This is the second part of an edited transcript of my sermon on The Gifts of the Holy Spirit. The first part includes a video and mp3 of the whole sermon, as well as listing ways you can submit your questions.
The sermon is based on 1 Corinthians 12 where Paul lists the gifts, which I define as nine distinct ways in which the Holy Spirit works directly and specifically, and if you like, supernaturally or spiritually, within us.
As we go through the list, we should remember that all of these prefigure what will be ours in heaven perfectly. In heaven, we will have what all of these gifts are designed to give us in completeness. I should say that these are not the only ways in which the Spirit works in us. For example, the Bible talks about artists or craftsmen being anointed by the Holy Spirit for their work. But what is different about that is that there is an anointing that comes upon a natural ability. In other words, the anointing of the Holy Spirit sometimes supplements something that a person can do. But I believe that these nine gifts are all things that people cannot do. So, here it’s not a spiritual ability adding on to a natural ability. These are a completely spiritual ability that is inspired by the Holy Spirit, given directly by the Holy Spirit, and as I say, foreshadow what will be ours when Jesus returns. We are going to go quickly through most of these, and then I’m going to focus in a little bit on one of them.
THE WORD OF WISDOM
I think this is a direct supernatural act of the Holy Spirit to grant wisdom to a specific believer at a specific time to deal with a specific situation. So there is that kind of general wisdom that we all have, but there are times when God grants unusual wisdom, it’s a spiritual thing, and the people around recognize that. They say, “Wow! Where did that thought come from? Where did that wisdom come from? Oh, it must have come from God!” So the example, perhaps, that is most well known in the Bible is of Solomon, when confronted by two women who were fighting over a baby, saying “No! This is MY baby!” And the other one saying, “No! It’s MY baby!” The whole point was they had two babies and one of them had died and there was a dispute about whose baby had died. Suddenly Solomon has a flash of insight, which I’m sure was from God, and he says this: “Take a sword and cut the baby in half.” So, just as a solider is unsheathing his sword, one of the women cries out, “No, no, no! Don’t cut it in half. Give it to the other lady!” And the other woman cries out, “If I can’t have the baby, no one shall. Yes! Cut it in half!” And in that moment Solomon knew the answer to whose baby it was, so the lady who was prepared to give up the baby got the baby. And that’s an example of a specific gift of wisdom.
Often there are conflicting principles. One of the reasons why we have pastors who we look to is because of this gift. Sometimes you come to the Bible and you find a direction in here that talks about, let’s say for example, patience and faithful waiting. Then maybe you have another verse that says that you’ve got to go; you got to do something; you’ve got to act. Don’t just sit there waiting. And you say, “Hang on! Which of these applies to me in my situation?” Perhaps you’ve got a problem at work and another option has come up, or another job. Do I stick it out where I’m at, or should I be bold and go for this other one? And we could argue both from the Scriptures. Sometimes you need that word of wisdom from someone where God just comes and directs and says, “This is what you should do.” As a result, you will then, in your heart, say, “Ah yes, I’ll go with this.” I’m not talking about pastors leading you in a very direct descriptive way, but sometimes God will give a word of wisdom that unlocks the situation, makes it suddenly very clear and very plain what the right course of action actually is. In a sense, wisdom is knowing how to act, and it cuts through a dilemma.
The word of knowledge is understood by most charismatic interpreters to be a specific piece of information that God reveals to somebody that they could not have naturally known. Now, it’s probably broader than the way we often think of it. God does sometimes speak to us and say that there is somebody here who is sick in a certain way, and I believe that can happen that way, but it’s often a lot broader than that. There are different ways that God can speak. A good example in the New Testament would be when Jesus spoke to the Samaritan woman and said, “No, you’ve had five husbands, and the person you’re living with now is not your husband.” And at that moment the person was completely undone because Jesus had told her everything she had ever done. So, sometimes it can be that dramatic.
I’ve heard a number of examples of a word of knowledge where the person involved doesn’t even realize that they are giving a word of knowledge. I could tell all sorts of examples, but time prevents. Suffice it to say, these words of knowledge can sometimes be incredibly specific. But I will give you one example. Somebody had a prophecy for me, and in introducing it he said that he saw a picture of my hand holding a pen (he said it seemed strange in this era of technology that I’d be holding a pen) and he saw me writing, and he saw words flowing off my pen and going out all over the world. What this person didn’t know was that, at that point in my life, already I had a blog and I wrote a lot and it did go out all over the world, and there was a reasonable audience for that blog. And on the blog (and it’s still there if you want to have a look) is a picture of my hand (and it is my hand) holding a pen. So this person had a very specific piece of revelation that he couldn’t possibly have known unless someone had told him. And I have to be honest. I went up to him afterwards and said, “Have you seen my blog?” He answered “Blog? What blog? What are you talking about?” He didn’t know. So, it made me sit up and pay attention to the prophesy that this person then had, as you can imagine.
To Be Continued…