I’m preaching tomorrow but because I’ve been sick and in bed all day, it took me longer than usual to finish my sermon today. And even though I still feel nasty, it always feels good when my sermon is finished and ready to be preached. But the most important work is not done and, even more uncomfortably, it’s outside of my control.
You see, I’m a die-hard believer in unction. Unction is an old fashioned word which describes an effusion of power from the Holy Spirit as one preaches. It is the one thing preachers need above everything else. It is the accompanying power of the Spirit. This is what Charles Spurgeon dubbed “the sacred annointing.” It is power from on high.
In his book on the preaching of Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Sacred Annointing, Tony Sargent describes unction well. He writes:
[Unction] is the preacher gliding on eagles’ wings, soaring high, swooping low, carrying and being carried along by a dynamic other than his own. His consciousness of what is happening is not obliterated. He is not in a trance. He is being worked on but is aware that he is still working. He is being spoken through but he knows he is still speaking. The words are his but the facility with which they come compels him to realise that the source is beyond himself. The man is overwhelmed. He is on fire.
This is what all the people who will gather tomorrow at Coral Ridge need more than anything else. They need me to be empowered from on high because they need to hear from God. It is preachers who are borne along by the Holy Spirit that are used to effect a deep and sobering awareness of God and his truth that transforms.
As I pointed out a couple months ago on this blog, Iain Murray, in his newest book Lloyd-Jones: Messenger of Grace, writes:
Preaching under the annointing of the Holy Spirit is preaching which brings with it a consciousness of God. It produces an impression upon the hearer that is altogether stronger than anything belonging to the circumstances of the occasion. Visible things fall into the background; the surroundings, the fellow worshippers, even the speaker himself, all become secondary to an awareness of God himself. Instead of witnessing a public gathering, the hearer receives the conviction that he is being addressed personally, and with an authority greater than that of a human messenger.
Given the fact that the ultimate factor in the church’s engagement with society is the church’s engagement with God, my earnest prayer is that more preachers would come to know and understand what Andrew Bonar meant when he wrote: “It is one thing to bring truth from the Bible, and another to bring it from God himself through the Bible.”
Please pray, dear friends, that God would annoint my mind and mouth tomorrow as I preach so that God’s people would hear from God. Please pray that God’s Spirit would so inhabit my words that everyone would leave worship tomorrow being able to say, “God was surely in that place.”
I can’t manufacture unction regardless of how well crafted my sermon is and how well prepared I may be. The biggest work must come from God.
So, come thou fount of every blessing and do for your people what I cannot. Amen.