Evaluating the sensation of being anointed by the Holy Spirit,
and the manifestation of the Spirit’s gifts,
in the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement.
If you the reader are in search of serious proof that God is both real, and willing to prove it to you, then please read this article. Bear in mind that God offers this evidence with the intention of drawing you into a ‘relationship with him‘. That is, of course, a relationship based on genuine Christian faith.
I have already admitted in a previous article that I originally doubted the sincerity of people who spoke of ‘marvels’ happening in Christian fellowships, within the worldwide Pentecostal/ Charismatic ‘movement’. At that time, I had been a member of the Christian Church for a couple of years. And I had been using my faith during everyday life. God had proven to me, probably beyond reasonable doubt, that he actually existed there ‘within my life‘.
But, I really was sceptical about miraculous healings etc still happening during that time. I am referring to “gifts of the Spirit” here. And all that ‘falling over’, I had seen on TV, relating to being ‘anointed’ by the Holy Spirit … well?
Yet, I thought if this Spirit-filled ‘thing’ really did work for me, then my Christian faith, as well as belief in God, could go to a whole new level. What was there to stop me trying it; evaluating it for myself? Why not begin by getting anointed? That seemed to be the simplest way to gain evidence.
2. REALLY GREAT STUFF!
Well, I did eventually get to see it, indeed experience it all for myself over the coming years. Great stuff! And … yes … I proved to myself that it is real! As I often state, there can be no physical reason for it as far as I am concerned. I warn you at this point not to believe what atheist websites write about all this. I did not have a clue when I was an atheist. They do not have a clue now!
(For the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here.) That article explains, in particular, how this website is the product of a serious audit of practical Christianity. As such, the website’s contents are based on a lengthy and ongoing search for evidence that could either prove or disprove the ‘reality’ of Christianity. Its key focus was to establish whether we, as individuals, could establish whether God is real, so as to actually empower our Christian faith. You can read the article, “Framework for evidence” for an understanding of what is meant here.
Now, this particular article fundamentally exists to help you find an answer to that question above, “Is this Spirit stuff real?” And, trust me, I know it is a long article, but to me it covers very important ground. This ‘Spirit stuff’ really can lead to rock-solid ‘belief in God’. The Holy Spirit knows that. As I wrote above: that’s why he offers it to us!
3. ANALYSING THE HOLY SPIRIT’S TOUCH
So, as mentioned in the intro, I decided decades ago to start my evaluation into the whole Holy Spirit thing with a so-called “anointing”. (The article, “Experiencing the Holy Spirit” broadly explains the Spirit’s interaction with Christians in the movement.)
In relation to ‘anointing’, I can now write that if you have opened yourself to the Spirit and received it as a result, then he can ‘touch you’ again and again at later times. He can do this through other Christians who also belong to the movement, when he gets the opportunity. And he can also do it directly to you as well, without the involvement of another Christian, if he decides to do so on special occasions.
What I am saying is that, on all of those later occasions, it just happens ‘spontaneously’! Without any expectations on our part … at all!
But shortly, we will look at what led me to accept the reality of these experiences. I also go on, in this article, to provide the basis of my analysis of those ‘gifts of the Spirit’ that I have been involved with. Yes, that stuff can also ‘rattle’ your grasp of reality a bit!
The same enquiring mind, that a decade before had drawn me into mystical experiences (religious meditation) – discussed in the article, “So, what is God?” – led me to accept the opportunity of being ‘touched’ by the Holy Spirit when it arose.
Mind you, it did not go anywhere near as smoothly as I had wanted! But that was all my own fault …
3.1 First attempt
My wife and I bravely fronted a church in the movement, where we barely knew anyone. I had been told that a pastor – who the Spirit was using to anoint dozens of people at a time in church services – would be in attendance. The pastor gave a brief sermon (talk) and then began the anointing. With a hand raised in the air, he simply walked out into the congregation who were all standing before him. He wasn’t even touching people physically, but none-the-less they were just collapsing in front of him as he moved forward. Like ‘ten pins’ going down really! Some laid there a while and got back upright. Others seemed to be glued to the floor in some altered state of mind.
And what did I do as he approached me? Well, I panicked and quickly moved myself out of the way.
So … trial number one … failed!
3.2 Second attempt
Shortly afterwards, my own fellowship of faith decided to join the Charismatic movement. And I eventually had the opportunity to be touched again, but this time in familiar surroundings. The church leader called on the Holy Spirit to anoint all of us who were present.
What did it feel like? Well, to be honest, I got nothing that I had hoped for yet again! A couple of people around me began to mutter in ‘tongues‘, as I guessed it, so I suspected ‘something’ was underway. Yes I was ready, but I was also a bit anxious and having trouble opening myself up to the Spirit.
To make matters worse, someone was trying to talk to me while all this was happening. I could feel a little flutter going on in my tongue at one stage. Maybe the gift of ‘tongues’ was coming my way … I thought it just might happen for me. But I could not be rude to that person beside me. So, it all seemed to fall apart.
My wife and I kept in close contact with that community of faith and amazing stuff, thanks to the Holy Spirit, did actually happen for us there. I am talking about being on the receiving end of a number of ‘gifts of the Spirit’.
But whilst a member of that fellowship, I never did get to be ‘touched’ by the Spirit. I have detailed many of the experiences of ‘gifts’, that I at least received and witnessed there in that church, in this and other articles.
3.3 Third attempt
And the next time (i.e. my third) I had the opportunity for an anointing/ infilling, were things different?
It was years later and I was a member of yet another church fellowship. I so wanted to be anointed by the Spirit, to be touched by him! That is, to finally prove one way or another whether it was real. And the opportunity was provided.
There I was up the front of the church within a small group. The rest of the fellowship were sitting back watching us. I was getting nervous again. Oh no … I moaned inwardly.
A ‘gifted’ young man held his hand up to my forehead as I stood there. This was to be it! I only had seconds for it to work before he moved on to the next volunteer. I was far too anxious though … just gave up! So, I faked it. There was a team of people behind those of us being touched/ anointed. Their job was to catch us when, or if, we fell backwards under the power of the Spirit. So I fell back into their arms, not wanting to look like a ‘loser’ in front of the watching church fellowship.
Man oh man, was I annoyed with myself after that one! My wife and I eventually left the service and headed towards home in our motor vehicle. I drove. I was even too embarrassed to explain to her what I had done. So, we just chattered on about what we would be doing the next day at work.
3.4 Just when I’d given up!
Well, now we get to the good part!
As I drove towards home and chatted I became aware of a very strange sensation beginning within me. It was growing in power … through my whole being. I did not need a second guess as to what was happening. The Holy Spirit knew exactly what I had previously wanted, and what I had continually missed out on due to my usual anxious behaviour. Now I was pretty sure he was offering it to me. Right there and then! There were no overwhelming emotions involved here. And there was no anxiety on my part.
At that point, I knew it was a good idea to pull over to the side of the road.
And whoomp, I was being filled by the Spirit. Being anointed … touched by him! Right there. ‘All knowing’ God in fact knew exactly how much of an experience I desired. Yeah, as big as I could get!
There was extraordinary power there. Thick and potent. Internally over-soaked with it. Ecstatic. Words keeping coming to me as I write this, but I guess you get the message. It was indeed sensory overload!
So, I had finally been anointed by the Spirit: spiritually touched by him. No warning. No thinking about it. Just happened. So my earlier theories, that these experiences may be caused by emotional overload (hysteria) certainly had no basis of fact. I now knew that. The ‘auditor in me‘ just had to accept the reality of all this!
4. SPONTANEOUS TOUCHES
I previously mentioned examples of spontaneous ‘touches’ for anointed Christians. You know, experiences just ‘out of the blue’. And I have had a number of these totally unexpected experiences.
Also I myself, as a ‘Charismatic’, have been a party to giving other previously anointed Christians their own spontaneous experiences.
4.1 My first totally unexpected experience
Many years after my initial experience of being touched by the Spirit, a clergyman within a traditional/ mainline Protestant church anointed my forehead with oil. It was during a healing ceremony. I must explain here, before going on, what is meant by “anointing with oil”. It is performed by running a finger, just dipped in blessed oil, across the forehead of an unwell person in the form of a small cross.
I ‘closed my eyes’, after the ‘anointing’, as the clergyman then held his hand up above my head continuing his blessing. Then, unexpectedly, this feeling of warm oil landing on my head began. I mean it felt so real to me that I wondered what was the clergyman doing? Why would he actually pour oil on my head?
Then the event ‘turned the corner’! I now began to experience, within me, a powerful thick feeling of actually being ‘filled’ with warm oil. It literally overcame me. Powerfully. It felt like the thick warmed oil was flowing in through the top of my head. Yes, it was immersing or filling my entire being from within, to a state of ‘overflowing’. And I was again ‘highly affected’ as in my previous anointing.
I certainly knew by then that what I was experiencing wasn’t physical at all. I mean my eyes were still closed, but I now knew this was a spiritual thing.
What had happened?
Initially though, my mind asked where was all this stuff coming from? What was happening? Why? But it certainly didn’t take long for me to rationalise that it had to be the Spirit at work.
I guess what had ‘thrown me off’ was the fact that, initially to my thinking, none of this related to any Bible scripture I would have expected to be relative. And I had only considered I would have experiences related to Biblical events related to the early Christian Church to be found in Acts, or one of the Epistles, within the New Testament.
It took me a long time to reason that the experiences actually related to scriptures written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth.
It was like the words of Old Testament, Exodus 29:7 had literally happened to me: “Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head.” And then that ‘filled to overflowing’ sensation, “You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.” (Extract from Psalm 23:5.)
And you know, I have since heard from a Charismatic clergyman (on my advisory team) who also experienced the very same mega-sensation during an anointing with oil that he received. And that had been well before my own experience with it.
‘The bottom line’
Getting back to the details though. I was not expecting any sensation at all from that healing ceremony, because I did not even know that the clergyman was a ‘gifted’, so-called “Charismatic”, prior to that time.
And it yet again demonstrated to me that the sensations of ‘Charismata’ are definitely not created by emotions or imagination. Obviously, that particular experience of mine had again happened without the slightest expectation on my part. None! It was just a spontaneous spiritual event, courtesy of the Lord. It had ‘just happened’ without a warning or any notice.
And again as that trained and experienced auditor, that I was, I had no option other than to accept just how real all of this had been!
4.2 How it ‘just happens’ for Pentecostals/ Charismatics
Over time I went on to clearly discover that if one Christian who is in ‘the movement’ does lay hands on, or anoints with oil, another Christian who is in ‘the movement’ then it is likely they will experience a ‘spiritual’ touching from the Holy Spirit during the process.
However if a Christian, who is not in ‘the movement’, lays hands on (or anoints) a Christian, who is in ‘the movement’, for healing as an example then they will not experience any sensation. That is also, yet again, evidence that these experiences do not rely on emotions or the like.
We cannot know who is eligible
I am meaning that it is impossible to know who is in the ‘movement’ and who is not, when we Christians just look at each other. If I have permission from a fellow Christian to lay hands on or pray for them, I do not say, “Oh by the way, I am member of the Charismatic movement” before doing so!
To make it even clearer to you, I personally laid hands on many Christians for healing during a ten-year-long lay ministry, on behalf of my current church. And only those Christians who reported they were members of the Charismatic movement, after the event, actually had an experience of the Spirit as a result. I have never had a Christian, who is not a member of the movement, mention they have had that same experience, when I laid hands on them.
Clearly it is not ‘up to us’
Bear in mind too, it is not us so-called Pentecostals/ Charismatics to make each other have these experiences. No indeed, that has to be the Holy Spirit himself.
The Spirit clearly likes to lovingly touch/ anoint us in that way to reassure us of his powerful and holy presence when the chance arises.
5. ARE “GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT” REAL?
And what of the ‘gifts of the Spirit’? You may think, like I once did, can they even be even remotely ‘for real’? Well…
5.1 Witnessing my first impressive gift in action
The most impressive gift to be observed, in my opinion, is miracle healing. I would have balked at the thought once, i.e. that it was even possible. But I can now say that it is a very impressive gift because it is indisputable. If you, or someone closely known to you, is genuinely healed of an obvious physical or health problem right there and then in a Pentecostal/ Charismatic church service, then you have to accept that something seemingly impossible has happened. Look it may even happen at an “Alpha Course” (available in 100 countries). Many churches run these courses for beginner Christians.
So, having written all that, it should be no surprise to read that the most obvious and real example of a gift from the Spirit, that I have personally seen, was the healing of my wife. She was at that time a stroke victim. She had suffered from semi paralysis on one side of her body, a droopy eyelid, loss of peripheral sight in that eye and other symptoms as a result of the stroke. That stroke-damaged side of her body always appeared to be more pale in its extremities (hand and foot) as well. Life on the whole was miserable for her, not that she complained much.
And there we were, in a packed church, attending a ‘healing’ service. A Christian healer rested her hand on my wife’s shoulder. I stood and watched as the white, weakened flesh of my wife’s right hand, which was visible to me, turned pink and strong before my eyes. In that instant, brain cells had been rebuilt, restoring full blood circulation, sight and strength to previously affected body parts.
So real. So ‘rattling’! Such powerful evidence of God’s presence there; his existence clearly demonstrated yet again for me.
5.2 How to check out this stuff for yourself
Obviously, this sort of stuff is supposed to be impossible! Brain cells, once destroyed, cannot ‘physically’ regenerate within a second of time under normal circumstances. My wife, who was in her early forties at the time, is still free from symptoms twenty six years later, therefore I definitely know it was all very genuine and the effects were permanent. Many witnesses including friends, family and our community of faith at that time, remember the incident well.
Now I do not expect readers to just accept my story about miracle healing. But, you now know where to go in search of strong evidence of God’s presence for yourself. You need to enter the ‘appropriate‘ Christian fellowships of faith, to actually see this kind of stuff or even experience it. They are discussed individually under the sub-heading, “Gifts of the Spirit” in the Menu Bar above, in this section of the website.
And without doubt, to be on the receiving end of say “words of knowledge” or a “prophecy” can also be quite dramatic too. These words delivered by God, through a gifted speaker, will also ‘rattle your cage’ and ‘make no bones’ about it. They are so clearly about you and just for you that there can be no doubt about it when it genuinely occurs. And those gifts are more commonly manifested by the Spirit than miracle healing.
6. OPENING OURSELVES THROUGH TRUST
Do not be concerned if those “full blown experiences” of mine being touched by the Spirit look too much for you personally. I mean if it initially puts you off from trying it for yourself, during your Christian journey of faith. Some other Christians, who have told me of their experiences of being touched by the Spirit, described much gentler experiences than mine. But, ‘just as dramatic’ of course. I have, for example, heard reports of people receiving a very powerful ‘sense of peace’ when touched by the Spirit. And one of them actually received a healing gift along with that sense of peacefulness.
My guess, and it is no more than that, is the Spirit touches each of us in the way that is right for us individually. So from my experience, and that of others, please do not let anxiety or fear of the unknown stand in your way of opening yourself to the Spirit’s presence.
The same applies to fronting a healing service, or making yourself available to words of knowledge or prophecies. Whatever.
We are, after all, opening ourselves to our loving God there in all these experiences. And he is willing to take the initiative and engage with us. Do not lose track of that fact. The Holy Spirit has absolutely no intention of harming you or scaring you. He knows that you are there in that fellowship with the intention of building stronger belief in him: that in turn will fuel greater Christian faith for you. He will personally assist you in that regard. Trust him!
Please continue on to the next article, “Gifts of the Spirit in perspective”.
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