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How do we recognise the unction of the Holy Spirit in preaching?

How would you know your house is on fire? This may seem a silly question. Presumably, you would be able to smell the smoke, see the flames, feel the heat and hear the crackling blaze, hopefully even the early warning of the fire alarm.

John Hayward

Figure Image
image: iStock

Well, when reports started to come out from Asbury, Kentucky, of a new work of the Spirit, [in February 2023] I began to ask friends what revival might look like if God initiated such a movement in our city. One response was that the preaching might become more characterised by unction, or the Spirit’s anointing. The word is not commonly used these days, even among evangelicals. The OED records that it occurs less than once in every 2 million words, compared with three times per million in the early 19th century. As the former elder (or denominational equivalent) of one church told me when his church was searching for a new senior pastor, he was amazed to discover that even fellow elders were unfamiliar with the concept. In fairness, his brother elder was probably not alone.