Painting by Patrick Murphy www.inspiredsketch.blogspot.com
In the last post, we looked at the fulfillment of Pentecost as recorded in Acts 2. Jesus was anointed with the fullness of God’s Spirit, and His anointing flowed down to the church.
Sharing in Christ’s anointing means many things. First Corinthians 2:12 says, “We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.” The Christian life is not one of “blind faith” where we serve without knowing our Master’s business. Instead, we are friends, informed participants who know the Lord, share His thinking, and value His methods (John 15:15; 1 Cor. 2:16). We can expect that the Holy Spirit will personally help us understand the scriptures, unfold God’s desires in Christ, give us specific guidance for our lives, and impart heavenly wisdom (Jas 3:17).
The Holy Spirit also supplies the capability to minister and represent Christ in the ways He has called (2 Cor. 3:5, 6). Scripture mentions many abilities the Holy Spirit may give us. Speaking in tongues, writing songs or poetry, governing, metalsmithing, pastoring, interpreting dreams, giving to charity…there are, literally, as many spiritual skill sets as there are people (Ex. 31:1-5; Dan. 1:17; 1 Cor. 12:4-11, 28; Rom. 12:6-7). This wonderful diversity of spiritual gifts may be employed in service to the church and the secular world.
As we give ourselves in the ways God has called us, it is vital to remember that the anointing is on Christ, not on us. We share in it simply because we are in Him (Eph. 1:13). Some conceive of anointing as a temperamental, flighty presence: if we have spent enough time with God and are living up to His expectations, then He will anoint us. If we have failed in some way, lack discipline, or aren’t at our spiritual peak, then the anointing will leave us or not show up when we need it. But the anointing is on Christ, and, since we are in Christ, the anointing cannot be removed from us unless we can be removed from Christ. Anointing is every bit as unchanging in Christ as His blood and forgiveness. It is always available, not because we behave, but because we believe (Gal. 3:2). It isn’t recent sins, failure to pray enough, or lack of Bible study that affects the flow of God’s Spirit. It is the unbelief of meditating on these things that robs us of the anointing that is always ours in Christ. The truth is, our union with Christ—and therefore with the anointing of His Spirit—never changes. Believing this, in turn, will improve our morals, our prayer life, and all the other things we try to maintain for fear of losing the anointing.
Baptism in the Holy Spirit
Acts records instances where the Holy Spirit is imparted through the laying on of hands. Based on this, some teach that receiving the Spirit is a separate event from being born again. Receiving the Holy Spirit is referred to as “baptism in the Holy Spirit,” “being filled with the Spirit,” and other names. People who advocate for the baptism of the Holy Spirit believe a Christian’s experience of God’s supernatural power will be limited without it.
Scripture isn’t definite about how the Holy Spirit is given or whether a second experience is necessary. Paul, for instance, came across some who believed in Jesus and were water-baptized but hadn’t received the Spirit (Acts 19:1-6). When Paul laid his hands on them and prayed, the Spirit came on them and signs occurred. In the case of Cornelius, however, the Holy Spirit filled everyone in his house as they listened to Peter preaching Christ to them for the first time (Acts 10:44).
Given that scripture records different methods of giving and receiving the Holy Spirit, perhaps it is best not to be dogmatic on this point. One thing is certain: the Holy Spirit wants us focused on Jesus, not on arguments about how He is received. As discussed, the greater reality is that we are anointed with the Holy Spirit because we are in Jesus, the Anointed One. Our faith in Christ’s anointing, whether expressed through the laying on of hands or some other means, allows us to participate in the empowering of God through His Spirit.
–Excerpted from my booklet, “Christ in the Feasts”