Sunday, March 29, 2009

UNCTION the missing link

This thought was first aroused by reading Ravenhill over 5yrs ago, but just last night i was reading to my wife out of Iain Murrays 'A Scottish Christian Heritage' and here is what sparked this post, concerning the life of ROBERT BRUCE but first this is what JOHN LIVINGSTON had to say about ROBERT BRUCE: "No man in his time spake with such evidence and power of the Spirit...yea, many of his hearers thought that no man since the apostles spake with such power."
Keep in mind that this was a time of much decay and corruption.
Now here is the excerpt:
..he regarded powerless preaching as reason enough to question any man's call to the ministry:

"The Spirit in me doth kindle a reverence in the spirit of the hearer; and if it be not in me, the spirit of the hearer will discern me not to be sent, but only to have the word of the commission, and not to have the power; for the power is the evident argument that a man is sent. Therefore, many start to teach this word, who are not sent...and therefore the flock of God is not built up, because they have only the word of commission and lack the power of the Spirit that should make the Word effectual to the hearer."
An incident in the life of a younger contemporary of Bruce illustrates how seriously he took this principle. Robert Blair was a gifted young man from the Glasgow College, and a candidate for the ministry, when Bruce heard him preach after he had returned to the south from his first exile in Inverness. Afterwards, in conversation with his senior, Blair asked for any advice on his sermon. He received an unforgettable response: "I found your sermon very polished and digested, but there is one thing I miss in it, to wit, the Spirit of God; I found not that." Far from being alienated, Blair came to admire the man whom he called 'that ancient heroic servant of Christ', and he made the long journey to see him during Bruce's second confinement in Inverness.

Spurgeon gave this advice to those who would require more than necessary from their ministers: Judge only whether the brother preaches the truth, is of the right spirit, is adapted to the people, aims at winning souls, possesses an unction from on high, and labors to glorify his Master. If these things be in him and abound he will not be barren or unfruitful.

You say what is unction?
Spurgeon said this:
What is unction, my brethren? I fear that no one can help me by a definition. Who can define it? But yet we know where it is, and we certainly feel where it is not. When that unction perfumes the Word, it is its own interpreter, it is its own apologist, it is it own confirmation and proof, to the regenerate mind. Then the Word of God deals with us as no word of man ever did or could. We have not received it, therefore, of men. Constantly receiving the divine Word as we do, it comes to us with an energy ever fresh and forcible. It comes to us especially with a sanctifying power, which is the very best proof of its coming from the thrice-holy God. Philosophers words may teach us what holiness is, but God's Word makes us holy. We hear our brethren exhort us to aspire to high degrees of grace, but God's Word lifts us up to them. The Word is not merely an instrument of good, but the Holy Spirit makes it an active energy within the soul to purge the heart from the sin, so that it can be said, Ye are clean through the Word which I have spoken unto you. When thus cleansed, you know that the Word is true. You are sure of it, and you no longer need even the most powerful book of evidences. You have the witness in yourself, the evidence of things not seen, the seal of eternal verity.

Preacher do you know of this 'power', this 'enabling' which isn't natural to you? Can you not stand amazed that God has so quickened your senses, emotions and mind that you feel incredibly empowered as you preach? Preacher has anyone ever commented on the way the Spirit grips them when you preach? Preacher have you not seen when God has so grabbed the attention of your hearers, the fixing of their eyes that leads you to expect them to yell out 'what must i do to be saved?'
There's hope for a preacher who lacks theology, there's hope for a preacher who lacks discipline, there is hope for a preacher who lacks schooling, but there is no hope for the preacher who lacks the Spirit's enable-ment.
Worthless are the 'gift' tests that men have devised to see where men should be called. No my friend, the tests are found in the word and as regards to the MINISTRY it is not dependant upon the natural abilities of man. Of course this is the ignorance of the day, we see a wicked musician get saved and everyone tells him that he should now become a 'Christian' artist, a wicked actor should become a "Christian" actor, and a leader who got flying colors in speech class should become a 'Christian' speaker (Minister). NOT IN YOUR LIFE!
Ministers are GIFTS to the church, because of what God has chosen to do through a man.
Good preaching is supernatural: The preacher has been called to 'equip', to 'warn', to 'guard' and to lead the people of God. This call is from God, and the reason we are called to give such honor to preachers is not because they are worth more or have greater importance but certainly because they have a higher calling. Higher? Yes! They are qualified by high requirements, and they have a higher responsibility, higher burdens and higher influence. Though they are but men, their 'office' demands reverence. If a preacher preaches TRUTH then you and I are accountable to that truth as though God were speaking, in this way the preacher is a PROPHET!

Unction then might be what you call that distinguishing element, that 'something different' about the effect of some men's words. It is Holy Spirit power, it's reality, it's the Holy Spirits testimony that 'this one has been sent'. Even among the prophets of the Old Testament the majority if not all were regarded as true prophets initially, until of course they spoke things that the people or leaders did not want to hear and then they were rejected (only because the truth cut so deep)!
Yes there are degrees, there are those who have received more and others more for a time, but something of the reality of power must attend your preaching if God has called you.
Unlike the callings of the world, this unction can not be learned. You can go to school, get a doctorates in medicine and you are qualified to practise medicine, likewise an engineer or teacher etc.. Not so with preaching, the best schools in the world can't make you an effective preacher, they can't cause you to be a preacher. I suppose more than anything needed in Seminaries today would be a MAJOR elimination process, where each man is examined as to whether there is ANY evidence that he has been called to the ministry. Without the empowering of the Spirit it's no wonder that so many use so many gimmicks, mega-church growth schemes, seeker-friendly pillow models, edgy rockstar preaching and the like.
Perhaps you notice this, perhaps you say to yourself 'there's something missing' what he says is true but there's just something missing, that something i would submit might very well be unction!

From an article i plan to post in it's entirety A.W. Pink said this:
It is often a long time before God's children are able to account for this. They blame themselves; they are exceedingly loath to say, "This message is not of God." They are afraid to act in the spiritual, as they do in the natural, and condemn and discard that which is worthless. While they feel a lack of power in the sermons they hear, or the articles they read, and while their souls steadily get dried up like a potsherd—they are slow to realize that this is the inevitable effect of the unctionless preaching they listen to, or the unctionless literature they read; and that such dryness and leanness of soul is inevitable—by their association with unhumbled and empty professors. But in due time God opens their eyes, and they see through the flimsy veil and discover that both the sermons they hear, and the literature they read—are only the product of a dead profession!
Ah, it is a great thing when once the Holy Spirit teaches a soul—that it is power which is lacking from the lifeless preaching and lifeless articles of dead professors. It is power which the renewed soul seeks—a message which has power to search his conscience, to pierce him to the quick, to write it upon his heart; a message which has power to bring him to his knees in broken-hearted confession to God; a message which has power to make him feel that he is "vile"; a message which has power to drive him to Christ, for the binding up of his wounds, for Him to pour in "oil and wine," and send him on his way rejoicing. Yes, what the renewed soul longs for (though at first he knows it not) is that Divine message which comes to him "not simply with words—but also with power, with the Holy Spirit and with deep conviction!" (1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Do i realize that some may be discouraged by such things? Yes but that doesn't mean that it's fruitless, I hope not to discourage any true minister yet i wouldn't at all be bothered but rather pleased if someone who isn't called to the ministry would step down. Preacher if you are sent of God I wouldn't be so ignorant to suggest that you will 'feel' God's enablement every single time and that every single time you preach something spectacular happens, but you WILL know something of what i have said; and though it may be weak like a believers assurance, we should seek after a stronger sense and reality of it, while praying for MORE!
I'd suspect that a proper examination would only humble a preacher if he did get discouraged and that humbling might very well be the best thing he needs (to be shattered). Yet God in His grace would strengthen that Preacher and send him out once again! I'm saying this with this thought in mind:
Martyn Lloyd-Jones said this in Preaching and Preachers:
It was Mr. Spurgeon, I believe, who used to say to young men--'If you can do anything else do it. If you can stay out of the ministry, stay out of the ministry.' I would certainly say that without hesistation whatsoever. I would say that the only man who is called to preach is the man who cannot do anything else, in the sense that he is not satisfied with anything else. This call to preach is so put upon him, and such pressure comes to bear upon him that he says, 'I can do nothing else, I must preach."


Mark Hollingsworth

That was a great post. I think you are right that unction is a major factor in the preacher's success and/or failure. E.M. Bounds in his book, "The Preacher and Prayer" hits the nail on the head when he talks about unction. (The modern title for that book is "Power Through Prayer." I don't know why the publishers changed it. It was obviously written to preachers. I talk about unction on my website and give away Bound's book.
Thanks for sharing your heart about it.

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