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)

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

The law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus, part 2 of 6

"For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus made me free from the law of sin and of death."—Romans viii. 2.

   "Look at what is contained in each of these three things.
 
    The gospel of Christ, according to Paul, gives a law to life. In order rightly to understand the significance of that fact, it is necessary to have a clear idea of what a law of life really is. Now, in our common usage we employ the word "law" in different senses, sometimes attaching it to the whole body of legislative enactments by which as a nation or society we are governed, sometimes taking it to signify a kind of restraint set by judicial authorities upon the elements of rebellion and disorder. We view "law " more or less as the agent which regulates men's mutual relationships, the power set up for the preservation of right and the suppression or punishment of wrong. And we carry over these ideas of law, derived from our experience as members of a nation and citizens of a state, into the religious and spiritual realm. "Law" there, we think, means the moral proclamations of God, the. sacred precepts of Jesus Christ, the whole collection of Divine commandments, with the rewards attached to their careful fulfilment and the penalties following upon their wilful neglect. But, right and true as within their limits these ideas of divine or Christian law undoubtedly are, they fail adequately to represent the fulness of the apostle's thought in this place. When he speaks of the law which the gospel of Christ has imposed upon him, he does not mean simply that the gospel of Christ has hedged him round with certain prohibitions and commands, set a limit to his action in this direction and urged him forward in that. In order to apprehend fully what was in his mind, we must rise to a larger conception and take a broader view. A law of life, in its innermost and essential meaning, is that which defines the programme of life's development and marks out the lines of life's progress: it is the unchanging plan of existence which underlies the life through all the stages of its growth and preserves the unity of them all: it is that which expands the bud into the flower and brings the oak-tree from the acorn, and makes the littleness and weakness of the child emerge into the stature and strength of the man. Everything follows a law of life, inasmuch as it follows a direct course of development from its first beginnings to its ultimate and final aim. Now apply that idea to the Christian life, to life after the gospel of Christ. The gospel of Jesus Christ gives a law to life because it provides for a direct and straightforward development of life. In its deepest, largest meaning the gospel of Christ gathers up all the elements of a man's inmost character, concentrates them upon an ideal of character which the gospel of Christ itself reveals, and draws them up toward it: it is the evolution of spiritual being in us, the drawing out of Christliness, the development of holy life. The law of life according to the gospel of Christ is the growth and progress of the inner life from Christly beginnings along Christly courses to Christly ends. It is not an external legislative enactment which binds us down, but an inward power which moulds us within. To live by that law is to unfold, from the first weak rudiments of holy things within us, the larger and fuller beauties of holy grace—to advance, by the silent but unmistakable processes of inward growth, from a character only just touched with the faint lights of Christian loveliness to a soul enriched with all the unspeakable glories that a Christian life can show.
    The influence of the gospel of Christ, then, is in the direction of producing a development of spiritual character. That is the law which it imposes upon those who own its sway. Indeed, no other view of the influence of Christianity contains the idea of law at all. The gospel of Christ is to save men, you say. True; but if you rest in the idea of a mere deliverance, if you mean by the word "salvation" simply being snatched from some impending fate, then you are not looking upon the gospel as a law of life. You have degraded it into a guarantee of immunity from possible harm, and do not see in it any provision for the production of purities of character or sanctities of soul. Not until you add to your first idea of being saved from a coming danger the further idea of being saved to an ultimate perfection which the gospel of Christ intends and enables you to reach—not until then does your idea of salvation include the idea of a law of character and life. Unless you look upon the influence of Christ as designed to supply a rule of inward progress and to mark the lines of inward growth, you have not grasped Paul's thought of Christ as giving a law to life. The influence of Christ's gospel is to guide our advance to an appointed completeness and perfection which, under its guidance, we cannot miss—to provide for the direct, undeviating forward movement of our soul and spirit toward the perfect good."

- Henry William Clark (Meanings and Methods of the Spiritual Life, pgs. 55-58)

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