Anointing is one of the most important phases of the work of the Holy Spirit. "But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things," "But the anointing which ye have received of Him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in Him" (1 John 2:20, 27). "You have an anointing from the holy One and have perfect knowledge" (Weymouth).
After being born of the Spirit, we need the anointing of the Spirit, the chief purpose of which is to give knowledge of the plan of redemption as revealed in the Scriptures. How much knowledge? The "perfect knowledge" so that we know "all things" does not make us omniscient, for the members of the Godhead alone are "infinite in wisdom" in whom "are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge." The anointing of the Spirit brings all the knowledge needed for salvation and ministry. It makes "the path of the just as a shining light, that shineth more and more unto the perfect day."
Anointing is the secret of steadfastness and union with Christ and is also the prerequisite of the sealing. "But He who is making us as well as you steadfast through union with the Anointed One, and has anointed us, is God, and He had also set His seal upon us, and has put His Spirit into our hearts as a pledge and foretaste of future blessing" (2 Cor. 1: 21, 22, Weymouth).
Not only was the anointing of the Spirit the secret of the wisdom of Christ but also of His miracle-working power and ministry. In Acts 10:38 we are told that "God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power" so that He "went about doing good, healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him." Spiritual anointing is an evidence of the presence and favor of God.
"THE TWO ANOINTED ONES"
The visions of the fourth chapter of Zechariah present a beautiful picture of the work of Christ and the Holy Spirit in redemption. The oil that feeds the seven golden symbolic lamps comes from the two olive trees, which are interpreted to represent "the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth." "Sons of oil" is the marginal reading. It is evident to all students of the Scriptures and of the writings of the Spirit of Prophecy that the two anointed ones are Christ and the Holy Spirit, the second and third persons of the Godhead who are so closely associated in the work of redemption. After reproving certain ministers because their sermons were "destitute of the dew and rain of heaven," the messenger of the Lord said:
"They evidenced that the anointed ones described by Zechariah (see chapter 4) had not ministered to them that they might minister to others. When the anointed ones empty themselves through the golden pipes, the golden oil flows out of themselves into the golden bowls, to flow forth into the lamps, the churches" (Testimonies to Ministers, 337).
Thus the church becomes the light of the world, for her divine mission is accomplished, "not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, said the Lord of hosts." Note also the following on pages 509-512:
"The continual communication of the Holy Spirit to the church is represented by the prophet Zechariah under another figure, which contains a wonderful lesson of encouragement for us ... So from the holy ones that stand in God's presence, His Spirit is imparted to human instrumentalities that are consecrated to His service. The mission of the two anointed ones is to communicate light and power to God's people.... From the two olive trees the golden oil flowing through the golden pipes has been communicated to us. But those who do not cultivate the spirit and habit of prayer can not expect to receive the golden oil of goodness, patience, longsuffering, gentleness, love.... The dispensation in which we are now living is to be, to those that ask, the dispensation of the Holy Spirit. Ask for His blessing. It is time we were more intense in our devotion. To us is committed the arduous but happy, glorious work of revealing Christ to those who are in darkness. We are called to proclaim the special truths for this time. For all this the outpouring of the Spirit is essential. We should pray for it. The Lord expects us to ask Him. We have not been wholehearted in this work.... We can not depend upon form or external machinery. What we need is the quickening influence of the Holy Spirit of God." (Read also Testimonies to the Church, 6:11,12.)
"Those who present the eternal principles of truth need the holy oil emptied from the two olive branches into the heart. This will flow forth in words that will reform but not exasperate. The truth is to be spoken in love. Then the Lord Jesus by His Spirit will supply the force and the power. That is His work" (Testimonies to the Church, 6:123).
The imagery of the first vision of the Apocalypse is drawn from Zechariah. Jesus is described as the High Priest of the heavenly sanctuary, ministering before the Father and at the same time through His Spirit to His church on earth, as symbolized by the seven lampstands of gold.
"Though the ministration was to be removed form the earthly temple; though the sanctuary and our great high priest would be invisible to human sight; yet the disciples were to suffer no loss thereby. They would realize no break in their communion and no diminution of power because of the Savior's absence. While Jesus ministers in the sanctuary above, He is still by His Spirit the minister of the church on earth" ( The Desire of Ages, 166).
Commenting on this apocalyptic vision the messenger of the Lord wrote:
"This figure illustrates the eternal vigilance of our Savior. Christ is in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks walking from church to church, from congregation to congregation, from heart to heart. If the candlesticks were left to human beings, they would soon flicker and go out, but God has not given His church into the hands of men. Christ is the Watchman of the house. He is the Warden faithful and true" (Watchman Magazine, May 19,1903). (See also Acts of the Apostles, 586.)
THE PROMISED SPIRITUAL ANOINTING
Jesus promised His disciples that the Holy Spirit would teach them "all things" and guide them "into all truths." (See John 14:26; 16:12,13.) He said that when they would be brought before civil or religious tribunals to answer for their faith, they were not to worry, "for the Holy Ghost shall teach you in the same hour what ye ought to say." (See Luke 12: 11, 12.)
In 1 Corinthians 2:9-16, the results of spiritual anointing are beautifully set forth. The eye has not yet seen, nor has the ear heard, the wonderful truths and blessings the Lord has in store for His people, "but God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God." It is stated that "the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God," and that "the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual things with spiritual." It is impossible for man in his natural sinful state to receive "the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him; neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned."
In light of these statements we cannot expect unspiritual people to comprehend deeply spiritual truths, and we must therefore exercise patience when they, like Nicodemus of old, seem to have no idea what we are talking about. The new birth is still an enigma to those who have not been born again, and righteousness by faith sounds strange to formal, legalistic members.
"The only way in which we can gain a more perfect apprehension of truth is by keeping the heart tender and subdued by the Spirit of Christ. The soul must be cleansed from vanity and pride and vacated of all that has held it in possession, and Christ must be enthroned within. Human science is too limited to comprehend the atonement. The plan of redemption is so far-reaching that philosophy cannot explain it. It will ever remain a mystery that the most profound reasoning cannot fathom. The science of salvation cannot be explained; but it can be known by experience" (The Desire of Ages, 494,495).
ANOINTING NEEDED BY THE REMNANT
The remnant will in a special sense need the anointing of the Spirit, and to them it has been promised. The Laodicean message recorded in Revelation 3:14-22 is Christ's last appeal to His remnant people. It is "meat in due season" for the church in its present lukewarmness and self-complacency. The importance of this message and the necessity of preaching it to our people is emphasized in hundreds of statements in the Spirit of Prophecy written throughout the prophetic ministry of God's servant.
In Early Writings, we are told that "the straight testimony called forth by the counsel of the True Witness to the Laodiceans" will result in some rising "up against it and this is what will cause a shaking among God's people." It is then stated that "the testimony of the True Witness has not been half heeded," and "the solemn testimony upon which the destiny of the church hangs had been lightly esteemed, if not entirely disregarded." The purpose of this message is to "work deep repentance," and the assurance is given that "all who truly receive it will obey it and be purified" (270). Then follows a description of the latter rain.
This is the message "upon which the destiny of the church hangs," because all who reject it will be shaken out, and all who accept it will receive the latter rain during the loud cry. Those who study this message carefully and accept its counsel will have no difficulty in recognizing its importance and will regulate their preaching accordingly.
Although the Laodicean message constitutes a terrible indictment, it is nevertheless a love message from One who dearly loves His people. It is the rebuke of love. The people reproved by Christ are "the apple of His eye" and "the supreme object of His regard," not a rejected people. The same great Physician who so accurately diagnosis and frankly describes the disease of His present-day church also provides a complete remedy, which is an undeniable evidence of His love.
THE REMEDY FOR GOD'S CHURCH TODAY
The entire situation in modern Laodicea will speedily change when the members who seem unaware of their true spiritual state accept the counsel of Christ and purchase with the price of surrender and submission the gold of faith, love, and truth, the robe of His righteousness, and the spiritual eye-salve. Although the anointing is placed last, it is in one sense first in importance, since the application of all the other parts to the remedy depends on it potency.
We are told that "where there is no vision, the people perish," and this applies with special force to spiritual vision, without which there is no hope of salvation. The anointing convinces us of the need of having the Spirit shed abroad the love of God in our hearts and guide us into unknown truths, thereby increasing our faith. Our eyes are open to behold vast fields of hidden treasure in the inexhaustible mine of truth, so that we no longer feel "rich, and increased with goods" and in need of nothing, when spiritually, in God's sight, we are "wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked" and desperately in need of all that the Merchant of divine blessings has to offer. It is also the eye-salve anointing that reveals to Laodicea her state of spiritual nakedness. While strutting about as if on parade, she is clothed in the filthy rags of her own righteousness, which is not sufficient covering in the presence of a holy God. Adam and Eve doubtless felt rather proud of their workmanship in making fig-leaf aprons, or girdles, to cover their nakedness until God entered the garden, and then they fled into hiding. A complete covering was provided for them by the Lord through the death of the lamb, which was symbolic of the Lamb of God whose death has made available a beautiful character garment which is freely given to all who will accept it by faith.
The remedy for the Laodicean condition is beautifully summed up in volume 5 of the Testimonies:
"Again and again has the voice from Heaven addressed you. Will you obey this voice? Will you heed the counsel of the True Witness, to seek the gold tried in the fire, the white raiment, and the eye-salve? The gold is faith and love, the white raiment is the righteousness of Christ, the eye-salve is that spiritual discernment which will enable you to see the wiles of Satan and shun them, to detect sin and abhor it, to see truth and obey it" (233).
God's remnant people living in these perilous times greatly need to have their eyes open to the multiplying deceptions of the enemy so as to avoid them. Thus will they be able to detect sin in all its modern alluring forms, and be given a divine hatred for that which is too often fondled and highly regarded. And thus will they accept and proclaim the truths that are now meat in due season for the church. We especially need to see ourselves as Christ sees us, so that we shall be willing to accept His counsel and repent.
Let us as leaders pray earnestly for this promised spiritual anointing that will bring all other blessing in its train, including a new endowment of faith, an infilling of love, a revelation of truth, and the imputed and imparted righteousness of Christ, the wedding garment that prepares the church for the return of the Bridegroom.
Taylor G. Bunch was pastor in South Lancaster, Massachusetts, when he wrote this article.