LOGOS and RHEMA
BY: JAN A. ANTONSSON
OCTOBER 17, 2015
The Glory Road Blog, A Kingdom Highway
“Man does not live by bread alone, but by every word (rhemati) that proceeds from the mouth of God.” (Matt. 4:4)
This essay is a continuation of the last one entitled, “Myth and Logic.” I wanted to discuss the “logos” and the “rhema” in that one, but it would have made it too long. In case you are unfamiliar with these terms, the following from Wikipedia may help: “In Christianity, rhema is used in Bible study to signify Jesus Christ’s utterance. The Greek word rhema is useful to distinguish between two meanings of word. While both rhema and logos are translated into the English as “word,” in the original Greek there was a substantial distinction.
“Some modern usage distinguishes Rhema from Logos in Christian Theology, with Rhema at times called “spoken word,” referring to the revelation received by disciples when the Holy Spirit “speaks” to them. In this usage, “Logos” refers to Christ.
“In this modern usage, “Logos” is the “Word of God,” i.e., Jesus Christ, the subject from Genesis to Revelation. “Rhema” is the revealed word of God, as an utterance from God to the heart of the receiver via the Holy Spirit, as in John 14:26: “… the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you” (John 14:26). In this usage, “Rhema” refers to “a word that is spoken,” when the Holy Spirit delivers a message to the heart as in Romans 10:17: “Consequently, faith comes from hearing the message, and the message is heard through the word of Christ. (rhematos Christou)” and in Matthew 4:4: “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word (rhema) that comes from the mouth of God.” End Quote.
Many pastors and preachers refer to the Bible as “the word of God,” and this has become common usage among many Christians, who often shorten the phrase to merely, “the Word,” by which they mean the Bible. The Bible certainly contains God’s word to men and women, but here, I believe we need to apply Paul’s admonition that “the letter kills, but the spirit gives life.” (II Cor. 3:6, RSV)
The Bible has inspired me, thrilled me, urged me to snuggle closer to our Father, and helped me to survive the vicissitudes of life for 74 years now, but honestly speaking, it alone is not enough. That sounds shocking, and perhaps it is, but without the Spirit to bring the words to life in our hearts, we won’t get very far with only the Bible. I grew up in a church whose creed was “We speak when the Bible speaks and are silent when the Bible is silent.” They taught that the Holy Spirit had done His work when the Bible was put together, that we needed only the written word. In fact, they taught that the Holy Spirit went back to heaven when the last Apostle died, so in effect, we are on our own with our ability to read and understand the written word published in a book known as the Bible.
I had a visual picture one day of how discomforting this would be to a man lying at death’s door in the hospital, longing for someone to bring Him God’s word for him personally, but instead, he got a Christian who laid a New Testament on his breast, patted him on the shoulder, and said, “Read it brother. It will help you.” That would be funny if it weren’t so tragic.
Recently, a young woman whom I’ve been encouraging to wait upon the Lord to show her God’s plan for her life, recently asked me plaintively, “How do I hear from God? He doesn’t speak to me.” I shared my personal conviction that He speaks to all His children in individual ways we can hear or see, but first, He has to plant the faith in our hearts to believe He loves us this way. For me, He speaks often in words, because I am a word person. But He has spoken to me through others at times, in word pictures, and of course, through the Holy Spirit shining His light on a scripture that applied to my particular situation.
A little background on this may be helpful. The fellowship where I worshipped many years ago was Charismatic in nature, and there was a segment of the service where anyone could go up front, take the mike, and testify to what the Spirit had done in their life that week. Week after week, the same women would get up and share how God had moved in their lives by telling them something that helped in their dilemma at the time. Up to that point, I was not aware if He had spoken to me.
I ran in those days, jogging two miles around my neighborhood after getting home from work. Those were the glory days when I poured out my heart to God and received His blessing. On this one day, while thinking about these women who testified week after week about what God has said to them, I complained to the Lord, “Why don’t you speak to me? I can hear you as well as they can. From now on, when I have a question or a problem, I’m going to ask You what to do, and the first thing that comes into my mind I will consider as from You. I refuse to worry about it being the devil (those were the days before He had delivered me from fear of that fellow), because if You aren’t strong enough to swipe him out of my mind, then maybe I don’t want to listen to You.” Cheeky? Yes, it was and impertinent as well, but I began to practice it, until the day when I realized that Yay, He did speak to me. I never went up front at church and testified about that, because that was way too forward for me, but that’s the way I lived my life and still do.
Another example of the “rhema” is found in Isa. 40:5: “The glory of the Lord shall be revealed and all flesh shall see it together, for the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” Isaiah’s proclamation was sealed by the affirmation that, “the mouth of the Lord has spoken it.” God is not a man. It is impossible for Him to lie (Num. 23:19; Heb. 6:18); so because He said it, you can take it to the bank.
The logos, i.e., the written word in all its grandeur and glory cannot possibly replace or surpass the rhema, the word of God quickened to my mind and heart by the Holy Spirit. Especially now that Lenny isn’t here to consult with and give me his wise counsel, I go to God with everything that concerns me, worries me, frightens, me, or inspires me. He truly is my Father and my Mother, my best friend, my everyday companion, the soother of my heart, the lover of my soul whose perfect love takes away fear, my ever present help in time of trouble.
He is available to be that for all His children, when He opens their eyes and ears to receive Him. My prayer for you is that you add to your arsenal the “rhema,” God’s word to your heart. When added to the written word, the “logos,” we have an unstoppable supply of unconditional love, mercy and grace and WISDOM.
Father, we thank You that we can come to You like little children, sit on Your knee and draw from Your infinite well of wisdom, and rely on your almighty power to deliver us from all that would rob us of our peace and cause us to doubt or fear. Pour out Your presence on all Your children as we join our voices to those of a great multitude, “and as the voice of many waters, and the voice of mighty thunderings, saying, Alleluia: for the Lord God omnipotent reigneth.” So say we all, Amen.