When we are studying the word of God we need to approach the subject from various perspectives. God has given us minds that are capable of understanding language, history and context, so that we can look at any word, phrase or passage and come to a general understanding of what the author was wanting to convey through his/her written words. Sometimes we need the assistance of scholars who can interpret the literal meanings of ancient words, especially when they were not written originally in our own natural language.
Additionally, we need to consider what the word or passage would have meant to the original listeners or readers within the natural cultural and historical setting in which it was written. Historians can often assist us in doing this. Finally, we need to consider what we are reading in light of the surrounding verses and other related scriptural passages, in order to understand whether the author was making a general statement or addressing a specific situation peculiar to that time and place. This is called context. All of these fall into the area of what is generally referred to as the ‘logos’, which means a written or spoken idea, thought or concept, or the human power of reason. Any reasonably educated person can read the Word of God applying a ‘logos’ level of human reason to what he/she is reading.
There is, however, an additional means God has provided for disciples of Jesus Christ through which we can understand His written Word. He has given us the gift of the Holy Spirit, who is “the Spirit of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him (Jesus)”. The scriptures teach us that Jesus Christ is the living Word of God (logos) 1 John 1:1-4; 1 John 5:7; Rev. 19:13. It is the Holy Spirit, as the Spirit of Wisdom and Revelation, who supernaturally reveals Jesus Christ to us as this living Word. When the Holy Spirit quickens to us the living Christ abiding in the scriptures that word, phrase or passage becomes to us a ‘rhema’, or a logos that has been brought alive within our spirit. For instance, consider the following examples:
* When Mary received the news that she would give birth to Jesus from the angel Gabriel, she said “be it unto me according to your word (rhema)” (Luke 1:38). The fact that ‘rhema’ is used in this verse rather than the more general term ‘logos’, tells us that Mary had received revelation direct to her own spirit when the angel spoke to her.
*Paul wrote of a man who was caught up into Paradise and heard ‘inexpressable words (rhema) which it is not lawful for a man to utter” (2 Cor. 12:4). In this passage, again, ‘rhema’ is used rather than ‘logos’, showing us that Paul heard spoken words of revelation in the Spirit.
*John 3:34, speaking of Jesus, says “He whom God sends speaks the words (rhema) of God, for God does not give the Spirit by measure. “ Jesus was able to speak revelation received directly from the Throne Room of God through the fullness of the Holy Spirit while He was on earth.
*Peter remembered the word (rhema) of Jesus who had said to him “Before the rooster crows , you will deny me three times” (Matt. 26.75). This verse shows us that Jesus had received a direct impartation of revelation from the Holy Spirit about how Peter would react to His arrest, even as Peter vowed he would die alongside Him.
There are many other instances of the use of ‘rhema’ in the New Testament scriptures, but I hope by now you will have begun to understand that a ‘rhema’ is direct, specific revelation straight from the Spirit of God to the spirit of man. Jesus said to His disciples “The words that I speak to you are spirit, and are life” (John 6:63). If you have ever received a ‘rhema’ from the Holy Spirit you will know that it is an unshakeable revelation living on the inside of you and cannot be taken away from you. You did not receive it by study, you did not receive it by using reason or logic, you did not receive it by someone else telling you. You received that rhema by impartation direct from the Holy Spirit, at a level much deeper than your mind or intellect.
Now, what we need to understand is this: what you receive as ‘rhema’ or Holy Spirit revelation is far more valuable to you than years spent in Bible College or in studying books. Scholarship is about the study of logos, it is the painstaking putting together of information gathered over many years of applied study, and it can be a very useful tool. Revelation, however, comes through the ‘rhema’ word of God. It is not a tool, it is a gift. It cannot be bought, earned, or deserved. It is totally and sovereignly up to the Spirit of God as to when and to whom He gives revelation of Christ in the form of a ‘rhema’. Those who place pride in their own (or others’) scholarship and scoff at genuine Holy Spirit revelation can never show us the living Word, Christ Himself. They may know many things concerning His life history and what He taught, but they do not know Him and they cannot reveal Him. The best they can do is give us information about Him. Education can take you only so far because it is limited to man’s intellect and wisdom but the wisdom of man is not the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:20).
Furthermore, without the intervention of the Holy Spirit, the human mind is incapable of understanding the things of the Spirit: “But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned” (1 Cor. 2:14). The things of God are spiritually discerned and therefore must be revealed to man by the Spirit of God. Revelation knowledge as revealed from the Spirit of God to the spirit of man is a purer form of knowledge than intellectual knowledge. Those who rely solely on scholarship, learning and human knowledge to know God are making an idol of human intellect to their own expense. Remember that Paul the apostle, when he was called Saul, was one of the most educated Jews of his time, but until he was humbled he despised Christ and His church. Later He said he counted all things he had formerly gained as forever lost and worthless for the sake of gaining Christ (Phil. 3:4-11).
In the studies that follow it will be our goal and our prayer to present you with both the ‘logos’ and the ‘rhema’ of God’s Word. There will be teaching on word studies, cultural background and context, and, where relevant, ‘case studies’, i.e. articles that will help you to seek the Lord for the spirit in that which is being taught so that you will know at a spiritual level, far beyond reason, logic or intellect, the revelatory truths that are being revealed by the Spirit of God. Knowledge will pass away, but of Spirit revealed truth you can never be robbed. May these studies help you to know the love of Christ, which passes knowledge.