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Chapter 5. Hearing God
Premise: I don’t think God would use two Greek words for “word” in the New Testament unless it was significant. Those words are "logos" and "rhema."
God is exact. His words are exact. It’s His nature. Just as “agape” shows us what kind of love God has for us, so ”rhema” shows what kind of relationship God wants with us.
When you accepted Jesus as your Lord and Savior, you were what the Bible calls "born again." Your spirit "came alive" to God. You now had spiritual senses that could sense God in ways you couldn't before. Now you can hear God with your spiritual ears. Now God can lead and guide you personally with words He speaks to you only. Those are what I call "rhema words." "Logos words" are what God has written in the Bible for all Christians.
-are the foundational truths of the Bible;
-give the broad idea or concept;
-don’t need a rhema to successfully live the verse(s) that use logos;
-are not to be the extent of our relationship with God;
-are for all Christians.
-are the specific applications of the logos concepts;
-are needed to successfully live certain areas of our life;
-are necessary to have a full relationship with God;
-are only for the one to whom the words are spoken.
These differences are best illustrated by examining and comparing the following logos verses and rhema verses, followed by some suggestions on how to hear God speak rhema words to you personally. It is fascinating to think that God might have “encoded” how He wants to relate to us on a day-to-day basis by using rhema verses. Please remember my comments about these verses are just my opinion. Like any opinion, it should be tested.
(Matthew 4:4) “don’t live by bread alone but by every word (rhema) from the mouth of God”:
This verse tells us the ultimate God wants for us: to live by rhema that is based on logos. Only Jesus was able to do it, but I believe God here is encouraging us to go for His very best, which is perfect union with Him. (Remember that logos is the foundation of all rhema, i.e., we stay grounded in the Bible- we don’t elevate experience over Bible. Living by rhema will make you want to know more logos, not less.) I also believe this verse is saying that we are to have peace once we get a rhema about a situation. We live from rhema to rhema. We don't need to get depressed or anxious between rhema.
(Hebrews 4:12) “for the word (logos) of God is …sharper than any two-edged sword”:
This verse tells us that the Bible is sufficient for instruction, reproof, correction, etc.; we don’t need a rhema to know that it is wrong to steal. But we do need a rhema if we don't think something we are doing is stealing and God does.
(Ephesians 6:17) “and above all take the sword of the spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God”:
On the other hand, we do need rhema words in spiritual warfare; so in this example and the previous example, we have two swords, but one is logos and the other is rhema. Perhaps we need to re-evaluate how we do spiritual warfare (see Chapter 8).
(James 1:22) “be doers of the word (logos) and not hearers only”:
I think this verse is dealing with our attitude towards the Bible, the logos. We don’t need rhema words to have the right attitude. You can be a doer with the right attitude just by knowing the Bible.
(1 Corinthians 12:8) The “word of knowledge” and the” word of wisdom” gifts of the Holy Spirit:
These both are logos, which is really interesting since I originally thought they would be rhema. It’s just my opinion, but I think these two gifts are supposed to be more for imparting general logos words to someone rather than specific rhema words, especially about someone’s future. I know of some exceptions to this, but I still think they are not supposed to be too specific. God doesn’t want people always looking for a “word” from God. He wants them to hear for themselves. I feel the same way about prophecy- it shouldn’t be about specific future stuff but encouraging logos words that build up the body.
(Romans 10:17) “faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word (rhema) of God”:
Wow. Is this saying that just knowing what the Bible (logos) says does not bring faith- at least not faith for overcoming a specific situation in your life that needs a rhema? It’s something to think about. (Let me add here that I believe a lot of what we read in the Bible does become rhema to us. But we need to know when that happens. We can’t assume it becomes rhema to us automatically just by reading a verse many times and “confessing” it. That’s not what it means to hear rhema words. My problem with the so-called “confession” movement is that it thinks confessing a scripture enough times makes it rhema, and they pick verses that they want to be rhema. Isn't God the one who should determine rhema for you? I also think they think their faith is up to them instead of God so they keep trying to build “their” faith.)
(Ephesians 5:26) “that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word (rhema)”:
Another wow. This implies that it is rhema that gives the faith and power we need to finally overcome those things that we never could get victory over with just logos. I can testify that I had been struggling for years over some areas of my flesh until I started working on hearing God speak into my spirit words that addressed those areas.
John Chapter 15 is unusual in that it has both logos and rhema within the same discourse of Jesus to His disciples. I believe verse 3 (logos) means that God's words, rhema or logos, cleans and washes everyone's life in a general sense. Contrast this with the cleansing in the previous example (Ephesians 5:26) where cleansing for an individual requires a rhema word for that person's specific situation. Verse 7 however is rhema and says if rhema words are in us, then we can ask what we will and it will come to pass. Wow! That's the power and importance of rhema.
Another similar grouping of verses that mentions logos first and then rhema is found in 1 Peter. My take on these is that all of God’s logos words (the Bible) are the foundation for everyone’s salvation and will never pass away (logos- verse 23). But until the logos becomes a specific rhema “spoken” to an individual, it won’t save anyone. Preaching was the main method of imparting rhema back then (before the Bible) which accounts for the unusual wording of verse 25 (rhema).
This is by no means an exhaustive list, but I hope it serves to make you want to investigate verses for yourself.
Suggestions for hearing rhema:
-Be baptized (filled) with the Holy Spirit (relinquish control to the Holy Spirit)- step out in the gifts.
-Read and study the Bible- the Bible is always the starting point for good hearing; read it first for content, then read it for specific situations requiring a spoken word.
-His spoken words require continuously letting them wash your mind. It isn’t a one-time happening, usually. Some are instantly set free, most have to wash and wash. Let His spoken words be on and in your mind continually. It helps you be open to hearing more rhema. God often will speak more as you need more.
-Have compassion for everyone (this doesn't mean condoning wrong behavior)- but it does mean getting your heart right before God.
-Get to the point where you know the difference between logos and rhema. Wrestle with God like Jacob did. Earnestly seek and you will find.
There are many good books and articles on hearing God. Read and talk to trusted people and attend a church that believes in hearing rhema from God. Half the battle is being aware of rhema and desiring to hear them directly from God, just for you.
Things that stop rhema:
-willful sinning without a desire to stop;
-lack of knowledge;
-previous wrong teaching;
-lack of desire to want to hear;
-lack of endurance. You must keep hold on the rhema you do know is rhema. A common mistake is giving up. The devil will do all he can to rob you of rhema because he knows that is one thing that can defeat him.
Has God had to extend mercy and not grace to us because we have lived too much on logos and not rhema, and thus don’t have the power of rhema? And are we serious students of the Bible, which gives us a solid foundation for rhema words? I believe the true church operates on rhema words with the Bible as the foundation. The true church is composed of believers who are serious about hearing God. I'm coming to the conclusion that you cannot live a victorious Christian life to its fullest without rhema words. I also believe the definition of a mature Christian is one who can hear rhema words on a continuous basis.
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