July 2010

How do we receive?


Theme: Anointing – necessary or nice to have?

Acts 8:17 ‘Then Peter and John placed their hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.’
My wife, Pat, and I became disciples of the Lord Jesus at roughly the same time. Some lovely people from the Assemblies of God took us in hand. First they instructed us in the need for water baptism and we complied. Next, the pastor invited us to attend a teaching on the ‘baptism of the Holy Spirit’. It was at his house and it turned out that we were the only uninitiated people there. After an extended Bible study, the pastor asked us if we would like to receive the laying on of hands for the baptism in the Spirit. “Yes please” we responded and immediately the whole crowd present surrounded the couch upon which we sat and ‘laid hands’ on us. Ten or so pairs of hands on your head can be pretty heavy you know but we tried to stay focused. Much praying, much instruction to “Just open your mouth and drink it in”, much praying loudly in tongues by those ministering and… nothing!
When we got home that night Pat and I looked at each other tearfully. “Doesn’t God love us?” we asked. “Aren’t we good enough?” “Why didn’t we receive?” When I look back at it now, I think the main problem was in the formula sort of approach the folk took that night. Do this, that, and the other in the prescribed order and the result is guaranteed. We were quite overwhelmed, not by the Holy Spirit, but by the process and the weight of ministers around us. But, God doesn’t treat us as units in a prescribed process, but as individual and dearly loved children. In due course we did receive spiritual anointing, but not on that particular occasion.

Physical contact, laying on of hands, is a biblically valid means of imparting and receiving (See also Acts 19:6). However, there are other ways by which we can receive anointing. For instance Acts 4:31 records how the anointing came as a response to group prayer, and Acts 10:44 as a response to the preaching of the Word.

We should not attempt to ‘plug in’ or to prescribe the way in which God ministers, but we should ask so that we can receive. When last did you ask?


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From whom do we receive anointing?

Theme: Anointing – necessary or nice to have?

Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The visiting ‘man of God’ stood on the platform, raised his right arm high into the air, and announced, “Just plug into the Holy Spirit and receive the anointing”. 

This was his dramatic conclusion to a sermon on how we can receive power at will for whatever we need. During the fifty minutes or so of his high-energy presentation, he referred constantly to the Holy Spirit as ‘it’ as he tried hard to convince us that we are in control.

For starters, the Holy Spirit is a personage, the third person of the Holy Trinity; so he is not an it (gender of course isn’t the issue here). Secondly, the Holy Spirit is sovereign, not us. We can ask, as of course we are encouraged to do, but we can neither demand or assume that what we ask for is constantly on tap. The Holy Spirit is the source of spiritual energy, the anointing, and he gives this, at his discretion, to those who ask. He is not some sort of divine wall plug! We can’t just plug into him and get charged up whenever we will! We ask and he gives.

Jesus said this; “If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!” (Luke 11:13). Note the dynamics of this transaction – giving in response to asking. He gives at his discretion and he gives what only he can give, anointing power. In my view, and understanding of scripture, a human being can store spiritual energy but cannot create it. Only God is the creator and we are the fortunate and blessed recipients.

Of course the other erroneous extreme is not to ask at all. We desperately need the anointing of the Holy Spirit if we are to live the kind of life God requires of us and if we are to be effective in any area of ministry. However, although God knows we need it, he doesn’t assume we want it. So we need to ask. In fact we need to ask and ask again; I don’t believe that receiving the Spirit is a one off thing… but I will comment on this in a later posting.

From whom do we receive anointing? Read More »

What is the anointing we receive?

Theme: Anointing – necessary or nice to have?
Acts 10:38 ‘…how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how he went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil, because God was with him. 
Several years ago a friend and fellow Christian leader became sick and disheartened. His ministry was failing and to make matters even worse, his wife left him. I got a call to say that he was at a mutual friend’s house in a very poor state. I immediately set off and as soon as I arrived, went into the room where he was, together with our other Christian friends. He was lying in bed with the sheet pulled up to his chin, white and trembling, and he could hardly manage to greet us. We sat next to his bed with our hands touching his arm and remained silent for a while. We didn’t pray aloud at that time but after a while we started to talk to him, encouraging him and speaking words of life and hope. Soon he started to respond verbally. Then, a little while later, he sat up and engaged us with more animation. After a about half an hour, he sung his legs off the bed, stood up and began to dress.
What had happened in that room? I can’t honestly say in full, but I know it was more than just the power of positive words. Several spirit-filled believers gathered around a stricken brother, laid hands on him and ministered to him in the power of the Holy Spirit. Somehow the anointing that was on us passed into him, and he was strengthened and animated as a result. This should not surprise us. Jesus was ‘full of the Holy Spirit’ (Luke 4:1) and when He ministered to people power went out from Him and healed them (Luke 8:46). Then, when He sent His disciples out, He gave them the power to heal (Luke 9:1). So should we not expect the same when we go out in His name to minister to others? I think we should.
Anointing is not a word used to describe a religious ritual; it is the reality of the power of the Holy Spirit, which He gives to believers so that we can live and minister powerfully.

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Our Need of Anointing

Theme: Anointing: Necessary or nice to have?

I became a disciple of the Lord Jesus at the age of 30. My first church experience was in a Pentecostal assembly whose leaders soon instructed my wife and I on the necessity of being ‘baptised in the Holy Spirit’. As a fresh and excited new believer I took every opportunity of speaking about the new spirit-filled life in Christ. I remember a long conversation I had with my mother. She was an old school Methodist who was suspicious of ‘born again’ believers, a little condescending of ‘happy clapies’, and traditional in her ideas of worship and church life. “But mom”, I remember protesting “you need to be baptised in the Holy Spirit!” She arched one eyebrow and explained patiently how long she had been a Christian, what she had done in the church, and how she felt no need to be a ‘Pentecostal’. I could see I was getting nowhere so changed tack by asking her when she had been ‘born again’ – another ill-chosen expression. “Oh” she said, “I came to know Jesus as my saviour at a very early age.” Then she paused and reflected for a moment before adding, “But it was much later that I realised my need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit.”
That was a good lesson for me. It doesn’t so much matter what terms we use, but rather that we experience the reality we are seeking to describe. ‘Baptism in, by, or with the Holy Spirit’ are just words we use to express our acknowledgement that we need to be empowered by the Holy Spirit for life and ministry. The word ‘baptism’ is best applied to immersion in water, and so ‘filled’ by and with the Holy Spirit is probably a better word to describe the ‘Pentecostal’ reality.

When Jesus was baptised in the Jordan River the Holy Spirit came upon Him and ‘anointed’ Him. The Holy Spirit filled Jesus with spiritual power. The word ‘anointing’ well describes this empowering. In Old Testament times Priests and Prophets were anointed with oil to symbolise their Spirit-empowered ministry. However, Jesus’ injunction to His first disciples was to wait in Jerusalem until they had been ‘clothed with power from on high’ (Luke 24:49). And we, no less than those first disciples, need to be clothed with power from on high. We need the in-filling of the Holy Spirit. We need the anointing.

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About Me

My name is Christopher Peppler and I was born in Cape Town, South Africa in 1947. While working in the financial sector I achieved a number of business qualifications from the Institute of Bankers, Damelin Management School, and The University of the Witwatersrand Business School. After over 20 years as a banker, I followed God’s calling and joined the ministry full time. After becoming a pastor of what is now a quite considerable church, I  earned an undergraduate theological qualification from the Baptist Theological College of Southern Africa and post-graduate degrees from two United States institutions. I was also awarded the Doctor of Theology in Systematic Theology from the University of Zululand in 2000.

Four years before that I established the South African Theological Seminary (SATS), which today is represented in over 70 countries and has more than 2 500 active students enrolled with it. I presently play an role supervising Masters and Doctoral students.

I am a passionate champion of the Christocentric or Christ-centred Principle, an approach to biblical interpretation and theological construction that emphasises the centrality of Jesus

I have been happily married to Patricia since the age of 20, have two children, Lance and Karen, a daughter-in-law Tracey, and granddaughters Jessica and Kirsten. I have now retired from both church and seminary leadership and devote my time to writing, discipling, and the classical guitar.

If you would like to read my testimony to Jesus then click HERE.