Marks of an Anointed Ministry

Sept. 25, 2015 Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth

Session Transcript

Nancy DeMoss Wolgemuth: We've looked at "Personal Preparation: The Importance of An Anointed Life," and now we're looking at "Powerful Presentation" as we communicate God's Word, believing Him for anointed lips.

And under that major heading, we talked about the importance of cultivating and communicating a sense of reverential awe for the Word of God.

And we talked about consciously seeking and relying on the power of the Holy Spirit and crying out to God for fresh oil. I do that over and over and over again. I say, "Lord, I am weak, but You are strong. Come anoint me with the power of Your Holy Spirit."

And we showed a lot of Old Testament and New Testament biblical examples of the anointing with oil, what that symbolized. It symbolizes an inner work of the Spirit, empowering and enabling us to do what we could not do apart from Him.

So now I want to move to this third point of having anointed lips and powerful proclamation as we teach. And, again, you are teaching in different settings and in different contexts, but doing what God has called you to do in the context of your home, your local church, your community. These are some things that will contribute to that anointing for which we are believing God.

Number 3: Constantly point people to Christ and the cross. Point people to Jesus and to the cross.

The apostle Paul said it this way in 2 Corinthians 4:5: "What we preach is not ourselves."

Let me just stop there. I told those who were in the first session this morning, in one of our pre-conference tracks, that I asked a friend last night, "What's the one thing you would say if you had this group of women talking about speaking the Word of God?"

She said, "Tell them it's not about you." It's not about me. It's not about us. The apostle Paul, no less than, said, "What we proclaim is not ourselves."

Rather, what do we proclaim? Who do we proclaim? Jesus as Lord. We point people to Christ. Whatever you're teaching, wherever in the Word you're teaching, whatever biblical topic you're teaching, we've got to get people to Jesus. He is life.

Paul says in 1 Corinthians 2:2, "I resolved to know nothing while I was with you except Jesus Christ and him crucified."

Now, that doesn't mean you don't teach about anything else, because we have the whole counsel of God that is so rich and so full.

One of my goals from the time I was a teenager was to be able, by the time I meet the Lord, to teach any book of the Bible in a way that would be honoring to the Lord. I'm not there. I'm still working on that. But whatever book you're teaching, the book of Leviticus, Haggai, whatever, we want to still be proclaiming Christ crucified as we see Him pictured throughout the Scripture.

There's a danger as we teach the Word of missing Jesus who is the Living Word. And Jesus addressed this with the religious leaders, the teachers of His day in the Gospel of John, chapter 5.

He said, beginning in verse 37, to these religious leaders—imagine how this went over when Jesus said: "You have never heard his voice nor seen his form, nor does his word dwell in you, [Wow!] for you do not believe the one he sent. You study the Scriptures diligently because you think that in them you have eternal life. These are the very Scriptures that testify about me, yet you refuse to come to me to have life" (vv. 37–40).

You see, knowledge about the Bible is useless if it doesn't point and draw people to Jesus. From beginning to end, all of Scripture points to Jesus. It's all about Him. The glory of the Lord will cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.

Jesus said in John 5, "If you believed Moses . . ." These people were experts in the law of Moses. If you really believed what you teach from the books of Moses, "you would believe me; for he wrote about me" (v. 46).

He was pointing to Jesus. All those Old Testament laws, all of those forms, all of those ceremonies, all of those rites, they were pointing to Christ.

Remember in Acts 8 when Philip was taken to meet the Ethiopian eunuch who was reading Isaiah's prophecy? Verse 35 tells us, "Then Philip began with that very passage of Scripture [Isaiah 53] and told him the good news about Jesus."

Get to Christ. Get to the cross. The old hymn says it this way:

Beyond the sacred page I seek Thee, Lord.

My spirit pants for Thee, O living Word.

Point them to Christ, and point them to the cross of Christ, Christ crucified. Because our Bible study and our Bible teaching is not ultimately about doing more or knowing more or trying harder or doing better. It's not about being more moral, upright people. There are people who are "moral and upright" who are going to split hell wide open because they don't know Jesus.

So our teaching and our study is about realizing that we are abject, total, utter failures, that we cannot keep this law of God that brings such conviction to our hearts, that we need a Savior, and that we have a Savior. His name is Jesus. That's the good news. And if you're teaching anything else at the heart or at the core of your teaching, you're not teaching good news. You're just helping people to become more entrenched in their lostness, or their self-righteousness, or their religiosity. But you're not giving them the gospel of Christ.

Number 4: If you want to have an anointed ministry, anointed teaching, anointed lips, communicate with a sense of fervency, earnestness, and conviction.

Here's the thing, ladies: If we don't believe that what we're saying matters, then why should the people who are listening to us believe that it matters?

Now, when I'm talking about earnestness and fervency and conviction, I'm not talking about getting up on the platform and performing and say, "I'm going to be dramatic about this."

I'm talking about something that comes from within. We talked earlier about the fire burning in your belly, burning in your heart because you have been musing, you have been meditating, you have been soaking and marinating in the Word of God, and the Spirit of God has been making it come alive in you.

I've been saying . . . I can only say this to a room full of women . . . that when I get really close to a conference or a radio recording, I get to feeling like I'm nine months pregnant with this content, with this message, like, it has to be delivered, there's a compulsion, there's a . . . this has to come out. That's that earnestness, that fervency that God builds within my heart.

I start a lot of these studies not feeling any particular love for this book or this particular study that I'm doing, but as I get into it, it gets into me. That's been happening in my heart over the last few days just about this subject of the anointing. I've taught on this before, but God's birthing it fresh in my own heart, which is why what's inside comes out as I communicate it.

And I want that to be true every time I teach the Word of God, that there's a sense of the Spirit stirring in my heart with the importance, the necessity of this message.

You say, "Every message?" Yes!

This is holy. This matters. This is important. If God said it, as we quoted earlier, Augustine, "When the Bible speaks, God speaks." And that's where we ought to take our shoes off and say, "I'm on holy ground."

I think so many times we have a ho-hum attitude about this sacred content. And I want to ask God to birth in my heart and yours a sense of fervency and earnestness, conviction, that this is critical for people to hear and believe what we're talking about.

Jesus ministered in this way. You read it in the Mark 1:22, where it says, "The people were amazed at his teaching, because he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the teachers of the law."

Now, I don't know what those scribes and Pharisees, what their teaching was like, but there was something qualitatively different when Jesus got up to teach. And I don't think it's necessarily because He spoke more loudly, or He spoke faster. I don't think it was in the pitch or the tone. I think there was an inner conviction. The work of the Holy Spirit that communicated life and passion, it throbbed. It breathed. It was fire. It communicated to them that this is something you must believe or perish.

And somehow, the teachers of the law, they were scholars, they were experts, they were erudite, they were articulate—they had all that—but apparently they didn't have the authority and the power of the Holy Spirit because they didn't have life. They didn't have the life of Christ within them.

Peter says it this way in 1 Peter 4:11: "If anyone speaks, they should do so as one who speaks the very words of God."

Now, I don't know about you, but that causes me to shake. That causes me to tremble, to realize what an awesome responsibility it is to stand up here and hold this Book and speak and open and explain the words of God. But when we speak, that's how we ought to do it.

Paul says it this way in 2 Corinthians 5: "Knowing, therefore, the terror of the Lord, we persuade men . . . For the love of Christ compels us. We implore you," he says, "on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God" (vv. 11, 14, 20).

You see, there's teaching that just lays out information, but I don't think most Christians today need a whole lot more information. If we were just living half of what we know, we'd be in the throes of revival, likely.

We need people to minister the Word, who believe that what they are saying matters, who believe that it's true, and that our lives must be staked on it.

And so Paul says, "We implore you, we plead with you, be reconciled to God." Eternity is at stake here.

Now, that doesn't mean that every time you get up to teach . . . some of you are shy, or you're more reticent, you have a different personality . . . that doesn't mean you have to talk the way I do or that I have to talk the way somebody else does. It doesn't mean every time you have a conversation that you get this intense, earnest conviction about what you're saying. But there ought to be an inner conviction that this really matters because this is the Word of the Lord.

The apostle Paul talked in Galatians 4 about being in labor and travail, the anguish of childbirth, as he ministered. That's an earnestness, a fervency.

Richard Baxter was a seventeenth century Puritan pastor—and many of the Puritans got this. Here's how he described this. He said:

Whatever you do, let the people see that you are in good earnest. You cannot break men's hearts by jesting with them or telling a smooth tale or pronouncing a gaudy oration. Men will not cast away their dearest pleasures upon a drowsy request of one that seemeth not to mean as he speaks or to care much whether his request be granted.

I wonder how much of what we're saying comes across as drowsy teaching? He's saying, "Who's going to believe that? Who's going to lay down their dearest earthly pleasures to pursue Christ, the pearl of great price, if we don't act like He is something really precious?"

Communicate with fervency, earnestness, and conviction.

Number 5: As you teach, as you communicate, consider the condition of the hearers. This is important. We could do a whole session on this, but let me just touch on it from a couple of different passages.

What I mean by this is take into consideration, as you prepare, as you pray, and as you speak, as you write, the different ways that God may be working in different people's hearts at any given time. The condition of their hearts will vary.

Within this room there are hearts with different conditions. And I'm mindful of that as I'm teaching. So there's sometimes I'm thinking about one condition of heart, sometimes I'm thinking about another.

You see this described by Jesus in the parable of the soils in Luke 8.

"A sower went out to sow his seed," Jesus told. And then he explained the seed is—what? The Word of God.

Verse 5: "And as he sowed, some fell along the path and was trampled underfoot, and the birds of the air devoured it."

Then the disciples asked Jesus, "What are you talking about?"

Jesus explained: "The ones along the path are those who have heard; then the devil comes and takes away the word from their hearts, so that they may not believe and be saved" (v. 12).

This is hard soil. It's not receptive soil, and the devil is able to come and take the Word. These people in this context are not believers at all. Their hearing of the Word is not mixed with faith. But sometimes even as believers, our hearts can be not pliable and broken and tender and sensitive as we're listening to the Word. So know that some people come in to hear you teach, and they've got hard hearts.

Verse 6, there's a second kind of soil. "Some fell on the rock, and as it grew up, it withered away, because it had no moisture.

Jesus explained: "The ones on the rock are those who, when they hear the word, receive it with joy" (v. 13).

They're like, "Wow! We're really getting this! We're enthusiastic about what you just taught!" But they have no root. So for a while they believe, but in times of testing, they fall away. So some who seem to be receiving the Word the most joyously don't have a root system, so when the going gets hard, they leave the conference, they leave your teaching, they go home and somebody criticizes them, and they fall away. They don't last.

Verse 7: "Some fell among thorns, and the thorns grew up with it and choked it."

And Jesus said: "They are those who hear, but as they go on their way they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature" (v. 14).

Know that as you're teaching people—some I'm speaking to today, my own heart often—when we leave the hearing of the Word of God, we let cares and riches and pleasures of this world choke out the seed of God's Word, and it doesn't become fruitful.

And then Jesus said, "Some fell into good soil and it grew and it yielded a hundredfold. . . . They are those who, hearing the word, hold it fast in an honest and good heart, and bear fruit with patience" (vv. 8, 15).

I love to think that everyone who listens to us teach would be that good soil, but they're not. And we need to be aware that there are different soil conditions. Jesus knew the condition of men's hearts, and He addressed them accordingly.

So we see Him being gentle with the poor and the broken who knew that they were sinners and in need of a Savior. But when He came to the proud, unbroken, stuffed-up religious ones, He didn't mince any words. He got tough with them. Right?

With His own disciples, He was sensitive to what they were able to handle. He said in John 16, "I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now" (v. 12). What's He saying? "I'm not going to dump on you a truckload of content that you're not ready to hear." Sensitivity.

The apostle Paul talks in 1 Corinthians 3, as does the writer to the Hebrews in chapter 5, about milk being for spiritual infants. There's no sin in being an infant if you're an infant. Now, if you've known Jesus for twenty years and you're still a spiritual infant who can only digest milk, there's a problem with that.

But you've got baby Christians, new Christians, young believers. They need the milk of the Word. So don't throw solid meat into a two-month-old baby's mouth. Right? Ask the Lord to give you wisdom about who you're speaking to and what their need is. Solid food, those passages tell us, is for those who are mature, who are ready to handle it.

A good doctor doesn't prescribe the same treatment for every patient. He diagnoses the individual's condition, and he determines the prescription accordingly. And that's true if we want to be good soul doctors, if we want to minister to people's spirits.

The apostle Paul addresses this in 1 Thessalonians 5. He says, "We urge you, brothers . . ." (v. 14). He's speaking here to the teaching leaders of the church. There are different kinds of people, he says, in your congregation, and you need to address them in different ways.

He says, "Admonish [or warn] those who are idle" (v. 14). Those who are unruly, disorderly, they need to be warned, admonished.

And then he says, "Encourage the fainthearted [or the discouraged], help [or support] the weak, be patient with them all" (v. 14).

So there are different needs. Ask God to help you discern the condition of people's hearts, and then, under the leadership of His Spirit, to minister the Word to different heart conditions.

Number 6: If you want to have anointed lips, concentrate on the goal—concentrate on the goal of your Bible teaching. The purpose of Bible study and Bible teaching is not just to dispense more information.

Now, we need information. There's a lot of information in this Book, and we have biblical illiteracy rampant today, even within the church. So we need the teaching. We need the information. But the goal isn't to stuff people's heads full of more information or to give them more notebooks to put on their already crowded shelves.

The goal is that they would know God, and that that knowledge of God would transform their lives from the inside out, that they would be conformed to the image of Christ, that they would become fruitful believers, not just pew sitters, not just people taking up space, tipping God in the offering. But they would become earnest, fervent disciples of Jesus, spiritual reproducers. That's the goal of our teaching.

Paul talks about this in Colossians 1—again, a text we could spend a whole session on.

But he says, "From the day we heard of your faith in Christ and your love for all the saints, we have not ceased to pray for you, and here's what we're praying: We ask that you may be, first, filled with the knowledge of His will" (v. 9, paraphrased).

That's knowledge about God.

And then he says, "In all spiritual wisdom and understanding"—not just the facts, but understanding how that knowledge of God applies to your life and to your walk with God so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing to Him."

He says, "I want you to know about God, to understand the implications of that so that it changes your life, so that you walk differently. You're conformed to the image of God, and your life is transformed."

And that's not the end. He says, "Bearing fruit in every good work" (v. 10).

We're intended to be fruitful believers.

And then "increasing in the knowledge of God" (v. 10).

It started with the knowledge of His will. Where does that lead us? To knowing God. And the more you know God, the more you want to know about Him. So you go back to the knowledge of His will and all wisdom and spiritual understanding, walking in a manner worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God—which leads you back to wanting to know more about God.

There's this ever-going cycle, continuing cycle of knowing about God, getting wisdom and understanding, then walking in a way that is pleasing to the Lord, being fruitful, and knowing God. That's where you want your teaching to take people, and your study as well.

Paul says it this way at the end of Colossians 1: "Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, [why?] that we may present everyone mature in Christ" (v. 28).

And then he says, "For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me" (v. 29).

This is not ministry for the faint of heart. This is for those who are willing to persevere, to toil, to labor, to struggle so that Christ can be formed and birthed in those that we are teaching.

And I come back to Galatians 4:19: "My little children, for whom I am again in the anguish of childbirth until Christ is formed in you!"

Won't it be an amazing thing to get to heaven and to be able to present to Christ those that we have taught the Word of Christ and say, "Lord, I give them to You. They've been sanctified. They've been conformed to the image of Christ. They love You. They know You. They've born fruit for Your glory. And, Lord, it's all for You."

We're presenting everyone. Remember that when you're dealing with that.

I was talking with a woman last night who's had a ministry of dealing with women who have been through satanic ritual abuse—a tough, tough ministry. And it's not been an easy kind of ministry, but she pours herself into those women, pours the Word into them. She's patient, laboring in childbirth until Christ be formed in them.

Number 7: Do you want to have anointed lips and ministry? Confront the will. Confront the will. What do I mean by that?

I think a lot of times we lay content on people, but we don't take it home. We don't say, "So what does God want you to do about what you just heard?"

When we first started Revive Our Hearts, our program was a quarter hour—a little bit less than that—which means I had about twelve and a half minutes. And I was used to doing conference messages—an hour, an hour-and-a-quarter, and hour and a half. I said, "What in the world can you do in twelve and a half minutes?"

And I'm always thinking on those broadcasts. Now we have the half-hour format, so I have a little bit longer to work with, but a progression. I want to prepare the heart, get the attention, get the interest. Then I want to exposit the text, lift up the Scripture, teach the Word. I want to illustrate it. I want to apply it, and then I want to confront the will. I want to take it home.

And I'm always thinking that progression as I'm in a conference, teaching, speaking, teaching the Word, on the radio. A lot of teachers never get to that last point—confronting the will, asking pointed questions that convict the conscience. "How does your life measure up to this truth? Stop and think about this."

Oswald Chambers said it this way: "What the world needs is not a little bit of love but a surgical operation. The calling of a New Testament worker is to uncover sin and to reveal Jesus Christ as Savior. Consequently, he cannot be poetical; he must be sternly surgical. We have to probe straight down as deeply as God has probed us, to be keen in sensing the Scriptures which bring the truth straight home and to apply them fearlessly."

Take it home. Make it personal.

When Jesus spoke in Matthew 21, it says, "They perceived that he was speaking about them" (v. 45).

People love to amen when we're talking about the sins of other people. [laughter] But when Jesus spoke, there was conviction. They knew He was talking about them. Do people know that you're talking about them when they hear you teach the Word?

This happened in the book of Acts repeatedly. When Peter preached on the day of Pentecost, they were pricked in their hearts.

When Stephen preached right before his martyrdom in Acts 7, they were cut to the heart.

That means we can't back off when the truth sometimes of this Word is unpalatable or it meets resistance. We have to be willing to speak words when necessary of warning, of judgment. And we can't be intimidated by the response of the people or the lack thereof.

Now, if they're responding to us being rough or rude or lacking compassion, that's one thing. But if they're reacting to the truth, then we have to not rescue them from the cross.

Our goal is not to be popular; our goal is to be true to the Word. And the success is not determined by how people respond but by the faithful delivery of the message to the heart of the people.

That means we have to be free from the love of the praise of men or need for approval of others. And it's such, for me, an Achilles heel, and for many of us as speakers, to want to be affirmed. "How did I do? How did it go? What did you think?"

Now, we wouldn't say that, but that's been something God has had to put the ax to the root of in my heart again and again and again over the years, to say, "It doesn't really matter. What matters is: Was Christ glorified? Did people come under conviction by the Holy Spirit?" Not me putting them under conviction, but the truth putting them under conviction.

And did I give time and room and space for the Word to settle into their hearts?

This is why I have such an issue with this—I'm going to step on some toes here—this modern-day thing that everything has to be, like, nine minutes or less. Because we have pea-sized brains and attention spans. But I find that it sometimes takes longer. You say, "These services are so long!"

Okay, physically, we have limits. I get that. But I think sometimes our church services are so by the clock, so by the minute, so by what we think the shortest attention span in the room can stand that we get it done, get out of there, and just about the time the Holy Spirit decides to show up, the only person left is the janitor. Right? [laughter]

Sometimes it just takes time away from the TV, away from our phones, away from YouTube to listen and to settle in and let the truth convict and confront our wills.

I mentioned to you earlier today, E.M. Bounds' book Powerful and Prayerful Pulpits. He says, "True preaching, true teaching of the Word lays the heart and the conscience bare and reveals sins as they will be exposed naked in the day of judgment."

I don't want the people who listened to me or read my books to get to judgment day, and they sat under my ministry for years, and they never got exposed by the Spirit of God for what was in their hearts, and they're not ready to give account on judgment day. I'd rather create some discomfort now, this side of the judgment, so there can be repentance, brokenness, confession, breathing in grace. And they stand before Christ, ready to face Him without fear.

Number 8—two more here. If you want to have an anointed ministry, call for a response. Call for a response, a decision, an action, some kind of response. Always teach for response, not just to transmit information. Information has to lead to transformation.

And I believe that every time we're exposed to a truth in God's Word, whether it's in our quiet time, it's in a Sunday morning worship service, it's in a conference like this, every time we're exposed to truth, I believe that a personal response is required.

I've been to conferences, and sometimes we fall into this ourselves. What happens, you get to conferences where it's wall-to-wall speaking, and we don't prepare hearts, we don't follow up on messages. And what happens is people are left in that Luke 8 condition where they wear a path on the soil of their hearts because they've walked over. They've been hearers but not doers again and again and again and again. And finally the soil gets packed down hard and the seed just bounces off.

And that happens to people who are sitting in our churches today week after week because we're not calling for a response.

James 1 says, "If you listen but you don't do something about it, you are self-deceived" (v. 22, paraphrased).

There's a danger of aborting the birthing process in people's lives by just laying content on them without asking them to do something about it—however the Spirit directs them. It needs to be appropriate, gospel-oriented, grace-induced, Spirit-led responses, in whatever way the Spirit may be working in their hearts.

And that will differ from person to person, from message to message. The response is not always the same for every hearer. Sometimes the response is just simple affirmation. Agree with what God has said. Affirm it to be true. Say, "Amen," in your heart. That may be the response.

Sometimes the response is submission. Wave the white flag of surrender. Say, "Yes, Lord."

Sometimes the response is exaltation—to celebrate and rejoice in what God has said to us, what He's revealed about Himself through His Word.

Sometimes the response is reflection, meditation, contemplation, Selah. Stop and think about this. Meditate on it. Savor it. Ponder it in your heart. Consider what implications it has for your life.

Sometimes the response is confession, repentance. Don't take the heat off of people when the Spirit of God is moving in conviction. Don't rescue them from the cross.

Now, our goal is not to put people under a pile of guilt and say, "You always need to be introspecting, seeing if there's some sin you've committed." Listen, the Holy Spirit is great at exposing what needs to be confessed. But don't move on so quickly that you miss the opportunity for people to respond to the Spirit. Take it home.

A lot of times that's missing, I think, in our teaching, our preaching. Call for a decision. Call for a response.

Now, you can't tell people what that should be, what that should look like. I like, actually, to call people to make some kind of verbal or visible or physical response. I often will encourage people in our audiences to kneel, as an expression of humility, or to stand or to pray with someone else, or to share something with someone else. Yes, that can be uncomfortable, but I think it's so important to get it out. We've just communicated it to the head, but we're saying, "Something needs to be done with what you've just heard."

Then number 9: Confidently trust the power of the Word, the power of the truth. Don't underestimate the power of the Holy Spirit working through this Word to transform lives.

Listen, to the world, this is an antiquated book that's been deconstructed. Only the feeble-minded really believe it. But I want to tell you what I know differently, and you do, too.

This Book . . . mine's marked from cover to cover with things the Lord has shown me by His Spirit.

I love reading. I read a lot of books. I've read a lot of books. But there is no other book like this Book. I want to talk tomorrow a little bit more about the power of the Word. But don't underestimate the power of God when it's unleashed in people's hearts to do what you could never do with a thousand messages apart from His Word.

Jesus said, "The words that I speak to you are Spirit, and they are life" (John 6:63).

Martin Luther said, "The Bible is alive, it speaks to me; it has feet, it runs after me; it has hands, it lays hold of me."

I love that! It's alive. Believe that it is as you're teaching it. The power of the Word. It brought the world into being. With a spoken word, creation was formed. It holds the world together. He sustains it by the Word of His power.

"He sent His Word and healed them" (Ps. 107:20).

The Word heals. It convicts. It converts (Ps. 19).

John 17: It sanctifies.

This Word is so powerful in the hands of the Holy Spirit when He wings it into the hearts of those that we're speaking to. So don't get caught up in this modern gobbledygook about all this stuff you need to give people to help them solve all their problems.

Listen, if we would really get people to the Word and open it up and teach it and illumine it to their understanding and with the power of the Holy Spirit, we would see lives transformed.

I've watched over the years as I've just tried to faithfully teach the Word of God, I've watched women's hearts melt. I've watched them change. I've watched them grow. I've watched them flourish. This has happened to me, in my own heart, under the consistent, faithful, anointed ministry of the Word.

I think we have, as Jen said earlier, a crisis of confidence about the power of the Word.

In a sermon of Charles Spurgeon's about the miracle of the earth quaking after the resurrection of Christ, he said something that I think has bearing on what we're talking about here. He said, "We say of ourselves: How should we ever move the world?"

How can we help these people, these women who have such baggage, such issues? They're coming out of such difficult, dysfunctional backgrounds. They're in such tough marriages. They've been abused. They've been wounded. They've been bruised. How can we help them?

"How should we ever move the world? The apostles did not ask that question. They had confidence in the gospel, which they preached. The apostles believed in shaking the world with the simple preaching of the gospel. I entreat you," he said, "to believe the same."

A number of years ago I read a story by John MacArthur in his book Our Sufficiency in Christ. It's a powerful illustration of the power of the Word. I want to close this message by reading that story to you. He said:

Not long ago, a man I had never met before walked into my office and said, "I need help. I feel strange coming to you because I'm not even a Christian. I'm Jewish. Until a few years ago, I had never even been in a church. But I need help from someone. So I decided to talk to you."

I assured him that I would do my best to help him. I asked him to sit down and explain what was troubling him. The conversation went something like this:

He said, "I've been divorced twice. Now I'm living with a woman who's my lover. I don't even like her, but I haven't got the courage to leave her and go back to my second wife. I'm a medical doctor. Worse, I'm an abortionist. I kill babies for a living. Last year in my clinic, we did $9 million dollars' worth of abortions. I don't do only therapeutic abortions. I do abortions for any reason. If a woman doesn't have a reason, I give her a reason.

"Six weeks ago," the doctor said, "I came to Grace Community Church on a Sunday morning. I've been coming every week since. Last week you preached a message called 'Delivered to Satan.' If there was ever anyone on earth who was delivered to Satan, it's me. I know I'm doomed to hell because of what I've done. I'm absolutely miserable and unhappy."

Now, do you see the work of the Spirit in all of this? John MacArthur hadn't done anything yet. The Spirit had been preparing and drawing this man, just like He's preparing and drawing people who are coming to your class next week.

"I'm continually seeing a psychoanalyst, and I'm not getting any help at all. I can't stand the guilt of all this. I don't know what to do about it. Can you help me?"

I said to him, "No. I can't help you."

He looked at me startled. Sheer desperation was evident in his face. I let it sink in. Then I said, "But I know Someone who can help you—Jesus Christ."

He said, sadly, "But I don't know who He is. I've been taught all my life not to believe in Him."

I said, "Would you like to know who Jesus Christ is?"

He said, "I would if He can help me."

"Here's what I want you to do." I reached over and took a Bible off my desk and opened it to the Gospel of John. I said, "I want you to take this Book home and read this part called the Gospel of John. I want you to keep reading until you know who Jesus Christ is, then call me again."

Later that week I was recounting the incident to the pastor of another church. He said, "Is that all you gave him? Just the Gospel of John? Why didn't you give him some help, some messages to listen to, some questions to answer—something? Just the Bible?"

I said, "Don't worry. The Bible is like a light. You don't need to defend it. Just open the door and let it out. It will take care of itself. If his heart is open at all, the Bible can do more to reach him than I could possibly do with reams of other study material. What could I possibly give him that's more powerful than Scripture itself?"

The next Friday I received a telephone call. The doctor wanted to see me again. We made an appointment. He showed up precisely on time. He came into the office, walked past me as if I weren't there, sat on the couch, dropped the Bible beside him, and said, "I know who He is."

I said, "You do?"

He said, "Yes, I do."

"Who is He?" I asked.

"I'll tell you one thing, He's not just a man."

I said, "Really? Who is He?"

"He's God!" he said with finality.

I said, "You, a Jew, are telling me that Jesus Christ is God?" I asked, "How do you know that?"

He said, "It's clear. It's right there in the Gospel of John. Look at the words He said. Look at the things He did. No one could say and do those things unless He was God."

He was echoing the apostle John's thesis perfectly. I nodded enthusiastically. He was on a roll.

"Do you know what else He did? He arose from the dead. They buried Him, and three days later He came back from the dead. That proves He's God, doesn't it? God Himself came into this world."

I asked him, "Do you know why He came?"

He said, "Yes, I do. He came to die for my sins."

"How do you know that?" I asked.

"Because I liked John so well, I read Romans. [laughter] And as soon as I clean up my life, I'm going to become a Christian." [laughter]

I said, "That's the wrong approach. Receive Him as your Lord and Savior now, and let Him clean up your life."

Then I asked the man, "What would such a decision mean in your career?"

"Well," he said, "I spent this afternoon writing my resignation letter to the abortion clinic. When I get out of here, I'm going to call my second wife and bring her to church with me." And he did.

Dr. MacArthur concluded by saying, "'Is not My Word like a fire,'" says the LORD. "'And like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces?'" (Jer. 23:29).

The Word of God is alive, Hebrews tells us. It's powerful. It's "sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (4:12).

Have confidence in the power of the truth, the power of the Word of God.

Ladies, it doesn't depend on us at all. It's His power. His Word. His truth.

I'm jealous for you, and for myself, to experience the divine anointing. Not something mystical. Not something emotional. But by faith, to receive day after day, task after task, fresh oil, the anointing of the Holy Spirit.

I have a pastor friend who sent me an email a number of years ago. For a long time, I forwarded it back to myself about once a month because I wanted to re-read it, be reminded of it. He shared it with me, and I share it as my burden for you. He said:

I carry a burden for the unction of God to rest on you. Please don't ever take it for granted. That is the power that cuts through to the heart of the matter. I know such unction comes by God's grace, but through a high price. That price is worth it in light of the need and eternity.

Don't let your ministry go stale. Don't let it become a program or a formula. Realize that it is always Christ who is the answer and the need of women and men alike. Take people to Christ. See every program, every page of every book, every interview, every conversation as an opportunity to lead people into His presence, for that is what we need.

The evaluation of everything in your ministry should be: Was God there? Did people experience an encounter with the God of the universe? Was He pleased to come? Did I recede so that He could be clearly seen and experienced?

I leave you with those questions, and I'd like us to just take a few moments here to respond to the Lord. And our pastor, Dr. Mason, this evening . . . our pastor for the evening . . . is going to lead us in a more corporate time of response at the end of his message.

But before Lauren leads us in a time of musical response and reflection, I wonder if you would take a few moments. . .you may want to slip to your knees, just make an altar of the chair where you're sitting, if you're physically able, if you have the desire. You may want to stand.

You may want to walk down one of these aisles. For a few moments here, we're going to take about three or four minutes, and maybe take your notes with you, look at these points we've talked about today on the divine anointing, the unction.

Maybe it's Jen's message, something the Lord spoke to you about about words in her message today.

But I want, before we hear one more message—which we need to hear; I'm eager to hear what God has to say to us through His servant Dr. Mason. But before we do that, I want you to just say, "Lord, I'm here to say, 'Yes,' to something He spoke to you about since we started this afternoon.

Respond to Him. Whatever physical posture . . . some of you may want to slip out to the prayer room and say, "I need somebody to pray for me." You may want to take the person by the hand who's seated next to you or near you and say, "I need somebody to pray for me. Would you pray for me?" Or "Can I pray for you?"

Just however you're prompted in these next few moments, let's process, respond.

Oh, Father, how I thank You for the beauty and the wonder of Your Word and Your ways. We love You. We love Your gospel. We're so thankful to be called and set apart, consecrated to serve You. There is no higher calling.

Thank You, Lord, for how You've been ministering Your truth and Your Word to our hearts. I want to pray over these women, that there would be from this day forth, faith to believe You for unction, a divine anointing of the Spirit of God, by faith we receive that. And we ask that our ministries would be different, filled with Jesus because of what You've shown us.