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How Does Unction Function?

Probing the mystery of "the anointing" in a sermon.

How Does Unction Function?See theme

In his novel Paul, Walter Wangerin, Jr., has Barnabas describing the great Apostle's preaching: "He had such a thing to tell them, and such a need to say it soon, to say it fast, that the reasonable tone of his voice would change to urgency. So then his sentences got longer, and the words burst from his mouth like flocks of birds, and the faith of the man was a high wind at the hearts of the people, and some of them gasped in delight, and these are the ones who rose up and flew; but others were insulted, and others afraid of the sacred passions."

I imagine unction like that.

Unction means the anointing of the Holy Spirit upon a sermon so that something holy and powerful is added to the message that no preacher can generate, no matter how great his skills. At the center of Pittsburgh two rivers, the Monongahela and the Allegheny, come together at The Point to form a new river, the mighty Ohio. That, I think, is how we envision unction working—the sermon and the Spirit ...

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Displaying 1–5 of 5 comments

Becky Tirabassi

August 14, 2017  9:39am

Every word rang true.

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Warren Charlton

August 01, 2017  10:13am

An encouraging but convicting article that has the Spirit's stamp upon it.

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Pastor Sandie

July 31, 2017  7:14pm

So that's what it is - unction. Sometimes I would think I am just too serious pleading with God to anoint me with His Word and not mine. I thought it was spiritual immaturity or maybe it was God gave more to one gender over another. I never wanted to preach until I felt what I called "God's stamp of approval", but now I know it is called unction. Thank you for this comprehensive article. It is excellent teaching.

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July 31, 2017  12:46pm

I don't always know when I have unction in the pulpit, but I have a much better sense of when the Spirit is at work refining the spoken and written Word in the hearts of my flock when members tell me afterwards what spoke to them. Sometimes it is a thought, image or a circumstance connected to their lives that my preaching provokes that has less of a correlation to my main message, but is that which the Lord has for them that particular morning. This reality at first was a bit disturbing because I assumed people were not listening, but I found through asking people that they did indeed hear the main message and thrust, but it was not that main message that always connected but instead led them to another insight. This reality has diminished my all-too-frequent aim to be clever or "relevant" for the renewed purpose of now aiming to being clear, Christ-centered and letting the Scripture speak more often on its own terms.

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Tim Tanner

July 28, 2007  9:44am

good article. i would recommend to anyone wanting to preach the word

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