New Zealand Bible teacher David Peters explains how spiritual gifts might sometimes surprise you.
It was the strangest word of knowledge I have ever had. “Is there someone here who has bought a new type of tea to drink?” I felt slightly foolish saying it but the impression was strong. A young woman in the congregation raised her hand. “Father says try it without milk and you will enjoy it more.”
And that was it – no great prophecy over her life, just a simple instruction from God on how to enjoy her cup of tea. And yet it proved to be a profoundly encouraging word to her.
I later discovered that this young woman had indeed bought a new herbal tea to try, and that she ALWAYS puts milk in all her teas. She was reduced to tears when I explained that if the Lord loved her so much that he wanted her to enjoy her tea, then how much more did he care about every other detail of her life, both small and large.
The incident impressed me that prophecy and other revelatory gifts are at their most powerful when they convey God’s wonderful love for all people. Yes, at times they may contain correction, but always in love and always with hope.
There are nine gifts of the Holy Spirit mentioned in 1 Corinthians 12:8-10. These gifts form part of our ‘tool kit’ to help bring the gospel of the kingdom to others in the power of the Holy Spirit. We are now entering times where faith, miracles and healings will become as commonplace as prophecy and tongues. And we will also see the gifts of knowledge, wisdom, and discernment being released at a whole new level. We will increasingly need them in a world where so much deception is prevalent. While the Bible is the ultimate general revelation of God’s knowledge and wisdom to humanity, there are times where specific revelation is needed.
The focus of this article is the word of knowledge – the supernatural revelation by the Holy Spirit of facts about a person or situation not known or learned by the natural mind, in order to express God’s love and purpose for that person or situation.
God knows everything past, present and future. This gift is the revelation of a tiny portion of that knowledge. This is not an increase of natural knowledge or recall of something you had forgotten. It is revelation you had never known before.
When Jesus looks at something, he knows all that there is to know about that person or situation. He may give us just a tiny fraction of that information and it seems spectacular to us. If we are given a name, description, birthdate, or other details, we’re amazed, as is the recipient. Even so, this is not to impress people but to bless them.
In John 1:47-51 we see Jesus receiving and releasing a word of knowledge: “As they approached, Jesus said, ‘Now here is a genuine son of Israel – a man of complete integrity.’ ‘How do you know me?’ Nathanael asked. Jesus replied, ‘I saw you under the fig tree before Philip called you.’”
Jesus had never met Nathanael, and this simple word of knowledge so impacted him that he confessed Jesus was the Messiah and followed him for the rest of his life. Never underestimate the impact of this gift.
A contemporary example from American prophet Rick Joyner illustrates this well: “In a meeting, we were praying for a couple and their 14-year-old daughter. I heard the Spirit say, ‘Tell the daughter that she is not an accident.’ Immediately, I thought about how embarrassing this would be for the daughter and her parents. I assumed she must have been a ‘surprise’ child, but I did not want to embarrass the girl or her parents. Then the Spirit said, ‘Do it!’
“When I did, both the daughter and her parents burst into tears; they were almost wailing. They explained that their daughter had been the product of a rape, had found out, and felt that she was not even supposed to be alive.
“That one word instantly healed a major wound in their family. The girl left knowing that she was ‘not an accident’, but that God loved her and had a purpose for her. The parents left deeply touched by how God had so personally cared about them and had brought victory over the lies of the enemy.” The Lord obviously did not intend for the rape, but he is so kind that he would use even this terrible thing for good.
Words of knowledge can come as thoughts, impressions, feelings or pictures in our minds. They can also come in dreams and visions. They are quiet but clear. Our logic will try and talk us out of believing and acting on them. Prophecy may also contain words of knowledge.
And this gift, along with the other eight, is accessible to all believers in Jesus. It takes desire and faith to see them work through us to bless others.
In a recent seminar, my wife Greta and I taught on this topic and then asked the attendees to listen quietly to the Holy Spirit and ask for a word of knowledge. At least half of the people received and shared words that were very accurate.
In an hour where the world does not have answers to so many of the problems it faces, words of knowledge that bring revelation and words of wisdom that show how to apply that knowledge will be increasingly welcomed by political, business, scientific and social leaders.
There is risk, yes, but it’s worth it if even one person understands that God knows and cares for them in an intimate way.