Saturday, June 16, 2007

Thinking about “unction” (or the “anointing”), Part 3

When preachers pray for the God’s anointing or unction, I believe we are praying for a fresh baptism of Holy Spirit power. I believe this is a Scriptural concept.

First, we see in the gospels John the Baptist’s words about Jesus: “I have baptized you with water, but he will baptize you with the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8; also recorded in Matthew 3:11; Luke 3:16; and John 1:33).

To baptize is to immerse or place in. John is saying about Jesus that He will immerse or place His followers in the Holy Spirit. Jesus is the baptizer, and He will baptize, not with water, but, with the Holy Spirit.

The next time we read of a baptism with the Holy Spirit, it is just before Christ’s ascension. Addressing His followers, Jesus tells them, “Not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now’” (Acts 1:4-5).

A couple verses later Luke also picks up on another aspect of this baptism:

“But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses…” (Acts 1:8).

Luke picks up on this same facet of this baptism with the Holy Spirit in his gospel account of this same occasion:

“And behold, I am sending the promise of my Father upon you. But stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high” (Luke 24:49).

So, from these texts, we see that 1) Jesus is the one who baptizes with the Holy Spirit, and 2) the baptism with the Holy Spirit is a baptism of power, strength or ability. In other words, those who receive this baptism will be able to do what they were not able to do before: i.e., “Be [Christ’s] witnesses.” So, we can say that the baptism with the Holy Spirit will be an empowering for service.

We know that the baptism with the Holy Spirit foretold by John the Baptist and promised by Jesus occurred on that day of Pentecost, when the Holy Spirit came upon the church in tongues of fire. But, Luke records that on this occasion, “they were all filled with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 2:4a). Why the change of verbs from “baptized” to “filled”? Perhaps, the two different verbs are describing two aspects of the same event: the birth to the Church, and the supernatural empowerment of Christ’s followers for service. It’s worth noting that, after Acts 1:4, the filling or empowering with the Holy Spirit is never again referred to in Scripture as a baptism with the Holy Spirit. Perhaps, as some suggest, the “baptism with the Holy Spirit” is simply the initial experience of being “filled with the Holy Spirit.”

Whatever the term, it is clear that on Pentecost day the believers received supernatural power. This is what I believe we’re praying for when we pray for the Lord’s anointing or unction: We’re praying for supernatural power. We’re praying for a baptism of power, in the sense of God’s Spirit being “poured out” upon us for service:

“And it shall come to pass afterward, that I will pour out my Spirit on all flesh; your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, your old men shall dream dreams, and your young men shall see visions. Even on the male and female servants in those days I will pour out my Spirit” (Joel 2:28-29).

We’re also praying that God’s Spirit be “diffused throughout [our] souls” (Acts 2:4 Amplified)—so that He would truly have control of us, with the result that our ministry in Christ’s name would be truly effective.

You will recall that our Lord instructed His disciples to wait until they were “clothed with power” (Luke 24:49) or “baptized with the Holy Spirit” (Acts 1:4). Why would Jesus instruct His disciples to wait? Why not just let them go right to work? Because, “you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you.” In other words, without the baptism or filling of the Holy Spirit, there would be no power or ability or strength to effectively fulfill the task that the Lord has given. However, as a result of the mighty effusion of the Spirit, “you will be my witnesses” (Acts 1:8).

Isn’t this what we need? Don’t you desire to be an effective instrument in the Lord’s hands? Do you feel your weakness and need for supernatural power—ability far above and beyond your natural strength? What should we do?

“If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will the heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13).

“Ask Him.”

That’s what we need to do. We need to pray, asking and seeking God’s indispensable anointing upon our lives and ministries.

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