The Filling and the Anointing of the Holy Spirit
October 25th, 1981 @ 8:15 AM
Dr. W. A. Criswell
Zechariah 4:1-6, 11-14
10-25-81 8:15 a.m.
And it is a gladness for us in the First Baptist Church of Dallas to welcome the multitudes of you who are listening to this hour on KCBI, the Sonshine Station of our Center of Biblical Studies. This is the pastor of the church bringing the message, one in a series on the “Great Doctrines of the Bible.” The series has been divided up into fifteen parts; and we are in the part of pneumatology, the doctrine of the Holy Spirit. The title of the message today is The Filling and the Anointing of the Holy Spirit.
Next to the last book of the Old Testament is Zechariah; turn to Zechariah. Next to the last book, Zechariah, then Malachi closes the Old Testament; Zechariah chapter 4. The Book of Zechariah, the prophet Zechariah, chapter 4:
And the angel that talked with me came again, and waked me, as a man that is wakened out of his sleep,
And he said unto me, What seest thou? And I said, I have looked, and behold a lampstand all of gold, with a bowl upon the top of it, and his seven lamps thereon, and seven pipes to the seven lamps, which are upon the top thereof:
And two olive trees by it, one upon the right side of the bowl, and the other upon the left side thereof.
So I answered and spake to the angel that talked with me, saying, What are these, my lord?
Then the angel that talked with me answered and said, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Then he answered and spake unto me, saying, This is the word of the Lord unto Zerubbabel, saying, Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts.
Then answered I, and said unto him, What are these two olive trees upon the right side of the lampstand and upon the left side thereof?
And I answered again, and said unto him, What be these two olive branches which through the two golden pipes empty the golden oil out of themselves?
And he answered and said unto me, Knowest thou not what these be? And I said, No, my lord.
Then said he, These are the two anointed ones—
that is Joshua, the high priest, and Zerubbabel, the civic leader of the land—
These are the two anointed ones, that stand by the Lord of the whole earth.
Nobody could read a vision like that and not be impressed by it. In the temple, in the sanctuary, that seven-branched lampstand, and the golden pipes leading to the lamps that burn, and an inexhaustible, immeasurable supply of oil, the two olive trees pouring forth their golden gift into the shining for the Lord.
Israel is a land of the olive tree; they grow everywhere. In the garden of Gethsemane, they will tell you that these are the olive trees under which Jesus bowed when He prayed His agonizing prayer [Luke 22:41-44]. If you come back from the country of Israel, doubtless you’ll bring back a Bible, and the cover is made of olive wood, or you will bring back little figurines and figures carved out of olive wood. The olive is used in every conceivable way. It is for food, it is for medicine, and in the Scriptures, of course, it was a part of the offering to God, it was a part of the worship of the Lord.
Now, in the vision that we just read, historically it refers to the ableness of God given to Joshua the high priest, and to Zerubbabel, the governor of the land, in their rebuilding the temple and in their reconstruction of the destroyed nation. These are the two “anointed ones” that stand before the Lord [Zechariah 4:14]. Prophetically, the vision describes the two witnesses in the eleventh chapter of the Revelation, in the midst of the tribulation:
I will give power unto My two witnesses, and they shall prophesy a thousand two hundred and threescore days in sackcloth.
These are the two olive trees, and the two lampstands standing before the God of earth…
And after three days and a half, when they were slain, the spirit of life from God entered into them, and they stood upon their feet…
And they heard a great voice from heaven saying unto them, Come up hither. And they ascended up to heaven in a cloud; in the shekinah glory of God.
Prophetically, it forecasts the witness of these two who shine and flame for God.
Typically and emblematically, the vision refers to the dependence of man who does God’s work upon the enablement and the Spirit of Jehovah to help him achieve it. It is a call of change from the center of power, ableness in man, to the center of the power and enablement in God. It is like Galileo, who with his telescope affirmed that the center of the creation is not the earth but the sun. The sun doesn’t revolve around the earth, but the earth revolves around the sun. So this vision in emblem and in type is a call of change in the center of our source of ableness and power from ourselves to God. And the vision is in keeping with the whole revelation of the Lord. “Not by power, not by might, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” [Zechariah 4:6].
Out of a thousand illustrations of that vision and the lesson God would press upon our hearts is the story of Gideon. There were thirty-two thousand that answered the call of Gideon. And the Lord said to him, “They be too many.” Thirty-two thousand, as little as that was against the hosts of the Midianites, still, “They are too many. Ask all who are afraid to return home.” And twenty-two thousand went home [Judges 7:3]. And when God looked at the ten thousand that remained, He said to Gideon, “There are too many.” And he took them down to the brook to drink, and those that lapped up the water with their hands, they were chosen [Judges 7:4-8]; three hundred against thousands, uncounted multitudes of Midianites, because God said, “They are to know that it is the Lord that gives the victory” [Judges 7:1-7]. Three hundred with Gideon; the center of change from man to God.
What the wing is to the bird, what feet are to the deer, what breath is to the body, what an engine is to the car, what electricity is to the dynamo, the Spirit of God is to us who seek to do God’s work in the earth. We are dependent for enablement upon Him. “Not by might, nor by power, but by My Spirit, saith the Lord of hosts” [Zechariah 4:6].
Then, ultimately also, the vision concerns the outpouring, the filling of the Holy Spirit into this earth and into God’s people at Pentecost [Acts 2:1-21]. The vision here is one of an inexhaustible, measureless supply. So God said to His Son in John 3:34, “God giveth not the Spirit unto Him by measure.” There is no limit, there is no exhaustion, there is no depletion of the ableness of God. He pours out the Spirit in inexhaustible supply [John 3:34].
Another thing in the vision brought to pass for our age and our dispensation: it is a continuous, unfailing flowing out; the two trees on either side, through those golden pipes pouring their oil into the lamps that burn for God [Zechariah 4:11-12]. There is no stopping; it is a continuous supply. As the Lord said to His disciples in John [14:16], “I am sending the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit, that He may abide with you forever.” There is no reluctance on God’s part in the work. The only stubbornness is found in our unyielded spirit. God is willing, and God is mighty to work with us in all of the assignments He has laid upon us. There is power immeasurable, inexhaustible, and continuous for our work. It’s just because of our selfish, stubborn, unyielded, non-surrenderedness that make it hard for God’s work to be done triumphantly in the earth.
I think of Jacob, whose name means “Supplanter, Deceiver,” Jacob, holding on to the heel of his brother Esau when he was born, a supplanter, a deceiver, a cheater, Jacob [Genesis 25:25-26]. And at Peniel the Angel of God wrestled with him, and Jacob wrestled with the Angel of God. And when the Angel saw that He did not prevail, He touched Jacob’s thigh; and from then on, when Jacob walked he limped. He was crippled. And broken and crushed, he cried, saying, “Do not leave me thus; bless me.” And God said in the blessing, “No longer will you be called Jacob, a deceiver, a supplanter, a cheater; but your name now is to be called Israel, the prince of God” [Genesis 32:24-31]. There is no measure, there is no exhaustion to the power of God to work with us and to help us; it is just we are so ofttimes so unyielded and so un-surrendered.
Do you notice, following the vision, pouring out the filling at Pentecost, do you notice its marvelous effects? [Acts 2]. The effect upon the apostles, the disciples: why, just a few days before they were ambitious, selfishly so. I don’t know of anything that I’ve ever read in literature that ever gave to me a picture of humanity as when the Lord instituted the memorial supper. When you look at a harmony, the story accounted by all four of the evangelists, when you read it in a harmony, they were quarreling up there in that upper room, quarreling over who would be greatest in the kingdom of God [Luke 22:24]. And it was occasioned by the seating at the Lord’s table. Who is going to be on His right hand? And who is going to be on His left hand? And who is going to be next to the great King Himself? [Mark 10:37]. Selfish, ambitious; but after the outpouring of the Spirit [Acts 2:1-40], you never hear such a thing again. They were doubters, like Thomas [John 20:24-25]; after the outpouring you never hear of their doubting again. They were sometimes, maybe all of them at one time, full of fear, they were afraid, like Simon Peter before a little girl, denying he even knew the Lord [Luke 22:56-57]. But after the outpouring of the Spirit of God, they are bold like lions, rejoicing even that they could lay down their lives for the Lord [Acts 5:41]: the effect of the outpouring, the filling of the Spirit of God [Acts 2:1-21].
Do you notice its effect upon the unconverted outside of the church? They cried, saying, “Men and brethren, what shall we do? What shall we do? What must I do to be saved?” And there were three thousand converted that day [Acts 2:37-41]. Turn the chapter, there are five thousand in the next chapter [Acts 4:4]; turn the chapter, it’s a multitude [Acts 4:32]; they don’t try to number it any longer—the marvelous effect of the outpouring of the Spirit of God. And do you notice the effect upon the converts? The last chapter, the last verses in the second chapter of the Book of Acts describe a fellowship that is precious beyond compare. They are breaking bread from house to house. They are steadfastly learning in the apostles’ doctrine. They are praising God daily [Acts 2:42, 46-47]. Oh, what a koinōnia, what a communion, what a fellowship! And the more we’re filled with the Spirit of God, the more will you find that beautiful communion, koinōnia, fellowship; love for the brethren in the household of God’s redeemed family.
I was talking to a man about our church this last week. The occasion arose over a church in which there was such awesome division. And I said, “One of the things of this dear First Baptist Church in Dallas, there’s nobody who can remember anybody who ever knew anybody when we had trouble in the church.” In my now thirty-eight years of being here, in the forty-seven years of Dr. Truett’s ministry, as far back as anybody can remember, anybody who ever knew the church, we’ve had our burdens, such as last year, and we’ve wept together sometimes over the coldness and indifference of our spirits, but we’ve never had any trouble. We’ve never had a church fight. We’ve never had a division. We’ve never had a separation. We’ve never had a warring in bitterness and hatred. It’s the Spirit of God in the congregation. And when His Spirit is poured out upon His people, there’s a fellowship and a communion that is sweet; preciously, tenderly, beautifully so. But I must hasten.
Do you notice, not only does the vision refer to the outpouring, the filling of the Holy Spirit of God, the enablement, the mightiness, but do you notice it also refers to the anointing? “What are these olive trees, what do they signify?” And the Lord replied, “These are the two anointed ones,” those olive trees pouring forth their oil; the anointed ones that stand before the Lord of all the world [Zechariah 4:11-14]. Historically, of course, it referred to Joshua and to Zerubbabel. Emblematically, typically, it refers to the anointing of God upon His people, a chosen one for a chosen work. That would mean that the filling, the outpouring of the Holy Spirit of God, is something the Lord gives to these who open their hearts to Him [Luke 11:13]. God will come in and dwell with us, and he with Him—the Spirit of God, the filling. The anointing would be as for one, this is Joshua and his assignment; and for another, this is Zerubbabel in his assignment. The anointing then is an enablement for a special consecrated task, a special setting aside work. The man is anointed for a special calling in the kingdom of our Lord.
You have that all through the Old Testament. The priest was anointed for the sacred office to minister before God. Aaron, his sons, all the priests, were anointed for that sacred assignment [Exodus 30:30]. You have it again in the anointing of the kings of Israel. Saul was anointed [1 Samuel 10:1]. David was anointed [1 Samuel 16:12-13]. Psalm 23:5, “Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over.” The king was anointed. Solomon was anointed for the special assignment to which God had called him [1 Kings 8:19]. They were anointed for the work. The prophet was anointed. In the nineteenth chapter of 1 Kings, God says to Elijah, “Anoint Elisha to be the prophet in thy stead, when ye are translated to heaven” [1 Kings 19:16]. The prophet was anointed. And that’s why I had you read the passage in Isaiah 61:1: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me; because the Lord hath anointed me.” Isaiah says, “The Lord hath anointed me.” He is a prophet, especially given this assignment [Isaiah 61:1].
Now in the New Testament that same beautiful anointing is seen. God enables the man for a special assignment. The most beautiful and poignant and meaningful of the illustrations of that is the anointing of the Lord Jesus. He was filled with the Holy Spirit from His birth [Isaiah 11:2]. He was referred to as “Thy holy Child Jesus” [Acts 4:27]. There was never sin in His childhood, or in His upbringing, or in His youth, or in His young manhood. He was a holy Child; all the days of His life filled with the Holy Spirit. But at His baptism [Matthew 3:13-17], in the Jordan River, as He stood before John and was baptized in water, in that moment He was anointed with the Holy Spirit of God [Matthew 3:16]. The Holy Spirit of God came upon Him at His baptism. That was an anointing for His special work. First, He was anointed King, King. He had began His messianic kingly ministry when He was baptized [Matthew 3:13-17], when He became about thirty years of age. He was anointed King of God’s people.
Dear people, I don’t know of a more interesting conversation you could ever read than Jesus and Pontius Pilate. Pontius Pilate comes to Jesus, in the eighteenth chapter of the Book of John, and he asks Him, “Art Thou the King of the Jews?” And the Lord said, “Do you say this of yourself, or did others tell it of thee?” And Pilate says, “Am I a Jew? What would I know about that?” [John 18:33-35]. And the Lord replies, “My kingdom is not of this world: if My kingdom were of this world, then would we have armies and swords and fight. But My kingdom is not from thence” [John 18:36]. And Pilate says, “Then Thou art a king?” incredulous, “You, You are a king?” And the Lord replies in the strongest affirmation in the Greek language, “Thou sayest that I am a king. To this end was I born, and for this cause came I into the world” [John 18:37]. And when He was crucified, Pilate wrote that superscription above the head of His cross: “This is Jesus a King” [Matthew 27:37]; King, someday King over all God’s creation! He was anointed a King at His baptism [Mark 3:13-17]. He was anointed a Priest; not after the order of Aaron, not after the order of Levi, the Levitical priesthood, He was anointed a Priest after the order of Melchizedek [Hebrews 6:20], who had neither father nor mother, neither beginning nor ending, but abideth a priest forever [Hebrews 7:3]. And He was anointed a Priest to offer the sacrifice for the forgiveness and the washing away of our sins [Hebrews 9:12]. He was a great Priest who entered into heaven, and now intercedes at the right hand of God for us [Romans 8:34]. He was anointed Priest, set aside for the ministry of intercession, at His baptism [Mark 3:13-17].
He was anointed a Prophet, a preacher, at His baptism [Mark 3:13-17]. He began His ministry, and Luke 4 describes it, “He came to Nazareth, where He was brought up: and, as His custom was, He went to church, He went to the synagogue, and He stood up for to read. And they delivered unto Him the book of the prophet Isaiah [Luke 4:16-17]. And He opened the book, and He found the place,” where we read this morning. Think of the Lord reading that, that we read this morning: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He hath anointed Me to preach the gospel” [Luke 4:18]. And again, “to preach deliverance to the captives,” and again, “to preach the acceptable year of the Lord” [Luke 4:18-19]. How that is emphasized; “anointed to preach” [Luke 4:18]. Do you see again, in the ministry of our blessed Jesus, the word of Simon Peter to the Gentile congregation in Caesarea: ‘How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and with power; who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with Him” [Acts 10:38]. He was anointed for the work of the ministry, to preach, and to heal, and to deliver, and to make whole and well again.
Now, did you hear me say, do you remember my saying a while ago, that those olive trees signified not only the inexhaustible supply of the Spirit of God, but also its continuous outpouring? [Zechariah 4:11-12]. And do you remember my saying, when the Lord said, “And He will abide with you forever” [John 14:16], so this ministry of anointing continues to this present day. God anoints, enables, for the ministries before His name, for His sake, for the upbuilding of the church, for the conversion of the lost, for the blessing of the people. God anoints and sets aside and consecrates.
Well preacher, just what do you mean by that? Why, I can illustrate it; if we had time, we’d just spend the rest of the day testifying of it. Here’s one. Announcement was made a moment ago that Billy Graham will be here next Sunday. I have stood by his side countless numbers of times, and I have marveled at the anointing of God upon that man to preach in a crusade. I’ve stood by him I don’t know how many times. I remember one time at the Cotton Bowl, when they had seventy-four to seventy-five thousand people in that Cotton Bowl. As I looked at that vast throng, that were going to the counseling service, I said to him, I said, “Billy Graham, that is one of the most heavenly sights in this earth.” He said, “Yes, that’s the Spirit of God.”
How do I know it’s an anointing for him? Why my people, I have tried it myself all over the world. I have tried to lead a crusade in Hong Kong, or in Japan, or in England, or in Europe, and practically all over the United States. I am not anointed for that work. I am not what you might say “gifted” in that work; I have tried it. It is not my calling. God has not consecrated me for that kind of a ministry. Billy Graham is anointed for that work, testifying to God in a great crusade. And it never fails, whether he’s in India, Korea, anywhere in the world it’s just the same. It’s an enablement from God.
Well pastor, what does God anoint you? It is very plain, and I have known it since I was a little child: God anointed me to be a pastor, teacher. And in all of the years of my ministry as a pastor, from the little church as I began when I was seventeen years old, to this present day in my thirty-eighth year here, God has never failed to bless my pastoral ministry. He anoints people for different works.
Do you notice Simon Peter referred, “God anointed Him to preach the gospel, and to go around healing all that were oppressed”? [Acts 10:38], the anointing. One time I went with a beloved physician, a missionary doctor, in a great arc through Nigeria. Once a month, several days, he would visit what they call “clan settlements.” He had gathered the lepers that had been cast out to die in the bush or the jungle. He’d gathered them together, and they were here, and then they were there, and then they were there, in a great arc through Nigeria. And I went with him on his two or three day journey as he visited his monthly rounds of those clan settlements. And as I just stood there and looked at him, that missionary doctor, gathering all of those lepers – and even little children can have leprosy—gathering all those lepers, and they built their village with their own hand, made it out of mud, built their church out of mud—I preached in that church made out of mud—gathered them all together. And that beloved physician, those people when he’d drive up in that little tiny English car, they just, oh, it was just like a little colony of heaven. And as I just stood there and watched him as he worked with those people, anointed; why, I couldn’t do that. Anointed of God, anointed for the special work to which God had called him.
I regret having to stop. How I could speak of the anointing that I have seen among God’s humble people. A Sunday school teacher, anointed of God; a deacon, anointed of God; a woman in her ministries before the Lord, anointed of God. When I see it, I think of the bringing to pass of that prophecy of Joel, that Simon Peter quoted at Pentecost [Acts 2:18], “And upon My menservants, and upon My maidservants, in that day will I pour out My Spirit” [Joel 2:29]. Anointed of God, a singer, a director of music; anointed of God, a layman, one who said to me, “God has given me the ability to make money, and I am now working for God. And outside of what it takes just for me, the rest of it I give to God.” Oh, wonderful, wonderful people, there is not anything comparable to the immeasurable gladness and joy of being anointed of God in the work to which God has called you. And isn’t that a part of the blessed work? “Therefore God, even Thy God, hath anointed Thee with the oil of gladness above Thy fellows” [Hebrews 1:9]; anointed with “the oil of gladness.” Not pleasure, not cheap entertainment, with its dark, black hangover; but the oil of gladness, anointed with the oil of joy, serving God.
My brother, my sister, if you’ve tried it, if you’ve answered God’s call for your life, and have known the anointing of God, the enablement of God in the assignment, there’s a joy unspeakable and beyond measure. Oh, bless us, as we yield ourselves to God’s will for each one of us. Now may we stand together?
Our Lord in heaven, ah! that we might empty ourselves and that the Spirit of God might come in and possess us. Lord, take our hands and our feet, our minds and our souls, the energy of our daily living, consecrate it, Lord, to the task for which God has called us, the anointing of heaven.
In this moment when we sing our hymn of appeal, in the balcony round, you on this lower floor, you, a family, a couple, or just you, “Today, pastor, this day, I’m answering God’s call in my heart, accepting Jesus as Savior, putting my life in the church, following the Lord in baptism [Matthew 3:13-17], answering a special assignment.” As the Spirit shall make appeal, answer with your life. And God bless you, angels attend you as you come. Thank Thee, Lord, for the sweet harvest, in Thy dear name, amen. While we sing, welcome. Welcome. Welcome.