(About the Gift of Faith and God's Anointing)
Question: How can you operate in the gift of faith? How can you increase the anointing upon your life and ministry?
Answer: Thanks for the interesting questions. Faith in God is certainly important. We can’t hope to please Him, or live for Him, without it (Heb. 11:6). Of course, all born again believers exercised saving faith, or they wouldn’t be saved (Jn. 3:16; Acts 16:31). And all Christians have what we might call living faith (or behavioral faith)–the faith needed to go on living for Christ, trusting Him for our daily walk (II Cor. 5:7; Gal. 2:20; I Pet. 1:8; 5:8-9).
All believers “walk by faith,” but not all of us do so as confidently and consistently as we should. There are a number of things God can use to strengthen our faith. Among them:
1) The BibleMost basically, we need to continue our regular study of and meditation on His Word (Ps. 1:1-3; Rom. 10:17; 15:4). There we read of others who trusted God, and of how He helped them. We also learn more about the Lord, and His faithfulness (cf. Ps. 22:1-5)
2) Prayer We can also ask the Lord to strengthen our faith (Mk. 9:24). Keep in mind, though, that the Lord may answer this prayer by taking us through some trying times. Faith doesn’t grow in a vacuum. It grows as we experience the challenges and trials of life when, recognizing our own weakness, we reach out to God.
3) The Trials of Life Perhaps we can compare faith to a muscle in our bodies. As it is exercised, it grows stronger. And our faith will grow, likewise, as we trust God day by day, for big things and small, and see Him work in answer to our prayers.
4) Christian Friends Another means God uses to encourage faith is Christian fellowship (Heb. 10:23-25). Believers can be a great encouragement to one another in their Christian walk. The old illustration makes a point. Take a glowing coal out of a fire, and sit it by itself, and it will soon grow cold. In the same way, faith will grow stronger as we meet regularly with others.
5) Keeping a Record It may also help to keep a prayer journal, in which we list our requests, and then go back later and jot down how the Lord answered. Someone has said there are four kinds of answers to prayer: go, slow, grow, and no.
GO - We receive what was requested, and can move forward.
SLOW - We will receive what we asked for later, but not quite yet. It may be a perfectly good thing, but it’s not God’s time.
GROW - We aren’t ready, yet, to know exactly what we need, or handle properly what was requested. We need to mature further in our walk with the Lord, before the answer can come.
NO - Like a loving parent, the Lord knows what is asked for would not be good for us, and so He does not grant it.
6) Confession of Sin Since harbouring sin in our lives can cripple faith, and hinder the work of God in and through us, it’s important, as the Spirit of God convicts us, that we confess every known sin, claiming God’s forgiveness (I Jn. 1:9). How can we expect the Lord to answer prayer when, in effect, we reach out one hand to receive His blessing, while shaking our fist at Him rebelliously, with the other (cf. Ps. 66:18)
All of these things relate to each of us, as Christians. But as to the gift of faith, that’s something different. It’s a special endowment of God that not every believer has. Many of the spiritual gifts are like that. For example, all are to witness to their faith, but not all have the special gift of evangelism. Further, I see no evidence in Scripture that one can request and receive the gift of faith, or any of the other spiritual gifts.
The Spirit of God distributes these gifts “to each one individually as He wills” (I Cor. 12:11). God acts in these matters “as He pleases” (vs. 18). The whole point of Paul’s “body” illustration, in First Corinthians 12, is that we each have our own gift (or a complex of gifts). Each gift is sovereignly given, in order to benefit the body of Christ. The local church functions as it should when each gifted member does what God has enabled him or her to do.
We are each responsible to exercise the faith we have. For a bit more on the subject of faith, and the distinction of the gift of faith, you can check out an article I posted some time ago, under
Gift of Faith.
But I want to say a word about the “anointing” to which you refer.
GOD'S ANOINTING Anointing with oil was a common custom in ancient times. Sometimes it had a medicinal purpose, other times, a ceremonial one. Objects in the tabernacle of Israel were anointed to signify that they were set apart for a unique and holy purpose. Individuals who were to serve in the tabernacle were likewise anointed, indicating they were set apart for this ministry (Exod. 30:25-30).
Prophets, priests and kings were anointed, in Old Testament times, and their anointing was often accompanied by the Holy Spirit equipping them for their particular ministry (I Sam. 16:13; cf. Isa. 61:1). On this side of the cross (and on this side of Pentecost) there is a difference. At the moment he or she is saved, each believer becomes a priest of God (I Pet. 2:5, 9), and is permanently indwelt by the Holy Spirit (I Cor. 6:19; Eph. 1:13). That indwelling is his or her spiritual “anointing” (II Cor. 1:21-22; I Jn. 2:20, 27).
There is no instance in the New Testament of a person asking for the Spirit’s anointing, or trying to somehow increase His anointing. When the Spirit of God is present, He is fully present. He doesn’t portion Himself out it bits and pieces. Being a children of God, His saints, means we are one of His anointed ones.
I know the word “anointing” is used by some of special empowerings for service. All I’m saying here is that the Bible doesn’t seem to use the word that way, at least, not after Pentecost, and we have to be cautious when we move beyond the Word of God.
That is not to say we can’t ask for God’s help. If we need wisdom and guidance, for instance, we are to ask Him for it (Jas. 1:5). God will give us whatever we need to accomplish His will (I Jn. 5:14) and bring glory to Him (Jn. 14:13), When persecution began in the early church, the Christians asked for boldness to continue sharing the gospel (Acts 4:29), and God gave it. “They were all filled with the Holy Spirit, and they spoke the word of God with boldness” (vs. 31).
Interesting word, that! “Filled.” It has another meaning too, which is very significant relative to our discussion. It also means fulfilled. To be filled with the Spirit is to be equipped to fulfil the will of God, and bring glory to Him. When we “walk in the Spirit” (Gal. 5:16, 25), dependent on God and submissive to His will, He fulfils God’s purpose through us.
I hope these few thoughts will be of help to you.