Monday 25 April 2016

The Need for Unction in Preaching

"But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and you all have knowledge" 1 John 2:20.

The King James Version of the Bible renders the word "anointing" here as "unction", which I suppose we could render the meaning as "the enabling of the Holy Spirit". With respect to preaching then, we must expect and pray for the enabling of the Holy Spirit in the act of preaching. We must pray for our ministers in their preparation, private prayer, and the delivery of the sermon, along with the right reception and hearing of the congregation, that it would be with "unction".

It is not easy to define "unction" and "unction" is not a short-cut for a minister in preparation and sound exegesis of the Bible text. But preaching is far more than preparation; preaching is not simply giving out prepared notes. Preaching is an oral event! It is persuading a congregation from the truth of the Bible. It is bringing God's authoritative message to bear upon the hearers, with the love of God, but with hopefully with "unction" also.

Dr Martyn Lloyd-Jones (MLJ) was a strong advocate on the art of preaching and its relevance for the church in every age. Do you also believe in the relevance of preaching? Do you believe in the absolute necessity for preaching? If the Lord does not raise up preachers, then we have nothing to offer really. Nothing can substitute preaching and a church cannot be built upon a weak pulpit. Yes, a church is not to be seen as a preaching station, but it is not less than that.

MLJ believed that there were three ingredients to preaching and all three are requisite for "unction" in preaching. What are they? They are:

1. The preacher
2. The congregation
3. The Holy Spirit

If the preachers are not endured with a proper sense of calling and preparation then "unction" will most likely be lacking. However, we must not underestimate what role the congregation plays in the act of preaching. Spurgeon used to talk of "having a praying people" at the Metropolitan Tabernacle in his day. A praying people are some of the best people ever to preach to; Hungry sheep who have been diligent in praying for the preacher, the act of preaching and for the fruitfulness of the Word of God upon the hearers.

Furthermore MLJ wrote in his book "Preaching and Preachers" that when a preacher is clothed with "power and authority", he will be given "clarity of thought, clarity of speech, ease of utterance, a great sense of authority and confidence". He further writes that "this unction, this anointing is the supreme thing" and he tells preachers "seek it until you have it, be content with nothing less". This is a strong exhortation for those ordained as teaching elders, those who are to lead public worship and preach, but also for all church members to pray for their ministers as well.

Paul the apostle closes his letter to the Colossians with a request for prayer; "At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak" Colossians 4:3-4.

May we all join together to pray for unction in our pulpits and congregations, for the glory of the Triune God and for the salvation of the lost.

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