The word of knowledge is not a physical, intellectual capacity. It is not an ability to memorize scripture. That’s not the gift - or manifestation - of knowledge. God certainly uses knowledgeable people and God uses knowledge.
The Word of Knowledge
Knowledge is something you can acquire. It’s something you can work at. The word of knowledge is something else – something different. I’ve read a lot of different perspectives on this gift and one very highly respected author said something that quite frankly disturbed me. He said this, “The word of knowledge is the gift God has given seminary professors.” Because they are the theologians and have all this knowledge and insight into the Word of God and have the gift of the word of knowledge.
I don’t believe that. I believe knowledge is powerful and wonderful; it’s something you can acquire and something God uses. But it’s different from the manifestation of knowledge.
I Corinthians 12:8 says, “To another a message of knowledge by means of the same spirit.”
Insight by Studying Scripture
Used here it simply means “insight into.” The word of knowledge simply means “insight into something.” But insight into what?
It could be scripture. It could be that you’re reading or studying the word of God. For example, you’re reading a passage of scripture that you’ve read a million times and suddenly, some insight comes, something you’ve never noticed before. I think that’s the word or manifestation of knowledge. That’s a gift of the spirit to you at that time where God says, “I’m going to give you insight.”
Insight into a Problem or Struggle
I would like to think that it’s at work during Bible studies; that from time to time the word of knowledge comes to different people and there’s insight into the word of God. Sometimes it’s insight into something else. It’s insight into a problem. It’s insight into a struggle that a friend is possibly having, or you’re having.
There are many times I’m asked to pray with people. As they explain their prayer request, I feel like, as the pastor, I should have the answer – and I should come up with some really good insight. But I’m telling you, sometimes I’m listening, and I empathize deeply, but I don’t have a clue. I’m drawing a blank.
There have been other times however when I’m listening to a person and suddenly, I know just exactly what the problem is, and hit the nail right on the head. It’s a gift of the spirit to the church. Along with that, I’m not sure that anyone owns the gift of knowledge. Sometimes the word of knowledge comes to people who aren’t particularly knowledgeable.
In fact, I would tend to think it would be abusing it to walk around saying, “I have the gift of the word of knowledge.” I think that’s baloney. That’s the guy who walks around going, “I know your problem.” No – God distributes it as He wills through different people at different times.
Word of Wisdom
In a math class the teacher gave her students a problem to solve that involved fractions. Suppose in a family of 5 children, the mother only had 4 eggs. How could she divide them evenly? After a long silence one little boy raised his hand. Yes Johnny, what would you do? I’d scramble them, he replied. Now, if that isn’t a word of wisdom…😊
As with knowledge, the word of wisdom is not the ability to be wise. I think wisdom can be acquired just like knowledge.
James 1:5 says, “If you lack wisdom what do you do? Ask God who will give to all men liberally just as he asks.” So, wisdom can be acquired. Age produces wisdom. People who walk with God for years are wise people. But by the same token, just because you’re old, doesn’t mean you’re wise. In fact, I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “There’s no fool like an old fool.”
The word of wisdom is also different from the word of knowledge although they overlap. The word of knowledge is insight into a problem. Getting to the heart of the issue. The word of wisdom is knowing how to solve the problem. Someone may know what the problem is and not necessarily know what to do about it – or vice versa.
The word of wisdom is when the spirit of God ministers to his church through the body, through different kinds of people in insight, not only into the problem but what to do about the problem. This is one of the reasons why it’s necessary that we have relationships with each other and have contact with each other. Because if we live in isolation this dynamic will never be seen.
As far as I’m concerned, the key is 1 Corinthians 12:11, “All these are the work of one and the same spirit, and he distributes them to each one, just as he determines.”
I’ve given you a lot to think about. I trust that we’ll continue to have our spirits open to what He’s teaching us – testing all things, but not quenching the spirit.