“MysheephearMyvoice, and I know them, and they follow Me” (John 10:27).
“Grace friends at Network 220, Plano, TX”
This is a question that used to confuse me as a young believer. I would hear so many believers I admired speak of God telling them something, or receiving a word from God, or seeking a word for direction or for a sermon. I wanted to have what they had. I certainly wanted that kind of relationship with God that He would confide in me such secrets. I read books, practiced disciplines, and prayed and watched for signs, but it was years before I realized I had already experienced the Father’s voice speaking to me many times throughout my life. In fact, it’s the very life-breath of every believer.
Over the past few months I have “received a revelation of the word.” No, I’m not planning on starting a cult or even a new denomination; but I am excited to share with you what God has revealed or “brought to light” to me. And I’m NOT saying it’s a special word as though no one else has ever received it, or that it’s some “new truth.” In fact, the revelation came largely through good Bible teachers and the right timing in my mind, heart, and spirit. A revelation is like learning an old math or English rule that’s new to you: Having received revelation, a dangling participle makes sense to me. (Wink.)
There are two Greek words in the New Testament that are translated “word.” Those two words are logos and rhema. Lógos (from légō, “speaking to a conclusion”) – a word, being the expression of a thought; a saying. Lógos (“word”) is preeminently used of Christ (Jn 1:1), expressing the thoughts of the Father through the Spirit. Lógos is a common term (used 330 times in the NT) with regards to a person sharing a message (discourse, “communication-speech”); a broad term meaning “reasoning expressed by words.”
I like to think of logos as “the definition.” When God spoke the world into existence, He created it from nothing. He thought up and defined all things—what they would be and how they would work. His reasoning and power were expressed through words and all that is, came to be. His Word can never fail, because He is the deciding factor. Nothing on earth occurs apart from His sovereign word.
Rhema, on the other hand, is a personal, purposeful word from God to His child for a specific time and place. I believe the miracle of faith is in the hearing (Acts 1:6)…
Rhḗma (from rhéō, “to speak”) – a spoken word, made “by the living voice” (J. Thayer). Rhḗma (“spoken-word”) is commonly used in the NT (and in LXX) for the Lord speaking His dynamic, living word in a believer to inbirth faith (“His inwrought persuasion“).
[See also Gal 3:2,5 which refers to “the hearing of faith” (Gk text) – i.e. a spiritual hearing that goes with the divine inbirthing of faith.]
Maybe we could say thatlogos is like the menu and rhema is the meal. The written words witness to life-giving food, but who is ever nourished by plastic or paper?! You might be surprised (as I was) to discover which “word” is being used in these three passages:
First, Romans 10:17 (KJV). Finish the verse: “So then faith cometh from hearing, and hearing by the word of _____.”
Did you fill in the blank with “God?” Most people do (until they learn this lesson).
Does the “word of God” mean the Bible? Again, most Christians I know will say yes.
Now let’s look at this verse in the original Greek language:
ἄρα ἡ πίστις ἐξ ἀκοῆς, ἡ δὲ ἀκοὴ διὰ ῥήματος Χριστοῦ
An expanded interpretation might read: “So faith proceeds from [spiritual] hearing; moreover this hearing (is consummated) through a rhēma-word from Christ.” Do you see what I see? Faith is birthed in us by means of a personal word (rhema) from Christ (not God or theos)!
On any given Sunday, the Bible is being preached in thousands of churches around the world to millions of listening believers and yet how much faith is being birthed? We’d have to admit, very little. But what if we’ve misunderstood how faith is born in us? What if it’s rhema-word and not logos-word being expressed here in Paul’s Spirit-inspired words? How often is faith produced in us when you and I hear the Holy Spirit speaking to our spirit (Rm. 8:16)? 100% of the time! As believers receive enlightenment, revelation, the “Ah-ha” of the voice of Jesus, faith expands.
Second, in Matthew 4:4, when Jesus proclaimed, “Man shall not live on bread alone, but on every rhema-word that proceeds out of the mouth of God,” He was not talking about us eating paper, memorizing words on a page, or even getting a Bible degree. He is saying, “real life is exhaled by first inhaling all that I share with you; “The rhema-words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life” (Jn. 6:63).
Third, Luke 1:37 says, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” When the young, virgin Mary was told by an angel that she would bear a child, she received a rhema-word from God. It was only for her, for that time and place, and for that purpose. I don’t know why “nothing” was not translated as it is written in the Greek, but this verse says, “no rhema will be impossible with God.” When God gives His word, He backs it up. It is not dependent on you to perform it. In fact, it is most often a result that is “mysterical”—a mystery and a miracle. We have the distinct privilege as God’s children to participate with Him in His redemptive work in this world. He does not need us, but chooses to work in and through us. We need only to believe, receive, and obey His rhema–word. He will be faithful to perform it.
This is a far cry from a legalistic compliance to dictated directives. God’s not asking us to muster up the strength and courage to do His will. God’s power is not contingent upon man’s ability to carry out a commanded task. Rather it is waiting to move through a yielded believer responding to Him as Mary did: “Behold, the bondslave of the Lord; may it be done to me according to Your rhema-word.” Never, never, never doubt God’s word—logos or rhema. Both will surely come to pass.