The Word of Wisdom and the Word of Knowledge
April 30, 2006 -
THE PERSON AND WORK OF THE HOLY SPIRIT (continued) - The Word Of Wisdom And The Word Of Knowledge
1) THE SUPERNATURAL NATURE OF THESE GIFTS - It's important to stress these gifts are given directly by God. They are beyond the scope and ability of what mere human talent or learning could bring into any situation. They are spontaneous in nature, not the result of study or preparation. see Luke 21:12-19 - “But before all this they will lay their hands on you and persecute you, delivering you up to the synagogues and prisons, and you will be brought before kings and governors for my name's sake.  This will be your opportunity to bear witness.  Settle it therefore in your minds not to meditate beforehand how to answer,  for I will give you a mouth and wisdom, which none of your adversaries will be able to withstand or contradict.  You will be delivered up even by parents and brothers and relatives and friends, and some of you they will put to death.  You will be hated by all for my name's sake.  But not a hair of your head will perish.  By your endurance you will gain your lives.”
Note His emphasis that these would be words of revelation and wisdom rather than prepared statements. In Luke 12:11-12 these revelations are even more specifically identified with a supernatural work of the Holy Spirit - “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
2) THEY ARE GIFTS OF UTTERANCE - The King James translation of “word” of wisdom, can be translated "utterance" or "message" of wisdom. As with all of the gifts of the Spirit, the emphasis is on outreach and ministry in the Body, rather than personal blessing and fulfillment. These are not supernatural stunts.
In other words, the thrust is wisdom given for others, and knowledge given for others. The one exercising the gift if merely the channel, rather than the object. There's a horizontal emphasis of the Holy Spirit reaching out to the specific needs of others through gifts given to us. In short, these gifts advance the Kingdom of God in very specific situations.
3) THE WORD OF WISDOM - Several truths needs to be clarified here:
a) The word of wisdom is different from the faculty of wisdom. For example, God gave Solomon the faculty of wisdom. He was given "a wise and understanding heart" (1 Kings 3:12-14). This wisdom was an abiding wisdom that Solomon exercised as he led Israel. This wisdom was divine in that it was given by God Himself. But it was not supernatural in the way that it was exercised or manifested. By that I mean it didn't bypass Solomon's ongoing thinking and reasoning processes. God gave Solomon the innate ability to solve problems.
b) The word of wisdom is different from the personal wisdom God gives for pursuing holiness and maturity. James writes about a wisdom that God will give to any believer who asks in faith - James 1:2-5 - “Count it all joy, my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds,  for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness.  And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.  If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him.”
The context makes clear that this is wisdom for specific times of personal trial and difficulty. If people will cry out to God, He will help them to remain steadfast and strong even in the midst of pain and difficulty. In fact, the trials themselves will be used of God to bring growth and maturity in this wisdom.
Notice carefully the difference here between wisdom to help the believer personally (James 1:1-5) and the "word of wisdom" to benefit or give witness to others through the gift God has given.
c) Some Scriptural examples of the "word of wisdom." Just consider two very briefly:
Luke 12:11-12 - “And when they bring you before the synagogues and the rulers and the authorities, do not be anxious about how you should defend yourself or what you should say,  for the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say."
Acts 13:1-3 - “Now there were in the church at Antioch prophets and teachers, Barnabas, Simeon who was called Niger, Lucius of Cyrene, Manaen a member of the court of Herod the tetrarch, and Saul.  While they were worshiping the Lord and fasting, the Holy Spirit said, "Set apart for me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them."  Then after fasting and praying they laid their hands on them and sent them off.”
4) THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE - Again, several truths need to be stressed:
a) How is this different from the word of wisdom? While clear lines of distinction are very difficult to draw, perhaps the difference between the "word of wisdom" and the "word of knowledge" could be stated this way: The word of wisdom seems to be related to practical steps in applying God's wisdom to human problems. The thrust is on some step of action that is to be taken.
The word of knowledge is the giving of factual information. It is usually information that would be otherwise beyond the ability of human intellect to receive. An example of this can be seen in Acts 5:1-10 - “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,  and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet.  But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."  When Ananias heard these words, he fell down and breathed his last. And great fear came upon all who heard of it.  The young men rose and wrapped him up and carried him out and buried him.  After an interval of about three hours his wife came in, not knowing what had happened.  And Peter said to her, "Tell me whether you sold the land for so much." And she said, "Yes, for so much."  But Peter said to her, "How is it that you have agreed together to test the Spirit of the Lord? Behold, the feet of those who have buried your husband are at the door, and they will carry you out."  Immediately she fell down at his feet and breathed her last. When the young men came in they found her dead, and they carried her out and buried her beside her husband.”
There is no indication in the passage that anyone told Peter about the scheme of Ananias and Sapphira. Also, Peter relates no course of action on their part (amazingly, not even repentance). He is not recommending anything at all. He is simply relating bare facts as they have been given to Him by the Holy Spirit. God does the rest.
b) This gift is not a replacement for the discipline of learning the truth of God's Word. The way to become grounded in a healthy knowledge of God is still found in 2 Timothy 3:16-17 - “ All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,  that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.”This is the only sure route to spiritual maturity. The "word of knowledge" is given, not as a tool for personal holiness, but, like all gifts of the Spirit, to aid in ministry to the needs of others.
c) We must not overlook the overlapping nature of some of the gifts. They do not always fit into perfectly separate categories. See Luke 22:63-64 - “ Now the men who were holding Jesus in custody were mocking him as they beat him.  They also blindfolded him and kept asking him, "Prophesy! Who is it that struck you?" Of course, Jesus didn’t resort to foolish stunts. But had Jesus done what the soldiers were asking we would probably have called it a word of knowledge. They referred to it as a prophecy. Labels are only worth so much.
5) SOME SCRIPTURAL EXAMPLES OF THE WORD OF KNOWLEDGE - See Acts 5:1-4 - “But a man named Ananias, with his wife Sapphira, sold a piece of property,  and with his wife's knowledge he kept back for himself some of the proceeds and brought only a part of it and laid it at the apostles' feet.  But Peter said, "Ananias, why has Satan filled your heart to lie to the Holy Spirit and to keep back for yourself part of the proceeds of the land?  While it remained unsold, did it not remain your own? And after it was sold, was it not at your disposal? Why is it that you have contrived this deed in your heart? You have not lied to men but to God."
Another possible example would be Acts 16:6-7 - “And they went through the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word in Asia.  And when they had come up to Mysia, they attempted to go into Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them.”