rending, feverish quest after what is good any more. I get so close to the Christ that I may be, as it were, found in Him. I get so close to the Christ that my life forgets itself in Him, and, because He is goodness, my life becomes good. I get so close to the Christ that my heart throbs, beat by beat, in unison with His, and, because He is goodness, my heart grows pure. I get so close to the Christ that my will dies away in His, and, because He is goodness, I will the right. I get so close to the Christ that, instead of vainly trying to clasp the longed-for holiness with arms that tremble and drop powerless so soon, I find the holiness in Him has thrown a firm and close embrace round me. I am found in Him. It is no more I that seek and find goodness, but goodness—and goodness is Christ—that seeks and finds me." "

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 30-32)

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