The Spirit - Impersonal and Personal
M.C. Wilcox, Signs of the Times, August 18, 1898
"God is the Source of Life. Through Jesus Christ this life is poured out to the world, even as by the sun. God gives light unto the world. Because Christ is "the Sun of Righteousness, "He is also "the Prince of Life;" for righteousness is life. But as without the atmosphere the light of the sun would be of no avail, so without the Spirit the life and light of Christ would avail us nothing.
When Christ was here upon earth, He came into warm, personal, helpful, Iife-giving contact with humanity, the light and life of every one who received Him as such, But He could not always remain here. If He had always remained, He would have been local to His work. It would have been confined to the place of His personal presence. Even His own most devoted disciples felt that Jesus must be personally present to save from death or work miracles. They give us their measure of faith in these words, "Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died." When the faith of a foreigner reached out beyond this, and said, "Lord, I am not worthy that Thou shouldest come under my roof; but speak the word only, and my servant shall be healed," even Jesus marveled, and exclaimed, "Verily I say unto you, I have not found so great faith, no, not in Israel."
Faith in its larger growth and firmer grasp must take hold of that which physical eyes can not see, which physical hands can not grasp.
It was in part because of a localizing of His work and the weak faith of His followers that Jesus said: "lt is expedient for you that I go away; for if I go not away; the Comforter will not come unto you; but if I depart, I will send Him unto you. And when He is come, He will reprove the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment." Faith would grow stronger in Christ's physical absence than in His physical, visible presence. Even after His resurrection, when He met with the disciples, and breathed on them, and said, "Receive ye the Holy Ghost," they did not receive the Spirit, as was their privilege. They were brought where they could do this, but not until ten days after Jesus left them. They did not till then realize what Jesus had promised, "Lo, I am with you all the days, even unto the consummation of the age," or till all Gospel work is finished for the world.
It takes the larger, stronger, simpler grasp of faith—resting wholly on the Master's words—to receive the Comforter. But when He is received, what is it but the reception of Jesus Christ? "Christ liveth in Me;" "that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith;" "the Spirit of God dwelleth in you;" " if any man have not the Spirit of Christ, he is none of His,"—all reveal directly or impliedly the same truth, that the Spirit brings to us the very presence of Jesus Christ.
For, mark it, when that great life current from the Prince of Life flows into the persons of His children, it does not break its connection with Christ. It as truly connects the soul with Christ as the trolley wire of the electric car connects that car with the great central dynamo at the power-house. That wire, in effect, brings that great dynamo into that car. Cut the wire and the connection is broken as quickly if cut next the car as next the dynamo.
So the Spirit, the Comforter, brings to us Christ's presence. Our natural eyes may not see Him, our natural ears may not hear His voice, our physical hands may not grasp His hand or His feet, but His presence is here, and through body and soul our spirit feels the warmth, the glow, the life-giving presence of our Redeemer and our God. And so the "eternal Spirit" comes to us as the life force and veritable presence of Jesus Christ, Redeemer, Companion, King.
If it were necessary that Jesus should be physically present to bless and heal, how few indeed would or could receive His blessing! But to know that the life currents of His Spirit are infinite in number and equally omnipotent in power, flowing out from the great central Fountain of Life, bearing the presence and power and warmth and love of God to every soul who by simple faith will "receive the Holy Ghost," —to know this by blessed experience is to know God and Jesus Christ as we never could know by Christ's physical presence, He is able to save to the uttermost any one, every one, anywhere, everywhere. What a wonderful God! What precious assurance!
May we not understand from this how it is that the Word speaks of the Spirit as impersonal; of its pouring out upon all flesh, as of water from some great fountain; of its shedding forth, as abundance of rain, from the heavily-charged cloud; of its being everywhere present in the universe of God, even as the spirit, or life, of man is everywhere present in his body, or as electricity is present in all substances, while at the same time it speaks of the same Spirit as a person, because it bears with it the life and power of God in all its operations in nature and grace, and the presence of God to the child of faith? It comes to the believer as a person, the person of Christ Jesus, speaking of and for Him, witnessing of and for Him. It is the mighty life force of Deity, by which all His works are wrought, but coming into the heart and life of the believer not only as an agency of power, but as a divine presence of love and knowledge and companionship.
Jesus Christ is the Head; the church is His body. As from the head there radiates to all parts of the body the electric wave force, which controls all functions of the body, so from Christ, the Head of the church, there proceeds the electric, all-pervading power of His Spirit, controlling in the healthy church, even as the nerves in the normal body, all the operations and life-work of the church, flowing out from the church in holy, beneficent, uplifting influence on all around.
But as the brain has helpers, to re-enforce its work throughout the body, so has Jesus Christ helpers in His work for the children of men. The helpers of the brain are the nerve plexuses and ganglia distributed in the various parts of the body. What they are in God's great plan and system we will consider in our next."
Here are some other items of interest related to Elder Wilcox.
Samuel Spear (a non-Adventist), published his article "The subordination of Christ" in a religious journal called the "New York Independent" (1989), M.C. Wilcox reprinted it upon request, changing the title to "The Bible Doctrine of the Trinity." The following article gives you insight into that time in Adventist history and answers the question, "Did M. C. Wilcox believe in a creedal Trinity in any form?"
Dowload the 1938 edition of the publication "Questions Answered."