You cannot teach scripture effectively without the power of the Holy Spirit.
The modern phrase to cover this gifting is to call it the anointing. This is the biblical phrase to describe what we do. This anointing is talked about in I John—but what does that mean? If it is central to your efforts to teach, you need to understand what it is.
- The word anointing is chrisma which means this in Strong’s Concordance: an unguent or smearing, i.e. (figuratively) the special endowment (“chrism”) of the Holy Spirit
The word anointing is used in conjunction with the Holy Spirit only thrice, in I John. These verses are startling in their content and faith.
- But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. [I John 2:20]
- But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you;
- but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him. [I John 2:27 NKJV]
Paul talks about this type of teaching in I Corinthians where he deliberately avoids fancy rhetoric and entertaining oratory. He had been taught how to teach as a Jewish rabbi. He chooses to teach as follows:
And when I came to you, brothers and sisters, I did not come proclaiming to you the testimony of God with lofty speech or wisdom. For I decided to know nothing among you except Jesus Christ and him crucified. And I was with you in weakness and in fear and much trembling, and my speech and my message were not in plausible words of wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your faith might not rest in the wisdom of men but in the power of God. [I Corinthians 2:1–5]
This must be our attitude also. In fear and trembling is probably best explained as reverence and awe, but it is a scary thing for a teacher to be responsible so deeply for the content of his or her teaching. You need to be deeply aware of your responsibilities as a teacher.
But there is good news! This anointing to teach is available to all believers especially to teachers. If God has called you to be a teacher for Him, part of His equipment is the anointing. Though the verses in I John clearly state that you have no need for anyone to teach you because the Holy Spirit teaches you all things—the fact of the matter is that most people do not spend the time, do not have the drive, or are simply called to another ministry that prevents the focus needed to teach themselves scripture to the level desired for spiritual growth.
Beyond this is the clear calling God places on some of his people to teach as their major ministry. Joyce Meyer talks about her calling to teach, for example. She is not a trained teacher, but the Holy Spirit has made her into a marvelous explainer of the practical application of scriptural truth.
This whole issue of anointed teaching is compounded by the fact that many do not understand what the Lord has made available to the teacher. Many talk about the anointing like it is an emotional high—a strong feeling of the presence of the Lord. Others talk about their perception that the anointing is conferred by ordination or the laying on of hands for ministry. Both of these conditions can be true for certain people in specific circumstances, but they will not help you at all in teaching scripture with power.
Read this carefully, pray about the anointing to teach and read it again.
Ask the Holy spirit to show you the truth about this. It will transform your teaching with the power to change lives.
I am sharing this out of my personal experience of teaching and being taught in the Lord for nearly forty years. I am not talking about something weird, but I am speaking to you about a standard of teaching that is lamentably missing in most churches today.
What we want and need as teachers is for the Holy Spirit to take the words that we speak and convert them into personal rhema messages for each person in your audience individually. He has the power to take a bit of speech or a phrase you speak and use it as a word of knowledge, wisdom, or prophecy to your hearers. He is so powerful and wise that He can use the same phrase to mean different things to different people. More than that He loves to do this.
What is a rhema?
The word translated “word”, rhema, has a very different meaning from logos. Rhema is the word of God referred to in Ephesians 6:17 where we are told to take up the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God. This is normally taught in error.
The example usually given by preachers is Jesus in the wilderness immediately after he was baptized. There He used scripture to counter the attacks of Satan. So almost all teaching says that the key to spiritual warfare comes in memorizing scripture to use in fighting spiritual battles.
This is very sad because it shows a very limited understanding of how the sword of the spirit really works. This sword normally has little or nothing to do with quoting scripture. It has to do with God entering our place in the world and speaking directly to us at a certain time, in a specific situation, about God’s will for that time & place.
A rhema word touches you directly at the moment to clarify something you are going through at the time. When you hear people preaching about the need to hear from the Lord, what they are saying is that you need to hear a rhema from God—a specific word that will help, comfort, clarify, and empower you in the situation. This is what personal communication with God is all about. It is essential to every believer every day of their life and very rarely even available to non-believers.
This is why it is common to hear reports after truly anointed teaching and preaching that show completely different reactions and stories from almost every person who heard the message.
The best example I ever saw of a person teaching in this manner was our supervisor when my wife started her church in Albuquerque in the early 1990s. This man came to several of our regional pastor meetings to share with us and help prepare us for ministry.
He had a method of teaching that was truly amazing. It was not impressive. He often spoke in sentence fragments. These fragments revolved around the message but obviously came from a man who was taking the time to seek the Holy Spirit for the next words to say moment by moment. When examined intellectually, things often didn’t make straight linear sense. However, the insights that came to my mind as I listened to him teach were amazingly wise and directly solved questions I was dealing with at the time.
Most amazing, this was the case with every person hearing the teaching. Basically every listener heard a different sermon or teaching and all the messages received were uniquely personal and powerfully transformational.
In his case, you could see and sense the Holy Spirit taking the raw content this man spoke and converting it into powerful anointed teaching. I have never experienced this so clearly before or since. However, I am now aware of how often truly great preaching has this characteristic. God takes what is taught and converts it to a rhema for the hearer. The conversion from logos to rhema is wonderful to see.
This is what Paul was talking about in I Corinthians 2. You need this power in your teaching. An anointing to teach is part of your spiritual equipment. Ask Him for it.