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Note J


The Outpouring Of The Spirit (Chap. 15).

I give another note from Professor Beck, on the Spirit and the work He does in the believers and the Church, as well as in the world, in virtue of His being poured out on all flesh (Christlich. Ethik, i. 124). Anything that helps us to meditate on what was needed to prepare for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit, what its object was, and how He comes to do that work, will help to free us from those very limited ideas we have of what a Spirit, and who the Holy Spirit is, and what the blessed work He has come to do in us.

'As concerns the relation of the Spirit to Christ, He is the Witness who takes of what Christ contains and possesses to bring it to Up, and thereby reveal and glorify Christ. (John xv. 26; xvi. 7, 14.) The witness of the Spirit has this peculiarity, that He acts as the Power from on High, and that where His witness enters, the Life comes in Divine Power. The Spirit is thus the Dynamic Principle, in whom concentrate all the life powers that flow from Christ, and from whom they are divided as the powers peculiar to each, as gifts and graces. He is thus the Formative Power, which from out of the substantial reality of what there is in Christ, begets and develops the individual life. His Witnessing mediates the Begetting; as the dynamic principle He is also the generative principle. Through riim the Christ is born in us, becomes, with His life of grace, our inner personal life, so that we are clothed upon with the Power from on High, with a supernatural life power. We have thus the grace of Christ, not only as an object without us, but within us as a Power of God. In the Spirit thare dwells within us that Power of Divine Grace, in which all the powers of the new life concentrate. Spirit, Life, Power, are therefore in Scripture correlated ideas, just as, on the other side, Flesh, Weakness, Death, are one. The Eternal Life System, which from its Divine Head is again to bring the earth, the world of flesh, into organic anion with, the upper, the Spiritual world, can alone be built up on a. heavenly Dynamics, on the action of the Spirit as the Power of the Heavenly Life.

'This action of the Spirit is, however, only mediated for the world by the Reconciliation which J«'sus Christ has effected, and by His being glurified Previous to this reconciliation, the Divine Spirit worked on earth either as the Spirit in nature, as the power of the earthly life, or as the Spirit of the Theocracy, with special temporary manifestations for special functions, as in the case of the prophets. But not in such a way that the Eternal Life, as it belongs to the Divine nature, and dwells in the Father and the Son, that the Spirit of the Divine personal life could become the personal life of man, the property of his inmost nature. In this special aspect the Spirit in the Old Testament was only a promise to be real zed in Christ, and therefore bears the name of the Spirit of Promise. In the New Testament Spirit the promise becomes fulfilment, actual bestowment, and possession. Before this, however, could take place with any human individual, the Spirit had first as the Power of the Most High, that is, as He had hitherto existed only in the transcendence of the Divine nature, to form and secure for Himself in human nature a centre, whence He miv'ht communicate Himself. In this central nature the Spirit had to be brought into a free organic union with mnn's psychical and physical nature as existing in the flesh, and that nature had even so to be formed into the organ of the Spirit. In one word, a man, anointed and permeated with the Holy Spirit, the Anointed, had to be formed. And then, in this spiritually perfected central personality of Jesus Christ, the flesh had, by a voluntary sacrificial death, to be transformed into the true spiritual existence of the Divine Being; or glorified and lifted up into God, and so the reconciliation of the world with God accomplished. In this way alone could this visible life system, the organism of the sensible so il life, become judicially and ethically accessible to the operation and participation of the Divine Spirit, out of the Reconciler and through Him. Thus alone could the Spirit, in His new character, be set free out of the nature of Christ as now glorified in God, out of the Divine-human nature, to be poured out as the power of the heavenly life, the power of the eternal life, upon all' flesh.

'The question now comes, How have we to represent to ourselves this Outpouring of the Holy Spirit?

'The outpouring of the Spirit is not identical with the individual indwelling of the Spirit, but is the universal presupposition of the latter, for it is spoken of (see Acts. ii. 16, comp. 33) as an outpouring down upon all flesh, (em indicates the direction), of which the being filled with the Spirit individually is only the consequence; the individual entering in of the Spirit is mediated by the universal oid,jiouring. The relation is the same as that in which the universal reconciliation, as a reconciliation of the world stands to the personal reconciliation, which is mediated by the former. Each of these, the reconciliation of the world and the outpouring of the Spirit, stands as an all-embracing fact, accomplished once for all, .an objective universality, while in subjective realization but few are partakers of either. The outpouring on all flesh is thus neither the inpouring in all flesh, nor a mere rhetorical expression for the inpouring in a few individual men, but indicates its direction and destiny for the whole of men. And yet again, not as a mere ideal destiny, for this it was already in the Old Testament; in the New it is a fact that has taken place (Acts ii. 33). Having received the promise of the Father, Ho hath shed forth this. Corresp 'nding to this destination for the whole, for all flesh, there is also a world-embracing operation of the Spirit on the whole. Our Lord Himself, speaking of the coming or outpouring of the Spirit (John xvi. 8), attributed to Him a work on the unbelieving world, even when they do not individually receive Him. It is thus a work independent of His reception, a judicial one.

'We are thus led to regard the matter in this light: that the Spirit, as sent down or poured out, ha3 now, by His descendence out of His previous transcendence, become a Power covering and influencing the world, a new Cosmic Power proceeding from Christ, on the ground of the accomplished reconciliation of the Kosmos in Christ, even while the Spirit—as individual gift, a subjective possession—has become personally immanent in but few. As Outpoured Spirit He is, and » orks in the world, independent of His indwelling in special individuals, even as the exalted Christ also exists ami works as the Lord who fills heaven and earth, as a Cosmic Power. With the outpouring of the Spirit on all flesh a new Life Power has been set free from above, which now as Spirit, thus invisible, pervades the world system according to its own laws, as the Keaction of a holy Cosmic Spirit Power against the Cosmic Power of the Spirit of Falsehood and Destruction which had hitherto ruled the world. This latter does not only exist as a Spirit immanent in individual men, but as an independent Power, the Prince of this world. The operation of the new, holy, and spiritual World-power thus acts partly as general, as it works in the world, partly «s special and individual, as it works in the Church of Christ. On the side towards the world, we have the world-judging work of the Spirit. The Spirit works as the Fire cast upon earth from above, in its separating and judging power embracing not only the moral, but even the physical world (Luke xii. 49, 51; iii. 16; the baptism and burning up with fire, Rev. iv. 5).

'This is the foundation and preparation of the more special operation, in which the Spirit, as the new LifeStream from above, flows into the individual souls that are united with the Lord, and fills them (John iii. 5; vii. 38; iv. 10,14). Here, in His quickening power, the

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