In my last post, I introduced the idea that there is a difference between a prophetic word and a prophecy. I established that a prophetic word may encompass God speaking predictively or non-predicatively, and a prophecy is a foretelling word. This means that a person can speak prophetically to you and never foretell anything.
We also looked at the history of three prophetic gifts in the church. They are the word of knowledge, word of wisdom, and prophecy. These are all prophetic manifestation of God’s voice. Likewise, they all share a common quality—they are supernatural revelations of some form of information. Their primary purpose in the early church was to allow the voice of God, by the Holy Spirit, to impart information that was necessary for the development of the church as a whole and individually. Because of this, some have concluded that the canonized scriptures, we call the Bible, ended the era in which God used these gifts. That, however, is hogwash!!! While I am of the persuasion that God is not adding to the Bible, I think the fact that there of thousands of denominations that argue different points of view regarding doctrines they all support biblically, is evidence that God needs to be the one teaching. In fact, the scriptures are really clear in that Jesus Himself says in John 14:26, “But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all things that I said to you.” Then John echoes this idea in 1 John 2:27 by informing a group of people that though there are corrupt teachings in their church that they need not worry because the anointing in them will teach them.
Now for the sake of clarity, and less someone run with this passage taking it out of context, let me clear up what is happening. I know this seems a bit off the path we are taking, but I have had people use this verse to deceive themselves into believing that they don’t need a church, a pastor, or any other teacher. They say, “The Bible says, that the Holy Spirit if my teacher!” And I know what they intend to say, but the fact is that this is a misrepresentation of the truth in that passage. It is also inconsistent with the “whole counsel” of scriptures. The statement John makes in this passage is in direct relations to the problem that he mentions in the proceeding verses. It is in those verses that he begins to describe that some people have been brought in to spy out the liberty of the saints and are trying to use trickery to deceive the people. Based on that knowledge he then responds with the famous, “Don’t worry, the Holy Spirit will teach you.” Why didn’t he just tell them to go to another church? That’s what we tell people today and it is an easy fix. It would have been an easy fix for them too, but looking at the verse in context, John is talking to the “early church.” There were not as many options then as we have today. Therefore, John is encouraging them that even though there are those among them teaching lies, they can rely on the Holy Spirit who will always point them to the truth. And He will even speak the truth to us if necessary. Having the right perspective on the role of the Holy Spirit is important because we know that He has given us “Pastors” and “teachers” for edifying and causing growth to the body of Christ.
So the balance of this truth is this; The Holy Spirit teaches us through people and He teaches us directly. If you exclude either one from your spiritual development you can be certain that you will be unbalanced. For the men of God out there who insist that they are the only ones God speaks to, that’s why your sheep are leaving you! We do not go the church to hear from God. Hearing from God may be a consequence of going to church. However, the primary reason for going to church, according to Hebrews 10:25, is to fellowship with the saints, edifying and supporting one another! And for sheep that refuses to listen to any shepherd, that’s why your life is off track. Saints we don’t get to dictate to God how He speaks, who He speaks to, or who He speaks through. Our only job is to be mature enough to hear His voice. For He says my sheep hear…! So the real question is are you mature enough to hear, recognize, and respond to the voice of God when He speaks directly or indirectly?
That being said, when He chooses to speak it will either be by foretelling, informing, or clarifying. We have dealt with the foretelling and forth-telling aspect of God’s voice in the last article. In the next article, I am going to deal with the clarifying manifestation of God’s voice called the word of wisdom. Today I want to deal with the informative manifestation of God’s voice known as the word of knowledge.
Word of Knowledge
For many people, the word of knowledge is one of the most confusing manifestations of God’s voice. I often watch videos of people who are learning to operate in the word of knowledge who confuse it with prophesying. Likewise, they usually operate out of a limited understanding of what the gift is and how it operates. Generally, it goes like this, “I see you are an artist. I see you live at home with your older brother. I see that you like art and art in art school…” Then they call it a prophetic word from God and walk off. Oftentimes, I am puzzled. I’m puzzled because they gave out a lot of random facts, and that is good and I encourage stepping out in faith, but where is the message? God shows us these things to give a message or to capture someone’s attention so that He can perform something in their life. Not only do I see this as a misuse of the gift, but also as a limited use of the gift. Remember, God used this gift to pour out revelation knowledge to the early Church. That means that this gift is far more vast than a couple of random facts about a person’s life.
So what is the word of knowledge and how is it supposed to be used? First of all, let me give you the traditional definition then I will give you the definition that God gave me. The traditional definition defines this gift as an impartation of supernatural facts about people and places past or present. This is how it has been defined for years and most people only look for God to speak to them facts about people, and places. But the definition God gave me is this: The gift of the word of knowledge is “intuitive knowledge” not learned by natural means. Can you see the difference yet? The first definition attempts to place limits on the information received. The definition God gave me, however, opens the floodgate to allow one to receive revelation.
The other way I see this gift often underused is in how we think God wants us to handle this information He gives us. We have been trained to believe that when we receive a word of knowledge it will be given to us “about others”. For instance, I woman walked into my office one day and my eyes were drawn to her ankle. Then I heard God say, “Ask her what’s wrong with her ankle.” So I did. With surprise in her eyes, she answered, “It’s hurting me. How did you know to ask that question?” That was just a piece of information from God to me about someone else. But remember when this gift operates it can also operate as a prophetic expression from God. That means that sometimes when this gift is in operation the person receiving the revelation or piece of information, is receiving it as a gift from God that is meant to be given to the other person or persons.
Here is another example. One day that same woman I spoke about earlier, came into my office and this time I saw an angel walking behind her. So I inquired of God regarding who she was to Him and why He was showing me the angel. He then spoke to me and said. “I want you to tell her what you see.” Then after a brief debate with God about the awkwardness of speaking to my coworkers about seeing spiritual beings, I agreed and obeyed. The next thing that happened was completely unexpected. She burst our into tears and started sobbing. You see, she had been through many tragedies where she barely escaped alive and she really needed that piece of information to know that God had truly been watching over her life. Again, this too is a type of prophetic word, though it is not a prophecy. It is a word of knowledge that God wanted me to give to this lady.
Sometimes this gift even operates in our personal life. January is generally a time of fasting for my church family. That being the case, my wife and I fast with them from meats, sweets, and television for 30 to 40 days. Not watching television means that we don’t get news and weather updates. Also, we did not have smartphones at the time as an alternative to receiving such vital information. That being the case, one day my wife went out to the store. When she left it was sunny. But unbeknownst to us, the news was reporting a snow blizzard for later that evening. As reported, later in the day, again unbeknownst to us, it started snowing. At the time I was home cleaning and as I was walking around the house I felt this sudden but strong urge to pray. Therefore, I went to my bedroom and asked God what was going on. Then I saw a vision/picture of my wife driving and her car was swerving all over the road. I also saw behind her a black image which I understood as a demon. So in faith, I accepted what I was shown. When I went back downstairs and looked out of the window, to my surprise, it was snowing. And it was snowing hard! Not long after my wife came home and told me how bad the roads were and that her car was swerving all over the road. She said the strange thing was that she was the only one swerving all over the road. I believe she survived because I acted in faith, on a word of knowledge, that God showed me in prayer.
We see the vast uses or manifestations of this gift in the scriptures as well. A few examples come to mind. There is Abimelech in Genesis 20:3, who in a dream learned a few things about Abraham. He learned that he was married to the women that Abimelech was about to have sex with. He also learned that Abraham was a prophet. So just imagine. This man woke up with knowledge that he did not have when he went to sleep. That was a word of knowledge for the King’s personal life. It is a clear example of “receiving” a word of knowledge.
Then there was the prophet Elisha, who was probably the most prolific example of this gift in operation seen in the scriptures. He is also a good example of “giving” a word of knowledge. Remember, it can be a prophetic expression whereby we receive information from God for our personal life or about the life of someone or something else. It can also be information received that we are to share with others. This is what I am most known for. People have ascribed to me the gift of “revelation knowledge.” The only problem is that no such gift exist. They make this assertion about me because I have a vast amount of clearly God-given insight into many subjects. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 13:2, “…even I have the gift of prophecy and understand all mysteries and all knowledge…” This is how my gifts operate. People call my knowledge and wisdom amazing and fascinating. When I speak, even the most astute Bible scholar sits up and listens intently. And usually, the look on their faces tells me that they are trying to figure out how I know what I know and why they have never seen what I so easily point out in the scriptures. But the truth is I cannot take not one ounce of credit for what I know. What I know was supernaturally imparted to me over years and many conversations with God. Again, the prophetic word is not by private interpretation by the will of man. There is nothing I can do get what God knows. I study the Bible like most people and get exactly the same insight as any average human during a time of study. Then at some point, I ask a question and God tells me what only He could tell me. And He talks to me so in-depth on subjects that I cannot take credit in my flesh. The kicker is this, however, though received supernaturally it is not for me alone. The knowledge is given to me to give to others. It is another form of the gift of the word of knowledge in operation.
Again, this principle can be seen in Elisha’s life in 2 Kings 6:8-12 which reads:
8 Now the king of Syria was making war against Israel; and he consulted with his servants, saying, “My camp will be in such and such a place.” 9 And the man of God sent to the king of Israel, saying, “Beware that you do not pass this place, for the Syrians are coming down there.” 10 Then the king of Israel sent someone to the place of which the man of God had told him. Thus he warned him, and he was watchful there, not just once or twice.
11 Therefore the heart of the king of Syria was greatly troubled by this thing; and he called his servants and said to them, “Will you not show me which of us is for the king of Israel?”
12 And one of his servants said, “None, my lord, O king; but Elisha, the prophet who is in Israel, tells the king of Israel the words that you speak in your bedroom.”
Notice, that Elisha has received supernatural information about the plans of the king of Syria to ambush Israel. Though it appears to be foreknowledge it is not. So this is not “prophecy” in operation. We know this because the king says in verse 12 that Elisha is spiritual eavesdropping on the king’s conversations about his plans. So the knowledge the prophet receives is current knowledge about a plan for the future. The prophet then takes that word of knowledge or piece of intuitively gained knowledge and “gives” it to the king of Israel. Why? He gives it to him to arm him with the information he needs to make the right decision. So another way the word of knowledge works is it informs us so that we can make the best decision.
There is a faction of the Church that seems to think that God wants to think for us. In their minds, we should do nothing except that we have heard from God on “what” to do. So they won’t date anyone or marry anyone unless God cracks open the heavens and says in a loud voice or dream or vision, I want you to marry so and so. When I was young in the Lord and still learning to hear His voice I wouldn’t even buy clothes unless I heard a word from God. To His credit, He always spoke to me but it was after I had placed myself in such a desperate situation that I needed a miracle. And being the great Daddy that He is, He always gave me one. Then I met my evangelical and more rational wife, who said, “You know, you could buy just a shirt or pair of pants a month. You don’t have to wait until you have nothing.” That was followed up by my Pastor teaching on money and He pointed out to me that the Bible says in Proverbs 6:6-8, “Consider the ant, who gathers in the summer for the winter.” Now even though these examples are more subtle ways of hearing God’s voice, the point is that it was the knowledge I lacked and so God gave me the knowledge to be able to make a better decision. The same is true today. God does not want to think for you, He wants to empower you with the knowledge to think right so that you can do what is right!
Just as God gave Elisha information to share with the King to allow him to make up his own mind, God still does the same. That means that sometimes He manifest supernatural knowledge to inform you of how to approach a ministry or prophetic moment. Likewise, sometimes, He gives it to you to share with others so that they can make better life choices. That is what my prophetic ministry does often. I have a revelation on resisting sickness, which people have used and now testify of being able to walk in healing. I have supernatural information about demons that I have shared and seen people break the chains of darkness from their lives. I have supernatural knowledge of dreams and visions that I have shared and people who never had dream and vision started having dreams and visions. In each of these situations people we able to do the supernatural because they had access to supernaturally received knowledge that informed them enough to allow them to make a decision.
Finally, let me say this about these gifts. These last two gifts can be so subtle in their operation. This is in fact, the primary way I preach and teach. Also, I often counsel people and while I know that the things I am saying are being fed to me by God, the person receiving ministry may not. Usually, people walk away from hearing me speak or from the session thinking that I am deep or intelligent. But I would contend that I am neither. I’m just a good listener when God speaks. In fact, I would dare say that the reason I have access to deep knowledge and wisdom has to do with the fact that I am not afraid to say the words, “God, I don’t know the answer.” Or I will say, “God. I don’t understand. Help me understand.” Likewise, I am often bothered by the idea that people refuse to give God His just due. One preacher in my preaching class even called me a gifted mind. And even though I credit God with feeding me the insights I speak into the lives of people, because of their limited understanding of this gift, they don’t recognize God speaking to them. The only time it becomes obvious, is when I speak to them by revelation. In other words, when God invades my conversation and starts speaking on a subject related to the person’s life and situation of which I have no prior knowledge. Then they will say, “I was just thinking about that this morning.” Or they will say, “You don’t know it but God is using you right now…” But I always know. I just don’t say, “God said…” So it appears as normal conversation.
I want to close this article reminding you and encouraging you to broaden your understanding of this gift. I know that it has been engrained in most of us to see it as “receiving” gift. But allow the knowledge of this article to open you up to the idea of this gift as also a “giving” gift. Just think, for those of you that I am empowering with this information today, you now know how to open yourself up to hear more for yourself and others.
Welcome to Doing Life On Fire!