Newsletter for Oct 2008
This month I am going to address a teaching, which has grown in popularity over the past few years and seems to be gaining momentum in the Body of Christ. The teaching I’m referring to is the concept of “impartation.”
To very briefly summarize this “doctrine,” there are many Christians who believe that a ministry calling, spiritual gift, or anointing for ministry and power can be “transferred” or “imparted” when another Christian, specifically a preacher, lays hands on them. To support this belief, certain passages of scripture are used, such as Romans 1:11,
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established
While I cannot deny what the Apostle Paul wrote in this verse, my question would be, “Is this verse being used correctly and contextually to support the present-day impartation teaching?” To understand all of this better, let’s examine scripture with regard to spiritual gifts, ministry callings, and anointing.
But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to every man to profit withal.
For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit;
To another faith by the same Spirit; to another the gifts of healing by the same Spirit;
The above passage identifies spiritual gifts, or, the Gifts of the Holy Spirit. You will notice that each of these gifts is administered completely and exclusively by the Holy Spirit as He wills. No where in this passage, or anywhere else in scripture, do we see man supplanting the Holy Spirit to impart these gifts. We also do not see that any of these gifts are imparted through the laying on of hands. What we do see in scripture are Believers ministering to other people by these gifts.
Simply stated, no preacher can lay hands on another Christian and impart any of the Gifts of the Spirit. If this were possible, then these gifts would be given “as the preacher wills,” and not “as the Spirit wills.” In other words, I can go to revival meetings, church services, and camp meetings, stand in all the prayer lines for the preachers to lay hands on me, but unless the Holy Spirit wills, no spiritual gift is going to be imparted to me.
Let’s now consider ministry callings.
Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular. And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles? (1 Corinthians 12:27-29)
But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ (Ephesians 4:7-8, 11-12)
Notice in 1 Corinthians that God is the one who has set (established) the various ministry callings in the church (Body of Christ). Also, nowhere in 1 Corinthians chapter twelve is there a reference to people who are operating in any of the ministry callings being able to impart a ministry calling to another Believer through the laying on of hands. This is a work of God, not man.
Likewise, in Ephesians we see that the ministry callings are considered a gift that is given to Christians from Christ alone. There is nothing in Ephesians chapter four which even hints that Christians have the ability to convey a ministry calling/gift to another Christian through a laying-on-of-hands impartation.
What some Christians appear to miss is that God is omniscient (knowing all things). Thousands of millenniums before we were born into this world, He knew we would be here. He designed a specific plan for each of our lives long before we were conceived in our mother’s womb. Included in that plan was our ministry calling of pastor or evangelist, or apostle, and so forth. We can choose to do whatever we want, even walk back into a life of sin, but God’s will is never going to change.
Preacher after preacher can lay hands on me to impart a ministry calling; but they cannot give to me what only comes from God. Some preachers even seem to imply that if a person wants to receive a ministry like theirs, they will lay hands on people for an impartation of that calling. However, it is impossible for a preacher to override the will of God and give a ministry calling to someone when such a calling is not God’s will for that person. I may want to be a pastor and even try to pastor a church; but God will not change His will to fit my wants.
We’ll now take a look at “anointing impartations.”
How God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Ghost and with power: who went about doing good, and healing all that were oppressed of the devil; for God was with him. (Acts 10:38)
For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was preached among you by us, even by me and Silvanus and Timotheus, was not yea and nay, but in him was yea. For all the promises of God in him are yea, and in him Amen, unto the glory of God by us. Now he which stablisheth us with you in Christ, and hath anointed us, is God; (2 Corinthians 1:19-21)
But ye have an unction from the Holy One, and ye know all things. But the anointing which ye have received of him abideth in you, and ye need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teacheth you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it hath taught you, ye shall abide in him. (1 John 2:20, 27)
In every passage of scripture where an anointing for power or ministry is mentioned, the only source of that anointing is God….no exception. In the verses from 1 John, the words “unction” and “anointing” come from the same Greek word “chrisma” which means, “to anoint; the anointing.” No where in scripture do we see this anointing transferred, or imparted, from one person to another.
“Ah, Brother Martin,” someone might say, “now I have you. Evidently you have forgotten about Luke chapter nine when Jesus imparted power to the twelve apostles, and then in Luke chapter ten when He did the same for the seventy!”
No, I didn’t forget. Please read what Jesus said in Luke 24:49, “And behold, I send the promise of my Father upon you; but tarry ye in the city of Jerusalem, until ye be endued with power from on high.” If what Jesus did in Luke chapters nine and ten was the same kind of anointing impartation as preached today, He would never have told the disciples to tarry in Jerusalem for an anointing of power that had already been given to them. What Jesus did for the twelve and the seventy was only temporary, similar to the glory of God shining from Moses’ face in Exodus 34:29-35.
UNDERSTANDING WHAT PAUL WROTE
In Romans 1:11 Paul wrote about imparting a spiritual gift. Yet in Romans 11:29, Ephesians, and 1 Corinthians, he makes it very clear that the ministry callings and spiritual gifts are administered exclusively by God. It would almost seem as if Paul is contradicting himself. But if we read beyond Romans 1:11 we get a much clearer picture of what Paul meant,
For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; that is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. (Romans 1:11-12)
Paul is not talking about laying hands on people to transfer ministry callings and spiritual gifts. Briefly, he is speaking about both him and the Believers at Rome ministering to each other out of their own callings and walk of faith to edify each other in their relationship with God. This is very similar to the instruction he gave to the Colossians concerning teaching and admonishing one another (Colossians 3:16).
Someone might reply, Yes, Brother Martin, but what about 2 Timothy 1:6?
Wherefore I put thee in remembrance that thou stir up the gift of God, which is in thee by the putting on of my hands.
I’ll admit that years ago this one had me a little stumped. But I took the time to look up every reference in scripture to Timothy and read both 1 and 2 Timothy. We can understand 2 Timothy 1:6 if we read the other reference to this “impartation,”
Neglect not the gift that is in thee, which was given thee by prophecy, with the laying on of the hands of the presbytery. (1 Timothy 4:14)
A prophecy was given to Timothy concerning his ministry as the Holy Spirit administered one of His spiritual gifts through someone (Paul, perhaps?). Then, the presbytery (the ministers present) laid hands on Timothy and “set him forth” into ministry; they did not impart a ministry calling to Timothy. This event is essentially identical to what happened to the apostle Paul in Acts chapter thirteen;
Now there were in the church that was at Antioch certain prophets and teachers; as Barnabas, and Simeon that was called Niger, and Lucius of Cyrene, and Manaen, which had been brought up with Herod the tetrarch, and Saul. As they ministered to the Lord, and fasted, the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them. And when they had fasted and prayed, and laid their hands on them, they sent them away. (Acts 13:1-3)
These prophets and teachers did not impart a ministry calling to Paul; his calling had already been revealed to him in Acts chapter nine. What happened to both Paul and Timothy was what we today would call a “commissioning service,” a time when a person’s “spiritual elders” acknowledge his ministry calling, demonstrate their approval of that call and set him forth into ministry (often accompanied by the issuing of a ministry license or an ordination certificate).
What I have done so far is show you what God has said in His word; this has nothing to do with my opinion. Yet, many people who believe in supernatural impartations are eager to have a preacher lay hands on them so they can receive whatever it is they are seeking. If only it were that simple and such a short-cut existed!
Now that we know Romans 1:11, 1 Timothy 1:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 cannot be used to support the popular “impartation teaching,” about the only thing left is personal experience. In other words, “Okay, Brother Martin, I see what you’re saying about those verses. But I was there at such-and-such services…I saw what happened at this-and-that revival…I’ve seen the results when Evangelist So-and-So laid his hands on people…” and on it goes.
I am in no way trying to discredit any particular ministers or downplay a genuine move of God. But just because someone says they imparted something does not mean it was actually imparted! Just because a person reacted in a certain way does not mean that a preacher imparted a spiritual gift, ministry calling, or anointing to him. Now that you know what Romans 1:11, 1 Timothy 1:14 and 2 Timothy 1:6 really mean, what does that say about the preachers and their sermons wherein they incorrectly teach those verses?
Once again, if we stay true to scripture, no minister can lay his hands on a Christian and divinely impart any of the spiritual gifts (Gifts of the Spirit), ministry gifts/callings, or an anointing for ministry. All of these come from God.
What this all comes down to is the fact that the majority of Christians do not really understand about the spiritual gifts, do not really know what the Bible identifies as the true ministry gifts/callings that God has established, and do not really understand what the anointing is all about. Generally, we have been very casual in our approach to these areas and willing to accept almost any teaching which seems to make sense.
I know very well that some people may be greatly challenged when reading this letter because they have been firmly convinced that a preacher has imparted to them or their friends a gift, calling or anointing. It may be necessary to go over this letter several times and look up all of the scriptures I have referenced. But one thing is for certain, you will never go wrong by allowing God’s word to be your standard for all that you believe!
May His joy be your strength,