The Word Of Knowledge
"For to one is given by the Spirit the word of wisdom; to another the word of knowledge by the same Spirit" (1 Corinthians 12:8 , KJV).
"To one is given in and through the (Holy) Spirit [the power to speak] a message of wisdom, and to another [the power to express] a word of knowledge and understanding according to the same (Holy) Spirit"; (1 Corinthians 12:8 , AMP.).
WHAT IS THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE?
Let us, first of all, break it down to its original Greek meanings:
The Word Of Knowledge, therefore, is knowledge received from the Holy Spirit to enable us to more effectively minister to the needs of people, to know and understand situations, circumstances, strategies of the enemy (kingdoms of darkness), etc. It enables us to knowhow to speak in the above situations with a knowledge that can surprise, baffle, dis-arm, open-up, bring answers, healing and understanding.
The Word of Knowledge is one of the nine Gifts of the Holy Spirit which we read of in 1 Corinthians12:1-11.
All these gifts are of the Holy Spirit, and are Spirit-inspired. They are supernatural in nature, to help the Spirit-filled believer to bring the presence and reality of the Living Christ into a situation, as well as to bring answers to humanity — both individually and collectively.
"I believe that the Word of Knowledge is a thought, or impression on our mind or a vision or the direct audible voice of the Holy Spirit ABOUT a situation" (Bill Subritzky in his book "Receiving The Gifts Of The Holy Spirit").
"This is the supernatural revelation of fact about a person or situation, which is not learned through the efforts of the natural mind, but is a fragment of knowledge freely given by God, disclosing the truth which the Spirit wishes to be made known concerning a particular person or situation" (John Wimber, "Vineyard Fellowships,"U.S.A.).
HOW DOES THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE OPERATE?
It is one thing to know the theories of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit, but quite another to recognize that such a gift is ours to use. The first obstacle we face in being used by the Holy Spirit Giftings is often our (the Christian’s) ignorance of the gifts.
Kill Ignorance!! The Apostle Paul in the very first verse of 1 Corinthians 12 makes this important statement:
"Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I would not have you ignorant." The word "ignorant" means "not to perceive or know; not to understand or comprehend" (Bullinger’s).
It can also include being misinformed, which is how the Amplified Bible expresses it: "Now about the spiritual gifts (the special endowments of supernatural energy), brethren, I do not want you to be misinformed."
CULTIVATE A RIGHT ATTITUDE:
Too often our ignorance of the gifts is shown by our attitude toward them. For example, some have the idea that to "operate" or "function" in the gifts it is all of the sovereignty of God: we do nothing; He kind of overpowers us and comes through outside of our will. This is not true. God never violates our will! To flow in the gifts we must be willing and available to obey the Holy Spirit. This means that in faith, in response to the promptings of the Holy Spirit, we will be willing to make publicly known (generally) that knowledge which we have received from the Holy Spirit — even though we did not know that information naturally beforehand.
To Function In The Word Of Knowledge, One Must:
GAIN KNOWLEDGE FROM GOD AND PEOPLE:
The answer to ignorance is knowledge. Become informed about what the Word of God has to say. 1 Corinthians Chapters 12 to 14 and Romans 12 are important portions of Scripture to know well.
Observe other people who flow in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit.
Learn from their good points and also their not so good points.
Recognize the human part of us can make mistakes, even in Holy Spirit ministry!
HAVE THE RIGHT MOTIVATION:
Make sure that your motivation is always to build up God and His people. The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are always to edify, exhort and comfort people (1 Corinthians 14:1-3 ). To minister effectively in the gifts one needs to love people, have good relationships with people, have an acceptance by the people – otherwise so much of what we have to share with them will be rejected. To flow in the Gift of the Word of Knowledge (or any other spiritual gift) does not make us a prophet of God – we cannot demand that the people accept what we say or else it will be "Thus saith the Lord, brimstone and judgment will fall upon thee . . . shund a barunda!!"
LEARN FROM THE POSTMAN - WE ARE GOD’S MESSENGERS:
In exercising the Gift of the Word of Knowledge we are passing on to others information from the Holy Spirit that He wants them to know at this time in their life. A natural illustration that might be helpful to your understanding is that of the postman. He is employed to deliver a message to pre-appointed people. His job is to take the message to the person whose name is on the envelope. It is not the postman’s message — that comes from the sender. The postman doesn’t have to know or understand the lifestyle of the person who the letter is addressed to. His job is simply to deliver the message (whether he understands it or not). If the postman gets careless or outside his realm of authority, then there is every possibility that the message will be delayed — or even delivered to the wrong person! (That breeds confusion).
Likewise in the Holy Spirit ministry. Our "employer" the Holy Spirit asks us to deliver a message to a certain person. It is not "our" message and the message is not for us. We are simply the delivery person. When we do just as the Holy Spirit asks us — no more and no less — then the message (the Word of Knowledge) will be delivered to the right person in the right place at the right time. Remember, the Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth (John 14:15-17 ; John 15:26 ; John 16:13-15 ).
It is when we try to interfere with that process that the Gifts of the Holy Spirit fall into disrepute. Once that happens repeatedly people will "switch-off" to the messenger and not receive any "words" from them in their hearts, even if they show otherwise outwardly at the time of reception.
SUMMING UP THUS FAR:
In summing up this section, then, to operate in the Word of Knowledge (in an ongoing and acceptable way) one needs to have:
A GOOD DEVOTIONAL LIFE:
That is, building a personal relationship with Jesus and the Holy Spirit in prayer and the studying of the Word of God. It is through taking time to be with God that we learn to recognize His voice and when He is speaking to us. If we do not know His voice we will never be able to respond to Him or exercise the gifts.
A RIGHT RELATIONSHIP IN A DOCTRINALLY SOUND, SPIRIT-FILLED CHURCH:
The importance of being established into the life of a church cannot be overemphasized. If we want to be effective in the Word of Knowledge we must be "rooted into" a church home where our gifts can be exercised, developed and proven that they are indeed the Holy Spirit and not some human ego trip. It is vital that our gifts can be "judged" by the Body of Christ (1 Corinthians 14:29 ; 1 Thessalonians 5:19-26 ).
A TEACHABLE SPIRIT:
In matters of the Holy Spirit Gifts there are many things to learn. If we do not have a humble, teachable spirit, then we are going to finish up in real trouble. I thank God for those who have spoken into my life, both to give correction and encouragement. The result of that is that I have grown in confidence and faith to exercise the Gifts of the Holy Spirit as I recognize His promptings. Some marvelous things have happened over the years!
If we are not teachable and we begin to develop "gifts" on a wrong understanding or in error, we will certainly self-destruct further down the track — the tragedy being that many lives can also be ruined in the process as well. Don’t be too proud to receive loving instruction!
A SENSITIVE SPIRIT:
The Gifts of the Holy Spirit are usually for exercising in a public manner. Therefore we need to cultivate a sensitive spirit towards God — and also towards the meeting or environment we are in. God is not a God of disorder or chaos and, if we are sensitive to Him, He will show us how to deliver a Word of Knowledge in a way that is beautiful. Sensitivity will also help give us the right timing and the right way to go about things.
A GENUINE LOVE FOR PEOPLE:
In 1 Corinthians 13 we are told that it is possible to develop great gifts of God in our life, yet still not love! We can separate our gifts, develop them to a tremendous degree, and still be impersonal and unloving towards people. The Bible says if we do that, then we areNOTHING! We have missed God somewhere, even though we can use His gifts. That is a great tragedy and, far too often, is the testimony of too many Christians over the years (John 13:34-35 ; John 15:7 ; 1 John 4:7-21 ).
It is love for God and people that teaches us the most about the exercising of Spiritual Gifts! The ministering vessel needs to know something of love and compassion. He is dealing with eternal souls, and the result of his Word of Knowledge can mean release or ruin for many years to come. It is not by chance that 1 Corinthians 13 is placed where it is — right in the middle of Chapters 12 and 14 which teach us about Spiritual Gifts.
A DESIRE TO BE USED:
No one will flow in the gifts if there is no desire to. God responds to desire (Psalm 37:4 ; Psalm 145:16-21 ; Psalm 21:2 ). "The desire of the righteous shall be granted" (Proverbs 10:24 ). Paul desired to impart Spiritual Gifts into the saints: "For I long ("to desire earnestly") to see you, that I may impart ("to give a share of") unto you some spiritual ("belonging to the Spirit, determined by, influenced by or proceeding from it" - Bullinger’s) gift, to the end you may be established ("set fast, fixed firmly") (Romans 1:11 , KJV).
The Apostle also exhorted us to:
" . . . covet ("be zealous for") earnestly ("serious in mind or intention; demanding serious attention" - Collins) the best gifts" (1 Corinthians 12:31 , KJV).
"Follow after love, and desire spiritual gifts . . . " (1 Corinthians 14:1 ).
Cultivate Your Desire To Flow In Spiritual Gifts.
Pray for God to stir your spirit over these matters.
Don‘t be Afraid to Ask!
It is always good to learn from others. When someone is functioning in a lovely way in the gifts, don’t be afraid to approach them later to learn more.
MANY VARIATIONS ON USING THE GIFTS:
There is only one Holy Spirit, but there are many different ways the Word of Knowledge can operate. God uses our personalities and, as they are all different, there can be quite a variety of ways the gift can function. Don’t be afraid of this.
"Now there are distinctive varieties and distributions of endowments [extraordinary powers distinguishing certain Christians, due to the power of divine grace operating in their souls by the Holy Spirit] and they vary, but the (Holy) Spirit remains the same.
And there are distinctive varieties of service and ministration, but it is the same Lord [Who is served].
And there are distinctive varieties of operation — of working to accomplish things — but it is the same God Who inspires and energizes them all in all" (1 Corinthians 12:4-6 , AMP).
Over the years of moving in the Word of Knowledge I have recognized various ways in which I receive "a word." They are:
In The Prayer Closet Before A Meeting Even Begins:
I will become aware that a certain person will be in the meeting; the Holy Spirit will show me something of that person’s need or what I am to minister to them. This method has often been tested, as many times when I get to the meeting the person concerned is not there! But they eventually turn up — late! — and once again the Holy Spirit shows He knows what He is doing. Truth prevails!
A Witness In My Spirit:
I will just suddenly know something about a particular person or persons that I am to minister to. The Holy Spirit makes the information "alive" in my spirit. I know it in my "knower."
It is important to recognize that "witness" as it can mean the difference between a "missed opportunity" or a "Holy Spirit encounter" for someone.
The Word of God:
Many times as I have looked at people while preaching – even before and after the preaching is all over! – there will suddenly come alive in my spirit a particular Scripture verse or portion (it’s important to know the Word of God). That portion will hold specific "keys" that person needs to know and can be the means of great release, encouragement, etc. This method is often quite powerful. "The sword of the Spirit is the Word of God" (Ephesians 6:17 , KJV).
"He (The Holy Spirit) shall bring to your remembrance whatsoever I (Jesus) have said unto you" (John 14:26 , KJV). When the Word of God is in us, the Holy Spirit of God can release it out of us! Through the operation of Spiritual Gifts!
Because I have a real love for people I find compassion will well-up inside me when I look at people. This doesn’t happen all the time, but when it does it can be very effective – sometimes embarrassing as I will start to shed tears. Whether I know the person or not doesn’t seem to make any difference. Through my eyes I will suddenly know things and how I am to speak a word or minister to that one. Our eyes are very important: "The light of the body is the eye" (Matthew 6:22 ; Luke 11:34-36 ).
One of the most powerful ways of receiving a Word of Knowledge for others is via "the eye-gate." Love and compassion are released through seeing, i.e. When Jesus saw the needs of people He was moved with compassion (Matthew 9:36 ; Matthew 14:14 ; Matthew 15:32 ; Matthew 20:34 ; Mark 1:41 ; Luke 7:13 ).
I have discovered we can use our spiritual eyes to receive Words of Knowledge for others. This can happen when we look at a person with our natural eyes and yet, at the same time, we can "see" with our spiritual eyes and receive information from the Holy Spirit for that person.
Here is a very simple illustration: In a meeting (preferably under spiritual Leadership supervision) you can place a chair (or chairs) at the front of the meeting (or where everyone can see). Invite a volunteer to come and sit in the chair. The Leader then exhorts the people to look at the person sitting on the chair (without boring into them with insensitive, unnecessary staring). At the same time everyone is exhorted to open their heart and spirit to God, making themselves available to the Holy Spirit to receive a Word of Knowledge for that particular person. I will lead them all in a prayer, something like this: "Holy Spirit, we make ourselves available to You right now. If there is anything You would like me to say to that person (on the chair) that will help to bless, inspire, encourage, minister and speak to them in such a way that they know it is the Holy Spirit, then, Lord, I am willing to share it. I thank You, Lord, that You want to use me in this way. In Jesus’ name. Amen."
I then encourage the people to "pick-up" on those "first impressions." Once they have, then they are asked to come forward to speak out what they have got over the person. It is a good thing to have the "words" given recorded, so the person can go back and listen to them again at home. This has proved to be a tremendous blessing to numbers of people. For larger groups, several chairs can be used at the same time (portable tape recorders would be needed). I have seen church congregations released in a variety of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit using this method. And the "words" given have been accurate and very good. Christian, youreyes are for seeing!
Ears are for listening! First to God, then to the heart-beat of people. The Holy Spirit can speak a word in my ear and I know I have to obey. Sometimes it has been as strong in the Spirit as though someone was shouting at me. Other times it is "the still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12 ).
"Seeing" and "hearing" are two keys to Holy Spirit ministry:
"And the man said to me, "Son of man, see with your eyes, hear with your ears, and give attention to all that I am going to show you; for you have been brought here in order to show it to you. Declare to the house of Israel all that you see" (Ezekiel 40:4 , NASB; Ezekiel 44:5 ). Seeing and hearing run together. They are Biblical principles (Luke 2:20 ; John 3:11,32 ; Acts 4:20 ; Acts 22:15 ). When Holy Spirit-filled believers are alert and available to God we are able to "see" and "hear" things to pass onto others in an uplifting and positive way.
The gifts can operate by having an open, listening heart. A word can come into my heart and I know it is a Word of Knowledge. I then know what to do. If I don’t know what to do, I wait until things fall into place. God always makes an opportunity for that which He wants us to do.
In recent years I have had the blessing of seeing in vision form what the Holy Spirit wants me to do. Sometimes a meeting has been unfolded to me before it even takes place, so I know what God wants me to do in that meeting. Other times I just "see" a word written across a person’s life (while I am preaching or in their presence) that tells me how to minister to that person. For example, words like "gentle," "sensitive," "self-conscious," "shy," "cautious," "wounded spirit," "sweet," "big heart of love," etc. Every time this happens, I just know how to minister and when I do there comes a flow of further information to share. These times have proven to be powerfully positive and uplifting as the people respond to the Holy Spirit ministry of the Word of Knowledge. Often the Word of Knowledge is also entwined with the Word of Wisdom, the Discerning of Spirits, the Gift of Faith and the Gift of Prophecy.
In my travels I have observed an increasing number of people who are seeing pictures for others. As they are spoken out the interpretation is also there with the one "seeing" the picture, or someone else gets the interpretation to give. It is always refreshing to see the Body of Christ functioning in this way.
Many times in a meeting the Holy Spirit will make alive a certain verse of a hymn or a chorus — even one line or one word. It proves to be the theme or emphasis in a meeting and one learns to "go with the flow." The result often is the operation of the Gift of Prophecy and the Word of Knowledge.
The "song of the Lord" or "prophetic singing" or a new "song in the Spirit" can be a very powerful way of ministering to a group, or to an individual. Not long ago I was tremendously blessed to listen to a new "prophetic song" being sung out in a duet. Two Christian brothers (both in different parts of the meeting) sang out in harmony a prophetic song. It was precious.
Through other people:
God speaks to us through other people. If we are spiritually alert we can "pick up" what the Holy Spirit would say to us — the end result can be a Word of Knowledge. (I am not talking about being "super-spiritual" – we need to be relaxed and still in our spirit to hear from God).
When the gifts are allowed to flow in public meetings, they help to inspire and release others to function. The gifts are given to help the whole Body of Christ to release the reality of the presence of Jesus in our midst (Revelation 19:10 ). Ministry should not be confined to, nor dominated by, the Pastor(s) and Elders, or by a "selected few." The gifts are for every Spirit-filled believer to exercise to "the edification, exhortation and comfort" of the Body (1 Corinthians 14:3 ).
All the gifts require active faith on our part. Without faith we will never make known the things the Holy Spirit shows us in a public way. It can be quite "scary" at times to move in faith and give a Word of Knowledge to someone totally unknown to you in front of a small or large crowd.
Faith is the putting into practice (or action) those things we have been quietly receiving from the Holy Spirit. Faith is what turns the information, impression, picture, etc. received into a gift to be given away. A gift is not a gift until it is given away! A prophecy is not a prophecy to benefit others until it is spoken out. As long as you keep it to yourself, you are the only one who can benefit from it. Do not let excuses, fear, shyness, uncertainty stop you from speaking out that which the Holy Spirit shows you. Faith causes us to rise above all those things and to release to others what God has given to you (to pass on). Keeping it all to yourself is being somewhat selfish!. The mind tries to tell you it’s crazy, that you will be wrong, that the person won’t respond, or you’ll be rejected as being "a spiritual nut."
Through the Word of Knowledge I have been used to build up discouraged Christians, know what other people have done to those who are hurting or emotionally and spiritually at breaking point, find people, seal the will and call of God, release Gifts of the Holy Spirit into other people’s lives, tell people the calling of God on their lives, know physical sicknesses, establish Christian ministries (like "The GFM"), start churches – the examples are varied and many. Scores of people have told me after these words – many have been years after – that those words were so right and the things mentioned happened. I give all the praise to God for this. It never ceases to amaze me as to the accuracy of the Word of Knowledge when we know we are hearing from the Holy Spirit.
The operation of the Gifts of the Holy Spirit should not be a "hit and miss" affair if we are willing to learn and grow in the ways of the Lord. Always seek to "sharpen" the gifts . . . to be as accurate as possible . . . to the glory of God, and the edifying of the Church.
WISDOM AND CHOICE:
The Word of Wisdom is often used alongside a Word of Knowledge. When God gives a Word of Knowledge to a person, it is important to know what to do with this gift. How do we apply it?
There are four choices we have as to what to do when we receive a Word of Knowledge and we need to ask ourselves, "What is the best and right thing to do with this knowledge?"
For sharing in an edifying way in a public meeting? To speak out Words of Knowledge in public meetings, they must be done in such a way that the individual concerned, and the meeting as a whole, is edified.
If there is any doubt about the knowledge received, or what you should
do with it, check with your Church Pastor, Elders, Leadership. Run it past them and let them advise you what to do. That way you are ministering under the guidance, safety and counsel of your spiritual covering (and every one of us needs spiritual covering and accountability when we are ministering in the Gifts of the Holy Spirit – none of us are to be a "law" unto ourself). Be humble and teachable!
SOME BIBLE EXAMPLES:
Numerous examples of the Word of Knowledge can be found in the Bible. Just a few will be related here.
JESUS: – The woman at the well.
In John 4:4-42 (especially Verses 15-19) we read of Jesus ministering to the Samaritan woman and bringing great change into her life through a Word of Knowledge:
"Jesus said unto her, Go, call your husband and come back here. The woman answered and said, I have no husband. Jesus said unto her, You have well said, I have no husband: For you have had five husbands; and the man you are living with right now is not your husband . . . The woman said unto Him, Sir, I perceive ("see") that You are a prophet ("public expounder")."
The impact of this word was a transformed life on her part and many of the Samaritans became believers. Revival came to their village!
ANANIAS: – The conversion of Saul (Acts 9:1-31 , especially Verse10-18).
CORNELIUS: –To find Simon Peter (Acts 10:1-8 ).
PETER: – To help him break his bigotry against the Gentiles (Acts10:9–17 and Acts11:2-19).
PETER: – When the three men from Cornelius came looking for him (Acts 10:17-21 ).
PETER: – When he exposed the sin of Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-11 ). (Peter was functioning in the authority of an apostle here).
PAUL: – Was warned of God to get out of Jerusalem quickly (Acts 22:17-21 ).
THE PROPHETS: – At Antioch had a Word of Knowledge that Barnabas and Paul were to be separated for the work of God (Acts 13:1-4 ).
PAUL: – And the Macedonian call (Acts 16:9-10 ).
PHILIP: – Was told to jump on the Ethiopian’s chariot (Acts 8:26-40 ).
OLD TESTAMENT EXAMPLES:
It is possible that the Word of Knowledge operated through Spirit-filled men in the Old Testament:
ELIJAH: – In showing himself to King Ahab (1 Kings 8:1-2 ).
ELIJAH: – In the choosing of Elisha to succeed him (1Kings19:15-16).
ELISHA: – Over the deeds of Gehazi his servant (2 Kings 5:20-27 ).
SAMUEL: – In the finding of Saul’s asses and the call of God on Saul (1 Samuel 9:15-27 ).
MORE THAN ONE GIFT CAN BE IN OPERATION WHEN WE MOVE IN THE GIFTS OF THE HOLY SPIRIT:
When we pass on a Word of Knowledge to others, there is in operation at that one delivery more than just the Word of Knowledge. For example, there can be:
To exercise the Word of Knowledge (or any Gifts of the Holy Spirit) is a blessing and a privilege. What a joy it is to see people touched by the Holy Spirit because we allow Him to use us to be a channel through which He can flow.
Be sensitive — to God, and to people!
Be sure you are hearing the Holy Spirit!
Give God the glory!