baptism of the holy spirit, biblical scholarship, christianity, church, discernment of spirits, divine healing, faith, gifts of healings, God's promises, God's will, Holy Spirit, Jesus Christ, miracles, prayer, prophesy, redemption, religion, resurrection, sickness, speaking in tongues, special faith, theology, word of knowledge, word of wisdom
Back in the fourth article in this series, I presented the 9 gifts of the Spirit as listed in 1 Corinthians 12. In subsequent articles on this topic, we have discussed 3 of those gifts, the ones commonly referred to as the “utterance gifts:”
- Unknown tongues
- Interpretation of tongues
Now, after a lengthy hiatus, we will hit the remaining six in the list. The reason I’m lumping them into this one article is that these gifts are almost always manifested in some combination with one another to accomplish whatever the Spirit wills at the time. As a result, it’s almost impossible to provide examples illustrating any one of them in operation by itself.
The Revelation Gifts
- Word of Knowledge
- Word of Wisdom
- Discernment of Spirits
Word of Knowledge
This gift is manifested whenever the Holy Spirit reveals something to someone concerning one or more others present at the time, knowledge that the person so used could not possibly know except by supernatural means. Typically, the person operating in this gift will announce whatever has been revealed to him or her, usually just prior to an invitation for those so identified to come forward to receive prayer and the laying on of hands.
Neither the words of knowledge or wisdom are necessarily vocal — by their very definition, there is no inherent demand to make public announcements of whatever the Holy Spirit has revealed. I say this because the Greek for “word” used in both of these terms is logos (concepts, ideas, examples, narrative, doctrine) as opposed to rhema, the Greek word for “an utterance by a living voice.”
Here is an example from the NT where a word of knowledge was in operation:
And in Lystra a certain man without strength in his feet was sitting, a cripple from his mother’s womb, who had never walked. This man heard Paul speaking. Paul, observing him intently and seeing that he had faith to be healed, said with a loud voice, “Stand up straight on your feet!” And he leaped and walked. — Acts 14:8-10
In this case, the word of knowledge was accompanied by the gifts of healings, special faith, and miracles.
Here are some examples that I have personally experienced or witnessed during various church services over the years:
- Several years ago, my pastor at the time announced that the anointing of the Holy Spirit was present to heal knees and asked if anyone present was having knee problems. I had fallen on my right knee with my full weight onto concrete a few weeks earlier and it was still relatively tender and prone to buckling when I least expected it. I went forward and indicated that my problem was with my right knee. My pastor squatted down, placed his hands on both sides of my knee and began to pray, both in tongues and in English. We both felt what I can only describe as a “snap, crackle, pop” in my knee and I was instantly healed. In this case, the word of knowledge was accompanied by the gifts of word of wisdom and healing. The word of knowledge informed him of the problem, the word of wisdom told him what to do about it, and the gift of healings healed my knee.
- I was used in this gift regarding a couple at our church who were desperately trying to get pregnant, something I had heard rumors about, but had no direct personal knowledge of. The Lord revealed to me that He was going to give them children. I was unsure whether I was hearing correctly, so I raised my hand to be recognized. When I was, I went forward and whispered in the pastor’s ear, asking if this was the case. Since the couple was his sister-in-law and her husband, he knew their situation well and affirmed that I had heard accurately. I called the couple forward and asked another couple who had struggled for years to have kids and who God had blessed with 2 boys by that time to come forward, lay hands on them, and pray for them. Later, the Lord blessed the prayed-for couple with beautiful adopted children. On this occasion, the word of knowledge was accompanied by the word of wisdom and prophesy. The word of knowledge told me what the issue was, the word of wisdom told me what to do with that knowledge, and the gift of prophesy foretold their eventual parenthood.
- On other occasions, I’ve heard ministers call forward people with all kinds of illnesses, ask those who were unemployed and needed a job to stand up or come forward to be prayed for, ask those who were in bondage to addictions or other besetting sins to raise their hands to be prayed for while everyone else’s eyes were closed, have those who were having problems with their families, whether marital tensions or problems with their kids come up for prayer, or announcing that the Lord’s anointing was present to cause a breakthrough in whatever other situation was described. On such occasions, the word of knowledge was accompanied by the gifts of healing, word of wisdom, and prophesy.
- Some people can hear very specific things from the Holy Spirit, describing situations being experienced by someone they are ministering to, sometimes naming names. The Holy Spirit tends to do this with people who have struggled with some kind of situation for years, are beginning to waver in their faith, and desperately need some encouragement/reassurance that God had not forgotten them, He was not angry or displeased with them, and was still very much on the scene. This again was the word of knowledge paired with prophesy.
- Other times, when I’ve been counseling someone who I have never met before, I’ll know what questions to ask because the Holy Spirit is showing me, through a word of knowledge and/or wisdom, what the person’s issue really is. Please notice that I ask questions to verify what I’ve heard, rather than announcing “This saith the Lord…” or “The Lord told me your problem is…”
Word of Wisdom
Some ministers teach that this is God foretelling future events by the Holy Spirit, but I would totally dispute that as being unsupportable in the original Greek of the NT — that function is actually covered under the gift of prophesy, as we have already discussed in the article concerning that gift.
The word of wisdom is akin to the word of knowledge in that it too supernaturally reveals hidden knowledge, but this kind of knowledge is specifically the wise course of action that should be taken to solve a given problem here on earth. It can also manifest as insights into God’s Word that people can apply to their walks with God — please note that any such insights will be absolutely and totally consistent with entirety of the Scriptures, though they may contradict the opinions of long-dead, revered-by-many theologians.
Examples of this in the Bible are:
- The decision by the apostles to appoint deacons to handle the task of equitably distributing food to the widows in the Church (Acts 6)
- This is likely the gift that the deacon Stephen operated in where it says:
“And they were not able to resist the wisdom and the Spirit by which he spoke.” — Acts 6:10
- In Acts 15, it records the first meeting of a church council to settle a dispute over whether Gentiles could be saved. The agreement that was reached was preceded by the phrase “For it seems good to the Holy Spirit and to us…
Discernment of Spirits
This is not the same as spiritual discernment, the ability mature Christians possess to determine good from bad, holy from evil, wise vs. unwise, scriptural or unscriptural, etc. Discernment of spirits means that the person used in this gift is actually looking into the invisible spirit realm where God and Satan — as well as their respective servants — dwell/operate and seeing or feeling those angelic or demonic presences.
As with the other two revelation gifts, this gift does not demand vocalization by definition.
Personally, I’ve experienced at least 3 times when I’ve been used in this gift and discerned the presence of evil spirits.
- When casting a demon out of a fellow soldier after a Bible study while I was stationed in Germany
- When that same soldier became re-demonized and confronted me in my barracks room
- One time early in my walk with God when I was driving an unsaved female acquaintance on a date. A demonic spirit showed up in the back of my station wagon and I successfully commanded it to depart. It was quite a witness to my lady friend, who could immediately detect the change of spiritual atmosphere in the car after the demon departed.
Jesus operated extensively in this gift when He was casting out demons from those who were brought to Him for deliverance. The Apostle Paul was used in this gift on several occasions in the Book of Acts.
The Power Gifts
- Gifts of Healings
- Working of Miracles
- Special Faith
These 3 are so inter-dependent that it’s virtually impossible to describe them apart from one another. Healings, well that’s self-explanatory. Miracles, pretty much the same. Special faith is what’s left and there isn’t really much to cover. But let’s take a brief moment to discuss miracles for a bit.
A miracle is simply an event where God momentarily suspends the natural laws of time and space in order to accomplish His will in the earth, usually in response to prayer. Since God created those laws by speaking them into existence in the first place, He is certainly neither bound by them nor prevented from accomplishing whatever He wills at any given point in time.
I find it interesting to note that the very folks who vehemently proclaim the absolute sovereignty of God (God can do anything He wants at any time for any reason regardless of what His Word promises) are almost always the same folks who will also vehemently deny that He can and does perform modern-day miracles. Just sayin’…
In my opinion, the refusal to accept that God still does miracles is a product of post-modern Western Civilization. Go anywhere in the Third World where you find Christian believers and the vast majority of them not only believe in miracles, but indeed experience them. That’s because they haven’t had the “benefit” of humanistic public school systems and seminaries to talk them out of what the Bible clearly states.
The late missionary evangelist T. L. Osborn used to hold crusades throughout the Third World. He would proclaim to crowds of people numbering in the tens of thousands that God always confirms His Word with signs following. In other words, miracles. He went on to say that if miracles did not happen after he finished preaching, then whatever he said was false and he should not be believed. Without fail, God showed up and miracles happened by the thousands. The crippled walked, the blind saw, the deaf heard, the dumb spoke, missing limbs were regrown, demoniacs were delivered and set free, all in the wonderful name of Jesus!
The word “special” is attached to faith in this instance, despite the fact that “special” appears nowhere in the Greek text of 1 Corinthians 12. Why? Because we need some way to differentiate the gift of faith listed there from the kind of faith that results in our salvation and helps us overcome the adverse circumstances in our daily lives.
Many have gotten these two kinds of faith confused and, when faced with a major attack of the enemy, they give up, saying “Well, I guess God didn’t give me the gift of faith.” Such declarations are a lie from the pit of Hell! Satan uses them to accuse God of playing favorites, despite the many, many verses declaring otherwise. People buying into this lie are copping-out of their responsibility to believe God by blaming Him for not giving them this gift for whatever reason. Au contraire, mes amis! As I’ve discussed in the first of my articles about praying in faith, we have all been given “the measure of faith” without impartiality. It is our responsibility to allow God to develop that faith through overcoming the obstacles we face in our daily lives.
What makes the gift of faith “special” is that it is a supernatural level of faith imbued by the Holy Spirit at a given moment to bring about miracles and healings which are beyond our normal ability to believe God for. Examples are the blind seeing, the deaf hearing, the mute speaking, the wheelchair-bound cripple walking, those with incurable diseases such as terminal cancer, HIV, Parkinson’s, etc. being healed of their afflictions, and the real biggie, raising someone from the dead. All such miracles involved the gift of special faith because our puny human intellects tend to simply roll over and die faith-wise in the face of such huge needs.
A classic scriptural example of the gifts of special faith, miracles, and healings working together is the healing of the crippled beggar at the Beautiful Gate by Peter and John:
Now Peter and John went up together to the temple at the hour of prayer, the ninth hour. And a certain man lame from his mother’s womb was carried, whom they laid daily at the gate of the temple which is called Beautiful, to ask alms from those who entered the temple, who, seeing Peter and John about to go into the temple, asked for alms. And fixing his eyes on him, with John, Peter said, “Look at us.” So he gave them his attention, expecting to receive something from them. Then Peter said, “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you: In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk!” And he took him by the right hand and lifted him up, and immediately his feet and ankle bones received strength. So he, leaping up, stood and walked and entered the temple with them — walking, leaping, and praising God. And all the people saw him walking and praising God. — Acts 3:1-9
Another example of miracles and special faith appearing together is Paul raising from the dead a Philippian young man named Eutychus, who fell three stories to his death after falling asleep during one of Paul’s sermons:
Now on the first day of the week, when the disciples came together to break bread, Paul, ready to depart the next day, spoke to them and continued his message until midnight. There were many lamps in the upper room where they were gathered together. And in a window sat a certain young man named Eutychus, who was sinking into a deep sleep. He was overcome by sleep; and as Paul continued speaking, he fell down from the third story and was taken up dead. But Paul went down, fell on him, and embracing him said, “Do not trouble yourselves, for his life is in him.” Now when he had come up, had broken bread and eaten, and talked a long while, even till daybreak, he departed. And they brought the young man in alive, and they were not a little comforted. — Acts 20:7-12
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been at this charismatic Christian thing for over 40 years, I’ve believed for and received miracles from God, and I have yet to go around yanking cripples out of their wheelchairs as God healed them or raising those who died while falling asleep during one of my sermons (many have slept, but no one has died so far! 🙂 ). While I pray there will come a day when I will have that kind of faith as part of my daily walk with Jesus, right now it would have to be through the gift of special faith!
That wraps up the remaining 6 gifts. I would like to now emphasize something in closing.
These are gifts and they are from God, the Holy Spirit. They are not given to those so used as some sort of reward for their spirituality or personal holiness, but are given sovereignly by the Holy Spirit as: 1) the need arises, and; 2) He is welcomed into the situation and allowed to have His way in the gathering. Our brothers and sisters who are used in the gifts are not to be exalted and regarded any higher or lower than any other of our brethren who are not so used — only God is to be glorified!
Finally, we are not to seek and pursue the public gifts for our own personal aggrandizement, but pursue the Giver of those gifts Who rewards those who diligently seek Him. We humble ourselves, submitting to Him simply because that is what we as believers are called to do as part of our normal, everyday walks with God. He will give us — or not! — the public gifts as He sees fit to serve His purposes for His glory, and never for ours!
Once we start believing our own press releases, we have started the countdown timer on our next divine comeuppance and, trust me, I know from personal experience that such comeuppances are brutally painful and totally humiliating. A word to the wise…
Thanks for reading!