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The Spirit of Mediation

How does the Holy Spirit mediate the presence of Jesus to us on a practical level? J.I. Packer points to three types of awareness mediated by the Holy Spirit. He believes that the Spirit helps us to understand Jesus of Nazareth, the Christ of Scriptures, once crucified, now glorified. Secondly, he enables us to become aware of how the risen Christ is mediated by the Spirit in our everyday lives. Packer says, "he is active, powerfully enlightening, animating, and transforming me along with others as he stirs our sluggishness, sharpens our insight, soothes our guilty consciences, sweetens our tempers, supports us under pressure, and strengthens us for righteousness." The Spirit also teaches the manner in which Jesus Christ is to be loved and worshiped. In summary, J.I. uses one of his typical densely packed sentences to bring home what the Spirit does for us: "Mediating Jesus' presence therefore is a matter of the Spirit doing whatever is necessary for the creating, sustaining, deepening, and expressinng of this awareness in human lives."

If theologians and students of Scripture made use of the Holy Spirit in their understanding of Christology there would be revolutionary effects on our current views of the historical Jesus. The Spirit would guide our speculations and guesses about Jesus. By placing ourselves within the circle of the Spirit’s influence we are drawn closer to the original spirit that motivated Christ and his disciples. This does not cut it in terms of modern historiography but as far as reconstructing a historical vision of Christ, within the context of His modern followers, this approach would be not only a permissible but a promising way to gain access to the original Gospel. There would be no better way that I can imagine to place our imaginations in submission to the Spirit than to prayerfully ask God to guide and correct our speculations in order to help us avoid avenues of reconstruction that are out of sync with who God is. As I said, this is definitely a faith hermeneutic for believers only. To bring its rresults into the broad historical discussion would require other measures of authenticity.

The Spirit's ministry also includes discerning where the Risen One intersects our lives. Once again this involves an obedient turning over of all our imaginative and speculative faculties to the Spirit for correction and guidance. Instead of an inner daimon (eudaimonism), Christ’s followers are called to trust the Advocate, Teacher, Paraclete to lead them in directions that they might otherwise miss, intentionally avoid, or distort. Just as in the above illustration of cooperating with the Spirit as a fellow historian, cooperating with the Spirit as a mentor or anam cara is not foolproof but such a method places us within a spiritual realm and opens us to resources that we do not have on our own. As in the case of reconstructed history, when we are attempting to discern the contemporary presence of the Risen One we need to submit our discoveries to those who are faithfully practicing faith.

This sort of submission along with the desire and determination to remain faithful to the witness of Christ in Scripture would provide a needed fortification against subjectivism or fantasy. For the Holy Spirit, the Helper, the Paraclete, not to wind up an inner justifier of our sinfulness, a genuine humility and willing obedience are essential.

The Spirit enables us to get Christ in focus both historically and personally but also inspires our hearts to adore God in Christ and to honor him through worship and praise. The mystery of God in Christ is so profound that we need supernatural guidance in how to express our gratitude to him. The Spirit mediates the mystery of the dance of the Trinity in such a way as to keep us in step. We can learn most of those steps through meditation on Scripture in both covenants but Packer draws our eyes to John’s Gospel:

15:26 "When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me. 27 And you also must testify, for you have been with me from the beginning."

16:12 "I have much more to say to you, more than you can now bear. 13 But when he, the Spirit of truth, comes, he will guide you into all the truth. He will not speak on his own; he will speak only what he hears, and he will tell you what is yet to come. 14 He will glorify me because it is from me that he will receive what he will make known to you. 15 All that belongs to the Father is mine. That is why I said the Spirit will receive from me what he will make known to you."

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