Lessons for Preachers 3: Operate in the Anointing
Psalm 24:3 Who may ascend into the hill of the Lord? And who may stand in His holy place? 4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart, Who has not lifted up his soul to falsehood And has not sworn deceitfully.
Not all preachers produce equally. The Bible is clear that there are different levels of fruit from each Christian. Matt 13:8 spells it out, some seed fell upon the good ground, and yielded fruit, some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty. So how do we get from a 30-fold Christian to a hundredfold Christian?
Answer: Anointing. If you are full of the Holy Ghost, those who you're preaching to will receive the stirring of the Spirit as well.
To understand the anointing I encourage you to read the following three scriptures. Acts 7:55 describes a state of being called being full of the Holy Spirit, some refer to this as the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Isaiah 61 describes the purpose of the anointing. Acts 10:38 describes how Jesus, who is our example, operated under the same anointing.
The key to flowing in the power of the Holy Spirit is to live in a manner that pleases God. Strive to please God in all of your actions, as commanded in 1st Thessalonians 4 . Works don't get you saved, but they do make a difference in the lives of others. It is impossible to live like hell, and expect the power of heaven to fall on those you are serving. Clean hands and a pure heart are a requirement. As you become more conformed to the image of Christ in your deeds and thoughts, you impact the world and people around you more.
There is no substitute for the anointing. No amount of studying or throwing big words like hermeneutics or exegesis will do. No amount of interesting facts like how many horns are on the altar, or what a Serephim may look like, none of that will work. These thing may make people thing 'well golly look how much he knows' and have all sorts of admiration for you, but it won't make them better people.
If you are not full of the Holy Ghost and power, your preaching will fall on deaf ears, and change no one's life. There is a value to teaching, and exposition of the gospel. Even in that, the moving of the Holy Ghost is necessary to stir people's hearts. Words have power, but their power is at a different order of magnitude when the Holy Spirit is stirring the hearts of the hearers. You can speak well and share interesting facts all you want, but if it falls on hard hearts, it's just pride.
So stir up the Spirit, ask for the anointing, ask to be full of the Holy Spirit! If this were just something that happens to everybody all the time, the Bible would not have pointed out that it happened to Stephen. Stay away from that dangerous behavior that causes the Quenching the Spirit described in Acts 7:51 or 1 Thessalonians 5:19. Clean hands and a pure heart. Truth and kindness, Proverbs 3:3. It takes some striving, it takes some work, Phil 3:14. Its not for everyone.
The anointing does not come from living a casual life. Men who carry the anointing on a regular basis are far from average. There are lives bear the distinctive imprint of the power of God, anyone who spends any amount of time with them will quickly discern that there is something far from average about them.
The hallmark of the anointing in my experience is a discernible and tangible presence of God. Some people call it chicken skin, because they get the cold chills and their hair stands on end. I think that's a terrible description, that sounds creepy, but it illustrates that believers across the globe feel like tangible sense of the presence of God in the same way. Others describe it as the feeling of fire running through their veins. Perhaps this is the effect Moses may have felt when he felt the voice of God speaking to and from a burning bush. Or the feeling the men surrounding Daniel had in Daniel 10. Or the men surrounding Paul on the road to Damascus in Acts 9, or how how they reacted in John 18:6. These people all felt something powerful when the presence of God fell around them.
Now I have heard scoffers and mockers make fun of the anointing, and call it just a lot of emotional nonsense. But if you think about it, God wants to interact with us on a very personal and emotional level. All the fruits of the spirit are emotions, love joy peace patience kindness. God wants to have an intimate relationship with you. It's more than just head knowledge, it's more than just something you read in a book, its something you experience, it's deeply intimate.
The anointing is a touch from God. Its confirmation from Him that He knows you and cares about you. It's His Spirit bearing witness with your spirit. Its tangible, real and powerful. It also doesn't come easy. I remember when I was being mentored in ministry, I would cry out to God asking to receive the anointing. Nothing happened day after day, week after week. I would occasionally receive the anointing during praise and worship at church. I was hearing my companions talking about the powerful anointing, and wonder why I wasn't receiving it.
1st Corinthians 14 1 says that we should earnestly desire spiritual gifts. That means there's going to be a period of time between when we learn about something, pray for it, and receive it. And during that time we're supposed to be earnest, steadfast, patient, standing in faith, not giving up.
The anointing will come when we magnify Christ, that is the chief office of the Holy Spirit, John 16:14. That's why we often feel it during praise and worship time, music is often about Christ. The anointing will come when we hear truth, after all he's called the Spirit of Truth, John 16:13. There are times when I receive the anointing and I have to back up to remember what was just said in my presence, what I missed, what the Spirit is bearing witness to in my spirit, Rom 8:16. Often it happens when I am in a conversation with someone and they're telling me something that is true about what God is doing in their life. Sometimes a powerful anointing comes when I'm about to consciously choose to sin, and the Holy Spirit is pricking my conscience.
The Holy Spirit is constantly trying to get our attention, and we are constantly quenching him through our actions. Learning to live in a place where we are sensitive to the Holy Spirit's leading is critical to powerful preaching. Learn to accept His guiding hand in your day-to-day life, in the preparation, learning and then the delivery itself.
Jesus makes a fascinating statement in John 14:10. "The words that I say to you I do not speak on My own initiative, but the Father abiding in Me does His works." Notice he switches from words, to works. When you stop speaking on your own initiative, to make yourself look learned, then God can do some works.