In Is the Holy Spirit a Loser in History?, Gary North writes of the odd — actually, rebellious — desire of Christians to desire the return of Jesus, and the implied rejection of the Holy Spirit, which Jesus sent to us after He was taken up.
The essence of today’s malaise is that the Church of Jesus Christ, two millennia after His birth, does not believe that the trade-off between the ascension and the advent of the Holy Spirit was positive. They desperately want Jesus to come back.
Isn’t the Holy Spirit sufficient to lead us, move us, direct us, in filling the world with the knowledge of God, and in discipling the nations to obey God?
Jesus Christ thought so — after all, He sent the Sprit, instead of personally and in the flesh directing our conquest of Satan and the kingdom he stole from Adam.
A kingdom which — right now! — rightfully belongs to Jesus Christ, the Second, Better Adam.
Christology and Covenantalism
Jesus Christ’s incarnation and life were expressly covenantal. That is to say, Christology is covenantal. I suppose I am the first person to discover this, so that means it has to be wrong, according to my many critics. But in a discussion I had recently regarding the resurrection, this insight hit me: the five-point covenant model matches the life of Christ.
Transcendence/immanence: one person, two natures, fully God and fully man, in union but without intermixture.
Hierarchy/authority: the son of man, the second Adam, the logos who perfectly spoke God’s authoritative word in history.
Ethics/law: fulfiller of the Mosaic Law (Matt. 5:17-19).
Oath/sanctions: bodily death: (negative) and resurrection (positive).
Succession/inheritance: bodily ascension to God’s right hand and joint sender, with God the Father, of the Holy Spirit (John 15:26).
The Church’s universally agreed-upon creeds have affirmed these five provisions. The Western Church has emphasized the joint procession of the Holy Spirit from Father and Son (“the Filioque”).
Christ Rules Today: and, as His servants, we are to enforce His will.
A truly great king does not need to personally do everything himself. Why should a king surround himself with such untrustworthy and incompetent servants that he must personally supervise their every move?
Here I am concerned with point five: succession and inheritance. What is the nature of this inheritance?
How Great an Inheritance?
The Bible is adamant: the inheritance is the whole world.
His soul shall dwell at ease: and his seed shall inherit the earth (Ps. 25:13).
For evildoers shall be cut off: but those that wait upon the LORD. they shall inherit the earth (Ps. 37:9).
But the meek shall inherit the earth; and shall delight themselves in the abundance of peace (Ps. 37:11).
Blessed are the meek: for they shall inherit the earth (Matt. 5:5).
Actually, I would argue that Christ owns the entire Creation: but certainly, He owns the whole world, and everything — and everyone — in it. This is North’s point: Christ is the political master, the True King, of all humanity. A humanity that at this point in time, resides only on this world.
(I would also argue that we won’t be able to reach for the cosmos unless we get our ethics straight on this earth: if we don’t, the level and speed of technological advances, and the great fall in the price of weaponry, coupled with the standard human greed, cruelty, lies, and murderous instincts — justified “In The Name of the State” or for any other reason — will certainly cripple and poison any attempt at an interstellar, or even interplanetary, civilization.)
To continue with North:
This inheritance is the kingdom of God. It is a kingdom visibly manifested by growth in history. Daniel told Nebuchadnezzar:
Thou sawest till that a stone was cut out without hands, which smote the image upon his feet that were of iron and clay, and brake them to pieces. Then was the iron, the clay, the brass, the silver, and the gold, broken to pieces together, and became like the chaff of the summer threshing floors; and the wind carried them away, that no place was found for them: and the stone that smote the image became a great mountain, and filled the whole earth (Dan. 2:34-35).
And in the days of these kings shall the God of heaven set up a kingdom, which shall never be destroyed: and the kingdom shall not be left to other people, but it shall break in pieces and consume all these kingdoms, and it shall stand for ever. Forasmuch as thou sawest that the stone was cut out of the mountain without hands, and that it brake in pieces the iron, the brass, the clay, the silver, and the gold; the great God hath made known to the king what shall come to pass hereafter: and the dream is certain, and the interpretation thereof sure (Dan. 2:44-45).
Daniel knew that the Kingdom of God would — in history — crush any Actually Existing Historical Government that would dare to oppose the Actually Existing Historical Government of Christ the King — a King with Actually Existing Historical Laws, by the way.
If he knew that then, why don’t we know this now?
The Ascension and the Holy Spirit
The doctrine of the ascension is a widely ignored central creedal provision of the orthodox faith. The doctrine appears in the Apostles’ Creed and the Athanasian Creed. The Apostles’ creed; which came quite late (about A.D. 700), reads as follows:
On the third day he rose again from the dead, ascended to heaven, sits at the right hand of God the Father almighty, from whence he shall come to judge the living and the dead.
To sit at God’s right hand, Jesus had to ascend to heaven. To exercise this joint authority, He could not remain on earth and in history.
God the Father stands outside and above history, and to rule with Him, Jesus Christ had to leave history. But He would send a representative, to speak in His Name, and with His Power and Lawful Authority.
The Comforter would become the Church’s source of truth, enabling the disciples to speak authoritatively of Christ. “But when the Comforter is come, whom I will send unto you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, which proceedeth from the Father, he shall testify of me: And ye also shall bear witness, because ye have been with me from the beginning” (John 15:26-27). They had seen Him, walked with Him, and worked with Him. This was not enough. They needed a Comforter.
We need that Divine source of truth, so we can speak and judge aright as the righteous naturally gain authority over the wicked.
Jesus made this clear when He told them on the night of the Passover that unless He departed from them, He could not send the Holy Spirit. This departure did not refer to His death; it referred to His ascension. The good news was that He was going to leave. Then He left. This is still good news. But pessimillennialists see it as really bad news for the Church in history.
Modern evangelicals believe that the work of the Holy Spirit is to comfort God’s Church for its failure to complete the Great Commission. The Holy Spirit remains more a Comforter than an empowerer. To put it as bluntly as I can – but no more bluntly than the facts attest – pessimillenialists believe that the Holy Spirit is a loser, the person of the Trinity assigned the pathetic task of comforting Church for its visible, eschatologically inevitable failure in history. Satan is the big winner in history. Tough luck, Holy Spirit!
Why do people who claim that Jesus is God, then go around and teach that Satan is the great winner in history — in time and on earth — and that God through Jesus is the great loser?
Perhaps Christians — especially the elites, the preachers and the theologians and the doctorate types — have ingested so much Satanic filth and poison from licking the boots of Christ’s uncompromising enemies, that they actually believe what Satan teaches!
What a spiritual disgrace! What a repulsive humiliation!
If I were a pessimillennialist, I would occasionally wonder who comforts the Comforter. “There, there: you can’t win ’em all, you know. Take comfort. Look at all the books that Hal Lindsey has sold.” That should cheer Him up. Then again. . .
All the Rapture types will die, without getting their escape from reality.
Those retreatist Christians who remain, to finally stand in the desolate ruins of a corpse of a Christian culture, will quietly dry up and blow away, forgotten and irrelevant, just as Satan and the elites wished.
And then, there will be those who still know that Christ shall rule, and Satan shall be crushed. The future rides with those men, who know that evil is still essentially futile and short-sighted, and good fundamentally fruitful and successful, reaping rich rewards for generations to come, even after many trials.
Yes, even long after secular materialism has become a forgotten relic of the long-dead Western World. Long after the perverts and rebels of various stripes have dried up and blown away, as sterile as ever, without descendant and soon forgotten beyond recall.