"And he came to
Nazareth, where he had been brought up: and he entered, as his
custom was, into the synagogue on the sabbath day, and stood up
to read. And there was delivered unto him the book of the prophet
Isaiah. And he opened the book, and found the place where it was
written, The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he anointed me to preach good tidings to the
poor" (Luke 4:16-18).
"Jesus of Nazareth, how
that God anointed him with the Holy Spirit and with power: who
went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the
devil, for God was with him" (Acts 10:38).
"And ye have an
anointing from the Holy One.... And as for you, the anointing
which ye received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any
one teach you, but as his anointing teacheth you concerning all
things, and is true, and is no lie, and even as it taught you, ye
abide in him" (1 John 2:20,27).
One of the great needs of our
time is to recover the meaning of things with which we are
familiar. We, as Christians, know many things, but we have lost
much of the meaning of those things. We are going to think a
little about the meaning of the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of
You will notice that that word
'anointing' occurs in three of the passages which we read. The
Lord Jesus said that His Father had anointed Him to preach. Then
Luke, in the book of the Acts, said: 'Jesus of Nazareth, whom God
anointed with the Holy Spirit', the result of which was that He
'went about doing good', and registering the impact of His
anointing upon the devil. Then John, in his Letter, says: 'Ye
have an anointing from the Holy One.'
Now in this very big matter we
just want to put our finger upon this one thing: what it means to
have the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of anointing. And may I say
here, at once, that every Christian is supposed to have received
the Holy Spirit. The Word of God says, most emphatically, that if
we have not received the Holy Spirit we do not belong to Christ.
That Scripture says: "If any man hath not the Spirit of
Christ, he is none of his" (Romans 8:9). Well, I suppose
everyone reading this would claim to belong to the Lord Jesus
Christ. Would you say: 'I belong to Jesus Christ'? Do you know
what that means? Do you know that the very name 'Christ' means
'Anointed'? So to belong to the Lord Jesus Christ means to be
joined to the Anointed, and that just means that we are joined to
That is very simple, and I
expect old Christians think I am being too elementary. Well, wait
a minute - I have not finished yet!
Would you say that what the
anointing meant in the case of Jesus Christ it should also mean
in our case? Is it possible to be joined to the One who is
anointed and not take the anointing from Him? If you are a
married woman, when you married you took the name of your
husband. His name came down on your head, and you bear his name
as long as you both live. Now the New Testament says that we
Christians are married to the Lord Jesus. Do you know what
happened when people came to the Lord Jesus in New Testament
times? They were brought in front of the assembly of the Lord's
people, and the apostles or elders of that assembly put their
hands on the heads of these believers and called on them the name
of the Lord Jesus. They declared that His name now rested upon
them, and from that day they were called 'Christians'. They had
the name of Christ upon them. Christ always meant to them 'the
Anointed', and so they called the anointing upon these believers.
That is meant to be true right from the beginning of our
Christian life, but there is a difference between having the Holy
Spirit and knowing what it means. My business is to tell you what
it means and, as I have said, we are just going to put our
finger upon one thing that it means.
There was nothing neutral about
the Lord Jesus Christ. There was something positive about Him
right from His birth. When the old man Simeon took the baby Jesus
in his arms, he said: "This child is set for the falling and
rising up of many in Israel" (Luke 2:34), and that meant
that human destiny was bound up with that little life. That
little life was going to decide the rising or falling, life or
death, for many in Israel, so that right from His birth there was
something very positive about Him. Why was that? Because He was
born of the Holy Spirit. The angel said to Mary: "The Holy
Ghost shall come upon thee" (Luke 1:35). Jesus was born of
the Holy Spirit, therefore there was nothing neutral about Him.
Things about Him were very positive because of the Holy Spirit.
Now naturally you may be
twenty, thirty, forty, fifty or sixty years old, but spiritually
you may be only a day old. Naturally you may be six feet tall,
but spiritually you may be just a little baby. But if you have
been born of the Holy Spirit human destiny is bound up with your
life, even as an infant. There ought to be something very
positive about you, even as a spiritual babe.
Or you may have grown up to be
twelve years old spiritually. When Jesus was twelve years old
everyone knew that there was something very positive about Him.
He was taken up to Jerusalem, to the great temple where were all
the very wise men, with their grey hair and beards, and this
little boy of twelve years of age began to ask them some
questions. These old men scratched their grey hairs and said:
'What are we to say to that? Where did this boy get all this?
This is no ordinary boy! There is something different about him
from other boys.' Then the old men thought they would have a
turn, and they asked Jesus some of their very wise questions. He
just answered them without any difficulty, and they looked at one
another and said: 'What sort of a boy is this? He seems to know
all the answers.' There was something quite positive about Him,
and all the people knew it: 'He has a knowledge that we do not
have.' Why was that? Because He was born of the Holy Spirit.
Then in manhood He "went
about doing good... for God was with him". In every realm of
life He registered something positive. Was it in the realm of the
empty religious world? How His presence made all their religion
seem so empty! In the simple realm of human life, day by day,
people felt something when Jesus was there. In the official realm
it was just the same. Men like Herod and Pilate did not know what
to make of this man! There was something about Him that they
could not understand and with which they could not cope. Then in
the spiritual realm of the devil and his kingdom; Jesus did not
have to say anything when He came where demons were in possession
- the demons cried out. His presence disturbed them. Whether it
was individuals, or whether it was groups of people, or whether
it was the multitude, the presence of Jesus was positive in its
effect, and that was because He was anointed of the Holy Spirit.
Do you see what I am saying? Do
you see what is the meaning of having the anointing? If it is
true that you and I have been anointed of the Holy Spirit, as we
ought to be, our presence in this world ought to register
something positive for God. It ought to be impossible for us to
come into this world, and go out of it, without having registered
something upon it. People in this world ought to feel something
when we are near them. The devil himself ought to take notice
that, because we are here under the Holy Spirit, Jesus is here.
It is impossible for Jesus to be anywhere without something
happening, and now Jesus is here by the Holy Spirit in believers.
Therefore there ought to be nothing neutral about any Christian.
Now I expect you are wondering
why we read that parable of the Sower. I will tell you why: for
this very reason of which we are speaking.
"The sower went forth to
sow..." Jesus said later that the sower is the Son of man,
and the seed is the Word of God (Luke 8:11). I have often heard
it said about this parable that three parts of the sowing
resulted in nothing - the seed which fell by the wayside, the
seed which fell on the rocky ground and the seed which fell
amongst thorns all came to nothing. Are you sure that is right?
The Bible says, from God: "My word... shall not return unto
me void, but it shall accomplish..." (Isaiah 55:11). Here is
the Son of God giving the Word of God. Will you say that three
parts of the sowing of the Word of God by Jesus Christ is for
nothing? We have to think again.
Here you have four classes of
people, and they are brought right out into the full light and
for all time (two thousand years at least). You see what kind of
people they are. The truth about them is made manifest for all
history to see. Is that negative? I think that is very positive!
"Some seeds fell by the
wayside, and the birds came and devoured them." Is that all
there is to say about it? No, there is a kind of person described
there, the person who is careless and indifferent about Divine
things. The things of God brought by the Word of God don't matter
at all to him, and so he writes them off and says: 'Well, they
don't matter.' So far as he is concerned, Jesus Christ has worked
in vain. But stop! Listen to Jesus: "The word that I spake,
the same shall judge him in the last day" (John 12:48).
These people will stand before the great judgment bar of God
without any excuse. They will never be able to say: 'I never
knew... I never heard.' Oh no, there is nothing neutral about
Jesus! If His word comes our way, we may be careless and
indifferent, and not interested, but that word is coming back in
eternity. "This child is set for the falling and rising up
of many" ... "My word... shall not return unto me
Some seeds "fell upon the
rocky places, where they had not much earth". Here is
another class of people lifted up for history to see. These are
those shallow people who have no sense of the value of the things
of God. These people, when there is something being spoken
from God, say: 'Oh well, I don't think I am going to the meeting
today. I am going for a walk' - or, 'I am going to have a drive
out in the car', or, 'I am going to do this... that... or
something else.' They have no sense of the infinite value of
Divine things which would make them say: 'I will not miss that.
There may be something that will make all the difference to my
life if I am there.' Do you know those people? Jesus has lifted
them up for all history to see: people whose eternal destiny is
bound up with their attitude toward Divine things.
"And others fell upon the
thorns; and the thorns grew up, and choked them." Is that
all? Does the story end there? No; here Jesus has again shown us
another category of people. In explaining this parable He says:
'The thorns are the cares of this world' ... 'Success in my
profession becomes the most important thing. The prosperity of my
business comes first.' These are the people with whom the things
of this life take pre-eminence, the people for whom the world
(whatever that means) means more than the things of God. These
are the people who mean business for anything except the things
of God, and they do not mean business for God so much that they
put Him first.
These are all very distinct
types of people, but it does not matter to which class they
belong, they are all responsible when once they have heard the
Word of God.
I could go on to speak about
the seed that fell on good ground - and even there there are
differences in the people and in the result. Jesus said that some
brought forth a hundredfold. These are the people who are utter
for the Lord, one hundred percent for the things of God, and are
going all the way with Him, no matter what it costs. There are
some people like that. Some brought forth sixtyfold. These are
the people who go on with the Lord, but they just stop short
somewhere. They do not go on in fullness. And some brought forth
thirtyfold. Yes, they love the Lord, but they have some
reservations. 'Don't let us be fanatical. Let us be quite
balanced.' You know these people! 'Yes, we are the Lord's, but
let us be careful!' They bring forth just thirtyfold.
Now why have we said all this?
Just to show that, in one way or another, anything that comes
from Jesus is positive. The Holy Spirit is positive, and not
negative, and if the Holy Spirit is really Lord in our lives, our
lives will count for something. There will be an influence from
our lives which will be eternal. Thank God for the Holy Spirit!
Let us be sure to ask the Lord that the anointing shall have a
free way in our lives. The effect of the Holy Spirit may be to
condemn some people, and it may be to redeem others, but He
cannot be neutral, and if the anointing is upon you and upon me,
the devil will take account of it. May the Lord help us to see
that that may not be a bad thing! Do you want the devil to say:
'Oh, that man, that woman, does not matter. You need not bother
about him, or her!' I had a friend once who, whenever we were
parting and going our different ways, took hold of my hand and
said: 'Goodbye, old man. The Lord make you a nuisance to the
devil!' Well, that is how it will be if the Holy Spirit is really
upon us, for that is how it was with the Lord Jesus.
Do you see the meaning of the
anointing of the Holy Spirit? May the Lord make this very real to
First published in "A Witness and A Testimony"
magazine, Jan-Feb 1967, Vol 45-1