I will bring you back again to the words in the gospel by Luke, chapter 3 at verse 21: "Now it came to pass when all the people were baptized, Jesus, also having been baptized and praying, the heaven was opened, the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove upon Him. A voice came out of heaven, Thou art My beloved Son; in Thee I am well pleased."
Chapter 4 at verse 17: "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".
I'm going to stop there, what follows will occupy us later. I just want to add to that a word from the second letter to the Corinthians, chapter 1 at verse 21: "Now He that stablisheth us with you into Christ and anointed us, is God, who also sealed us and gave us the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts."
In pursuing our reconsideration of this great and important
matter of the anointing with the Holy Spirit, this afternoon we
are going to focus our attention upon one, perhaps the most
important, feature of this matter. That is, that the anointing
always relates to one thing, and that one thing is:
The anointing came upon the Lord Jesus, we have read, and then He Himself declared why the anointing had come upon Him: "because the Lord hath anointed Me to preach". The anointing of the Holy Spirit concerns vocation. If you like to change the word to "ministry" you can, but ministry is too often limited in our conception of it - vocation perhaps is a more comprehensive term. May I point out here again that the Scriptures that we have read, to which many others could be added, make it quite clear that what was true of the Lord Jesus in this respect, is true of the church. I take it that Paul's message was to the Corinthians, and are a message to the church - that while it was the church in Corinth, it covers the whole church because, in between His own personal anointing at the Jordan and this passage in second Corinthians, we do have the day of Pentecost - the day of the anointing of the church for its great mission in Christ. That is quite simple and self-evident, but I do want that you should grasp this thing, not as something said, but with realisation. You know, there's a lot of difference between knowing a thing in a way, and realising that you have got, or you know that thing. You have a lot of things without realising exactly what you have, and the value of what you have. And it's this realisation beyond the statement and the truth, that I trust will come to you.
You, dear friends, and I, if we are "in Christ" as this word in Corinthians says, are supposed to have the anointing in Christ. "He which stablisheth us with you into Christ, and anointed us..." in Christ we are all supposed to be anointed people. It isn't what you feel like at the moment, it is the Divine fact. Are you in Christ? Can you give an affirmative answer to that? Very well then, if that is true, you have been brought into the anointing which is on Christ. You inherit that anointing which came on Him after His baptism. You are an 'anointed' person. As we have said earlier, there is nothing greater of which we can conceive than that we should be people anointed with the Holy Spirit, if only we knew what that means. However, here is the truth.
Then, if that is true, the anointing which is upon us in Christ is with vocation in view. The great governing factor of the anointing is vocation. It brings us into Divine purpose, it means that every one of us is in Christ for a purpose. There should be no person in Christ without a purpose in life, by the Holy Spirit. We may need instruction and enlightenment as to what it is, and I am for the moment taking pains to underline and emphasise the fact that if you are not aware of the fact, altogether without the explanation and the interpretation, then you should raise the question of no less a thing than your place in Christ, the meaning of being in Christ, and this is not so difficult as it may sound as I say it. If, when you came to the Lord, or having come to the Lord, you have not had begotten in you a sense that life has taken on a new meaning, that there has come into your consciousness a meaningfulness in life, just as a sense, just as something that you realise has happened, then there is something wrong about your new birth, for this goes with your union with Christ. That could be put in various ways: now there's something for which to live, now you are under constraint to do something, now there's a goal towards which you have to move. You see, it can be put in many ways, but they all amount to this: you have started on a line which has a meaning, and that is the very Spirit of Vocation. You'll do something; you'll aim at something, you'll have an objective in life, you'll find that you are under some constraint. So the very presence of the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of the anointing, carries with it this very thing inseparable from it: vocation.
I have commenced with the individual fact - it's important to begin there, that we make a personal matter of this. We are not passengers in this matter; we are not things to be carried along by some machine, institution, organisation. We may be very small cogs in the whole, in all the works, but the whole thing would be thrown out if we didn't fulfil our function - we've got to realise that. I think there are far too many who have not this sense of being under the Holy Spirit's urge unto something, but I want to carry that beyond the personal and the individual because we, as individuals, only receive it in a larger setting, really. If we come to the New Testament, for instance, a whole lot of individuals were involved, but really they came into their personal sense of Divine initiative, and drive, and urge, and motive, because the church came into a mighty compulsion and propulsion by the Holy Spirit.
First of all, the church was taken up in this matter, and it is very difficult not to see that tremendous sense of commission and vocation came with the Holy Spirit. On that day, and from that day, the church is a thing with a purpose and a motive, a tremendous driving force, and all the individuals derived their own personal sense of meaning from that whole. Now, we've got to come back to that presently, but now in between that, here is a word. What is the essential, the indispensable justification for the existence of churches, local expressions of the whole? Why should the people of God be gathered together in smaller or larger numbers and companies in any given place? What is it that justifies their existence? What is it that really is the basis of their being there at all? Is it just to meet together, have nice fellowship, help one another along, be some nice little thing in that place, happily going on (or miserably going on!), occupied with themselves, ministering to one another, nursing one another... is that it? Well, those things may come into it, but dear friends, the local companies are, after all, only parts of the one Church universal. And the purpose and nature and justification of the Church universal, which passes to the church local, is vocation - let there be no doubt about this - and any local company that is not really fulfilling a vocation, is not there with an anointed vocation, is not justifying its existence. The Lord brings these into being, not to be something in themselves, not to be an end in themselves, and not just to look after themselves, but with a vocation in the world that is around them. And they must be there with this sense of responsibility beyond themselves, this sense of a mission beyond themselves, this sense of vocation. Now, the whole Bible could be taken to show that that is true. "The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because..." because - what follows is a purpose, a purpose: "because the Lord has anointed me to..." something.
Well, having said that, we have to come to this: vocation under the anointing. And I am loath to depart from that without making quite sure that you have really got your hand upon this matter. If your life, dear friend, is really under the government of the Holy Spirit, it will not be a dead end. If any company of the Lord's people is under the government of the Holy Spirit, it will not be a dead end! If you are where you are because the Lord has led you there, then that's how it ought to be. You are there with a vocation, a Divine vocation, for the fulfilment of which you can count upon the anointing.
In your profession, in your business, in your home, and in your assembly, as a part of it, this is the law: that there's something more than the thing itself. You are called into a vocation if you have received the Holy Spirit, and that can give meaning to life. If we take ourselves out of the hands of the Holy Spirit, and choose our own way, and go where we think we should go, and make our own decisions in these things, very often we get into a back-water, we are just out of the way, and there's nothing coming of it. We have got to be very, very sure that we seek first the Kingdom of God - that is only another way of saying that we move by the Spirit in what we do, or we might just find ourselves just out there, with no more meaning than what we are doing day by day, for time! This is the meaning of the anointing.
But what about this anointing? What is it? The Bible falls quite
naturally into three aspects of the anointing. These three aspects
are, in the Divine conception, inherent in the very creation of
man. Adam was created to be the vessel, vehicle, and instrument of
Divine vocation, and vocation in three forms. Adam let it go, the
tragedy of Adam is lost Divine vocation. There are depths of
meaning here, which might be even dangerous to try and fathom, but
there are hints of a tremendous thing in this matter.
There was, the Bible reveals, an "anointed cherub that covereth... Lucifer, son of the morning", he's now known as Satan, before his fall. And there are strong hints that his vocation had to do with this creation and he forfeited it, by taking it into his own hands, out of the anointing, because if anointing means one thing, it does mean absolute dependence upon God. It means that everything comes from God, and not from the person concerned. It means that God is most jealous to keep things in His own hands; that's the meaning of the anointing. Things can only be as God maintains the over all government by His Spirit. The anointing was violated in that way, and that high place was forfeited. Adam was created, Adam would have come into the anointing to fulfil that great purpose if he had not failed and missed the anointing, the adoption. There's a Last Adam that God brings in and anoints with that very object. And so the Bible opens out along these three lines: first, with the creation of man and the object of his creation; then, the development of a nation to be the object lesson of what the anointing means as to vocation. Failure again, in all three senses. And the Christ, the Church which is His Body brought in as God's success in this thing which has been inherent in the creation of man from the beginning. What is the vocation?
First of all, it is dominion. If you like, it is rulership, government, or, to take the Old Testament title: kingship - royalty in a Divine sense. It has not been sufficiently recognised that the anointing of the Lord Jesus on the Jordan side, had this three-fold vocation included and involved. And the first aspect of it was government, authority, kingship, rulership, dominion! We saw yesterday it was that the enemy was trying to undercut.
Well, you know that that is one of the major lines of the Old Testament, but kingship is not something official now; it is not something that is temporal, as we understand it in the temporal realm. Kingship is a spirit, royalty is a nature, dominion is something of a spiritual kind. I can explain that, but first of all, you do recognise that the Old Testament naturally opens up along that line, as one of its three lines. It begins with Adam: "Thou madest him to have dominion" - "Thou madest... have dominion". And then you find that before the thing assumes the form of official position, it has already existed in a spiritual and moral way. It's tremendously impressive.
Abraham, as we have seen, is spoken of as one of the Lord's anointed, in Psalm 105: "the Lord's anointed". Very well! Abraham stands in the presence of kings of this earth, and Abraham is superior; absolutely superior. These kings of the earth are cringing before Abraham, are bowing to Abraham. Morally and spiritually, he is, so to speak, head and shoulders above them. He, really, in the presence of these men, is the king! The spiritual reality! It's like that.
Israel? Well, what is Israel naturally, from the standpoint of this world looking on? Well, we know quite well what the nations thought of Israel naturally! What about Balaam being hired by Balak, thinking that this people could be just completely subjugated, brought under, despised. But Israel, there and then, with all that they were or were not naturally, all their weaknesses, and imperfections, and faults, they rise to tremendous stature at that very point, "He hath not beheld iniquity in Jacob", "The shout of a king is among them"! Israel rises to spiritual and moral standard in the midst of the nations, embodying the principle of the anointing - dominion, kingship - it's there, before there is anything official, it's moral and spiritual.
So we could go on. How true it was of the Lord Jesus Himself. All the rulers were completely baffled, and nonplussed, and defeated in His presence. They cannot handle this Man; they cannot humiliate this Man spiritually and morally, whatever they do. He is over them all the time. That's true of the Church; when moving under the anointing, it's like that.
Now! That's all objective. What about you? What about any
Is this not true, dear friends, that when a man or a woman comes
to Christ, receives Christ into the life (which is but one way
of speaking of receiving the Spirit) is it not true that immediately
that happens, without any reasoning, or calculation, or thinking
about it at all, a new spirit of elevation begins to work in that
life? You've seen it; I've seen it - a poor fellow in utter rags,
never having worn a decent collar at all... miserable, wretched
creature, dragging himself about. And his home couldn't be called
a home; a hovel. Wife and children in the most deplorable state;
poverty and misery because of his sin. I've seen that man born
again. Born again! Ah yes, truly born again, and within a week,
coming to the meeting. First step: a nice clean white bit of scarf
tied round his neck, and his clothes brushed down a bit. And I've
seen that go on until he had got a decent collar and suit, and
shoes to wear; and his home beginning to change, and his children
and his wife. No one ever said anything to him - not a word. No
one would have done. It's happened! It's happened from within! And
I want to say that that's the spirit of Royalty at work,
the spirit of Heavenly aristocracy at work in the heart - the
spirit of glory, for that is what belongs to kings - it's glory!
And the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Glory. The Holy Spirit
in the life - now that may be an extreme illustration, but it's a
very true one, it happens again and again - it's what does happen;
a sense of shame comes in, and blushing, because of certain
things, perhaps ways of speaking, old habits and so on, which are
slow to fall of. But a sense of shame and blushing coming in that
was never there before; never conscious that the thing was wrong
or doubtful - it's come in.
What is true in such extreme cases, you see, is a principle and a law of the Spirit-governed life that you cannot, if you are governed by the Spirit, if you are under the anointing, you cannot be slovenly. You cannot be careless in your life, and habits, and dress. You cannot have an untidy home, a disorderly state of things, for which you are responsible. It just cannot be, and ought not to be. You ought not to need anybody to point out that that is wrong, and that is not right. "The Spirit Himself", says John, "dwelling in you... teacheth you". "You have no need that anyone teacheth you; the anointing teacheth you all things", and this is one of the things that the anointing teaches. It makes of a disorderly life an orderly thing, and that is what you expect to find in king's households. It makes of a disreputable life, a reputable thing; it tidies up life all round, does the Holy Spirit - He is the Spirit of kings, of princes! It's a spiritual and moral thing, you see.
The point is that the anointing means elevation, it means elevation; and it always does work that way - to elevation, a higher level of life. It lifts, it ennobles, it refines, it makes for God's gentlemen. This is the Spirit of kingship, and this is the law of spiritual government and ascendency. You see, it's far better to have it like this than to have the office and the title, and for the conditions to be just a contradiction. No, princes in Israel are first of all spiritual and moral people, before they are official. The anointing means that, it means that!
It's just amazing how Jesus could fit into any situation, could fit into any situation - poor and rich, ignorant and learned - He fitted right in, but it was the anointing that did it. Have I said enough in this matter? Now, you see, His anointing was for Kingship, but first of all, first of all in this dispensation, the kingship of Jesus is a spiritual and a moral thing; it's the mighty power of elevating people, taking them from the dung-hill and setting them among princes. That!
So, the anointing should mean for us a growing refinement, an
increasing sensitiveness to what is fitting, what is becoming,
what belongs to the palace, for we are children of the King, sons
of God. Well, that can be viewed in two ways; it can make you feel
uncomfortable, and seen to be a legal imposition again, trying to
make life difficult. Well, if you take it like that, of course,
you have missed the whole point. The law of the Word of God is
always positive: "Walk in the Spirit and you shall not
fulfil the lusts of the flesh". That is: if you live by the
Spirit, it'll happen! This is what will happen! Mark you, what
happens or what does not happen just shows how much we are being
governed by the Spirit. So, for Kingship, with all its wonderful
meaning of, not self-importance, not making an impression by our
own effort, but just being, being different. Being
And you're anticipating the other aspects of the anointing, the vocation. Have you grasped the point that what I have been saying is a vocation? It's a ministry, it's a service, it's something that really is ministry. I believe, you know, that it's far, far more effective in this world to be a person of spiritual dignity and character like this, than it is to go round with your Bible preaching and taking meetings! If you're a person like this, walking in the Spirit, with this character, this character - a person of character - a person of spiritual strength, that will not descend to a mean thing; will not contemplate anything that is petty and despicable, you're morally above it. Like Nehemiah: "Should such a one as I flee?" See, that's the spirit of the king! If you are such a person as that, and this dignity is found in your home - your home is a dignified place - wherever you have any influence and power at all, that is shown in the orderliness and the refinement of character. That's a tremendous testimony to the Lord. Put it the other way round - see how the Lord is let down when it's not like that; what the Lord loses. This is vocation, to be, to be!
You recognise that I am speaking very largely to responsible people; you'll recognise that the law of the Word of God is always and in all matters, that the person has got to be the thing before they get the name, and the title, and the office. You've got to be an elder before you can be made an elder. You've got to be a prince before you can be called a prince - that's a law of the Word of God - you have got to be this! It's the anointing which makes for reality.
We can pass quite easily to the second aspect of this vocation, which is that of:
Just as the kings were anointed, and were kings by the anointing, so the priests were priests by the anointing. It's another thing, right from the beginning, inherent in God's thought concerning man - priesthood! Before ever there was a necessity for blood-sacrifice, for atonement, before ever the sin question came in, requiring certain aspects of priesthood, the whole matter of standing between God and His creation mediatorially, intercessorily, was there. Man was created to be a priest, in the sense that here is God, and here is His creation, and there must be one between to communicate from the one to the other, to stand for the one to the other - both ways, both ways. Adam was intended to be that, a king and a priest in this spiritual sense, and so the Old Testament again unfolds along the line of priesthood, anointed priesthood.
True, there has now come in this whole sin matter, calling in the whole system of blood sacrifices, but the principle remains that the anointing, the anointing means that there is that between God and others by which He makes Himself known, communicates Himself, commits Himself, and which brings that into knowledge of God. Priesthood, as you know, first of all means mediation; that is, standing between. And then, standing between to minister for God to man, and from man to God and then to teach: "The priest's lips must keep wisdom, must teach knowledge". The suffering aspect has come in now into priesthood, it's a real element of priesthood: suffering, suffering, is that with which the priest has to do, but when you have said all these things about it, the Church is called into the place of Israel in this whole universe where Adam failed, where Israel failed. Christ has come in and brought His Church into being to be "a kingdom and priests unto His God", "He hath made us, He hath made us a kingdom and priests unto His God". It's not our title. It's not our office.
Are you, young Christians, old Christians, whoever you are, are you taking this home to you, that as truly, as truly and surely as ever Aaron and his sons, and his long line of sons, and the firstborn in all households of Israel were the priests in Israel, standing in this holy and sacred position, as truly as that, you are that in the thought of God? You are that! When you come to a meeting for prayer, you are coming on the ground of your priesthood and may function under the anointing in intercession, standing there in your holy vocation to minister from God to others, and bring others and their needs to God. A mediation, it's a priesthood, and what is true in prayer and intercession in that way, which is the great vocation of the Church, is true in many other ways, that we are here in this tremendous vocation; the individual, the local company standing there, not as an end in itself, but there between High Heaven and Almighty God, and that city, and that neighbourhood - to minister God, to meet need out from God. Oh, what we can do if only we recognise our anointing! The meaning of our anointing. I must leave that there, and pass quickly to the third and last of these aspects of the great vocation of the anointing, that is, that of:
Again, the Bible opens up quite naturally along that third line. These are the three great unfoldings of the Bible. The prophet: anointed, anointed. Jesus was anointed King first, then He was anointed Priest, it was under and by that anointing that He went forward in a daily sacrifice unto the great consummate sacrifice of the Cross. The Great Priest offering Himself to God. What is true of His Kingship, and His Royalty, His Dominion, is true of His Priesthood, as Mediator between God and Man, is true in this third aspect, the Prophet. He was anointed as the Prophet of the Lord. He gathered up into Himself the Old Testament line of prophetic meaning. "A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you as He raised me up", said Moses. And they went all the way through, not only seeing and hearing their prophets, they were waiting for The Prophet!
When Jesus came, and He asked: "Whom do men say that I am?". Some said: "The prophet! The Prophet! That one of whom Moses spoke: 'A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you', this is, this is the Prophet!" Ah, but He was more so than they thought, far more so. By the anointing He was that, but what, what is the function of the prophet? It is to recall and to recover all that has been lost which is of God for His people - to recall to it; to recall the people to that, which necessitates seeing what it is that God wants and to recover that which was lost and bring it back! A tremendous vocation!
But dear friends, oh, that you would realise that you in your
local company, whether it be here in this place, or in the other
places from which you've come, this is what you are supposed to be
there for: to recall, and to recover! It means
that, as a company, you must know what it is that God ever meant
and that the people of God have lost. And this must with you be as
it was with the prophets: a travail to get it back, and to get
them back. That's a vocation, a vocation - to proclaim and to
enunciate the whole counsel of God - that's the prophetic
function. And, if we are to take Jeremiah as any kind of
indication, "to pluck up and to plant"! That's perhaps the most
difficult aspect of prophetic work, to have to root up: "Every
plant which my Father hath not planted shall be rooted up". Look
at Jesus doing the uprooting! My word, He was uprooting! The false
thing that had not been planted of His Father, He was uprooting
it; difficult work to do, but there you are.
There is a destructive aspect to the prophetic ministry, that will not tolerate that which man has put in the place of God! Those things which have been put by man in the place of God; things have got to be rooted up. On the other hand, it's not all destructive, there's planting, planting, planting to be done. We are here for this! Why we are, or should be in any place, it is for this that we are anointed - it requires the anointing. But, all this is implicit in the anointing. It's a big thing to be in the anointing of Christ; it is no less a thing than the fulfilment of the whole Divine revelation of the Scriptures, from Adam to the end. Anointed for that.
But this is what will happen, and this is what makes it simple if it sounds complex and difficult, this will simplify it; this is exactly what will spontaneously happen if we are moving under the anointing - these things will happen; they will come about. They will be the very nature of our being where we are; how it will work out. There will be a vetoing and a nullifying and a rooting out of things that are not of the Lord; there will be a planting of what is of God. These things will all happen. I haven't got to set myself to try to bring all these things about, and do them; what you and I have to do is to live in the power of the anointing, and they will happen! Oh then, for more anointed individuals, or more living in the power of the anointing! More local companies like that - and these things will happen. Perhaps the Lord is just saying these things to us, to remind us, to pull us up over this whole matter, and show us we are not here just to drag out a painful existence, and try to keep going to the end. The anointing means something more than that, it does! It means spiritual and moral ascendency; it means being God's vehicle of supply. It means recall and recovery as to all that God ever meant for His people.