The term “words of knowledge” gets used a lot in our community and in Redding in general. But what really is a word of knowledge and how is it different from a prophetic word or word of encouragement?
What’s the Point?
A word of knowledge, just like a prophetic word or word of encouragement, starts with Love. When you’re representing Christ to the people around you, it’s a good idea to ask God what HE is wanting to show them or speak to them. Our example is Jesus, who only did what he saw the Father doing. He will only ever do (or say) the MOST LOVING thing, so let this Love be your motivation and directive.
Words of knowledge, prophetic words, and words of encouragement are all things that we hear from God for another person. It’s a way that we can show them that God sees them, loves them, and wants to speak to them and encounter them. They produce faith and hope.
1 Corinthians 14:1 “Pursue love, and earnestly desire the spiritual gifts, especially that you may prophesy … v3 the one who prophesies speaks to people for their upbuilding and encouragement and consolation… v4 the one who prophesies builds up the church.”
Prophetic and Encouraging
So, once again, how is a word of knowledge different? Well, let’s start by explaining the other two. Words of encouragement generally speak to an individual’s identity in Christ. You may have even heard the phrase “calling out the gold”. This is to say that you identify the beauty and God given truth about who someone was designed by God to be. It may sound like this, “You bring so much joy into every room you enter, even without trying to!” or “You are such a great example of the Father’s love to your kids!”
A prophetic word is different in that it speaks about God’s plans for someone’s future; calling forth what may not yet be present in someone’s life, but will be according to God. It may sound like, “I see the Lord giving you ministry opportunities with kids. He wants to use you to bring healing love and acceptance to children who feel unloved and unwanted.” or “I see you working to bring business to developing nations, creating job opportunities and community for persecuted believers.” or even “God is giving you the gift of joy to see and speak hope in all situations.”
Words of Knowledge
A word of knowledge is a little harder to describe in short. But it speaks to something that the person you are ministering to is currently experiencing or has experienced in their life. It highlights a specific experience, situation, or detail about that person. For example, I’ve seen God tell someone the other person’s birth date (day month and year), or the name of the street they lived on as a child. I’ve had God tell me the name of someone’s brother or relative and about the current state of their relationship. Most commonly I’ve seen words of knowledge be about physical ailments. For example, knowing that someone has a right shoulder injury or chronic neck pain. I’ve even seen it be as specific as, “you were riding your bike as a kid and flipped over your handlebars and ever since then you’ve had lower back pain.”
God gives us words of knowledge about other people to raise their faith for what He is wanting to do in light of their circumstances. If you suffered from migraines every day of your life, had been prayed over dozens of time, and then were asked to be prayed for again, what would your faith level be for that healing? But what if someone came to you and told you, “You’ve suffered from chronic migraines every day since you were 21 because of a drunk driver hitting your car, and God wants to heal you today.” If that was your situation, your faith that you were about to be healed would absolutely skyrocket! And you would have no doubt that the God who always sees you and intimately knows you and loves you is the one who healed you!
Words of Knowledge and Prophecy in Missions
Words of knowledge, prophetic words, and words of encouragement, in the end, only glorify God. They show people that God is real and is alive and active in our lives today. It tangibly shows them that God sees them and loves them more than they could ever imagine. They back up our claims that Jesus is the Son of God come to save and redeem the world.
We recently had some of our DTS outreach teams over in the Middle East, and they had some opportunities to minister powerfully through words of knowledge. As a fuller example of how these gifts glorify God and how we can use them in missions and ministry, check out this amazing story from one of our teams.
“One family we met at one of our creative events was Muslim and they had decided to come just an hour before we started. In the events there’s worship, testimonies, poems, and the gospel message.
When people were mingling afterwords, some of our team went to talk with this family. One of our guys talked with the son (who was 10-12), and heard from the Lord through a word of knowledge that the boy had nightmares. He asked him if he did, and the boy said yes. Our guy told him (as the Lord spoke to him) that he felt like these nightmares were satan coming to steal from him – and the boy immediately said “Yes!” and went on to share that in the dream there were snakes attacking him and literally saying that they were stealing from him. So he was able to pray over the boy’s dreams and the Lord brought peace!
The mom asked how our guy knew about the dreams, and so he started sharing about how God speaks to us and shared more of the Gospel. The mom was surprised/a little unsure about how God could speak to people – and then as they’re talking about hearing God, our guy gets another word of knowledge that she has pain in her knee. So he asked her about it. She was so shocked and said yes, asking how he knew. Again he shared that it was God speaking, even in that moment! A couple of our team prayed for her knee, and it was totally healed! She was amazed and by the end of the night, was so interested in Jesus that she got our team’s numbers to continue meeting up to hear more about this God who speaks to people. Praise God!”
We want to encourage you that these things aren’t just for the super-spiritual. God wants to (and will) speak to you and minister powerfully through you!
Want to take a season to dive into the things of God? Learn about how God wants to use us to reveal His glory on the earth by doing a DTS!