Listening for Anointing
How do you all arrive at a decision to do something?
Well, in Acts 12, how did they decide to send out Barnabas and Saul? They worshipped and fasted. Did Lucius say it, or did Manean say it? We don’t know who said it or how it actually came about, but in the process together, there wasn’t a boss who said, “Okay, you two go on a ‘missionary trip.’” They would have said, “What’s a missionary?” They didn’t know what a missionary was because there was no such thing. The word is not even in the Bible. It’s in the back of your Bible, in all those pictures and maps, but the word and even the idea isn’t in the Bible per se, the way we think of it anyway.
How did they arrive at a decision in Acts 15, when they had a major doctrinal problem about circumcision? The brothers all came together. The overseers in Jerusalem were there, and some visitors were there. Paul and James—whom the Bible calls an apostle, but who was also the Lord’s half brother—were there. All these brothers were there together, and one brother said this, and Peter said that, and perhaps the guys who were in James’ party said this about circumcision, and they were fussing with it. Then Peter remembers something in the book of Amos, and then Paul testifies about how God confirmed His Word with signs following, and then James said, “You know what, brothers? It seems to me that…It seems good to us and the Holy Spirit that…”
It was brothers working together. It wasn’t just any one person making a decision. It was everyone listening together for the Voice of God. They heard these brothers talking about circumcision, and they said, “You know, I know Moses’ law as well as you do, and I see where you’re coming from, but that doesn’t really resonate with me. I don’t know…There’s something about it. Maybe it’s a spiritual Isaac we’re after, not a physical Isaac. Maybe it’s the child of the Promise we’re after, not the child of the physical lineage. Huh?” This is fifteen years after Pentecost. Acts 15 is a long time after Pentecost, and there are great and mighty Apostles of Jesus in the room, and they didn’t promote themselves as being the bosses. They were there together with the other brothers, and they were all doing one thing.
They were listening for the Lord’s Voice from the testimony and the multitude of witnesses. And when they heard the Lord’s voice together, “Oh! That’s what that verse in Amos meant. I always wondered what that meant. Ah! That’s it. This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel.” That came from a fisherman, not a scholar. He wasn’t a Hebrew scholar. He wasn’t a Pharisee or Sadducee. He was an unlearned and ignorant fisherman, but he was the first one to ever identify what Joel 2 meant, and what Acts 2 meant. “This is that which was prophesied by Joel. Here we are. We finally got it. We finally figured it out.” So he was listening for the Lord’s Voice, rather than just scholarship about it all. He was the very first one to explain Joel 2 properly, and he was a fisherman.
So, that’s how we make those decisions: brothers and sisters coming together and listening for the Lord’s Voice in it all. For example, if what we’re talking about now sounds totally unbiblical, if it doesn’t sound like the Spirit of Jesus, the personality of Jesus, and the Ways or the Mind of God, these things about laying down our life for each other, “Nah, Jesus didn’t do that, this is crazy. I think we just need to attend something on Sunday.” Then throw us out, because you are under no obligation and don’t want to listen to anything that isn’t of the Lord.
We’re here together to hear the Lord’s Voice. We’re talking about this right now, and right now I’m mainly verbalizing it, like when Paul and Barnabas were running around together. Later on Paul did most of the verbalizing, when Silas was with him. It doesn’t really matter. The point is, we’re here to hear the Voice of God together and by the time we’re ready to quit today, the most important things might be said by one of the children. We don’t know that. We’re here to hear the Lord’s Voice together, and maybe we need correction, and maybe we’re offering gifts to you across the continental lines that you can then participate in and that will change your life. Maybe it will go the other way, or most likely it will go both ways.
This isn’t a seminar or a conference. We are brothers who are here together being brothers, sharing whatever gifts we have, and it comes out as it comes out. When the church is together, I can sit there totally silent for hours and never say a word. And no one expects me to, because we’re hearing the Lord’s Voice from other people. For example, at a recent baptism of a new convert, we were there for ninety minutes. It was a joyful time with a number of people offering encouragements and teaching. In that ninety minutes I said exactly two words. I said, “Amen”—twice. And though I could have said more, no one expected me to.
I might be learning, taking notes, and never say a word for hours. Now, if someone said something that touched on what my gift is, I might have something to say for a few minutes about it because now God’s called me to say something that He’s put in my heart. I’m not the boss, speaker, teacher, decision maker, or meeting director. Everybody in Indianapolis knows I’m not the boss. No one thinks of me as the boss. I’m a brother. I have a gift. There are things I do.
There are probably not a lot of people in Indianapolis who can do this traveling and interacting, this multi-background, multi-country kind of Work. This is a building gift that’s an intercontinental building sort of thing that not everyone is even supposed to do. But there are a lot of people who have a lot of gifts that do a lot of other things much better than I do, and I totally submit to them because it is the Jesus in them that I submit to. In an area of anointing that they have, we submit to that anointing because that is Jesus that we are submitting to. There’s no boss but Jesus. He’s the head.
The anointing that’s on different people in different settings, whether it’s teaching, encouragement, or mercy, those are all parts of Jesus, and we submit to that Jesus in them as if we are just a baby. And then we do our part too, because that’s our gift. And it might be a shepherd or a teacher that the Body of Christ needs. If you start dispersing everybody in little groups and they don’t have those gifts, they just have assigned people, they’re going to suffer because you’re not around them with your gift. So maybe it’s not a good idea to rob them of the gift that they need by dispersing them into situations where that gift is not available anymore.