“The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.”—ROM. 8:16.
SONG 25 A Special Possession
1-2. What spectacular event occurs on the day of Pentecost in 33 C.E.?
IT IS Sunday morning in Jerusalem. The year is 33 C.E., and it is the day of Pentecost. A group of about 120 disciples are gathered together in the upper room of a house. (Acts 1:13-15; 2:1) A few days earlier, Jesus had instructed them to remain in Jerusalem because they were to receive a special gift. (Acts 1:4, 5) What happens next?
2 “Suddenly there [is] a noise from heaven, just like that of a rushing, stiff breeze.” The sound fills the whole house. Then, “tongues as if of fire” appear above the disciples’ heads, and they all become “filled with holy spirit.” (Acts 2:2-4) In this spectacular way, Jehovah pours out his holy spirit on that group. (Acts 1:8) They become the first to be anointed by holy spirit* and given the hope of ruling with Jesus in heaven.
WHAT HAPPENS WHEN SOMEONE IS ANOINTED?
3. Why did those at Pentecost have no doubt that they were anointed by holy spirit?
3 If you were one of those disciples gathered in the upper room that day, you would never forget it. Something that looked like a tongue of fire came to rest on your head, and you began to speak in tongues! (Acts 2:5-12) There would be no question in your mind that you were anointed by holy spirit. But do all those who are anointed by holy spirit receive their anointing in some spectacular manner and at the same time in their life? No. How do we know?
4. Did all anointed ones in the first century receive their calling at the same time in their life? Explain.
4 Let us consider the matter of timing. That group of about 120 Christians were not the only ones anointed by holy spirit at Pentecost, 33 C.E. Later that day, about 3,000 others also received the promised holy spirit. Their anointing occurred when they got baptized. (Acts 2:37, 38, 41) But in the years that followed, not all anointed Christians received their anointing at their baptism. The Samaritans received their anointing sometime after their baptism. (Acts 8:14-17) And in what certainly was an exceptional instance, Cornelius and his household were anointed even before they got baptized.—Acts 10:44-48.
5. According to 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22, what happens when someone is anointed by holy spirit?
5 Let us also consider what happens when a person is anointed by holy spirit. Some who are anointed may at first find it hard to accept that Jehovah has chosen them. They may wonder, ‘Why did God choose me?’ Others may not have that reaction. Whatever the case, the apostle Paul explains what happens to all who are anointed: “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; ftn.) So Jehovah uses his holy spirit to make it absolutely clear to these Christians that he has chosen them. In this way, the holy spirit is “a token [a pledge or promise]” given to assure them that in the future they will live forever in heaven and not on earth.—Read 2 Corinthians 1:21, 22.
6. What must an anointed Christian do to receive his heavenly reward?
6 If a Christian is anointed, will he automatically receive his heavenly reward? No. He is sure that he has been chosen to go to heaven. However, he must remember this admonition: “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.” (2 Pet. 1:10) So even though an anointed Christian has been chosen, or called, to go to heaven, he will get his reward only if he remains faithful.—Phil. 3:12-14; Heb. 3:1; Rev. 2:10.
HOW DOES SOMEONE KNOW IF HE IS ANOINTED?
7. How do anointed ones know that they have the heavenly calling?
7 But how does a person know that he or she has the heavenly calling? The answer is clearly seen in Paul’s words to those in Rome who were “called to be holy ones.” He told them: “You did not receive a spirit of slavery causing fear again, but you received a spirit of adoption as sons, by which spirit we cry out: ‘Abba, Father!’ The spirit itself bears witness with our spirit that we are God’s children.” (Rom. 1:7; 8:15, 16) So by means of his holy spirit, God makes it clear to anointed ones that they have this heavenly calling.—1 Thess. 2:12.
8 Jehovah leaves no doubt whatsoever in the minds and hearts of those who receive his invitation to go to heaven. (Read 1 John 2:20, 27.) Of course, anointed Christians need to be taught by Jehovah through the congregation just like everyone else. But they do not need anyone to confirm that they are anointed. Jehovah has used the most powerful force in the universe, his holy spirit, to make it absolutely clear to them that they are anointed!
THEY ARE “BORN AGAIN”
9. When someone is anointed, what change does that person experience, as described at Ephesians 1:18?
9 Most of God’s servants today may find it difficult to understand what happens to someone when God anoints him. This is normal because they themselves have not been anointed. God created humans to live forever on earth, not in heaven. (Gen. 1:28; Ps. 37:29) But Jehovah has chosen some to live in heaven. So when he anoints them, he changes their hope and way of thinking drastically, so that they look forward to life in heaven.—Read Ephesians 1:18.
10. What does it mean to be “born again”? (See also footnote.)
10 When Christians are anointed by holy spirit, they are “born again,” or “born from above.”* Jesus also indicated that it is impossible to explain exactly to someone who has not been anointed how it feels to be “born again,” or to be “born from the spirit.”—John 3:3-8; ftn.
11. Explain the change in thinking that occurs when someone is anointed.
11 What change in thinking takes place when Christians are anointed? Before Jehovah anointed these Christians, they treasured the hope of living forever on earth. They looked forward with great eagerness to the time when Jehovah would remove all wickedness and make the earth a paradise. Perhaps they imagined themselves welcoming back a family member or a friend who had died. But after they were anointed, they started to think differently. Why is that? They did not become dissatisfied with that earthly hope. They did not change their mind because of emotional stress or turmoil. They did not suddenly feel that they would find living forever on earth to be boring. Instead, Jehovah used his holy spirit to change the way that they think and the hope that they cherish.
12. According to 1 Peter 1:3, 4, how do anointed Christians feel about their hope?
12 Someone who has been anointed may feel unworthy of this precious privilege. But he does not for one minute doubt that Jehovah has chosen him. His heart bursts with joy and appreciation when he thinks of his future prospects.—Read 1 Peter 1:3, 4.
13. How do anointed ones feel about their life here on earth?
13 So does this mean that anointed ones want to die? The apostle Paul answers that question. He compared their human body to a tent and said: “In fact, we who are in this tent groan, being weighed down, because we do not want to put this one off, but we want to put the other on, so that what is mortal may be swallowed up by life.” (2 Cor. 5:4) These Christians have not lost interest in this life, wanting it to end quickly. On the contrary, they enjoy life and want to use each day to serve Jehovah with their family and friends. Yet, no matter what they are doing, they always remember the glorious hope that they have for the future.—1 Cor. 15:53; 2 Pet. 1:4; 1 John 3:2, 3; Rev. 20:6.
HAS JEHOVAH ANOINTED YOU?
14. What does not prove that a person has been anointed by holy spirit?
14 Perhaps you are wondering if you have been anointed by holy spirit. If so, think about these important questions: Do you have a burning desire to do Jehovah’s will? Do you feel that you are especially zealous in the preaching work? Are you a keen student of God’s Word who loves to learn about “the deep things of God”? (1 Cor. 2:10) Do you feel that Jehovah has given you wonderful results in the preaching work? Do you have a deep inner feeling of responsibility to help others spiritually? Have you seen proof that Jehovah has helped you in many specific ways in your life? If you answer these questions with a resounding yes, does this prove that you now have the heavenly calling? No, it does not. Why not? Because all of God’s servants can feel this way, whether they are anointed or not. And by means of his holy spirit, Jehovah can give the same power to any of his servants, no matter what their hope is. In fact, if you are wondering whether you have been anointed by holy spirit, such doubt in itself would mean that you have not been. Those called by Jehovah do not wonder whether they have been anointed or not! They know!
15. How do we know that not all those who have received God’s spirit have been chosen to go to heaven?
15 Throughout the Bible, there are many examples of men of faith who received holy spirit; yet, they did not have the hope of living in heaven. David was guided by holy spirit. (1 Sam. 16:13) Holy spirit helped him to understand the deep things about Jehovah and also directed him to write parts of the Bible. (Mark 12:36) Even so, the apostle Peter said that David “did not ascend to the heavens.” (Acts 2:34) John the Baptist was “filled with holy spirit.” (Luke 1:13-16) Jesus said that there was no man greater than John, but then he said that John would not be included in the heavenly Kingdom. (Matt. 11:10, 11) Jehovah used his holy spirit to give these men the power to do amazing things, but he did not use that spirit to choose them to live in heaven. Does this mean that they were less faithful than those chosen to rule in heaven? No. It simply means that Jehovah will bring them back to life in Paradise on earth.—John 5:28, 29; Acts 24:15.
16. What reward do most of God’s servants look forward to today?
16 The vast majority of God’s servants on earth today do not have the hope of living in heaven. Like Abraham, Sarah, David, John the Baptist, and many other men and women in Bible times, they look forward to living on earth when God’s Kingdom will rule over them.—Heb. 11:10.
17. What questions will we consider in the next article?
17 Because some anointed ones are still among God’s people today, certain questions naturally arise. (Rev. 12:17) For example, how should anointed ones view themselves? If someone in your congregation starts to partake of the emblems at the Memorial, how should you treat that person? And what if the number of those who say that they are anointed keeps on growing? Should you be concerned about it? We will answer these questions in the next article.
Ever since Pentecost 33 C.E., Jehovah has given some Christians an amazing hope—the hope of ruling with his Son in heaven. How, though, do these Christians know that they have been selected for this wonderful privilege? What happens when someone receives this invitation? This article is based on one that appeared in the January 2016 Watchtower. It will answer those intriguing questions.
EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: Anointed by holy spirit: Jehovah uses his holy spirit to select a person to rule with Jesus in heaven. By means of his spirit, God gives that person a promise for the future, or “a token in advance.” (Eph. 1:13, 14) These Christians can say that the holy spirit “bears witness,” or makes clear, to them that their reward is in heaven.—Rom. 8:16.
EXPRESSION EXPLAINED: Seal. This sealing is not made permanent until sometime before the person dies faithful or sometime before the outbreak of the great tribulation.—Eph. 4:30; Rev. 7:2-4; see “Questions From Readers” in the April 2016 Watchtower.
For further explanation of what it means to be “born again,” see The Watchtower, April 1, 2009, pp. 3-12.
SONG 27 The Revealing of God’s Sons
PICTURE DESCRIPTION: Whether we are imprisoned for our faith or we are free to preach and to teach the truth, we can look forward to living on earth when God’s Kingdom will rule over us.