Summary: Among Christians there is also a genuine diversity of experience of the Holy Spirit’s empowering work. Some Christians have a clear initiatory experience of the power of the Holy Spirit that launches them into effective empowered ministry. Others have mor
Opening illustration: A few believers say, "Draw me," but resist running with the Lord as a partner with Him in His work in the earth. The Holy Spirit does not draw us so we can hang up a "Do Not Disturb" sign and sit in our little comfort zone, only singing love songs to Jesus the rest of our lives. As fellow heirs with Christ, we are drawn into intimacy, and then empowered in ministry to bring others into intimacy with the Lord. The church will surely mature in the tension of drawing and running. We will learn how to deliver broken people, prevail in spiritual warfare and serve one another while maintaining our intimacy with Jesus.
Let us turn to Luke 3 in God’s Word and catch up with John the Baptist who draws our attention to the one who will empower us with His Holy Spirit …
Introduction: What do we call this experience of empowerment that is distinct from justification and sanctification? Are we to say that we are "baptized with the Holy Spirit," "filled with the Holy Spirit," have "received the Holy Spirit," or "releasing the power of the Holy Spirit?" There appears to be ambiguity because there are a variety of terms and images used in Scripture to describe this empowering operation of the Holy Spirit.
Among Christians there is also a genuine diversity of experience of the Holy Spirit’s empowering work. Some Christians have a clear initiatory experience of the power of the Holy Spirit that launches them into effective empowered ministry. Others have more of a growth process into effective witness. Some have many dramatic experiences others have no experiences. How do we fit all this together?
What is the process of being ‘Empowered by the Holy Spirit?’
The origin of anointing was from a practice of shepherds. Lice and other insects would often get into the wool of sheep, and when they got near the sheep’s head, they could burrow into the sheep’s ears and kill the sheep. So, ancient shepherds poured oil on the sheep’s head. This made the wool slippery, making it impossible for insects to get near the sheep’s ears because they would just slide off. From this, anointing became symbolic of blessing, protection, and empowerment.
Anointing oil is mentioned 20 times in Scripture, was used in the Old Testament for pouring on the head of the High Priest and his descendants, appointment of kings and sprinkling the Tabernacle and its furnishings to mark them as holy and set apart to the Lord (Exodus 25: 6; Leviticus 8: 30; Numbers 4: 16). Three times it is called the "holy, anointing oil" and the Jews were strictly forbidden from reproducing it for personal use (Exodus 30: 32-33). There is no indication that the oil or the ingredients had any supernatural power. Rather, the strictness of the guidelines for creating the oil was a test of the obedience of the Israelites and a demonstration of the absolute holiness of God.
The New Testament Greek words for “anoint” are chrio, which means “to smear or rub with oil, and by implication to consecrate for office or religious service”; and aleipho, which means “to anoint.” In Bible times, people were anointed with oil to signify God’s blessing or call on that person’s life (Exodus 29: 7; Exodus 40: 9; 2 Kings 9: 6; Ecclesiastes 9: 8; James 5: 14). A person was anointed for a special purpose - to be a king, to be a prophet, to be a builder, etc. There is nothing wrong with anointing a person with oil today. We just have to make sure that the purpose of anointing is in agreement with Scripture. Anointing should not be viewed as a "magic potion." The oil itself does not have any power. It is only God that can anoint a person for a specific purpose. If we use oil, it is only a symbol of what God is doing.
Only four New Testament passages refer to the practice of anointing with oil and none of them offer an explanation for its use. We can draw our conclusions from context. In Mark 6: 13, the disciples anoint the sick and heal them. In Luke 7: 46, Mary anoints Jesus’ feet as an act of worship. In James 5: 14, the church elders anoint the sick with oil for healing. In Hebrews 1: 8-9, God says to Christ as He returns triumphantly to Heaven, "Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever..." and God anoints Jesus "with the oil of gladness."
Another meaning for the word anointed is "chosen one." The Bible says that Jesus Christ was anointed by God with the Holy Spirit to spread the Good News and free those who have been held captive by sin (Luke 4: 18-19; Acts 10: 38). After Christ left the earth, He left us the gift of the Holy Spirit (John 14: 16). Now all Christians are anointed, chosen for a specific purpose in furthering God’s Kingdom (1 John 2: 20). "Now He who establishes us with you in Christ and has anointed us is God, who also has sealed us and given us the Spirit in our hearts as a guarantee" (2 Corinthians 1: 21-22).