While no legitimate preacher will deny the vital importance of both spiritual-preparedness and academic, expository preparation, modern preachers tend to focus more on the latter and neglect the former. While there is definitely no shortage of preachers today, many seem to focus more on teaching and practical application than on following the leading of the Holy Spirit.
As A.W. Tozer stated, “There is today no lack of Bible teachers to set forth correctly the principles of the doctrines of Christ, but too many of these seem satisfied to teach the fundamentals of the faith year after year, strangely unaware that there is in their ministry no manifest Presence, nor anything unusual in their personal lives. They minister constantly to believers who feel within their breasts a longing which their teaching simply does not satisfy.” In this statement, Tozer provides an honest and accurate assessment of many preachers of today.
In response to this assessment, Stephen F. Olford discusses the key to unlocking this ‘longing’ in the ‘breasts’ of believers—the anointing of the Holy Spirit. Olford places an appropriate focus on the anointing of the Holy Spirit in his ministry. Regarding modern worship, he states that the lack of “praiseful response” mentioned in Hebrews 13:15 “is a serious deficiency in our worship services; after great preaching under the anointing of the Holy Spirit, why not let God’s people confess their faith, hope, and love in praiseful response?” Only the anointing of the Spirit can elicit such a response from believers, as well as conviction powerful enough to bend knees to the will of God. As Romans 8:14-16 affirms, the Holy Spirit is the One who bears witness to Jesus Christ.
Olford also describes what the anointing of the Holy Spirit produces in the life and ministry of an anointed preacher. He also stresses the criticality of the Spirit’s anointing on a preacher, and its ability to produce humility, simplicity, and authority in his actions and sermons. As Acts 1:8 points out, “this is the anointing of the Spirit; it is more than the filling, even though it includes the filling.” This anointing gives the preacher an “ability to appreciate the Word of God”, as well as “the power to authenticate the Word of God.”
Finally, 1 John 2:27 asserts that, through the anointing of the Spirit, a preacher will know the truth of God without being directly taught. This biblical promise empowers a preacher’s supernatural power to authenticate the Word of God as Olford asserts above. However, this does not negate the benefits and necessity of academic and expository preparation. An anointed preacher will be led by the Spirit to find a perfect balance between the two.
1. A.W. Tozer, The Pursuit of God (Rockville: Serenity Publishers, 2009), 10.
2. Stephen F. Olford, Anointed Expository Preaching (Nashville: B&H Publishing Group, 1998), 320.
3. Ibid., 342.