Paul identifies these gifts in
I Corinthians 12:1-12 NKJV Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills. For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ.
As we said last week these gifts can be further subdivided into three groups: utterance, power, and revelation.
Utterance - These gifts say something: Prophecy, Speaking in Tongues, Interpretation of Tongues
Power - These gifts do something: Faith, Healing, Miracles
Revelation - These gifts reveal something: Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Discerning of Spirits
We’ve been through the Utterance Gifts of Prophecy, Speaking in Tongues and Interpretation of Tongues, and last week we talked about the Power Gifts faith, healing and miracles . Today we’re going to finish the Manifestation Gifts with the Revelation Gifts - Word of Wisdom, Word of Knowledge, Discerning of Spirits
First some comments about Word of Wisdom and word of Knowledge that we must understand or we will become very confused and if the gifts are to edify the church or body of Christ they should not cause confusion. Having said that we need to talk about those times that people say things like “I have a word from the Lord for you”, or “the Lord told me to tell you.” In doing so, they claim to be speaking on behalf of God and claim that their words are to be strictly obeyed.
This understanding of the word of knowledge and word of wisdom gifts comes dangerously close to denying the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture. If God continues to reveal His will and wisdom through special revelation to individuals, then can His Word truly be sufficient to make us “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work”
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
Has God truly given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), if we require other individuals to give us special revelation from God?
2 Peter 1:3 ESV His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence,
This is not to say that God never uses another person to speak to us, but if we often need direct messages from God through other people in order to live our lives, is God’s Word truly sufficient, as it declares itself to be?
So, if the word of wisdom and the word of knowledge are not prophetic/revelatory gifts, just what are they? We know one thing for sure: these gifts are given by the Spirit to build up (edify) the body of Christ, for the “common good”
1 Corinthians 12:7 ESV To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.
The havoc that so often ensues in churches that practice the word of knowledge and word of wisdom as revelatory gifts clearly is not for the common good. Confusing, nebulous, and sometimes contradictory “words from the Lord” do not come from God, for He is not a God of confusion or disorder.
1 Corinthians 14:31-33 ESV For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all be encouraged, and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets. For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints,
Nor do they tend to bring Christians together for their edification; on the contrary, they tend to cause division and strife in the body. Often the word of knowledge and/or word of wisdom gifts are used to gain power and influence over other people, to make others dependent on the one who claims to possess those gifts. This misuse of the two gifts is clearly not of God.
With that understanding let’s talk about these two gifts.
Definition of wisdom - the quality of having experience, knowledge, and good judgment
The divine enablement to apply knowledge and insight in accordance with God's purposes for someone's life.
This is someone who can understand and speak forth biblical truth in such a way as to skillfully apply it to life situations with all discernment.
Characteristics: These people are readily sought for advice and counsel in spiritual matters. They can anticipate consequences and implications of a person's actions and make practical applications of biblical truth. In the midst of conflict they can see simple solutions and have a high degree of common sense. The person with this gift knows how to fix problems and meet challenges.
WHAT IT IS
DEFINITION - Just as wisdom is knowledge rightly applied, so the Spiritual gift of the word of wisdom is the supernatural ability to apply knowledge already possessed, regardless of how one obtains that knowledge. It is knowledge rightly applied by the Spirit. It is God showing the WHAT, WHY, WHERE, WHEN, AND HOW of a problem. It is the supernatural solution to trouble.
APPLICATION - It is something every mother needs in her home, as she cannot handle every child alike. It is something every pastor, teacher, and church leader needs at times, since they cannot handle every member alike. It is something every merchant should have at times, as all customers will not respond to the same kind of treatment.
METHODS - It may come by visions, dreams, a revelation, a still small voice, or an audible voice. God speaks in many ways (Heb 11:1) and there are diversities of operation (1Cor 12:6).
PURPOSE - It builds a church and brings revival.
WHAT IT IS NOT
NOT LEARNED BY THE NATURAL MIND - The word of wisdom is not learned by the natural mind. It cannot be education, training, methods, or natural wisdom in any sense. A man without the Spirit may use methods which prove, many times, both helpful and harmful. What works beautifully in one situation may not work at all in another, especially when it comes to churches. Many pastors and church workers have problems that no one but God can help them with. No man knows the solution. The question is, then why not go to God? Conferences and seminars are fun to go to, but they are not to be confused with the spiritual gift of the word of wisdom.
NOT SPIRITUAL INSIGHT - This gift is not the ability to give spiritual insight. One may be mature in the Lord's Word and have many years of experience in rightly dividing the Word of Truth, and yet not have this supernatural spiritual gift. There is a vast difference between spiritual fruit and spiritual gifts. The fruit of the Spirit is something one must work at and be dedicated to obtaining. The gifts of the Spirit are manifested as the Spirit wills (1 Cor 12:7).
IT IS NOT PSYCHOLOGY - The supernatural gift of the word of wisdom is not something one learns in a classroom studying the natural tendencies of mankind. It is not a science of the mind. It is not any earthly wisdom. It is supernaturally given.
NOT SIMPLE WISDOM - This gift is not simple wisdom which every Christian gains from studying God's Word. Solomon had wisdom from God; but only once or twice did he receive a word of wisdom or a special revelation for a special problem. A young convert may have the revelation gift of the word of wisdom and have very little Biblical wisdom because of a lack of spiritual maturity.
NOT ALL OF GOD'S WISDOM - This gift is the gift of the WORD of wisdom, it is not the gift of wisdom. God speaks to us giving us a word or a portion of His wisdom, He doesn't give us the whole storehouse of His wisdom.
NOT JUST FOR PREACHERS AND CHURCH OFFICIALS - This gift is not just for those who are preachers and church officials or special workers in the church. It is a gift for all who have received the Holy Spirit and who are faced with a problem beyond their own understanding.
NOT JUST A GUESS OR A NEW IDEA - This gift is not just a guess or a new idea which accidentally pops into one's head. The same experience happens to lost people who do not have the Holy Spirit.
SOLOMON - In 1 Kings 3, Solomon was faced with a problem when two women both claimed a live baby after one had been smothered to death during the night. The Spirit of God showed Solomon to call for a sword. He started to divide the live baby between the two women when one of them started to cry out for the baby's life. Solomon knew that this woman was the baby's rightful mother. Solomon had just prayed and asked for wisdom from the Lord, which was then given by the Spirit for that specific problem. It might not have worked in a similar case if both loved the baby the same or if both were equally insensitive. It was a spiritual gift and a gift of a word of wisdom.
ELISHA - In 2 Kings 3, three kings told Elisha that the Moabites were coming to capture them. At first, Elisha did not know what to do. He called for a minstrel (v.15) and listened and praised the Lord. Then a gift of the word of wisdom was given to him and Elisha told them to "make the valley full of ditches" (v.16). The Moabites were defeated and three kingdoms were saved.
PAUL - Paul was given a word of knowledge from the Holy Spirit that he was supposed to go to Rome (Acts 19:21), but he did not know WHEN, WHY, or HOW. The Spirit gave him a word of wisdom one night and told him WHY he was to go (Acts 23:11). In a court room before Agrippa and Festus the Holy Spirit gave Paul another word of wisdom and showed him HOW and WHEN he was supposed to go (Acts 26:31). Later, the Spirit of God gave Paul another word of wisdom to prevent the death of all those on board the ship as they were on their way to Rome (Acts 27:31-34).
The word of knowledge – Also a speaking gift that involves understanding truth with an insight that only comes by revelation from God. Those with the gift of knowledge understand the deep things of God and the mysteries of His Word.
The word of knowledge is knowledge that is given to us supernaturally. It is a knowledge of things that you would not know through a natural acquisition or study.
The Greek word for this gift is Gnosis and it simply means knowledge and understanding. Paul spoke of knowledge and recognized that the highest form of knowledge among men is the Gospel of Jesus Christ
1 Corinthians 1:4-8 ESV I give thanks to my God always for you because of the grace of God that was given you in Christ Jesus, that in every way you were enriched in him in all speech and all knowledge— even as the testimony about Christ was confirmed among you— so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ, who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
What we can conclude then is the gift of knowledge is an understanding of the things in this world and in our lives that is founded in the Gospel and rooted in the Scriptures.
The Holy Spirit gives this spiritual gift to some believers to bring about understanding and to inform the church or individual believers. The person with this gift is usually well-versed in the Scriptures and often has much committed to memory. They can retain the truth and communicate it effectively at the appropriate times. The gift of knowledge allows a believer to relate the Scriptures, and particularly the Gospel of Jesus Christ, to all aspects of life in this world. They can see how it connects to every situation and circumstance and how the reality and truth of the Gospel is to inform every decision a Christian makes.
A person with the gift of knowledge is not more intelligent than others, they are merely a channel used by and for God to serve others through special insights and information.
The word of knowledge, or this gift, is not a reservoir of knowledge that you can just tap into at any time that you desire it. It is a gift of God. It often comes at unexpected times and many times without your even realizing that what you are saying is indeed a word of knowledge from God.Matthew 16:13-17 ESV Now when Jesus came into the district of Caesarea Philippi, he asked his disciples, "Who do people say that the Son of Man is?" And they said, "Some say John the Baptist, others say Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets." He said to them, "But who do you say that I am?" Simon Peter replied, "You are the Christ, the Son of the living God." And Jesus answered him, "Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah! For flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but my Father who is in heaven.
The word of knowledge and we see its manifestations in the lives of the apostles. Peter again, when Ananias and his wife Sapphira had sold their property and brought the money to lay at the apostles' feet, they made a pretense of giving the whole amount. In reality they had decided together to hold back a part of the price that they received for their property.Acts 5:1-6 ESV But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property, and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet. But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land? While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to man but to God." When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it. The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.
Peter knew that they were in a conspiracy to hold back a portion of the money.
After Saul’s Damascus Road experience, Ananias received a word of knowledge that confirmed Saul’s conversion
Acts 9:10-18 ESV Now there was a disciple at Damascus named Ananias. The Lord said to him in a vision, "Ananias." And he said, "Here I am, Lord." And the Lord said to him, "Rise and go to the street called Straight, and at the house of Judas look for a man of Tarsus named Saul, for behold, he is praying, and he has seen in a vision a man named Ananias come in and lay his hands on him so that he might regain his sight." But Ananias answered, "Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much evil he has done to your saints at Jerusalem. And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on your name." But the Lord said to him, "Go, for he is a chosen instrument of mine to carry my name before the Gentiles and kings and the children of Israel. For I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name." So Ananias departed and entered the house. And laying his hands on him he said, "Brother Saul, the Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road by which you came has sent me so that you may regain your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." And immediately something like scales fell from his eyes, and he regained his sight. Then he rose and was baptized;
The divine ability to sense the presence of spiritual forces and distinguish between truth and error.
(I Thess 5:19-22) 19 Do not put out the Spirit's fire; 20 do not treat prophecies with contempt. 21 Test everything. Hold on to the good. 22 Avoid every kind of evil.
When it comes to the gift of discerning spirits, every born again believer has a certain amount of discernment which increases as the believer matures in the Spirit.
Hebrews 5:12-14 ESV For though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you again the basic principles of the oracles of God. You need milk, not solid food, for everyone who lives on milk is unskilled in the word of righteousness, since he is a child. But solid food is for the mature, for those who have their powers of discernment trained by constant practice to distinguish good from evil.
A believer who has matured beyond using the milk of the Word as a babe in Christ is able to discern both good and evil. Not only is the maturing believer empowered by the Spirit of God through the Scriptures to tell the difference between good and evil, but also between what is good and what is better. In other words, any born again believer who chooses to focus upon the Word of God may be enabled to be spiritually discerning.
There are certain individuals, however, who have the God-given ability to distinguish between the truth of the Scriptures and erroneous and deceptive doctrines propagated by demons.
Although we are all exhorted to be spiritually discerning some in the body of Christ have been given the unique ability to “spot” the forgeries in doctrine that have plagued the church since the first century. But this does not involve a mystical, extra-biblical revelation or a voice from God. Rather, the spiritually discerning among us are so familiar with the Word of God that they instantly recognize what is contrary to it. They do not receive special messages from God; they use the Word of God to “test the spirits” to see which line up with God and which are in opposition to Him.
The spiritually discerning are those who “rightly divide” (2 Timothy 2:15) the Word of God in a thoughtful and diligent manner.
Characteristics: These people have a keen sense of what is right and what is wrong "spiritually speaking". They are able to distinguish truth from error in a divine fashion which was especially crucial in the early church when the Bible was not readily available to all, thus there was no way to measure the claims of the teacher or prophet. These people have a keen sense of spiritual intuition and may be called upon often by the Holy Spirit for there is an element in which those with this gift can more easily identify the spiritual influence of the demonic on individuals or in the room.
Cautions: They may rely way too much on "feeling" and not on scripture to decide truth from error.
There is a potential to either relegate this gift to the back burner, or give it too much credibility in decision making. Usually it takes years of practice to develop this gift and often shy and introverted people have it but they are unwilling to tell their leaders of their experiences and impressions for fear of being mocked. This slows down their gift development.
Scripture Example: Nathan (2 Samuel12); Peter (Acts 5:1-11)