(week 48)
Olubi Johnson

In our last article we saw that the gifts of the Holy Spirit were temporary anointings that God gives to saints baptized in the Holy Spirit to enable them manifest His ability in spectacular and spontaneous fashion. We also saw that the gifts of the Spirit were in 3 categories: the revelation gifts, the power gifts and the vocal or utterance gifts. In our article this week we will be examining these gifts in more detail.


There are 3 revelation gifts: the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge and the discernings of spirits.

The word of wisdom

This is a supernatural, often spectacular manifestation of a fragment the wisdom of God, revealing the mind and purpose of God for the future.

Just as a word is a fragment of a sentence the word of wisdom is a fragment of God’s infinite wisdom.

It comes in a flash: spontaneously and spectacularly and usually, though not always, in conjunction with the gift of the discernings of spirits.

This gift of the word of wisdom embellishes or complements the prophet’s ministry office in that it is regularly in manifestation as the prophet teaches or ministers.

For example:

(i) In Is. 7:14 – The prophet Isaiah receives-in a flash-the word of wisdom pertaining to the birth of the Lord Jesus. Here the word of wisdom comes spontaneously through prophetic teaching and preaching.

(ii) John’s vision of future events on the Isle of Patmos recorded in the book of revelation (Revelation 1:9). Here the word of wisdom came through the vehicle of discernings of spirits in visions.

(iii) The prophet Micah’s word of wisdom for the two kings Ahab and Jehoshaphat who were about to go to war in 1 Kings 22: 17. Ahab would die and Jehoshaphat would be protected by God and live. This came through visions and prophetic utterance.

The word of knowledge

This is a gift similar to word of wisdom except that it is a fragment of the knowledge of God concerning the present and the past. Recall that, in contrast, a word of wisdom reveals a fragment of God’s wisdom concerning the future.

Like the word of wisdom, the word of knowledge comes in flash: spontaneously and spectacularly, either through prophetic teaching and preaching, utterance or visions.

An example is in 2 Kings 5:26: The word of knowledge is given to the prophet Elisha concerning his servant, Gehazi who had, contrary to instruction, received a gift from the Syrian nobleman, Naaman, whom God had healed through the prophet Elisha.

The discernings of spirits

The discernings of spirits is a temporary anointing that enables you to see, hear and even sometimes smell in the realm of the spirit.

There is a distinction between the general ability of a Christian who is praying and walking in the Spirit to discern, or have insight into the situation he encounters and the spiritual gift of discernings of spirits. A spiritual Christian is discerning and can perceive spiritual realities without having the gift of discernings of spirits in operation.

1 Corinthians 2:14-16 KJV: But the natural man receiveth not the things of the Spirit of God: for they are foolishness unto him: neither can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.  But he that is spiritual judgeth (discerns) all things, yet he himself is judged of no man.  For who hath known the mind of the Lord, that he may instruct him? But we have the mind of Christ.

Being spiritually sensitive, perceptive or discerning is not having the gift of discerning of spirits. Being spiritually sensitive, perceptive or discerning is not having the gift of discerning of spirits.

You can have accurate spiritual discernment by growth and sensitivity to the Holy Spirit through prayer and the knowledge of the Word and yet not have a vision or discernings of spirits in operation.

While ordinary discernment is supernatural but not necessarily spectacular and can be initiated by the saint through prayer and meditation in the Word, the discernings of spirits is given as the Holy Spirit wills and is spontaneous and spectacular in operation. Many Christians think that because they are sensitive to the Holy Spirit and perceptive of spiritual things, they have the gift of discerings of spirits. No! Your perception or discernment of spiritual things is subjective and becomes more and more accurate as you grow spiritually. However when the gift of discernings of spirits is in operation you clearly see into the spirit realm: it is not just a perception you have that is subjective to the degree of your spiritual sensitivity. Furthermore while the interpretation of what is seen in a vision may be subjective, if during the vision God does not tell you exactly what He means, which He usually does, what is actually seen and heard is not subjective.

God’s purpose is to develop our spiritual sensitivity, perception and discernment to the point where they will be as accurate as having discernings of spirits in operation.

A lot of what is called the gift of discernment (and there is no such thing, only the gift of the discernings of spirits) is inaccurate spiritual discernment by carnal Christians that is only suspicion and criticism.

Now the word discerning is pluralized in the original Greek indicating that there is more than one way to discern or see into the spiritual realm. However this is usually done through visions.

There are 3 types of visions:

1. Spiritual Vision:

This is the lowest type of vision in which a person has a vision in his spirit, or sees something in his spirit. An example is the apostle Paul’s vision on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:4-5) Paul did not see the Lord Jesus with His physical eyes because he was blinded and could not see physically: he saw in the spirit realm. Jesus appeared to Paul (then Saul) even though his physical eyes were blinded. This was a spiritual vision, seen with the eyes of the spirit.

2. Trance:

This is the second type of vision. An example is Acts 22:17,18, when Paul went to Jerusalem and fell into a trance.

When in a trance, one’s physical senses are momentarily suspended and the person is not aware of where he is, or anything that contacts the physical realm. The person in a trance is not unconscious, he is simply only aware of spiritual things. Another example is when Peter went up to pray on a roof-top (Acts 10:10) and saw heaven open and a sheet descend from heaven.

3. Open Vision:

This is the third and highest type of vision. One’s physical senses are not suspended but the person still sees into the realm of the spirit with all his physical senses still functioning and physical things still visible at the same time. An example is Micah’s discerning of a lying spirit (I Kings 22:19-23). Also Peter’s vision of the angel that delivered him from Herod’s prison and imminent execution in Acts 12:7-11 is an open vision.

The discernings of spirits brings with it either a word of wisdom or knowledge or both.

In our article next week we will examine the power and the vocal or utterance gifts.