Originally published in Ministry Today Magazine, July 2012
In His first sermon Jesus told the people in Nazareth, "The Spirit of the LORD is upon Me because He has anointed Me to preach the gospel ..." (Luke 4:18) As with Jesus, so with us:  There can be no authentic preaching of the gospel without the anointing of the Holy Spirit.
My 60+ years of ministry can be divided into two equal parts.  For the first 27 years of pastoral work I was a hardline nonbeliever in the baptism and gifts of the Holy Spirit. My denomination insisted that miraculous works of the Spirit vanished when the Apostle John died and I wrongly carried that error to my congregation. During that period I never saw an alcoholic, drug addict, suicidal person, or someone with similar problems, be miraculously delivered by the power of God.  It did not happen nor did I expect it. My ignorance of Scripture was very costly to me and my flock.
One night, for example, a young mother in our congregation whom we all thought to be gentle and kind, loaded her gun, murdered her husband, her four children, and committed suicide. At the time, it was Atlanta's worst murder-suicide in the city's history.  It is impossible to describe the horrific effect that event had on a network of families, friends, neighbors, and her church. Though I had been in that young woman's company numerous times, I never once discerned the demon that rampaged inside her mind. Could the Holy Spirit's anointing have revealed such a danger? Yes. That is the specific work of the "discerning of spirits" and "word of knowledge". (I Corinthians 12:8-10)  I did not have those gifts because I did not believe in them.
Looking back over those years of inadequate ministry I grieve for the spiritual loss my congregation suffered. I desperately needed the Holy Spirit's gifting. There were numerous times that I took spiritually-wounded church members to non-spiritual clinics for the help I should have provided. My solution for all such crisis was secular therapy. I had nothing else to offer. Charles Spurgeon spoke of me when he said, "Most ministers would make good martyrs.  They are so dry they would burn well."
God became impatient with my neglect and demanded that I change.  My denomination demanded that I remain the same. Finally, the decision was no longer left to me.  A spiritual earthquake shook me loose from all my religious bondage.  That blessed day in 1977 my life and ministry were wonderfully changed. When I emerged again, submitted to God and better informed scripturaly, I was a new man, had a new message, was anointed for new ministry, and walked with God in new authority and power. What had happened to me was what Jesus promised the disciples in Acts 1:8.  I had been "baptized in the Holy Spirit". Following that awesome event, church members were healed, lives were changed, and miraculous "words of knowledge" graced my ministry. (I Corinthians 12:8)
As an example of the change, later at a mid-week prayer meeting I received a "word of knowledge"  to "pray for Mildred". For a moment I was puzzled. There was no one by that name in the building. But, I obediently called aloud, "Pray for Mildred." As I closed my eyes again, I received a second instruction, "Mildred is Jewish." Without hesitating, I spoke again "Mildred is Jewish." Obediently, everyone prayed for this unknown Jewish lady. During the teaching that evening nothing more was said of her.
When I concluded the message a distinguished-looking matron, rose quickly from the rear, hurried down the aisle, and in a breathy voice said to me, "May I speak to the congregation?" I handed her the mike. "I have never addressed a church before," She explained, "But tonight I must. I am not a member here, only a visitor, and I came because I received a telephone call today from a friend in Pennsylvania. She is seriously ill and asked if I would have a church pray for her." The woman paused, trying to maintain her composure, "This was the church I felt impressed to ask. I arrived too late to make the request.  But it didn't matter anyway--because the Lord told you for me. My friend's name is 'Mildred' and she is Jewish."  The speaker bent forward, face in hands, and began weeping.
Back at home, she called her friend and told her everything that had happened. Not only was Mildred healed but she was so amazed at the Holy Spirit's speaking her name to a congregation a thousand miles away that she went to a Baptist Church in her community, heard the gospel, and got saved. The Spirit's anointing revealed itself in our service that evening in a three-step progression: First, as a word of knowledge, secondly, as healing, and finally, as salvation. Salvation, in which Christ is glorified and people are redeemed, is always the Spirit's destination.  Healing is wonderful--but it is only a "sign" pointing toward Jesus as the Eternal Healer. (Isaiah 53:5) The fact that haunts me to this day is that such a "word of knowledge" could have exposed the monster hiding in the young mother in Atlanta and saved her family.
In a limited way I had always believed in the "anointing" for preaching and had wonderfully experienced it. For the first 27 years of ministry, however, I did not realize the scripture contained a systematic teaching about the subject. Nor did I understand that God wanted me to minister in the anointing every time I preached. You may ask, is that really true? Every time? Yes. Absolutely. (I Corinthians 14:1) God's objective in giving us the anointing is not for our benefit as speakers but to benefit the people who hear us--i.e., the young mother who just miscarried her baby, the elderly man who lost his wife of 60 years, the couple whose engagement has just been broken, or the parents of a young man dying with cancer. Amazingly, one anointed message can bring comfort to all these needs.
If Jesus depended on the anointing why should you and I think we can succeed without it? He preached no gospel, cast out no demon, healed no sickness, performed no miracle, until the anointing had come upon Him. That took place in the Jordan when He was baptized and the Holy Spirit descended upon Him as a Dove.  Note that the Spirit had two distinct administrations in Jesus: Conception and anointing. (Luke 1:34, 35. Matthew 3:16) Correspondingly, we should experience both regeneration and anointing--the new birth and baptism in the Spirit. These are not the same. The first prepares us for heaven; the second equips us for authentic gospel ministry on earth. Whether it be Christ or us, the gospel of the kingdom is dependent on the anointing. The word "Christ", from the Greek word chrios, is not a reference to Jesus' conception by the Holy Spirit but to His anointing by the Spirit. In Hebrew, the corresponding word is "Messiah".
We see this same two-step pattern--salvation + anointing--with Saul of Tarsus.  After he encountered Jesus on the Damascus road he went into the city where Ananias laid hands on him to be "filled with the Holy Spirit". (Acts 9:17)  In the precise order of the first Apostles, Paul experienced charis, saving-grace, then charisma, gifting-grace. As a "good steward of the manifold grace of God" Ananias administered spiritual anointing to Paul. (I Peter 4:10) That gifting came through the laying-of-hands and baptism in the Holy Spirit.
Today's evangelical church preaches much about Saul of Tarsus’ experience on the Damascus road but tragically little about what happened in the Damascus room. The loss is regrettable. On the Damascus road, Paul was born-again and saved for Heaven. In the Damascus room he received the Holy Spirit’s anointing that ultimately shook the Roman Empire and reshaped the history of mankind. That is not an overstatement. The anointing on Paul emptied pagan temples and brought heathen philosophy to ruin.  In his own life-time the man was labeled as one who "turned the world upside down".  (Acts 17:6)

In the same fashion Paul received the Spirit's anointing from Ananias, he later bestowed the gift to young Timothy. (II Timothy 1:6) To the Roman Church, he wrote, "I long to see you that I may impart to you some spiritual gift, so that you may be established."  (Romans 1:11)  Though Paul addressed the Romans as saints, he knew they could not be fully established apart from their experiencing the anointing. In this instance the anointing could not be communicated in the letter; Paul had to be present for the laying-on-of-hands.
As a hyper-Calvinist, such ideas did not appeal to me. I did not expect God to do anything miraculous. My responsibility was to teach Bible doctrine accurately and to educate the congregation. Thankfully, that dead-end attitude and power-absence is no longer true of my ministry. Today I routinely see people with such destructive problems as drug addiction, alcoholism, fits of rage, chronic depression, physical infirmity, be miraculously healed and set free. What achieves that transformation? The anointing.
Thankfully, every believer can quote Scripture and witness to others--that is wonderful--but the gospel of the Kingdom is much, much, more than a mere presentation of Bible facts.  In varying ways, this anointed gospel of the Kingdom is confirmed with "signs following". (Mark 16:17)  Seminaries, Bible Schools, wonderful as they are, can only impart academic knowledge. Consequently, a pastor may have a dozen University Degrees on his office wall and still be disqualified from providing genuine New Testament ministry.  Apollos was such a man.  He was eloquent, mighty in Scripture, fervent in spirit--but lacked the anointing.  As a result, his ministry in Ephesus was fruitless.  Hiding in the shadow of the Temple of Diana he made no impact on the city. Paul came, imparted the anointing, the church exploded, and the city became a world-renown Christian citadel. (Acts 18:24-19:5) The anointing made the difference.
Opposition to the anointing does not originate within the Church; it comes from powers of darkness projecting themselves upon the Church. Satan does not fear man. He fears the Spirit's anointing operating in man and will go to any length to stop it. He appeared to Jesus immediately after His anointing in the Jordan. In our case, the devil tries to stop us before we receive the impartation. If he can prevent that through religious harassment, intimidation, unbelief, he will. In cases where individuals have already received the anointing, he erects various barricades to handicap them.
We have a Bible example of this opposition.  On the Day of Pentecost when the Holy Spirit fell, it was Israel's most devout Jews who were "confused ... amazed ... perplexed" and accused the disciples of being "full of new wine".  (Acts 2)  The same pattern exists today. Many devout Christians who encounter Pentecost have the identical reaction of confusion, amazement, perplexity, and resort to ridiculing those involved. Instead of being loved and pursued (I Corinthians 14:1) the anointing is mocked and denied. If you are one of those, stop it!  Make the change.
The anointing of the Holy Spirit is still available for anyone who wants to minister in its miraculous power.  How does one receive it?  Jesus gave the answer that day in the Temple when He "stood and cried out, saying, 'If anyone thirsts, let him come to Me and drink. He who believes in Me, as the Scripture has said, out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.'  But this He spoke concerning the Spirit, whom those believing in Him would receive ..." (John 7:38, 39) You are included in that awesome invitation!
 This old hymn invites you to come:
Let not conscience make you linger,
Nor of fitness fondly dream;
All the fitness He requireth
Is to feel your need of Him.
I will arise and go to Jesus,
He will embrace me in His arms;
In the arms of my dear Savior,
O there are ten thousand charms!