Monday, April 27, 2015

Teach us to Pray, part 61: The Word of Knowledge

If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those who ask Him?" (Luke 11:13 NASB)

But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit... 1 Corinthians 12:7,8 NASB

For the last few days, we have been studying the gift of the Holy Spirit and His manifestation in the lives of believers. In the previous post, we studied the word of wisdom, which is the ability to understand and skillfully interpret the Word and will of God both in your own life and in teaching to other believers.  

Today, we consider the "word of knowledge". The word translated as "knowledge" is gnĊsis, and indicates intelligence and understanding. According to Thayer, this is the "deeper, more perfect and enlarged knowledge" of the Christian faith. This is a "revelatory" gift, much as Paul received the knowledge he conveyed in his epistles. 

MacArthur makes a distinction between the two gifts. "Knowledge majors on grasping the meaning of the truth; wisdom emphasizes the practical conviction and conduct that applies." Knowledge is an understanding with insight that comes only from the revelation of God. 

When I read that the word of knowledge indicates "intelligence and understanding", it is tempting to think that understanding God's word is only for the smartest, most educated believers, but that is not necessarily true. Both intelligence and understanding are gifts from God, but neither are dependent upon advanced degrees, seminary training, or excellent scores on standardized testing.

A hunger for truth that leads to life-long seeking, life-long learning is requisite for one who has the gift of the word of knowledge. That hunger leads not to a surface knowledge of information, but to a deep understanding of information and all it implies. Advanced degrees do not convey this kind of hunger for knowledge, although they may well be the result of one's search for knowledge and understanding. 

Is that clear at all? I hope so. As I see it, the ones with the manifestation of the word of wisdom understand Scripture and God's Word in a way that allows them to live it out in their daily lives and to communicate it to others. The ones with the manifestation of the word of knowledge hunger for a deeper understanding. They might study the Christian classics, the lives of the saints, Greek and Hebrew, all to gain deeper understanding of their faith and the Word of God. 

The manifestation of the word of knowledge allows a disciple of Christ to understand God's truth in a deeper, richer way because of their study, and it results in a life that is lived in even greater obedience to God's commands. At its best, the one with the word of knowledge is able to take that deep understanding and communicate in ways that others, even without the same hunger for truth, can comprehend and apply. 

Let us not overlook the fact that the manifestation of the word of knowledge (just as the other manifestations of the Holy Spirit) is not given so that the one receiving it can gain advanced degrees or an impressive title or position. The manifestation of the word of knowledge is given "for the common good." The point of all that knowledge is to help bring the body of Christ into a deeper, more vibrant walk with our Lord, and not to simply accumulate information. The one with the manifestation of word of knowledge, like the one with word of wisdom, must be actively involved in communicating the knowledge and wisdom to the body of Christ in a way that can be understood and incorporated into daily living.

Is this the manifestation of the Holy Spirit in your life? If so, it is given to you for the common good and requires that you be actively involved in working for the common good of the body of Christ. If this is not the way the Holy Spirit manifests in your life, take heart. We will consider all the manifestations over the next few days. The fact we must all remember is that the Holy Spirit manifests in every believer, including you and me, and we are all to be working for the common good of the body of Christ, helping each other along our journey as we strive to live the Christian life. 

As we continue this study, let us daily pray for understanding of God's word, for wisdom to apply it in our lives, and for faithfulness as we live the truth we know in ways that make Christ visible to those around us.