“The Present Christ”

 

In spite of their failure to appreciate fully what Jesus might be to them, these men of Galilee had found in Him a companion highly prized, and His announcement that He was about to leave them filled their hearts with dark forebodings. Why need He leave them? Why should they be deprived of the presence of their best Friend? Would not we have felt the same, if we had been of their number? It was to dispel these gloomy anticipations and to open up to them, and to us, the final purpose of His mission, THAT JESUS THEN SPOKE TO THEM OF THE COMING AND THE MISSION OF THE COMFORTER: “I will pray the Father, and He shall give you another Comforter, that He may be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth.” John 14:16, 17. {1929 WWP, SOTW 72.2}

 

Note the new word here met with for the first time, “Comforter.” NO NEW AGENT IS HERE DESIGNATED. We have read of the Spirit from the first chapter of Genesis, but now in the historical development of the gospel of our salvation, the Spirit enters upon a new mission, introducing a new dispensation, and it is fitting that a NEW TITLE SHOULD BE APPLIED. When the Son of God assumed our human nature and took up His residence in a new way upon earth in order that He might accomplish the work assigned to Him in providing salvation for us, He did not cease to be God, but at the same time applied to Himself a NEW DESIGNATION-THE SON OF MAN. HE WAS THE SAME PERSON, AND YET DIFFERENT. So when the Spirit of God, in succession to the God-man , took up His residence upon earth in a new way in order that He might accomplish the work assigned to Him in providing salvation for us, IT WAS FITTING THAT THIS NEW RELATIONSHIP SHOULD BE RECOGNIZED BY A NEW TITLE-THE COMFORTER. {1929 WWP, SOTW 72.3}

 

THE WORLD DEALS WITH THE MATERIAL, THE TANGIBLE, BUT IS WHOLLY UNABLE TO TREAT AS REAL THAT WHICH IT CANNOT SEE. Therefore the world cannot receive the Comforter, “for it beholdeth Him not, neither knoweth Him.” John 14:17. “We see at once that JESUS PRESENTS THE COMFORTER AS A REAL PERSON, BUT AS INVISIBLE, AND HERE MANY SEEM TO BE THROWN INTO PERPLEXITY. The difficulty is that they are trying to define and to limit infinite beings by finite terms, giving to these terms the same meanings as when they are applied to the members of the human family. {1929 WWP, SOTW 73.1}

 

In order to avoid error in the interpretation of the truth revealed to us through the Spirit of God, we must allow the same Spirit to convey to us the meaning of the terms employed. That is to say, we must compare scripture with scripture, and thus allow Scripture to be its own interpreter. SO FAR AS I CAN FIND, THE WORD “PERSON” IS NOT USED IN THE BIBLE AS APPLIED TO ANY ONE OF THE GODHEAD. THE APPARENT EXCEPTION IN HEBREWS 1:3 DISAPPEARS IN THE REVISED VERSION. I do not object to the use of the word “person” in speaking of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit, BUT I URGE THAT WE MUST NOT DEPEND UPON THE ENGLISH DICTIONARY AND THE USE OF THE WORD AS APPLIED TO FINITE BEINGS, FOR ITS MEANING WHEN APPLIED TO THE GODHEAD. To think of the Holy Spirit as a person, IT IS NOT NECESSARY TO THINK OF HIM AS HAVING A TANGIBLE BODY. Our bodies are designed to be HIS TEMPLE. Unless we learn TO DEAL WITH THE INVISIBLE PERSONS WHO CONSTITUTE THE GODHEAD WITH THE SAME SENSE OF REALITY AS WE DEAL WITH OUR BROTHERS AND SISTERS IN THE FLESH, WE HAVE NOT ADVANCED BEYOND THE WORLD. We must learn to endure, “as seeing Him who is invisible.” Heb. 11:27. {1929 WWP, SOTW 73.2}

 

In a few simple words Jesus now indicates the TRANSITION FROM THE DISPENSATION OF THE SON TO THE DISPENSATION OF THE SPIRIT: “Ye know Him; for He abideth with you, and shall be in you. I will not leave you desolate: I come unto you.” John 14:17, 18. Jesus did not enter into a philosophical or psychological discussion of the personality of the Comforter, and neither shall I. What is clear is that JESUS REGARDED THE COMFORTER AS A REAL, THOUGH INVISIBLE, PERSON, WHO WOULD BE HIS SUCCESSOR ON EARTH, AND YET SO INTIMATELY IDENTIFIED WITH HIMSELF THAT THE COMING OF THE COMFORTER WOULD MEAN HIS OWN PRESENCE IN THE SPIRIT. {1929 WWP, SOTW 75.1}

 

AS THE ADVENT OF THE SON WAS THE COMING OF THE FATHER TO THE WORLD, SO THE COMING OF THE COMFORTER WOULD BE THE FULFILLMENT OF THE PROMISE OF JESUS, “I COME UNTO YOU.” Not only so, but this advent of the Comforter would be a concrete exposition of the bond of spiritual unity between the Father, the Son, and the believing disciple: “In that day ye shall know that I am in My Father, and ye in Me, and I in you.” John 14:20. HERE WE FIND THE VERY ESSENCE OF CHRISTIANITY-NOT IN A THEORETICAL DISCUSSION OF THE NATURE AND PERSONALITY OF EACH OF THE THREE PERSONS OF THE GODHEAD, BUT IN THE EXPERIENCE OF SPIRITUAL UNION BETWEEN INFINITE AND FINITE BEINGS, RENDERED POSSIBLE BY THE OPERATION OF THE HOLY SPIRIT OF GOD NOW MANIFESTED AS THE SPIRIT OF THE GOD-MAN, IN WHOM DIVINITY AND HUMANITY ARE UNITED. “The mystery which hath been hid for ages and generations,” but which was made known at Pentecost, is “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Col. 1:26, 27. The most gifted theologian cannot explain this mystery, but the humblest child of God may enter into the benefits which it entails. {1929 WWP, SOTW 75.2}

 

Jesus desired to impress upon His disciples the comforting fact that His departure from them and His return to His Father DID NOT REALLY INVOLVE A SEPARATION FROM THEM, BUT THAT, ON THE CONTRARY, THE WITHDRAWAL OF HIS BODILY PRESENCE WAS ONLY PRELIMINARY TO HIS PRESENCE WITH THEM IN THE SPIRIT, AND THAT HIS PRESENCE IN THE SPIRIT WOULD BE THE MEANS OF MANIFOLD GREATER BLESSING THAN THEY COULD POSSIBLY ENJOY SO LONG AS HE CONTINUED WITH THEM IN THE FLESH. This is the evident meaning of His own explanation of His departure to the Father: “Now I go unto Him that sent Me; and none of you asketh Me, Whither goest Thou? But because I have spoken these things unto you, sorrow hath filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth: It is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away, the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I go, I will send Him unto you.” John 16:5-7. Explanations and arguments are not required here. The simple fact is evident. The sending of the Comforter was a step in advance. THE PRESENCE OF THE COMFORTER, THE PRESENCE OF CHRIST IN THE SPIRIT, WOULD BE BETTER FOR HIS DISCIPLES, AND FOR US, THAN HIS PRESENCE IN THE FLESH. In other words, “CHRIST IN YOU” IS BETTER THAN CHRIST AMONG YOU. The union of Spirit with spirit is the closest possible fellowship, being the union of life with life, and is the experience toward which all the work of Jesus of Nazareth tended. The gift of the Comforter is the climax of all blessing. {1929 WWP, SOTW 75.3}

 

Jesus continued; “He that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him, and will manifest Myself unto him.” John 14:21. THE EVIDENT IMPRESSION CREATED IN THE MINDS OF HIS LISTENERS WAS THAT HE HIMSELF, AND NOT AN INFLUENCE EMANATING FROM HIM, WAS TO BE REVEALED TO THEM, AND THEY FAILED TO UNDERSTAND HOW SUCH A PRIVILEGE COULD BE GRANTED TO THEM AND THE WORLD NOT SHARE IN IT. This led to the question of Judas: “Lord, what is come to pass that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world?” John 14:22. This inquiry led to a further unfolding of the blessing involved in the coming of the Comforter: “If a man love Me, he will keep My word: and My Father will love Him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.” John 14:23. THE PRESENCE OF BOTH THE FATHER AND THE SON IS VOUCHSAFED TO US THROUGH THE INDWELLING SPIRIT IN THE COMING OF THE COMFORTER. What greater blessing, what greater privilege, could be desired? {1929 WWP, SOTW 76.1}

 

From my own experience I am inclined to think that more, even among professed Christians, ARE INCLINED TO REGARD CHRIST AS A SAVIOUR UP IN HEAVEN THAN TO MEDITATE UPON HIM AS A SAVIOUR DWELLING WITHIN IN ALL THE POWER OF THE HOLY SPIRIT, THE COMFORTER. I would not in the least even appear to belittle the work of Christ in heaven, for “He ever liveth to make intercession for” us (Heb. 7:25), but all the other work of Christ, even His sacrificial death on Calvary, would be of on avail if it were not for the office of the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, to make effective in us what Christ has wrought out for us. {1929 WWP, SOTW 76.2}

 

I fear that SATAN HAS BEEN SUCCESSFUL IN SHUTTING AWAY FROM MANY THE WONDROUS TRUTH OF THE INDWELLING CHRIST, AND IN DEPRIVING THEM IN LARGE DEGREE OF THE VICTORIOUS POWER WHICH IS IN HIM WHO IS HIMSELF THE POWER OF GOD. My sincere wish is that this brief meditation upon these words of Jesus, uttered in the very shadow of the cross, may bring into the experience of each one of us a more vivid realization of His gracious presence and His keeping power. {1929 WWP, SOTW 77.1}

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A Present Christ

 

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