Evaluating the sensation of being anointed or filled with the Holy Spirit
and experiencing the Spirit’s gifts.
Is this Holy Spirit stuff real?
If you the reader are in search of your own ‘serious’ evidence that God is real, then please read this article. And bear in mind the likelihood that he is ready and willing to offer that evidence to you. Trust me, I know how that advice may be ‘a bit hard to swallow’. But please ‘stick with me’ and read on.
This article relates to events and experiences available within Christianity’s popular worldwide Pentecostal/ Charismatic ‘movement’. The movement, as at 2022, supposedly had more than 600 million members throughout the world.
For the ‘who’, ‘how’ and ‘why’ of this website please click here. That article explains, in particular, how the majority of this website is the product of a serious long-term audit of practical Christianity. Although retired now, professionally, I had been a qualified, experienced and senior auditor. Mind you my advisory team is largely made up from qualified Christian clergy.
I did admit in an earlier article, “Experiencing the Holy Spirit” that even I originally doubted people who spoke of ‘marvels’ happening in related Christian fellowships. At that time I had been a member of the Christian Church for a couple of years. And I had been applying my Christian faith during everyday life. As a result, God had proven to me that he ‘probably’ did exist there ‘within my life‘. Yes, my belief in his existence was slowly but surely growing in strength. Please read the article, “Too good to be true?“
However, I eventually came to have these lingering thoughts about the ‘movement’. You know … maybe I should check it all out? And I mean seriously check it out! Just in case …
2. GOOD OLD CURIOSITY
Anyway, during my early days of faith, I had been really sceptical about ‘marvels’ like miracle healings etc still happening during these modern times. I am referring to “gifts of the Spirit” here. And all that ‘falling over’, I had seen on TV, relating to being ‘anointed’ with, or by, the Holy Spirit. Were the people there just hysterical or something? Or were they ‘just plain’ faking it?
Well, as I said in the intro, I had begun to have lingering thoughts about it all. Good old curiosity. I had to admit to myself, at the time, that my old doubts about the movement were NOT actually based on any logic. Not evidence-based at all! And if this Spirit-filled ‘thing’ really did work for me, then my existing Christian faith, as well as belief in God, could go to a whole new level. So you know, my ‘auditor brain’ came to that position where I just wanted to know, one way or the other, what was the truth?
Bear in mind too, that a friend (who was also a fellow auditor), who did have credibility with me, encouraged me to check it out! How about beginning with an ‘anointing’? Get filled by the Spirit … touched by him. My friend suggested a Pentecostal church or two that I might attend.
3. ANALYSING THE HOLY SPIRIT’S TOUCH
The same enquiring mind, that many years before had drawn me in to analyse ‘mystical’ experiences (religious meditation) – discussed in the articles, “So, what is God?” and “Mysticism analysed” – had finally led me to accept the opportunity of being ‘touched’, ‘anointed’, ‘filled’ or ‘blessed’ with/ by the Holy Spirit when it arose.
I refer to the event as being “touched” by the Spirit, from this point onwards in this article, so as to keep it simple for readers. Mind you, my attempt at being ‘touched’ 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 Pentecostal church in the ‘movement’, where we didn’t know anyone. I had been told that a pastor – who the Holy Spirit was using to (spiritually) touch dozens of people at a time in church services – would be in attendance. The pastor, who had been invited to minister to the fellowship, was from interstate.
Now supposedly, the pastor simply had a God-given gift to touch entire fellowships in minutes. He gave a sermon (talk) to us and then began the spiritual touching process. With a hand raised in the air, he walked out into the congregation who were all standing before him. (Yes, it was standing room only).
The pastor wasn’t physically laying his hand on people, but none-the-less they were just collapsing in front of him as he moved forward. Like ‘ten pins’ going down really! And a number of those folk made quite a ‘thud’ as they landed on the wooden floor boards there in the church. Some laid there a short while and got back upright. Others seemed to be glued to the floor in some deep altered state of mind.
Yes, I found the atmosphere there to be very intense, absolutely nothing like I had imagined before entering the church.
And what did I do as the pastor approached me? Well, I panicked and quickly moved myself out of the way. Yeah, it was all too scary for me! My wife went with me of course. I closely studied those folk on the floor. No, they certainly didn’t appear to be faking it. And yes, I could definitely see that the majority of them were deeply affected by ‘something’. But, I was not going to find out what it was on this occasion.
So … trial number one? Failed!
3.2 Second attempt
Shortly afterwards, my own fellowship of faith, a traditional/ mainline Protestant church, decided to join the ‘Charismatic’ movement. And I eventually had the opportunity to be touched again, but this time in familiar surroundings. Our church leader, who already was a Charismatic himself, called on the Holy Spirit to ‘come upon’ all of us who were present there.
What did it feel like? Well, to be honest, I got nothing I had hoped for again! A couple of people around me began to mutter in ‘tongues‘, as I guessed it, so I suspected ‘something special’ was underway. Yes I was ready to trial the experience this time around, but I was also quite anxious and having trouble opening myself up to the Spirit. So, it all seemed to fall apart for me. Mind you, I could definitely tell that some folk there were being seriously affected by their experiences.
My wife and I kept in close contact with that community of faith. And to be honest, amazing stuff, thanks to the Holy Spirit, did actually happen for us there. I am talking about us being on the receiving end of a number of ‘gifts of the Spirit’. And I have written about one strong example later in this article.
But while I was a member of that fellowship, I never did get to be ‘touched’ by the Spirit.
3.3 Third attempt
And the next time (i.e. my third) I had the opportunity to be touched, were things different? What do you think? Hmmm! Well, please keep reading … because I was getting closer to success!
It was years later and I was now a member of yet another Charismatic church fellowship. And I so wanted to be touched by the Spirit! To trial this thing. So, there I was up the front of the church within a small group who were all waiting to be touched. The rest of the fellowship, including my wife, were sitting back in the body of the church just watching us.
I was getting nervous though. “Oh no!” … I moaned inwardly.
A ‘gifted’ young man (who had been touched by the Spirit himself in the past) held his hand up to my forehead as I stood there. I only had seconds for it to work before he moved on to the next volunteer. BUT I was now far too nervous again … and just gave up! There was a team of people spread behind those of us being touched. Their job was to catch us IF we fell backwards under the power of the Spirit. So yes … I faked it. Falling back into their arms, not wanting to look like the ‘loser’ that I was!
3.4 Just when I’d given up!
Well, now we finally get to the good part!
As I drove towards home after that service discussed above, and chatted with my wife, I became aware of a strange ‘sensation’ beginning within me. I did not need a second guess as to what was happening. Yes I quickly realised that the Holy Spirit knew exactly what I had previously wanted, and what I had continually missed out on due to my usual nervous behaviour. Now I was ‘pretty sure’ that he was offering it to me. Right there and then! I guessed it was the Spirit’s version of ‘tapping me on the shoulder’.
At that point, I knew it was a good idea to pull over to the side of the road!
And whoomp, I WAS being “touched” by him! Right there. ‘All knowing’ God in fact ‘knew’ exactly how much of an experience I had been chasing. Yeah, pretty well as big as I could get from him!
There was extraordinary power there. Thick and potent. I was over-soaked with it. Almost obliterated by the experience. Descriptions keep coming to me as I write this, but I guess you get the message!
Yes, I had finally been spiritually touched by the Spirit. No thinking about it first, and then getting too nervous. It just plain happened ‘out of the blue’. So my earlier theory, that these experiences may be caused by hysteria, or the like, certainly had no basis of fact. The ‘auditor in me‘ just had to accept the reality of all this. Absolutely!
4. SPONTANEOUS TOUCHES
So, that ‘touch’ from the Spirit came to me as a ‘spontaneous event’. In the end, I didn’t have to do anything to bring it on. I didn’t prompt it. How else can I say it? Yes! The Lord just knew I wanted it … so he graciously ‘offered’ it to me, then ‘gave’ it to me after I accepted.
And, after thoroughly checking out the details, I found that it is not rare at all for the Spirit to act in that way, to help out ‘nervous Nellies’ like me to get their first touch from him. And events like this seem all the more real, as explained already, because they are truly unexpected. This stuff tells us faithful Christians something else too. You see, it is pretty clear that God just plain loves each one of us .. and is always ready to go the ‘extra mile’ for us. Yes, God’s ‘grace‘ is a wonderful thing, and it is continually awaiting us in life.
But there is more. Much more! In relation to spontaneous ‘touches’.
4.1 They often ‘just happen’ to us Pentecostals/ Charismatics
I also eventually came to find that if you have opened yourself to the Spirit in the past, and been touched by him as a result, then he may ‘touch you’ again and again at later times. And I mean, without any further requests from you. What I am saying is: this sort of stuff just happens without ANY expectations … or even a thought about it … at all! I mean he doesn’t even ‘kind of’ tap you on the shoulder first. And I came to receive a number of those. Real bonuses in my search for Holy Spirit related events and their analysis.
Not surprisingly, the timing is always perfect for us. The Spirit can use other Christians, who also belong to the movement, as ‘channels’ to touch us when he gets that opportunity. It can happen, for example when a fellow Pentecostal or Charismatic is ministering to us, for some totally different need. I explain about my first related experience under the next sub-heading.
And later, I also found myself being used as a channel by the Spirit in that same way. I mean – as the ‘Charismatic’ I had become – I have been a party to giving other previously ‘touched’ Christians their own spontaneous experiences.
Also, WHEN the time is right for him, he can also just do it ‘DIRECTLY’ to us as well. That is even without any involvement from another Christian in the movement. I offer one such example of mine in the article, “Involvement in ministry” under Heading 3. Of course I had received my own first example of that after pulling over to the side of the road (as previously explained under subheading 3.4 in this article).
4.2 My first totally unexpected experience
Years after that first 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 another person, in the form of a small cross.
I ‘closed my eyes’, after the anointing, as the clergyman (now one of my advisory team) held his hand up above my head, continuing his blessing. Then, unexpectedly, I began to get this feeling of warm oil landing on my head. I mean it felt so absolutely real to me that I wondered what was the clergyman doing? Why would he pour oil onto my head?
Then the event ‘turned the corner’! I now began to experience, within me, a powerful thick feeling of being ‘filled’ with warm oil. It felt like the oil was flowing in through the top of my head. Yes, it was 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 understood this was a spiritual (or supernatural) thing.
What had happened?
Afterwards, I asked myself “what had happened?” Yes, it had a spiritual basis, but what was the logic behind it?
I guess what had ‘thrown me off’ was the fact that, firstly to my ‘auditor‘ thinking, this experience didn’t relate to any Bible verse I would have expected to be relevant. And I had only considered I would have experiences related to verses about early Christian Church events, within the Bible’s New Testament.
But I did come to realise that the experiences actually related to verses written hundreds of years before Jesus’ birth. Here are a couple of examples that are related:
Take the anointing oil and anoint him by pouring it on his head.
You anoint my head with oil; my cup overflows.
And you know, a Charismatic clergyman, another one on my advisory team, told me later that he also experienced the very same mega-sensation during an anointing with oil. And that had been well before my own experience. You should have seen the sense of surprise on his face after hearing my story. He blurted out, “I’ve had that! … I’ve had that!”
‘The bottom line’
Getting back to the details though. I was not expecting any sensation at all from my healing service. You see, I did not even know at the time of anointing that the clergyman was a ‘gifted’, so-called “Charismatic”. I mean from my knowledge, this stuff only happened when the Spirit used a Pentecostal or Charismatic Christian as a ‘channel’ during the process. (And yes, I found out years later that he was a Charismatic ‘after all’.)
Anyway, 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 happened without the slightest expectation on my part. None! It was just a spontaneous spiritual event, courtesy of the Lord, channelled through a fellow Charismatic.
Again as that qualified, trained and experienced auditor, that I was, I had no option other than to accept just how real all of this had been! Definitely a supernatural event as far as I was concerned.
Clearly it is not ‘up to us’
Bear in mind too, it is not up to 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/ bless/ fill us in that way to ‘reassure’ us of his powerful and holy presence when the chance arises. As I explain elsewhere he simply does it so as to build up his Church, and prove his love for us all.
5. “GIFTS OF THE SPIRIT”
And what of the ‘gifts of the Spirit’? You may wonder, like I once did, can they be even remotely ‘for real’? Well … read on please.
5.1 The most impressive ‘gift’
In my opinion only, the most impressive gift of the Spirit to be witnessed or experienced is miracle healing. I wrote earlier that I wouldn’t have believed it was even possible once. But I can now say that it is such an impressive gift … because it can be ‘indisputable’.
If you, or someone closely known to you, is genuinely healed of an obvious physical problem … right there and then … through a ‘healing service’, then you have to accept that something ‘physically’ impossible has happened!
5.2 In need of a miracle
So, having written all that, it should be no surprise for you 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 happened to be one of those folks chosen by the Holy Spirit, at a “healing service”, to prove that he is real and was active at that service! And I have no need to offer you the reader some ‘fairy-tale’ story here. Rather, the following details describe one of the most memorable experiences of my entire life!
Well before her spiritual healing, my wife had suffered from a stroke. She had semi paralysis on one side of her body, a droopy eyelid, and the loss of peripheral sight in that eye (tunnel vision) as a result. That stroke-affected right-side of her body always appeared to be quite pale in its extremities (hand and foot) as well. Life on the whole was miserable for her, not that she complained.
Her doctor had told her, due to the long term of her stroke damage, not to expect any further improvement of the condition. And the side effects of the stroke had certainly damaged her career … during her late thirties.
5.3 Clear and positive result
And there we were, in a packed church, attending a ‘healing’ service. A Christian healer rested their 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 before my eyes. Yes, I then learnt that her brain cells had been rebuilt, restoring full blood circulation, sight and strength to previously affected body parts.
It was all so real. So ‘rattling’! Such powerful evidence of God’s presence there; his existence clearly demonstrated yet again for me.
And my wife had her old life back, able to fully return to work etc.
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 is still free from symptoms more than thirty 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.
5.4 Other gifts of the Spirit
And without doubt, to be on the receiving end of say “messages of knowledge” or a “prophecy” can also be quite dramatic too. These words, delivered through a gifted speaker, will also ‘rattle your cage’ and ‘make no bones’ about it. Click the links above if you’d like to know more about them.
The gifted person, delivering the words to you, will just do so. No questions will be directed by them to you. No indeed, they won’t ‘chase hints’ on anything you might want to hear from them. They just ‘speak the words’ that have landed in their minds, courtesy of the Holy Spirit.
The words will be so clearly about YOU and just for YOU that there can be no doubt about it when you are genuinely on the ‘receiving end’. And those gifts are far more commonly ‘applied’ by the Holy Spirit than his miracle healings. Remember the ‘old auditor’ is writing all this. Oh yes, it REALLY does happen!
6. MY FINAL EVALUATION
So, let me offer you my overall evaluation of experiences, and events that I have witnessed, in the Pentecostal/ Charismatic movement.
6.1 Analysing the events and experiences
Firstly, let’s consider the sensation of being touched by the Holy Spirit; an anointing, blessing or filling. Potentially such a strong sensation on offer. With absolutely no physical cause, as far as my analysis goes. And those other spontaneous experiences of mine! I didn’t even guess they could, or would, happen to me. Totally unexpected. ‘Out of the blue’. And some of them were just so powerful. Where else could they have come from?
And I have witnessed them happening, so often, to others over the years. And particularly, when I performed a lay ministry over a ten year period. Yes, I was regularly used as a ‘channel’ by the Spirit especially when I laid hands on other Charismatic Christians, who were patients in a hospital, during that time.
Secondly, what of the gifts of the Holy Spirit that I either witnessed or experienced for myself? I have only described one example here: the healing miracle my wife experienced right before me in a church. It was so real, and so ‘life changing’ for her at the time.
6.2 Results of my overall evaluation
Before starting out on my ‘audit’ of events in the ‘movement’ I would never have suspected my findings to have been so convincing for me. Such strong evidence, as far as I am concerned. You can access the article “Framework for evidence” for an explanation of the evidence-based practice I still use. That is, how I analysed individual events and experiences and then evaluated my overall findings.
After all those years of witnessing and experiencing these spiritual, or supernatural, events … I just came to find all of it so amazing. Yes it really did offer rock-solid evidence to me that GOD IS REAL! And as a result, that greatly assisted my journey of faith. It really encouraged me to continue on with the Church, study the Bible all the harder; to get me to know as much as I could about the Lord. And to seriously put that knowledge into action within my own life, thereby gaining ever more evidence of his ‘presence at work there‘.
That in turn helped me develop the “sound faith” I possess and the deep loving relationship I still hold with God today. I have no doubt that this was the Lord’s intention behind all the stuff that I and so many others have experienced in the movement. I must also add, just as it was during the first century (after Jesus’ death) as described in the Bible.
Look … I assure you that this Holy Spirit stuff IS still going on today. Yes indeed, I have witnessed the odd event in recent years when attending the movement. And when helping to run a few ‘Alpha courses‘, for my church, I must add.
I admit that I did not have a clue about this Holy Spirit stuff when I was an atheist. Well, I didn’t have much of a clue about it even as a church-going Christian, during my early years, eh? You know, I am pretty sure that an awful lot of practising Christians, in ‘this day and age’, would even still deny the possibility of it happening. I guess they have long held their ‘faith and belief‘, and they just don’t need to check it all out eh? I mean we CAN still come to believe in God’s presence through other, more gentle and slower, ways to prove beyond reasonable doubt that God is the ‘real deal’! Again, please have a read of the article, “Framework for evidence“.
BUT if you really want ‘solid’ and ‘genuine’ evidence, ‘up front’, to convince yourself of God’s incredible loving presence/ existence … then please ‘join the movement‘ for a while at least.
Hmmm, yet despite all that I have actually written in this article … I have to say there really is much more to Christianity than those ‘events’ occurring in the movement. Please continue on to the next article, “Gifts of the Spirit in perspective”.