There are several passages of Scripture that I reference when I hear the word “anointed”. I’ve trained myself to reference certain text of Scripture to stay encouraged because hearing the contemporary teaching on this term gives me a headache. The teaching suggest that there are two classes of Christian – those who are anointed and those who are not. My problem is that Biblically there is no division between anointed and non-anointed believers. Many times I hear people say, “I sense that the preacher is anointed” or “she is an anointed singer”. This is a true statement if the person ministering is a believer but not true if the person hearing the ministry gets a fuzzy feeling on the back of the neck. The criteria for discernible anointing is usually a subjective intuition which seems more like the third eye than God the Holy Spirit. Well…I should just say that I don’t know–I really can’t say that it is or it isn’t the Holy Spirit giving individuals the ability to discern. Although I can’t say whether the person making the statement is using their subjective intuition or not I will say explicitly, ‘I am anointed.’ I am anointed because God calls me anointed in the pages of Scripture and not because I’m declared anointed because someone likes my preaching, teaching or singing. That is not to say that I am great at what I do…it simply means that God has set me apart and empowered me to do His will. God works through the weak, uneducated and the struggling–He works through them despite their weaknesses.
On a side note, I think important to the discussion is a passage found in the book of Ephesians 5. Paul gives an imperative to the church of Ephesus, “...be filled with the Spirit,” (Ephesians 5:18) The illustration Paul uses to parallel the command is the drunken state. He uses alcohol a controlling substance; it exerts power over an individual that consumes too much of it. The same way that your actions can be altered by alcohol is the same way that your life and style of life can be controlled by God the Holy Spirit. A Spirit controlled individual is one who is used to serve the Kingdom whether it is in the context of the church or outside of the worship context. It seems that many people may use, ‘filling’ interchangeably with ‘anointing’? I will routinely pray for the filling of the Spirit to do ministry. Paul’s command assumes that one can be a believer and not be “filled” with the Spirit. He is writing in the book of Ephesians to believers and the topic the believer’s walk. I routinely pray that I would be filled with the Spirit in order to accomplish His will wherever he places me. I find myself clarifying ‘anointing’ by replacing it with the phrase, “…filled with the Spirit.”
On another level it has been my experience that the idea of anointing is almost exclusively used within the context of a worship service. The references to anointing seem to be more focused on the internal activity of church life. It has become an advertising catch line, “Come hear this anointed preacher…” My issue with references to the anointed preacher or singer is that it can lead to a bifurcation of the body; the anointed and the regular non-anointed Christian. Please don’t hear me say that there aren’t categories within the Bible. There are categories for believers such as infant and mature believer and there are also positions and roles within the body–Apostle, Pastor and Evangelist, etc. The Apostle Paul takes a look at the church on a macro-level when he states in Galatians 3:26-29, “You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male or female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. If you belong to Christ, you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.” In this text we have a view of the body as a collective whole–Paul doesn’t have positions, levels or stages of growth in mind at this point. (Ephesians 2:11-22) There are positional differences but anointed and the regular Christian is not a category established by those writing to the church.
I just believe that in the church the presence of a second class Christian can not be substantiated by the text. The sacrifice of the cross broke down the dividing wall between Jew and Gentile. Additionally, the atonement of Christ made possible forgiveness and reconciliation between God and man. The death of Christ also ratified the New Covenant which was a better covenant than the Mosaic Covenant. One of the benefits of the New Covenant is that it broke through barriers of inequality and provided access for Gentiles. (Hebrews 9:11-22) The New Covenant also established a new relationship between God the Holy Spirit and the people of God. Paul provides some understanding of the blessing of the anointing for the believer, “Now it is God who makes both us and you stand firm in Christ. He anointed us set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts as a deposit, guaranteeing what is to come.” (2 Corinthians 1:21-22) This new relationship is one of permanence where there were instances of temporary empowerment under the Old Covenant. After Pentecost the disciples of Christ are called Christians or ‘little anointed one’ — cristianon. (Acts 11:26, 26:28) The universal identity for followers of Christ was first established at the church at Antioch.
In another New Testament text the Apostle John responds to the presence of ‘antichrist (spirit of antichrist)’ among the fellowship of believers in 1 John 2:18-27. The presences of false teachers within the fellowship had the possibility of damaging the community of faith. John identifies the act of anointing already given to believers. The anointing that John speaks of seems to be the message that cures. Could the message about the The Anointed One be the anointing salve that provides gospel healing? Is John referring to the Holy Spirit whom Jesus says would fulfill a ministry of declaring Christ to the world. Whatever your view–it is clear from the text that John does not separate believer from believer in the manner that has been popularized by the various anointed teachers of today. The Apostle John encourages them to trust in the Christ of the message.
I simply believe that the anointing is an amazing blessing from God. It may be that what many churches are referring to is the ‘filling of the Holy Spirit’ and not the anointing. Much of the confusion is found when we utilize examples of anointing like those found with Elijah, Elisha, David and Saul and equate their experience as an exact equivalent to the Spirit’s ministry in the church. There are other examples but this blog page is not sufficient to give an exhaustive account of other instances of the Spirit coming onto a person. (e..g, Judges 15:14) This topic is an example of discontinuity between the Old and New Covenant. For example, the anointing or “…the Spirit of the Lord“, is said to have left Saul–there was a temporal nature to this anointing. If we look at Paul’s reference to anointing in 2 Corinthians it is a guarantee, something given as assurance. My encouragement is that we should enjoy the anointed ministry within the collective body instead of creating Evangelical superheroes. We put on pedestals those who have public ministries and we ignore those who are anointed to do private or less glamorous duties within the body. In the text there were things like tools and temple furniture which were anointed in the Old Testament to set them apart for special use. I would encourage you to consider that wherever God has placed you in the body it is for His use and for His glory. Praise God that His anointing rest on you simply because you have believed in the Good News of Jesus Christ.