Part Two - The Revelation Gifts
Firstly, the Revelation Gifts are spiritual gifts that reveal something and make something known. They give “all knowledge” that is referred to in 1 Corinthians 1:4-8. There are three such gifts listed in 1 Corinthians 12:7-11:
(i) The Word of Wisdom
(ii) The Word of Knowledge
(iii) The Discerning of Spirits
These gifts operate best in an atmosphere of quiet, strong faith. In these gifts the Holy Spirit makes Himself known in divinely imparted knowledge and wisdom and in knowing whether we are dealing with evil spirits, human spirits, angelic spirits, or God’s Spirit.
The Word of Wisdom
This is a supernatural flash of inspiration that enables us to speak the right word in a difficult situation or to do the right thing or to go in the right direction with ability beyond our own natural wisdom.
Please note that this is not general wisdom that is simply the correct application of knowledge acquired in the normal ways. It is a supernatural, spirit-given word or portion of wisdom for a specific situation.
Let us look at some Biblical examples of The Word of Wisdom.
First is a story in the life of Solomon, who we know moved in God-given wisdom:
“And the king said, “The one says, ‘This is my son, who lives, and your son is the dead one’; and the other says, ‘No! But your son is the dead one, and my son is the living one.’” Then the king said, “Bring me a sword.” So they brought a sword before the king. And the king said, “Divide the living child in two, and give half to one, and half to the other.” 1 Kings 3:23-28.
God gave Solomon a heaven-sent word of wisdom concerning how to settle a case were two ladies were claiming one baby as their own. In the night one of them had rolled on her baby and killed it, so she swapped her dead baby with the other woman’s living baby. Solomon did not consult “How to make kingly judgments 101” but, In a flash of God-given inspiration, he asked for a sword to cut the baby in two, and that word, like a sword, cut through the thoughts and intentions of the women to reveal the true mother. This was not his wisdom, but a word of wisdom from God.
Secondly is a story from the life of Paul and his missionary team:
“Now when they had gone through Phrygia and the region of Galatia, they were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to preach the word in Asia. After they had come to Mysia, they tried to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit did not permit them. So passing by Mysia, they came down to Troas. And a vision appeared to Paul in the night. A man of Macedonia stood and pleaded with him, saying, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.” Acts 16:6-9
In this case we see that Paul and His team have a witness of the Spirit not to go in a certain direction and a vision giving wisdom as to where to go. This was not the team cracking their heads together to look at the natural situation, and, based on clever mission strategy, choose the wisest course of action. It was a word of wisdom dropped from heaven by the Lord and turned out to be a major turning point in church history as the gospel entered Europe.
As can been seen in these examples, this Gift of the Holy Spirit may come either as a picture in our mind, a clear vision or dream, or by faith as we just open our mouths. God is faithful to show us the part that is needed to help the individual(s) in their particular situation.
This gift usually works in conjunction with the Word of Knowledge, giving wisdom of how to deal with the knowledge given. It will often give supernatural guidance and direction in a tough situation and will be specific, accurate and related to the present need. The purposes of this gift are protection and instruction. It reveals how to apply knowledge revealed, how to pray for a situation and will show how to deliver words of knowledge and deal with spirits discerned.
The most dramatic Word of Wisdom I have received was when I was going to Birmingham in 1988 for a missions conference. This was very important as it was to determine if I would join the mission organization, World Horizons, or not. When I arrived by coach in Birmingham’s main bus interchange I was supposed to meet one of the World Horizons staff, Jonathan Mason. However, my coach was delayed and we did not have mobile phones in those days so I had no way of reaching him. When I got there I realized that there was no one to meet me and I had no idea where I was supposed to go.
Suddenly I felt the Holy Spirit urge me to get on a bus that was just coming into the terminal. I got on it and paid a set fee and sat down. It was raining heavily outside and the windows were all misted up so I could not see out of the bus. I had no idea where we were going or when to get off. However, some minutes later the Holy Spirit said, “Get off!” in my spirit, so I pressed the button, waited for the bus to stop, and got off.
I found myself in a dark street with rows of houses each side. All was dark except a small church, wedged between two houses, on the other side of the road. I thought they may know about the conference, so I crossed the road and knocked on the door. To my utter surprise the door opened, and Jonathan Mason was there. He pointed at me and asked how on earth I found the place and that this was the church I was supposed to sleep in for the duration of the conference. He said he waited ages at the bus terminal but left when he thought I would never turn up.
This was an example of the Word of Wisdom coming by the Spirit. There is no natural way I knew where to go but supernaturally the Holy Spirit led me, giving me a packet of heavenly wisdom.
The Word of Knowledge
This is a supernatural revelation of things that are not previously known to the one receiving the word. The Holy Spirit brings this knowledge to the mind of the believer at the moment of need.
The gift of the Word of Knowledge is just that, a 'word' or a 'package' of information. It is not general knowledge that can be gained by reading books or the Internet. God is all knowing but He does not reveal everything He knows to man. He gives a word or part of what He knows. A word is a fragmentary part of a sentence, so a word of knowledge would simply be a fragmentary part of the entire knowledge or counsel of God.
The Word of Knowledge is not:
1) Natural knowledge.
2) A profound knowledge of the Bible.
3) Knowledge of God through close communion with Him.
The Bible has many examples of the Word of Knowledge being manifested through visions, dreams, messages from angels, through the gift of prophecy, or directly from God to an individual.
In the Old Testament some examples are:
The blind Prophet Ahijah had a Word of Knowledge directly from the Lord that the disguised woman coming to him was actually King Jeroboam’s wife (1 Kings 14:2-6). The Prophet Elisha knew by the Word of Knowledge the private words of the King of Syria spoken in his bedroom (2 Kings 6:9-12). The Prophet Samuel knew by Word of Knowledge directly from the Lord where Saul’s donkeys were to be found (1 Samuel 10:2).
In the New Testament some examples are:
Jesus knew that there would be a coin in the mouth of a fish (Matthew 17:27). Jesus knew about the man carrying a pitcher of water on his head (Luke 22:10). Jesus told the Samaritan woman by a Word of Knowledge that she had previously had five husbands, and the one she was then with was not her husband (John 4:18). Peter said "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and keep back part of the price of the land for yourself?” (Acts 5:3)
From these passages we see that the Word of Knowledge always glorifies God and comes as an inner voice, a vision, a dream or through the vocal gifts. It reveals information that we cannot naturally know for the sake of accomplishing His will in a person’s life or situation. The purpose of this gift is to aid and assist in perfecting the purposes of God in the midst of His people. It also warns of danger, discloses sin, encourages and reveals hidden things. It is often given in conjunction with another of the gifts such as healing (e.g. “this person is suffering from colon cancer”). It requires wisdom as to how to apply it and faith for speaking it out.
We most likely receive such messages from God's Spirit through our human spirit and speak what comes to our mind. To some it is like a screen in the mind and they begin to see the picture frame by frame. Then they begin to describe these frames to the individual. Others may just begin to have an unction by the Spirit to speak and sentence by sentence the thing is revealed, as one thought after another begins to flow. For some it comes as an actual feeling of pain in the area God wants to heal the other person. For me it usually comes as a vivid impression in my mind, or with visions of someone’s real need.
One dramatic Word of Knowledge I have had was in Sarawak in a church where the Lord revealed to me that there was a family under a financial curse who were considering leaving church. I spoke this out and after the service a family came to forward. The father of the family told me his shipping business was about to go bankrupt and this had happened to his previous generations and was a family curse. He said they had met together as a family and decided to leave the church unless the Lord intervened. I prayed with them, broke the curse and led them in a prayer of deliverance. A year later the pastor of this church contacted me and asked if I remembered this family. I said that I did, and the pastor proceeded to tell me that the father now had a successful business and they were doing well. He was now a seller of coffins! Truly the Lord intervened with a wonderful Word of Knowledge that saved a whole family from misery. Literally, out of death came life!
This gift of the Holy Spirit gives us supernatural insight into the spirit world, to see what spirit is behind a person, teaching or situation.
In 1 Corinthians 12:10 the word ’discerning’ is from the Greek word ‘diakrisis’ which means ‘a distinguishing’. Hence it means being able to distinguish what kind of spirit is operating. Discerning of Spirits is the same as seeing or hearing in the spiritual realm. This gift has a more limited range of operation, because it is limited to a single class of objects - spirits. It reveals the kind of spirit that is in operation behind a supernatural manifestation, whether evil spirits, human spirits, angelic spirits or the Holy Spirit.
The Discerning of Spirits is not:
1) The gift of discernment. Some people have a so-called ‘Discernment Ministry’ that basically bullies and tears down other Christian ministers. This gift is not that, and that is not a gift but a misguided and judgmental waste of time.
2) Spiritual mind reading. It is not power to discern faults in others.
3) Only discerning of evil spirits. It is also discerning human and good spirits.
The purpose of this gift is to deliver bound saints, discern Satan’s plans, to keep saints from sinning, to detect false revelations and to embolden the saints.
We must remember that supernatural manifestations can come from different sources. Many things that seem to be supernatural or miraculous to us actually do not come from God. Satan comes as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14) and is a supernatural being. Too many people are ready to follow anything that is supernatural or spectacular whether it is of God or not. Supernatural manifestations are not necessarily a demonstration of the Spirit of God. If the Discerning of Spirits is in operation, we can know the spirit behind a given manifestation or operation, expose it and deal with it in the correct way.
Alternatively, we must not readily label all supernatural manifestations as satanic just because they look strange. We need discernment from the Lord. One time I was praying for a young man and he fell to the floor writhing around the floor groaning. I sensed that it was alright and from the Lord but the ministry team in that church immediately started to cast demons out of him! Afterwards the young man told me that He saw Jesus coming to him and he fell down repenting of his sins and received cleansing. It was not an evil spirit at all but the Lord Himself.
John tells us we must test the spirits:
“Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world. By this you know the Spirit of God: Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God, and every spirit that does not confess that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is not of God. And this is the spirit of the Antichrist, which you have heard was coming, and is now already in the world.” 1 John 4:1-6
When we confront others speaking forth what they claim is from God we need supernatural discernment. We can test the spirits by firstly checking if what they say or do is in line with the Word of God, and if they are able to affirm that Jesus is Lord, but beyond that we need this spiritual gift to operate and give us no doubt as to the kind of spirit involved.
In the book of Acts chapter 16 we see this gift in operation in the ministry of Paul:
“Now it happened, as we went to prayer, that a certain slave girl possessed with a spirit of divination met us, who brought her masters much profit by fortune-telling. This girl followed Paul and us, and cried out, saying, “These men are the servants of the Most High God, who proclaim to us the way of salvation.” And this she did for many days. But Paul, greatly annoyed, turned and said to the spirit, “I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her.” And he came out that very hour.” Acts 16:16-18
Usually, a person who has been involved in witchcraft will display what seems to be the valid gift of Discerning of Spirits, when it is nothing more than the working of a familiar spirit, as was the case here. Paul discerned the spirit of divination in the woman and cast it out. She seemed to be flattering Paul and his team by declaring them servants of God, but there was a mocking spirit behind her declaration and Paul was not fooled.
There are “deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons” (1 Timothy 4:1) even within the Church so we need supernatural discernment to see what is truth and what is deception, especially in new doctrines and teachings. Some teachings are of demonic origin, others are from defiled human spirits. Jesus rebuked Peter for having a wrong spirit just after he had an awesome revelation from the Holy Spirit:
“Then Peter took Him aside and began to rebuke Him, saying, “Far be it from You, Lord; this shall not happen to You!” But He turned and said to Peter, “Get behind Me, Satan! You are an offense to Me, for you are not mindful of the things of God, but the things of men.” Matthew 16:22-23
Peter was speaking out of a spirit of fear sent by Satan and Jesus discerned this, helping Peter to realize this and deal with it.
There was one Church camp that I attended where the speaker was ministering out of a spirit of bitterness. His church had just split, and he was bitter at one woman in particular, and he hit out against her and her nationality. Even in the ministry times he was ministering out of hurt and frustration and ended up pouring a jar of ice water all over my head, saying he was anointing me for higher things (and this was years before the ice bucket challenge). In this case he was ministering out of a defiled human spirit.
On the positive side, we also need to discern good spirits, such as angels, especially in times of danger or spiritual attack. Elisha prayed for his servant not to have a spirit of fear but to discern the presence of good angelic spirits in a moment of great danger:
“So he answered, “Do not fear, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And Elisha prayed, and said, “Lord, I pray, open his eyes that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw. And behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.” 1 Kings 6:16-17
This gift needs to be in operation more today than ever before. The Body of Christ is being invaded by seducing spirits and doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1) like never before. We need to expose these things and cast them out with a word of authority in the name of Jesus, but we also need to discern the “real thing” and not throw the baby out with the bath water!