I can only think of two people that I have met in the last 34 years who wouldn’t say a hearty, “Yes!” to the question of having an increase in the anointing on their life and ministry. Who wouldn’t say yes to such an increase? What would you say – especially in this day and age?
Interestingly, both people are ministers of very large congregations, and know and experience God’s magnificent blessings on their ministry.
I know this will intrigue you – and I know it raises some questions in your mind, but there is a very simple answer to the issue, and it’s simplicity will leave you grasping for some legalistic responses in your heart because grace is not always our default response mode. With our limited understanding of God’s ways there simply ‘has to be more’. More is always the answer or solution to lack. If we don’t have enough – then more must be given, but it is the wrong answer when we turn to the things of God.
Speaking directly into this, the apostle John in his epistle, tells his readers that they have been anointed by the Holy One (God)and that for them, the anointing they received from him remains in them. (1 John 2:20-27) It’s a plea for them to remain true to Christ, not to deny Him and to continue to walk with Him, aware that God has begun a work in them. He makes no hint that some of them may need an increase in the anointing to be able to function at their best, facing what lies ahead of them. What they have is sufficient to the task at hand.
The apostle Peter urges us in 2 Peter 1:3-4 that, “His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.”
It is helpful at this point, as you look at the New Testament Church, to be mindful of the persecution that faced them on a daily basis. When Jesus tells the disciples that they will receive power after the Holy Spirit comes upon them at Pentecost, and that they will be his witnesses, our translations do not carry the full weight of what Jesus is saying. The early Church, hearing the words of Jesus would have heard it differently – Jesus told them that after the empowerment of the Holy Spirit, that they would be his martyrs. That has a very sobering effect on any triumphalisitic heart!
The Church went on to see and experience a massive time of growth as people gave themselves to all that God was doing. Not everyone was martyred, but many of them did give their lives to pursuing what God was doing in and through the life of the Church. They gave freely of themselves, not selfishly and holding nothing back.
The anointing of God that came on their lives as they repented of their sin, received Christ’s forgiveness and began to live their lives in Christ was sufficient to the task that lay before them. The Apostle Paul’s encouragement “Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18) can properly be understood as “be being filled with the Spirit”. It was not as some have quite wrongly said, “Be being filled, because we leak!”.
Nothing could be further from the truth. No, the Apostle Paul is instead urging us to keep reminding ourselves that the fount and source of our blessing is God, and the life that flows from the Spirit must not be taken for granted. We must come to the Father and ask for our daily bread, we must come to Christ recognising all that He has done for us, and seek to grow in His character, and we must come to the Holy Spirit, recognising the life and power to live the life we live, comes only from Him and not our own self-determination.
To say that the anointing we have is insufficient for the task means that God has failed us, given us the uniform, but not the power to live for Him. It also means that if the Church in the early days of Christianity had an anointing that we do not have – then they had an advantage in life that is not equitable! Neither of these charges are true – we have an anointing that is far more sufficient than the task at hand.
But where is the power? Why are the lost not getting saved?
Good questions and both of the answers lay with God. You can have as much power and authority on your life as you could bear, but it is God who convicts the sinner of their sin, not you! God does what he does. God is the one who saves. You can but be faithful in witnessing and sharing the amazing gospel of God’s grace.
There is a false truth emerging which is a result of our frustration over the lost not getting saved in the numbers we would like, and it is about our dependency on revival. If we had revival then things would be so much different, and better. True, but what God Himself tells us is that it is His intention for His Spirit to be poured out on all flesh, not just a community – and accompanying it is the gospel.
When we pray for revival we rarely have the same idea, understanding and outcome in mind! The Apostle Paul’s assertion was focused deliberately on the gospel, and he was not ashamed of it because it is the very power of God unto salvation. We’ve not been short-changed, God is at work, and we have the tools to do the job. And they are absolutely adequate!
The answer to our dilemma of thinking we need a greater anointing lays in prayer. It is the radical prayer life, seen in secret and rewarded openly in public that gets rewarded! I think we mean about anointing, is that we want the intimacy with God that comes out of prayer. There is no substitute, no short cuts. If you are not in that place of prayer-relationship you will see little happening and your preaching will be as dry and parched as the desert. If you have been praying it will be evident. Moses spent time with God and his face shone. May your face shine!
If you are asking for the wrong thing you will be looking in the wrong place for God’s response. Turn your focus on prayer and you will begin to see situations and circumstances change, you will experience God’s presence when you talk about Him and His majestic works.
Everything God has given for you is wonderfully adequate to the task that you are really called to. You don’t need an increase in the anointing!
That word ‘really’ is a conversation for another day.