4. It is an Anointing of Gift.
1 Corinthians 12 v. 7
Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Not just in the gifts of the Spirit but in the giftings of the Spirit. If you look at Romans 12 you will see the tremendous giftings of the Holy Spirit in the areas of teaching, prophecy, service and administration. This is where we need the anointing. I long for those gifts to be released in the people of God. It is not just preachers who need the anointing. In the areas of service and administration it is absolutely essential. There is a great danger that because we have a natural ability we think we have giftings; that because we have business or professional training we will operate in the kingdom of God on those grounds. There is nothing wrong with those things, but two things happen when they are used outside the anointing;
(i) natural giftings become dominative and quench the Spirit
(ii) there is actually a limitation in ministry instead of a growth in ministry. People who are highly trained or skilled at a human level tend not to see beyond their notepad when it comes to how to do things.
I work with computers and administrators and often the answer and the short-cut comes through the anointing of the Spirit instead of grinding through the system. This is so important in the area of gifting. In the book of Exodus, Judges or Joshua you will see that the man God raised up (Bezaleel, Aholiab, Joshua) was given a spirit of excellence, a spirit of wisdom so that they might achieve the required results. God chose craftsmen who were very highly skilled and he put them together to create the Tabernacle with its beautiful materials and precious gold. However, the inspiration, the oversight, the initiative and the way to achieve God’s will was not actually done by the craftsmen on their skill: God anointed people in the midst of them and that anointing took them through to fulfil the pattern given to Moses on the mountain.
One of the most frustrating things in the Church is that the local bank-manager must be the church treasurer and the local organist must be the church organist. Again and again those are the sticking points for the Holy Spirit in the church congregation. I have continually struggled to move beyond natural talent into divine anointing. Some people are afraid of that incase it might destroy their talent. Well, if it does that is what God wants to do, but it ought to enhance it and give different dimensions of insight to it because if we work in practical giftings without spiritual insight we will do and say some silly things.
The anointing of God means that you do not do things in the kingdom of God in the way you did them in the kingdom of men. The operational principles are entirely different. The physical skills may look the same, but the heart, spirit, attitude and spiritual nous is totally different. We need to be able to get through the garbage to the heart of the matter without wasting time and going around in endless discussions. Go for revelation instead of rationality. That is the thing about gifting. We need an anointing of that in the church, so that when we do anything we put our hands to it in the anointing of God.
Building the new wing to Drayton Hall we have had to tell architects and so on that we are not going to do it according to the world’s system, but how God says to do it. They want to to me paragraph by paragraph telling me what to do. We need that anointing in the Holy Spirit otherwise we will be dead. Even in our pastoral ministry with people we can see that they need a touch from God, but we can approach it in the strength of what we think needs done and get no resolution to the problem. We need God to anoint our spirit so that we can break through the sludge and come through the heart line how God does it. He does not do it the same way every time. The problem is that we are traditionalists and like computers once we have been through a situation if someone hits a button we remember how we did it last time and so we do it the same way again. We have to be open to the Holy Spirit to be shown step by step, not in unreality like people that sit around on cloud nine and never get anything done. I like to have my feet on the ground in reality getting things done.
James 2 v. 26
As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.
If we have an anointing of faith that works we are going to have anointing in these areas that makes our gift work.
When we were starting the King’s Coach we had a driver who rang me from a bus garage in Shoreham on the south coast while I was driving down the M6. He was in a panic and told me that the bus was in the garage and needed a new engine. He said he was driving along the road and everything went red and the engine stopped so he pulled up at this garage where they happened to have a new engine they could fit. Of course I said “NO” and pulled off the motorway to pray. I know nothing about engines but as I prayed the word “airlock” came into my mind so I rang the person back and spoke to the foreman of the garage and told him I had prayed and this word had come into my spirit and he said that it could be an airlock in the system as that would have the effect of stopping it all as if the engine had seized. I spoke to the driver again and asked him whether I had ever told him about filling the bus with water, and he said that I had and that he was to use a watering can not a hose so that the air could come out as the water went in. Then he confessed that he had filled it two days before with a hose. He was found-out by the Holy Spirit! From there we told the engineer to let the water and air out and to let me know if we needed a new engine. We didn’t. Without the insight and understanding of the Holy Spirit I would have taken a professional’s word for it and bought a new engine. I do use professionals in my life but I use them under the anointing of God and do not let them rule because they could kill the anointing.
All my drivers are to take practical care of the buses, but if they do it without the anointing, no-matter how much care they take something will go wrong. Another one of my drivers, also no-longer with the team, was very enthusiastic, but unanointed enthusiasm is a disaster. We came out of a meeting with all of our things on the coach ready to go home and the driver gets in and starts up and reverses right through the wall between the church and the new car dealership next door. Thankfully the wall had just been built the day before and the cement was not dry so it did very little damage to the bus but the whole wall collapsed. I left and did not ask the church for the bill (£6,000)! We need the anointing. So many stupidities are caused by a lack of spiritual anointing.
The greatest problem I have with team ministry is that I am often quicker doing the thing myself. Give me the people and I will delegate everything, but what bothers me is that having delegated it either takes forever or you wish you had done it yourself. The person is well-meaning and knows what to do but does not have the anointing that lifts the thing into another realm. It flows and then we do not go around in circles.
You may think that the anointing is about ministering (zapping) people in the power of the Holy Spirit, but if you do not have it in every other area then you do not have it there. The charismatic church is suffering from a lot of copy-cat ministry. People go to the conference, read the book and watch the video and because the person ministering did x, y and z, then they do it. The daft thing is that things do happen, not God-like things, but things do happen because people are daft. People are so gullible, and so there is a tremendous need for real anointing. The problem is that people do not know the difference, but at least you do. I have to be content with that. I go around a lot of meetings and with my biblical background and theological training and wonder where they got these fairy-tales from and how I am going to follow it! I do not get it all right, but some of the garbage you put up with at conferences is amazing. There is no general discernment. I used to just get up and walk out saying that there was no way I could follow that but I do not do that too much any more because I have become more content with my own anointing. Even if no-one else knows the difference, I do. I know when I am in the anointing and am content with that and so I leave the rest to the Lord.
There is a lot of talk about being on the edge of Revival and the people of God being chosen, but the church is in a desperate state. It is God’s desire to bring revival; that is my aim, that is the movement of the Holy Spirit, but let us be realistic and pray for God’s touch on all that we do.
1 Corinthians 9 v. 22
To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all men so that by all possible means I might save some.
Paul said that not as a compromise. In the flesh it would have been compromise, but in the Spirit it is initiative. In the flesh that would be a statement of weakness, but in the Spirit it is wisdom because the principle in that text is not the man making himself nothing, it is the Holy Spirit anointing, finding what is suitable for the occasion, the people, the situation.
Throughout the Acts of the Apostles you will see that Peter and Paul lived through this anointing and it is amazing. I have the story of Eutychus in mind (Acts 20 v. 9 ff). While Paul was preaching Eutychus fell asleep, fell out of the window and died. The anointing told Paul what to do and gave him the ability to do it. He did not panic and in the anointing he knew what to do.
5. It is an Anointing of Speech.
1 Corinthians 2 v. 13
This is what we speak, not in words taught by human wisdom but in words taught by the Spirit, expressing spiritual truths in spiritual words.
That does not mean we go around speaking lots of jargon. Spiritual words are normal language cleaned of its foulness, restored in its meaning and empowered by the Holy Spirit so that as we speak into one-another’s life the words are like electric cable and the power of God flows down your words and embeds itself in people’s lives and hearts. We are only going to get that gift through the anointing and power of the Holy Spirit.
Have you ever stood up to give a testimony or preach a sermon and said the words like a parrot and sounded dead? You have it all written down, but when you speak it out you get nowhere. The anointing does not depend on the rightness of words. The things James says about the tongue are terrible;
James 3 v. 5-6
Likewise the tongue is a small part of the body, but it makes great boasts. Consider what a great forest is set on fire by a small spark. The tongue also is a fire, a world of evil among the parts of the body. It corrupts the whole person, sets the whole course of his life on fire, and is itself set on fire by hell.
If you were to preach on that in your church next Sunday the congregation would not react too favourably to the strength of that. It is the truth apart from the anointing of God.
Luke 4 v. 22
All spoke well of him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from his lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked.
That does not mean that they were sentimental words. Jesus never spoke like that; when he wanted to say something, he made it perfectly clear and spoke the truth, but there was an anointing.
One thing that I have discovered about the anointing of speech is that even when we need to tell people off, if we do it with an anointing they will not receive it as a critical spirit but as discipline from the Lord. Anointing is not just to do with building one another up and encouraging. We need an anointing of speech because we need to speak into so many situations in different ways and sometimes we have to tell folks that they have got it wrong. If you do that when you are in the flesh and so is the other person and you will have a fireworks display. I believe in discipline, direction and leadership; that is where we need the greatest anointing.
There was a man who trained with me at Theological College who was a complete know-all. He was very religious and from a public school, and was in the debating society. Well, he put me in the debating panel at the University of Manchester against the Colleges of Oxford and we lost in the finals because of me; I made a joke in the middle. I can preach and I can proclaim, but I am no good at debating at all. Now that guy is a minister. If you got into a discussion with this guy you could not win. You may know you are right, but within a minute of starting to talk to such a person your spirit is deflated. There needs to be an anointing in your spirit because when you deal with people in the flesh you suffer for it.
We need the anointing of the Holy Spirit. We need him to give us the words appropriate to a situation. That is especially true when we get into the realms of argument or defence of the Gospel. Just to be flat-earth about it is no good.
6. It is an Anointing of Authority.
Matthew 28 v. 18
Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority (exousia) in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptising them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus sends them out and the real implication is that he is sending them under the authority that they have been given in Jesus.
Where do we get authority? What gives a person authority. Both at a divine and human level, someone who never submits to authority will never have authority. That is abundantly clear in relation to God. We need to have a humble and contrite heart before the Lord. We develop such arrogant attitudes in relation to the Holy Spirit when we are saying “The Lord told me…and that is the end of it.”
This is as true in the natural as it is in the spiritual. I was talking to some businessmen recently, and it is true that there are some individuals that have an inherent ability to get other people to do what they want; there is something in their character that makes them able to exercise authority, not just because of their status or their professionalism.
Then in the spiritual the secret is an anointing of authority. God gives different measures of authority and the key to successful ministry is to know your measure of authority in the Lord and in my experience that is linked to your measure of faith.
Romans 12 v. 3
For by the grace given me I say to every one of you: Do not think of yourself more highly than you ought, but rather think of yourself with sober judgment, in accordance with the measure of faith God has given you.
We need to know our measure of authority.
There are three things that happen;
(i) The devil continually attacks that centre in your being as he does not want you to feel that confidence.
(ii) Other people continually erode that centre in your being.
(iii) You yourself deny that centre in your being.
There is an absolute need to recognise that anointing of authority. I do not mean authoritarianism or heavy-shepherding. I do not mean that people should become like charismatic vegetables and should ring up to ask whether or not it is O.K. to go to Mallorca for their holidays! Real spiritual authority does not disable people in these ways, it enables them. It brings clarity and confidence, not a claustrophobic cloud. Neither is it the libertarian democratic spirit that has ruled in the traditional church for so long; “I’ll do it my way”. There is a balance. Authority properly expressed and exercised is a safeguard and a security. People working under their authority find their place in God and are secure. If you take that umbrella away there is something missing in their life, not because they are not called or not gifted, but because they are called to slot in at a specific level that requires the covering of the anointing of God. If it is not there all sorts of people suddenly feel insecure.
I can take myself as an example. With authority comes strength which can be over- or under-expressed. The continual struggle of a man in spiritual authority is how to work that anointing through in a proper way that enables things to happen. It is better for strength to be slightly over-expressed than under-expressed because at least the people working with you know what they are dealing with and we can modify it to the right place as we go on through the months and years. If it is the other way around, people do not know where they are at. It is better for you to came down a little than to try to come up.
I sometimes over-express and I am conscious of that because the goodness of the vision is at stake, your security is at stake, the operation of the ministry is at stake, the inspiration of the vision is at stake, the motivation of your own heart is at stake; there is too much at stake to be loose-ended.
The devil tries to attack this authority, people try to erode it and I deny it. My denying it has top do with my personality. People who do not know me think that I am strong, but the strength is something I have tried to explain. There are areas in my human nature where I am not strong. I struggle a great deal with my body because I have a lot of strength in my body and not a lot in my flesh. Another struggle I have is that I do not think that my ministry has any value. You put me behind a pulpit and I have a great time; I live for the Word of God. But sometimes when I go to places I get unsure about myself or I gat knocked a bit by other people. I have a real struggle inside myself about self-authentication in my ministry. If I am not careful through that inward struggle I could deny the authority God has given me, feel sorry for myself and actually deny the anointing God has given me.
These are six elements of practical anointing.