My Baptist denomination regarded the miraculous gifts listed in First Corinthians twelve as having ended. I was too young to be aware of that doctrinal position and assumed all believers experienced the same "messages" I did. It was disappointing to discover later they did not–or did not recognize them. While I think I have experienced all the gifts in the Corinthian list–at least minimally–I want to focus on one that was very important to me: The "word of knowledge." Few realize how important this gift is. It, and the "word of wisdom," are so similar it is sometimes difficult to tell them apart. Basically, the "word of knowledge" tells a fact; the "word of wisdom" tells what to do with it. Such gifts come from God in the form of internally spoken sentences, mental impressions, prophetic messages from other people, and various other ways.
My call to the ministry came through a vision in the Autumn of 1948 when I was a senior in a Miami, Florida, High School. Early one morning I was walking to the bus stop, had reached an intersection near my house, when I looked up and in the air above me saw a vision of myself preaching. In that blink-of-an-eye the direction of my life was permanently–sovereignly–changed. Not only so, it was a devastating moment for all my personal ambitions. Preaching was not what I wanted as a life-work. I planned to go to the University of Florida, then to Central America and study tropical-botany under the care of Dr. Charles Lancaster in Costa Rica. We had corresponded; he had encouraged me to come. Those plans were already made. My whole life was vested in that hope. Standing at the intersection, looking up at the spot where the vision had been, my cherished dreams now lay crushed at my feet. Traffic speeded past me not knowing that on the roadside a young man’s destiny had just been changed forever.
I told no one about the "Vision" but prayed desperately that God would not require the ministry of me–I even begged Him to call my brother instead. God was unrelenting and I finally submitted–though I told no one. Near the middle of March, 1949, another unshakable– frightening–message came to me. A "word of knowledge" informed me that I would preach my first sermon on Easter Sunday. That strange information was shocking–alarming but incontestably real. It was as though cast in stone. Easter was the most important event in the Christian year and no one wanted to hear a teenager preach his first sermon on that special day. I said nothing but fearfully waited. As the time approached I grew more panic-stricken.
Palm Sunday came on April 10th and I thought surely my pastor, Fred Hartley, would speak to me about my call to preach. He did not. At Wednesday night prayer meeting I stayed close to him but he said nothing. I was more frightened, knowing it would "be as it was told me." Acts 27:25. The next morning, Brother Hartley appeared suddenly at our house, confronted me with the fact of God having called me to the ministry and the church’s desire to acknowledge that by "licensing" me to preach. They wanted to do that officially on Easter Sunday morning and have me preach my first sermon that night. I told him nothing about my month of waiting, the fear I had undergone–but said "No" to his request. I could not do otherwise. Fear held me in its paralyzing grip. He left the house with the admonition that I call him if I changed my mind. Later that day, I telephoned him and submitted to the will of the church–more so–to the will of God.
Easter Sunday morning, April 17, 1949, I sat in the congregation, numb with fear, dreading what was about to happen. The course of my life was being re-directed in a way I had not chosen. But, I had no option, only to submit to what I knew was the specific will of God–and I wanted to please Him above everything else. After the official licensing I stood at the front as the congregation filed by, giving me the "right hand of fellowship" and assuring me of their prayers. The first one to come was a tiny little widow, weighing less than 90 pounds, who took my hand and said, "Charles, I am praying for you ..." The moment she touched me all my fear suddenly vanished. It was gone. Sixty-five years later I still remember her and how she looked. That Easter evening I delivered my first sermon: "For if by one man's offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ." Romans 5:17-21. The month-long "word of knowledge" had been perfectly fulfilled–and I preached like a bird freed from its cage.
That miraculous "word," I Corinthians 12:8, imparted to me a sense of trust and confidence in God that I will carry to my grave. Too, it established a pattern in which I wanted all my preaching to be directed by the Holy Spirit. In the years following, I failed many times and many times He succeeded. There were occasions when the Holy Spirit invaded the building and old-line Baptists broke into shouting, repentance, and open sobbing. I saw them grabbing each other across the pews and weeping in one another’s arms. Even so, for the first 27 years of ministry I saw no one miraculously delivered by the power of the Holy Spirit. Nor did I expect it. I was totally ignorant of this provision of the gospel. Some of my church members suffered from alcoholism, depression, anger, compulsive disorders, and other problems, but the only help I provided was in directing them to secular therapy.
I served my first church eleven years and when the time came to leave a "word of knowledge" told me five months in advance which the next one would be. I knew which church I was going to serve before the church knew someone else was coming. In 1970, I resigned my pastorate in Delray Beach, Florida, with no income, no savings, and no place to go. I left the church because a "word of knowledge" instructed me to do so. For several months afterward my wife, daughter, and I, shuttled about from one emergency-provision to another. We had "no certain dwelling place" and lived on 10-cent cans of mackerel. Then, a wealthy acquaintance who owned an ocean-front estate in Gulf Stream, Florida, invited us to stay in his home rent-free. He and his wife were there only six weeks each winter. One morning the Holy Spirit spoke a "word of knowledge" very clearly and told me not to leave the house or grounds that day. I obeyed. About 8:15 that evening I was standing alone in the living room, staring at the ocean and wondering about the Lord's instruction that morning when the telephone rang. Before I turned toward it, the Holy Spirit spoke. His exact words were these: "That is the Church in Atlanta calling. They want you to become their pastor. Tell them you'll go." When the caller explained who he was, why he was calling, I replied, "I accept your invitation ..."
I was at my Atlanta desk one day when a woman telephoned from Augusta, Georgia. Her daughter had run away from home, they did not know where she was but assumed she had come to Atlanta. Would I help? Atlanta was a city of several million and I explained to the mother that our finding the girl would be impossible. We needed God’s revelation. With that understanding we both agreed to pray. As soon as I hung up the phone I had a "word of knowledge." It was the name of a hippy-bar in the tenth street district. I called, asked them to put a note on their bulletin board. It had the girl’s name and the plea that she call home.
An hour later I was still at my desk when the mother called back, hysterically laughing and crying, saying, "She called! She called! She came in the bar a few minutes after they posted your note! She is coming home!" Two Sundays later the family was in my congregation together. Only God could find that girl in a city of millions. When I speak of the value of a miraculous word, this is what I mean. Pity the Christians who naively reject God’s miraculous provisions!
Not long after my spiritual-baptism I had another encounter with the Holy Spirit when His electric-like shock one night left my body vibrating. It was beyond description–life changing. I thought I was dead. Soon after that when I laid-hands on others they would crash to the floor in that same astonishing way. One of my former church members, a woman who had been a severe alcoholic for eighteen years, had lost her husband and the respect of her family, was delivered in a few minutes time. She never drank again.
It wasn’t long before serious opposition to my new ministry rose in the church. One party was leading the attack–so I went to a wooded ravine near our house to pray. No sooner had I climbed down the slope than the name "Ahithophel" was shouted in my ear. I knew it was a Bible name but I could not remember having ever heard it. Scrambling back up the slope I ran all the way home saying "Ahithophel –Ahithophel –Ahithophel," fearful that I might forget it. When I found the man in my Bible I was shocked. Ahithophel had attempted to overthrow King David , failed, and was killed. II Samuel 17:14-23. Unfortunately, my attacker, like Ahithophel, also died. From that point on, I knew not to be afraid of attackers.
I remained at the Atlanta Church for seven years, my ministry there climaxing with my being filled with the Holy Spirit. That occurred when a young, Spirit-filled prisoner in the Atlanta Federal Penitentiary laid-hands on me. Quoting Ananias’s words to Saul of Tarsus, he said, "The Lord Jesus who appeared to you on the road as you came has sent me that you may receive your sight and be filled with the Holy Spirit." Acts 9:18. Both happened. Scales fell from my eyes, scriptures I had previously ignored began leaping off the page at me. God’s flower of spiritual gifts that first appeared in 1948 came into full bloom. But another encounter with the Holy Spirit quickly followed. One night a lightening-bolt-electric-like-shock left my body vibrating on the bed. I thought I was dead. It was beyond description–life changing.
Soon afterward I visited a church in Florida which I had formerly served, told them everything that had happened to me, and they wanted me to return as pastor. One early morning before day, I awoke abruptly and saw the name "Jephunneh" written in the air above my bed. The name, like Ahithophel, was unknown to me. I quickly got out of bed, and found it in Numbers 13, 1-20. When I saw the passage I began to weep. The name was included in the list of twelve spies whom Moses sent into the Promised Land–of which only Joshua and Caleb had been faithful. "Lord!," I spoke aloud, "You are telling me that I didn't make it! I failed the test!" My anguish was overwhelming. I then read the passage and these words leaped at me: "Caleb, the son of Jephunneh ..." Jephunneh was not one of the bad spies, he was the father of the greatest. In that phenomenal the Holy Spirit spoke: "You are to father my Calebs". In the years following the assignment of "fatherhood"was committed to me. That part of ministry became the joy of my life.
One of the greatest ministers of modern times, Derek Prince, knew of my work, and asked me to become part of his Pastors Conference team in Russia, Turkey, Kazakhstan, and locations in the U.S. We saw Muslims and other hard-core cases be set free, saved, filled with the Holy Spirit, and become active Christians. His book, They Shall Expel Demons, contains a section on homosexual-deliverance which he asked me to write. Today, because of my travel with Derek, there are "Calebs" scattered from Kazakhstan to South America, Europe, Africa, and across the U.S. These wonderful men regard me as their "Jephunneh."
After my "electric" encounter with the Holy Spirit people for whom I prayed frequently crashed to the floor in the same electrified way. Many vibrated uncontrollably. These are authentic "signs and wonders" and cannot be faked. A big part of my ministry became "deliverance" exorcism and over the years I ministered to more than 1,000 people in private, office appointments. Many were pastors who flew-in from out of state. One, secretly brought his gun, and told us afterward, "If this ministry had failed I was not going home alive." Thankfully, he not only went home alive but empowered for new ministry.
One of my former church members, a woman who had been a severe alcoholic for eighteen years, had lost her husband and the respect of her family because of her drinking, was delivered in a few minutes time and never touched alcohol again. To her final day, she remained a noble, God-fearing example of Christian womanhood and beauty. What brought the change? The Holy Spirit cast out the demon of addiction. A Christian Counselor sent eight of her worst patients to my office for ministry. We ministered through "words of knowledge" and all of them were dramatically helped or totally delivered.
The counselor called me saying, "I’m giving up my practice. I want to do what you’re doing! Will you teach me?" At a recent Word, Spirit, Power Conference with Jack and R.T., a young woman who had attempted suicide 22 times received deliverance-ministry. She came to me at the end of the event and said, "I am healed!" And, thank God, she was! As an example of how God has used the "word of knowledge" in my writing-ministry I am including a testimony below. The article of which he writes, The Parable Of The Muddy Dog, came to me as a "word of knowledge." This testimony is an example of what such "Words" can do:
Dear Charles, I am the man who drove from Augusta, Georgia, to hear you speak in Columbia, South Carolina, at the Word, Spirit, Power, Conference. We prayed and I told you about my struggles with alcohol. I have been battling this addiction for years now. It has cost me a lot in life–money, jobs, family, relationships–not to mention the toll it has taken on my physical condition. I use to be a very athletic person. Played college golf and had a brief stint on the professional mini-tours ...After reading your article, Parable Of The Muddy Dog, meeting, talking, and praying with you, I feel like the power of the Holy Spirit has driven that demon from me. I have not had any desire to drink since the day I read the "parable." Nor have I experienced any withdrawal symptoms and I feel like a different man. That makes sense because I am a different man! In the past my car seemed to turn in the liquor store parking lot without my doing it. Several times now I have passed the store without realizing where I was. Thank you for opening my eyes to the power of the Holy Spirit. I have always accepted Jesus as my savior therefore felt saved but I can tell you something has changed in the last week. I believe that I had a demon of alcohol in me. I want to thank you for your help. With the power of the Holy Spirit I will continue to defeat that demon. Thank you again! John
In : Holy Spirit
Tags: word of knowledge spirit holy