Think about being given a book that contained a story about an author along with his design for living that would lead to the most incredible life anyone could live on this earth. A life full of freedom, joy, fulfillment, contentment, successful marriages and families, and successful relationships. How about not just being given this incredible book, but having the author, who is the greatest person who has ever lived, willing to walk with you every day to show you how what he instructed in the book applies to various things in your daily life? Sounds like it would be a great deal and a great privilege. Who would refuse that? This is the amazing design God has provided for His people.
I had the great privilege of meeting with a famous veteran of the Charismatic Renewal. He has spoken to great crowds throughout the world, helped provide a magazine for several years that impacted millions of people from all denominations, and worked with many famous leaders giving instruction and counsel.
There were about 14 of us around a table for several hours and I felt like the stories I had read in Eusieubus’ Early Church History about the Apostle John’s final days at Ephesus. They would carry him out and sit him among groups of disciples and he would instruct them.
When our friend and hero began to talk we all pulled out our cell phones to catch the wisdom that was flowing from his lips. He quickly began to cry and with passion in his voice he began to say, “It’s all relational. The Kingdom, the church, Christianity is relational walking with Jesus and hearing His word.”
He went on to say that “we must have the ‘Word’ (Greek Logos which is what God has said and revealed through all of Scripture, Jn 1:1-14, Ps 119:89, 1 Pet 1:25), but also the ‘Word’ (Greek Rhema which is what He continues to say in speech and ongoing communication Mt 4:4, Lk 4:4). If we only have Logos without Rhema it will lead to dead religion. Logos can’t trump Rhema and Rhema can’t trump Logos.”
Back to what I said earlier, we must have the book and walk with the Author of the book who out of a living relationship will speak His specific word towards specific issues. If we only walk with the Bible and not the Author of the Bible we can commit “Bible idolatry.” This is what the religious leaders did and Jesus rebuked them for it.
John 5:38-40 “You do not have His word abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent. (39) “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; (40) and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life.
“We must allow the Word of God to confront us, to disturb our security, to undermine our complacency and to overthrow our patterns of thought and behavior.” John Stott
Prayer, Logos, and Rhema
Prayer is essential to walk in the ongoing dialogue with Jesus where He speaks His Word to us. Most of the time God speaks (Rhema) to us things from His Word (Logos) specifically directed towards our life and circumstances.
It works like learning a foreign language. You learn words so you can enter into dialogue with people because the dialogue comes through the language you learned. God has “forever settled His word” (Logos Ps 119:89). He continues to speak to us (Rhema) from His word in everyday life. If the language isn’t in us we will have a hard time determining what He is saying. This is why we must read and study His word. We learn the language of God.
One of my friends used to say, “when you open the Bible you look into the face of Jesus.” When we communicate with Him in prayer we hear His voice (Rhema) as He speaks from His word (Logos).
His voice is discerned from His word. If we don’t have the language from His word (Logos) we will tend to hear things that may not be Him. They can be our emotions, fantasies, or preferences. A good rule of thumb is “If what His is saying contradicts what He has said then it isn’t Him who is saying it.” His Rhema word will never contradict His Logos word.
Prayer is the place where we learn to hear His word (Rhema) from His language (Logos). It is where we get to learn and hear the voice from the Author of the book. Prayer is above all else communication with God and His word is to be in it. There is a problem with people who don’t pray in order to hear His voice from His word, as well as those who don’t know His word which is the language by which He speaks.
Two extremes we must avoid.
- Prayer and attempting to hear from God without His word (Logos) = Crazy Charismatic subjective hearers who are driven by their own fantasies or desires. This is inner subjectivism clothed in spirituality.
- Having His word (Logos/Bible) without prayer and hearing His voice (Rhema) = Dry and dead intellectuals who twist and use the Bible to their own ends. They use the Bible for themselves. This is when the Bible becomes idolatry. It is using His word without Him.
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