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Archive for June 1st, 2010

The Sanctifying Gifts (Part1): The Inner Anointing

A Shoot from the Stem of Jesse

The Branch of the Revived Olive tree

“Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,

And a branch from his roots will bear fruit,

And the Spirit of the LORD will rest on Him,

The spirit of Wisdom and Understanding,

The spirit of Counsel and Strength,

The spirit of Knowledge and the Fear of the LORD,

And He will delight in the Fear of the LORD “ (Is. 11:1-3)

My Fellow Pilgrims,

I have spoken to you in the past about my reflections on reconciling the concept of the Sanctifying Gifts (Is. 11:1-3) and the Empowerment Gifts of the Spirit (see my post on Pentecost). Today I wish to continue to share with you my further reflections on the Sanctifying Gifts – the Gifts of the Spirit that bring us into conformance to the image of Christ (Rom. 8:29).

The main reason I need to continue my sharing on this subject is that, as the Holy Spirit guides me through Holy Scripture, I am more and more convinced that our human interpretations are sometimes lacking in getting to the deeper meanings that the Lord has embedded in His Word.  I am painfully aware that I am just a layman trying and praying that the Lord would reveal the meaning of His word to me as I plod along with my inherently dimmed human mentality.

I, therefore, come to you in humility of spirit because I am attempting to explain to you something I have only recently learned and find myself completely overawed by what the Spirit has taught me.  I also find myself completely overwhelmed by knowing that I have lived most of my life without clearly understanding the mysteries of God associated with the inner anointing, the sanctifying gifs of the Spirit!

First of all we understand from scripture that these are the spiritual gifts accorded the Messiah and are the Gifts that form His innermost character, that is, His Spirit. or as we Catholics would say, His Sacred Heart. They are imparted to us when we receive the Spirit of Christ in Baptism with the intent by the Father that these gifts be activated in us to bring us into conformity to the image of His Son, Jesus, the Messiah. The gifts represent the inner anointing of which John speaks in his first epistle. Note that the inner anointing includes the gift of “Knowledge”. Later, I will share with you what this gift entails.

“But you have been anointed by the Holy One, and all of you have knowledge.” (1Jn. 2:20)

“As for you, the anointing that you received from him abides in you, and so you do not need anyone to teach you. But as his anointing teaches you about all things, and is true and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, abide in him. “ (1 Jn. 2:27)

Some of us inquisitive believers are initially challenged by at least two questions regarding the inner anointing and the sanctifying gifts:

1) Since, according to scripture, we have already received these gifts when we are baptized into Christ, why do we pray annually for these gifts at Pentecost?

And,

2) Why is it that when we attempt to define these Gifts we usually describe them as glorified human traits derived from our nature rather than as supernatural spiritual graces that are completely out of the range of capabilities of fallen humanity?

It is my intent in these two articles, not only, to present to you my views on these two questions, but also to share with you what I believe the Lord is really trying to tell us in His Word regarding the Sanctifying Gifts and the Inner Anointing.

Regarding the First Question

A superficial response to the first question might be that praying for what we have already received, indicates either a lack of faith in the graces we receive at baptism or a lack of understanding of the doctrines of the faith. Such a response is not only misguided and judgmental but fails to comprehend the basic nature of the spiritual gifts and how they function.

A wiser and more spirit-led response is that, the Lord graces our spirits with the sanctifying gifts at baptism, however, our human problem is that, in the course of life events, we lose the awareness that, in each of our individual circumstances, the gifts need to be activated by faith in order to manifest in our lives.

When we ask for the gifts in generic sense such as at Pentecost, our faith is not really active because we are not asking for the Holy Spirit’s help in a particular situation where that gift is to be applied. Yes, we may intellectually believe in the gifts but without an object to apply that belief to we will NOT be operating in faith.

For instance, scripture tells us that,

“If any of you is lacking in wisdom, ask God, who gives to all generously and ungrudgingly, and it will be given you. But ask in faith, never doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind; for the doubter, being double-minded and unstable in every way, must not expect to receive anything from the Lord. (James 1:5-7)

We see from this that the Lord wants us to ask for these gifts but the asking of the gifts needs to be an act of Faith. When we ask for the gifts in a ritualistic, routine manner, without a need or a purpose in mind, we will not manifest the Gifts at that instance. That is why the Word tells us, regarding the gifts, that our asking is not to be a one-time or annual event but a continuous turning to the Lord and asking at every opportunity.

“And I say to you, ask, and it shall be given to you; seek, and you shall find; knock, and it shall be opened to you. For everyone who asks, receives; and he who seeks, finds; and to him who knocks, it shall be opened. Now suppose one of you fathers is asked by his son for a fish; he will not give him a snake instead of a fish, will he? Or if he is asked for an egg, he will not give him a scorpion, will he? If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?” (Luke 11:9-13)

It should be noted that, in the Greek, the tense of the verbs, “Seek”, “Knock”, and “Ask”, really mean, “Seek and keep on seeking”, Knock and keep on knocking”, and “Ask and keep on asking”. Thus affirming the need for our faith to be activated continuously in order to activate the Spiritual Gifts.

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

Opened Your Gifts Yet?

Another hindrance to activating in the Sanctifying Gifts in our lives is that these Gifts flow out of the personal love relationship between the Father and the Son , thus in order for those gifts to manifest in us we must be partakers in that relationship. All who believe in Christ and have been baptized in Him are partakers in the relationship at our “spirit” level but not necessarily at our “soul“ level. What is usually missing in our training is that we are not taught the basic truth that while we possess the gifts in our inner man (our spirits) we need to cooperate with the Holy Spirit so that these gifts may be activated or released in our outer man (our souls).  That is, we must bring the awareness of that relationship to our “soul’  level through  our willful and Loving  acts of obedience to the Word.

St. Paul terms this process, the “renewal of our minds”[1] and, therefore, we need to understand from the Word just what the “renewal of our mind” entails and for this we do need to pray that the Holy Spirit help us in this process of renewal by activating the Word of God in our daily Lives so that the Gifts which are already in us may be made manifest by His Grace.  Since the inner anointing reflects the personal relationship between the Father and the Son, one of the things that may be hindering us from a renewal of our minds is the lack of a committed personal relationship with Jesus.

Regarding the Second Question

Regarding the second question, I believe that we humans sometimes have a tendency to block out the “spiritual” sense of what the Lord is communicating through His Word.  On of the reasons is that we tend to interpret everything through our cultural filters. These intellectual filters treat anything that is “spiritual” as some “blue sky” opinions or concepts that don’t have a real meaning that is relevant to living out our life. We only focus our concepts on what we can see, feel, hear or otherwise observe and to which we can personally relate or reason.

Operating under these filters we attempt to fit the sanctifying gifts into our better human qualities or character traits, although slightly glorified. For instance, the gift of “Knowledge”, may be taken as an extension of our ability to intellectually evaluate God’s creation and the good things of this world in relation to the Divine. Now there is nothing wrong with placing high expectations on our natural abilities and praying that the Lord will use these abilities for His Glory, but as I will explain later, the Spiritual Gift of “Knowledge” that is in Jesus and which is now in us is much, much more than this, for it is a supernatural gift that reveals to us the true characteristics of the loving relationship between the Father and The Son.

This brings me now to the major discussion regarding just what I believe the Sanctifying Gifts really signify.

The Sanctifying Gifts and Our Personal Relationship with the Divine

Let me begin this discussion by making it very clear that the Sanctifying Gifts represent the Mystical Inner Character of the Lord’s Messiah – they form the basis of the spiritual relationship between the Father and the Son, because the Gifts are the spiritual graces contained in that relationship – a relationship into which we are immersed when we accept Jesus as Lord and redeemer, repent of our sins and are baptized into His Spirit. Thus our interest in understanding these gifts should come from the desire to understand and know the Father in the same way that the Son knows the Father. Just as Jesus said: “All things have been handed over to Me by My Father; and no one knows the Son, except the Father; nor does anyone know the Father, except the Son, and anyone to whom the Son wills to reveal Him” (Matt.11:27).

It is through the Sanctifying Gifts, then, that Jesus makes the Father’s heart “known” or “revealed” to us believers through the Spirit.

Before continuing, I pause in our sharing by asking all my readers to pray and meditate on the scripture from Isaiah 11. We do this in order that the Holy Spirit will help us to comprehend in our spirits the depths of this “Knowledge” of the Father which we share with the Son through baptism.

The apostle Paul, speaking of this type of Wisdom and Knowledge says,

“O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!

How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!

‘For who has known the mind of the Lord?

Or who has been his counselor?’

‘Or who has given a gift to him, to receive a gift in return?’

For from him and through him and to him are all things.

To him be the  glory forever. Amen.” (Rom. 11:33-36)

Continuing with his exhortation, Paul then tells the Romans, and us, the manner with which we activate the gifts that are in us so that they may be made manifest in our lives.

“I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your minds, so that you may discern what is the will of God—what is good and acceptable and perfect.” (Rom. 12-1-2)

So there it is! In order not to be conformed to this world we must be transformed by the renewing of our minds. And we do this by the grace of God when we surrender ourselves totally to Him as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God! When we do this, we enter into a personal relationship with the Divine. It is only through the living out of this relationship that we will begin to see these sanctifying gifts that we so desire and pray for be manifested in our lives. This is so because the Gifts are the embodiment of the “Knowledge” relationship between the Father and the Son into which we are joining ourselves through the Holy Spirit. It is this type of “Knowledge” that is the Key to the Kingdom!

In Part 2 of this discussion, I will be reflecting on the structure of the Gifts and how understanding this structure helps us in activating the Inner Anointing and releasing the gifts that we term the Sanctifying Gifts.

I pray that in reading through this sharing the Holy Spirit will open your Hearts to come to a deeper understanding of His work of Love in us so that not only the gifts of the Spirit but also the fruit of the Spirit may be manifested in your lives.

Your Fellow Pilgrim and Brother In Christ … Bartimaeus

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[1] Rom. 12:12, 2 Cor. 4:16, Eph. 4:23, Col. 34:10

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(© B.R.Timeo and Bartimaeus’ Quiet Place, [2008-2010])

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