Watchtower: January 2016
Study Article: “The Spirit Bears Witness With Our Spirit”
Study Date: March 14-20, 2016
“The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.”
– Romans 8:16
We continue with our commentary on the first study article in the January 2016 Watchtower magazine (“WT”). Read Part 1.
How the Anointing Process Works
WT Paragraph 5:
“If you were one of the disciples who had what appeared to be a tongue of fire rest on his head, you would never forget that day. There would be no question in your mind that you were anointed by holy spirit, especially if you also received the miraculous gift of speaking in a foreign language. (Acts 2:6-12) But do all those who are anointed by holy spirit receive their anointing in the same spectacular manner as that first group of about 120 disciples did? No. The rest of those who were present in Jerusalem that day received their anointing at their baptism. (Acts 2:38) There was no tongue as if of fire above their heads. Furthermore, not all anointed Christians receive their anointing at their baptism. The Samaritans received their anointing by holy spirit sometime after their baptism. (Acts 8:14-17) On the other hand, in an exceptional instance, Cornelius and his household were anointed by holy spirit even before they were baptized.—Acts 10:44-48."
On this paragraph, we basically agree that those who are anointed with holy spirit do not all receive their anointing in the same manner, nor do all have some dramatic manifestation. The question for paragraph 5 asks:
“5. How do we know that not all those who are anointed receive their anointing in exactly the same way?"
As the paragraph shows, receiving an anointing can occur:
- At the time of baptism in water (Acts 2:38)
- With or without spectacular manifestation (Acts 2:2-4; 2:41; 8:17)
- Some time after baptism in water (Acts 8:16-17)
- Some time prior to baptism in water (Acts 10:44-48)
The scriptures also show:
5. Anointing can occur through the ministry of other anointed ones who help believers receive their anointing:
“When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent Peter and John to them; and these went down and prayed for them to get holy spirit. For it had not yet come upon any one of them, but they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid their hands on them, and they began to receive holy spirit.”
– Acts 8:14-17
6. Anointing can occur with people who are not currently associated with other anointed ones, but who have heard the clear message of Jesus:
“While Peter was still speaking about these matters, the holy spirit came upon all those hearing the word. And the circumcised believers who had come with Peter were amazed, because the free gift of the holy spirit was being poured out also on people of the nations. For they heard them speaking in foreign languages and magnifying God. Then Peter responded: “Can anyone deny water to prevent these from being baptized who have received the holy spirit just as we have?” With that he commanded them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ. Then they requested him to stay for some days.”
– Acts 10:44-48
7. Anointing can occur with people who one might feel are unworthy or even defiled due to their career, their association, or other factors. The account in Acts 10 is about Cornelius who was active in the military. (Acts 10:1)
The Watchtower’s acknowledgment of these various ways in which a person can receive the anointing should alleviate the concern some potential sons of God feel. A person can clearly have had a prior belief that they were not invited to the heavens and later come to a more enlightened realization. So even if one had the ‘Synagogue hope’ of living forever on earth, they can receive the witness of the spirit and begin pursuing the real hope, the ‘Christian hope’ of the upward call – the only hope Jesus, Paul, Peter or any Christian Bible writer ever taught.
WT Paragraph 6:
“So not all are anointed in exactly the same manner. Some may have had a rather sudden realization of their calling, while others experienced a more gradual realization. However, no matter how this anointing takes place, each one has what the apostle Paul described: “After you believed, you were sealed by means of him with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance.” (Eph. 1:13, 14) This special operation of holy spirit becomes like a down payment, a guarantee (or, a pledge) of what is to come. An anointed Christian gains an inner conviction because of this token that he or she has received. — Read 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22; 5:5.”
Here are the scriptures noted in the paragraph:
“But you also hoped in him after you heard the word of truth, the good news about your salvation. After you believed, you were sealed by means of him with the promised holy spirit, which is a token in advance of our inheritance, for the purpose of releasing God’s own possession by a ransom, to his glorious praise.”
– Ephesians 1:13-14
“But the one who guarantees that you and we belong to Christ and the one who anointed us is God. He has also put his seal on us and has given us the token of what is to come, that is, the spirit, in our hearts.”
– 2 Corinthians 1:21-22
“Now the one who prepared us for this very thing is God, who gave us the spirit as a token of what is to come.”
– 2 Corinthians 5:5
Again, we basically agree with this paragraph. However, the question can be a little confusing. It asks:
“6. What do all anointed ones receive, and how does this affect them?”
This question implies that anointed ones receive something, perhaps a token. However, by reading the scriptures, it is clear that the anointing IS the token.
All anointed ones eventually gain the inner conviction that they are the children of God. However, gaining that conviction may take some time. Some may experience “a more gradual realization.” This means that a person can be anointed without realizing it! But once they do realize it, that is when the token, or the anointing, is accepted.
Clearly, that conviction cannot come until the person realizes it, either alone or with the assistance of others. Accordingly, we point to Acts 8:14-17 for the position that anointed ones can assist another person realize and receive their anointing.
WT Paragraph 7:
“7 Does the Christian who receives this token have a guaranteed future in heaven? No. That person is sure of his invitation. But whether he finally receives his reward in heaven or not depends on his proving faithful to his calling. Peter explained it this way: “Therefore, brothers, be all the more diligent to make your calling and choosing sure for yourselves, for if you keep on doing these things, you will by no means ever fail. In fact, in this way you will be richly granted entrance into the everlasting Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” (2 Pet. 1:10, 11) Each anointed Christian must, therefore, struggle to remain faithful. If he does not, his heavenly calling, or invitation, will be of no value to him.—Heb. 3:1; Rev. 2:10.”
We basically agree with the spirit of this paragraph, but one matter needs clarification. The token IS a guarantee from God that the person will be with Christ in heaven in the places he prepared for us. (John 14:2) The insecurity rests with the person, not God. As long as a person remains true to his anointing, his place in heaven is assured. No outside influence can take away this heavenly treasure. (Matthew 6:20)
“I give them everlasting life, and they will by no means ever be destroyed, and no one will snatch them out of my hand. What my Father has given me is something greater than all other things, and no one can snatch them out of the hand of the Father. I and the Father are one.”
– John 10:28-30
The question for paragraph 7 asks:
“What must each anointed Christian do to receive his reward in heaven?”
They must each make their calling and choosing sure. They must maintain their token, their realization of their heavenly inheritance, in spite of obstacles and all opposition. They must never allow any other person to take away that hope. As Jesus said to the congregation in Smyrna:
“Do not be afraid of the things you are about to suffer. Look! The Devil will keep on throwing some of you into prison so that you may be fully put to the test, and you will have tribulation for ten days. Prove yourself faithful even to death, and I will give you the crown of life.”
– Revelation 2:10
Additionally, they must behave as a son of God is expected to behave, following closely in the footsteps of Christ Jesus.
“In fact, to this course you were called, because even Christ suffered for you, leaving a model for you to follow his steps closely. He committed no sin, nor was deception found in his mouth. When he was being insulted, he did not insult in return. When he was suffering, he did not threaten, but he entrusted himself to the One who judges righteously.”
– 1 Peter 2:21-23
The anointed children of God refrain from committing sin. (1 Peter 2:16) They do not speak deception or display hypocrisy. (1 Peter 2:1) They do not promote false stories or ‘another sort of good news.” (1 Timothy 1:4; Galatians 1:6-7) They do not respond to opposition with insults. (Matthew 5:22) They do not threaten. (1 Peter 3:9) They do not judge others. (Matthew 7:1-2) They are peaceable and peacemakers. (Matthew 5:9) And overall, they display the attitude of spiritual people – the fruits of the spirit. (Galatians 5:22-23) And they maintain this spiritual attitude to the best of their ability throughout their earthly sojourn. (Matthew 24:13)
What we can glean from this subheading is that the anointing occurs in many different ways, and among many different kinds of people. They can ‘awaken’ to their anointing immediately after hearing the ‘good news’ or at any time in their life. People who once held the‘Synagogue hope’ can receive the anointing and begin pursuing the ‘Christian hope,’ and thereby receive the heavenly inheritance. It is even appropriate for anointed ones to help others realize and accept their anointing. We know that the anointing, the token of the spirit, is a guarantee that no other person can take away. The only way to lose our anointing is for us to abandon it and turn out back on following in the footsteps of Jesus.
That is the relevant information contained in the subheading “How The Anointing Process Works.” We address the remaining paragraphs in our next commentaries.