The whole story of Elijah is rather interesting. First we see James referring to him as an example; a man who prayed in faith and in the will of God (See Leviticus 26:24-27) and when he did, things happened (or didn't happen like holding back the rain). After he called for the drought in prayer, it stopped raining and didn't rain a drop for a long time in that whole area of Israel and the surrounding countries.
Could it be that another prophet prophesied something that would involve the time we are now in? Amos prophesied, "Behold, the days come, says the Lord GOD, that I will send a famine in the land, not a famine of bread, nor a thirst for water, but of hearing the words of the LORD" (Amos 8:11 KJ2000). Today we have an abundance of Bible teachers, but there is a famine in the land. We don't lack bread or water, but we lack the ability to hear what "the Spirit is saying to the churches." We have amassed teachers who scratch our ears for pay, but we have substituted them for hearing directly from God.
While the drought was going on in Israel, it was business as usual in the court of Ahab. Jezebel's prophets were running around prophesying rain, doing their rain dance. Jezebel, being of her father the devil, sent out killers to get Elijah. When one finally did find him, he was terrified of the prophet and handled him with great respect. By that time it had not rained for three and a half years and this man was wise enough to know that only Elijah had power to make the drought end.
Meanwhile back at the ranch, Elijah was not starving. God was sending him food in the mouths of scripturally unclean birds, ravens! He was a bit smarter than Peter and didn't argue about the source or the nature of the food (see Acts chapter 10). That is the difference between a spiritually hungry man and one that is full of himself and his traditions. If you set a cake on a table after two men have had a full meal, they will look at it, comment on its design, its beauty and even speculate on what is under all that frosting, but chances are they will not eat any of it because they are full. Put that same cake on a table surrounded by starving refugee orphans and it will disappear in about five seconds.
So Elijah was a man who did not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeded out of the mouth of the Lord. He would be as much of an anomaly today as he was back when Israel worship Baal in the temples of Jezebel. God provided for his thirst through a brook and he drank. God provided food for him through ravens and he ate. Then the brook dried up. Now what? Did he strike out to find another water hole? Nope, he prayed and God told him to go live with an unclean woman in a Gentile nation that was the home of Jezebel, the daughter of its King. He hid right under Jezebel's nose! So without any argument with the word of the Lord, Elijah went to the village of Zarephath and saw a widow and her boy walking down the street. He said, "Hey, wazzup?" She says, "We found a few sticks to cook the last bit of meal and oil we have and then we are going to eat it and die." Her village and nation were also stricken by the drought Elijah had prophesied. Somehow it's always a surprise when the thing we prophesy comes upon us as well. God's prophets are not aloof as is often portrayed today in the churches. They feel the need and the pain of the people they prophesy to.
So Elijah did the unthinkable, the unorthodox thing, as most true prophets who obey the Lord find themselves doing-he asked her to feed and house him and told her if she did, God would provide for her and her child. Imagine that, there you are with your starving son going off to feed him the last bit of food in the house with no hope of more and this hairy guy comes along and asks you to feed him instead! That takes brass. But she acted in faith and obeyed the word of the Lord coming from a total stranger.
As a result, the barrel of meal and the cruse of oil never depleted all the time that Elijah lived with her until the drought ended. By all appearances, he was shacked up with a Gentile woman! No wonder Jezebel couldn't find him. What holy man would do such a thing? Didn't Elijah ever hear that we are supposed to avoid even the very appearance of evil? He was ignoring the Jewish laws about eating with a Gentile, talking to their women, going into their houses and probably violating about twenty other Jewish laws and traditions. But he was obeying God and that is what counts in His economy. He was obeying every word that proceeded out of God's mouth and living by that bread (see Matthew 4:4).
Now, things were going along just fine for Elijah and his adopted family. They had plenty to eat, but the last of Ahab's horses were starving. Israel was in dire straights, but the king was more concerned about feeding his horses than the people he ruled over. Sounds like church in this apostate age to me. I can tell you from experience that when the wolf is at your door, the hireling flees.
One day while Elijah was out on a walk-about, the widow's boy died. She took his body up into her loft and laid it on the prophet's bed. She met Elijah on the street and said, "What have you against me, O man of God? You have come to me to bring my sin to remembrance, and to cause the death of my son!" (1 Kings 17:18 RSVA) It was a dark day in Zarephath.
Is the Word of God in Your Mouth, Truth?
Was Elijah deterred? Not at all. He asked her where she put the boy's body and then went to the house and laid out his body on the boy three times (breaking more Levitical laws about touching dead bodies, Gentile bodies at that!) The boy came back to life. Please notice that Elijah was not living by every word that had proceeded out of the mouth of God as spoken by Moses. He was listening to the Spirit. As we read in James, we who are of the New Covenant are to live this way as well. So the prophet brought the boy down to his mom alive and then she said a truly remarkable thing, "Now by this I know that you are a man of God, and that the word of the LORD in your mouth is truth."
In a time when hearing the word of God is compared to a famine, a time when God pleads with the church over and over, "Let he who has an ear HEAR what the Spirit IS saying to the churches," in times like these when there is no shortage of false teachers and false prophets teaching and parroting the "Word of God," the Bible... this is a time when the Elijahs of God are being called forth.
If you are like us, you have about eight Bibles in your house and even a couple in your cars. But that is not enough. The famine of hearing those things coming forth from God's mouth generates the false ministries who rush in fill the void by quoting plenty of scriptures to cover the falsity of their teachings. The problem is not in a lack of hearing Bible verses preached and taught. There is no shortage or famine here, but there is a shortage of men and women of God who will be silent before the Lord and wait until He speaks, obey that Voice and act on it. This is what made Elijah different and powerful in a time of both spiritual and natural famine.
In a time of spiritual bankruptcy the hucksters come out of the woodwork and try to fill up what is lacking in spiritual food among the people-to fill their need by reverting to what titillates their carnal minds. In America in the past decade we have seen another part of Amos' prophesy come to pass, "And they shall wander from sea to sea, and from the north even to the east, they shall run to and fro to seek the word of the LORD, and shall not find it" (Amos 8:12 KJ2000). Since the Toronto Vineyard caught the attention of the church in North America and the world, men have been literally wandering from sea to sea to going conferences and seeking signs and wonders hoping to have an encounter with God. We have seen great delusion among the saints of God as they went from Toronto, Canada to Brownsville, Florida, literally "from the north even to the east" running to and fro seeking the word of the Lord and not finding it there. Are we so blind and deaf as to not remember Jesus' own words of warning for these last days? "Then if any man shall say unto you, 'Lo, here is Christ,' or 'there,' believe it not. For there shall arise false christs and false prophets and shall show great signs and wonders, insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect. Behold, I have told you before." (Matthew 24:23-25 KJ21).
There were 450 prophets of Baal and 400 prophets of Asherah who ate at Jezebels table and had easy access to the courts of Ahab, his people and their temples, yet this lone man Elijah stood alone against them all. These false prophets were busy boys during that famine in Israel, but there was a famine of hearing from the true prophets of God. With the false, the show must go on whether God shows up or not! There is always something going on in their three ring circus while the stage hands carry off all that remains of their last act that flopped. They function like the Communist system of "five year plans." The last one failed because the people are to blame. They just didn't produce enough and get behind the plan! "But the next five year plan will be different and if we all get behind it and push, we will have heaven on earth at the end and we will all be equal at last."
This same thing is happening with the church systems of today. There is always a new program and a new mega-preacher who has a plan to end all plans. They promise heaven on earth with each new church program. A new campaign is always there like the carrot before the donkey that keeps him going. The older Christians have seen this show over and over and they refuse to dance when these "children in the market place" play their tune. These programs always involve merchandizing, and this tactic is just not making it any more.
Like one old man said, "Too soon old and too late smart." The young in our culture are taught to ignore the elderly and follow the leading of these "ring masters" as they craft a show that is always appealing to unbroken flesh. There is always plenty of human grist for their mills. Why do you think that armies don't draft men in their forties? Men like these draw their power from the youth that have no experience in the evil ways of despots. It is when the youth finally understand that they are being used (as happened in America in the early 70's anti-war movement) that the whole system falls apart. When there is no fresh blood to drink the vampires wither away.
It was in the mouth of this one Gentile woman in Zarephath that these words of wisdom came forth, "By this I know that you are a man of God and that the word of God in your mouth is truth." When this verse was brought to my attention the fist time I wondered, "If the word of God in the mouth of Elijah was truth, can the word of God in the mouth of someone else be a lie?" Think about it. If the word of God in the mouth of His prophet was truth, in whose mouth is God's word a lie? Is it possible that men can quote the Bible with the blatant intention to deceive God's elect? How is it that today we have over 200,000 Christian denominations and sects, all claiming to be Biblically based, yet all of them are different? Paul warned the church at Ephesus that it was going to happen.
I know that after my departure fierce wolves will come in among you, not sparing the flock; and from among your own selves will arise men speaking perverse things, to draw away the disciples after them. Therefore be alert, remembering that for three years I did not cease night or day to admonish every one with tears. (Acts 20:29-31 RSVA)
Men rising up from among our own ranks, men who rise up to draw away from the common faith of all believers, disciples whom they fashion after themselves. Today false christs (false anointings) are everywhere as men preach from the Bible and teach in such a way to itch eager ears and gain a following.
As I thought about the possibility of the words in the Bible being a lie in the mouths of liars and if it was possible, the Lord took me to Jesus' temptation during His forty days in the wilderness. He, too, was experiencing His own famine. It was after forty days of fasting that Satan came to Him and tempted Him to turn stones into bread. To him Jesus replied, "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God." Notice that He did not say, "...but by every word that once proceeded from the mouth of God." We read in Hebrews 4:12 that the word of God is alive and powerful and goes deep into the hearts of men when it is spoken. Jesus lived by the words that came from the mouth of His Father, not from the mouth of the devil or the mouths of the Pharisees and the Scribes who quoted the law and the prophets continuously. To them He said, "You are of your father the devil and he was a liar and murder from the beginning." Jesus confessed that He only did what He saw His Father doing and He only spoke what He heard His Father saying. This is why He had authority, not because He went around wearing righteous robes and had a title. In fact the people marveled at the authority with which Jesus spoke, because He did not speak as the Scribes and the Pharisees (See Matthew 7:28-29). The words that came out of His mouth were scripture!
It is important to note that the next temptation that Satan unloaded on Jesus was to try to trick Him by using scriptures. Here we read,
Then the devil took him to the holy city, and set him on the pinnacle of the temple, and said to him, "If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down; for it is written, 'He will give his angels charge of you,' and 'On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.'" Jesus said to him, "Again it is written, 'You shall not tempt the Lord your God.'" (Matthew 4:5-7 RSVA)
Satan still didn't get it. He could not speak for God so he used words that God once spoke in the scriptures as his authority. He used scripture to tempt Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple! Wasn't the promise about the angels watching over Him written about Jesus? Didn't Satan pull this one out of Jesus' promise box? "Jesus, just toss yourself off steeple in front of all the faithful temple worshipers and then they will see the angels miraculously save you and they will all know that you are the Messiah and you will have their adoration and following from then on. All you got to do is jump!" The very word of scripture in the mouth of a liar, one not speaking under God's anointing, is still a lie! The use of scripture is what makes false teaching so effective.
Remember the warnings we have been given:
"Not every one who says to me, 'Lord, Lord,' shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, 'Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?' And then will I declare to them, 'I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.' "Every one then who hears these words of mine and does them will be like a wise man who built his house upon the rock;" (Matthew 7:21-24 RSVA)
"Why do you call me 'Lord, Lord,' and not do what I tell you? Every one who comes to me and hears my words and does them, I will show you what he is like: he is like a man building a house, who dug deep, and laid the foundation upon rock; and when a flood arose, the stream broke against that house, and could not shake it, because it had been well built." (Luke 6:46-48 RSVA)
Then the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father. He who has ears, let him hear. (Matthew 13:43 RSVA)
Logos and Rhema
In the sixth century B.C. a Greek philosopher named Heraclitus wrote,
"Although this Logos is eternally valid, yet men are unable to understand it -- not only before hearing it, but even after they have heard it for the first time. That is to say, although all things come to pass in accordance with this Logos, men seem to be quite without any experience of it -- at least if they are judged in the light of such words and deeds as I am here setting forth... We should let ourselves be guided by what is common to all. Yet although the Logos is common to all, most men live as if each had a private intelligence of his own...Although intimately connected with the Logos, men keep setting themselves against it."
2,600 years later these words are truer than ever. According to John's gospel, the Logos (the Word) was in the beginning, He was with God and He was God. Without Him was nothing made that was made. Jesus IS the Logos, the very logic of God. Yet, there is much confusion among Christians concerning the phrase, "the word of God." This confusion is the fruit of the Protestant backlash against the Catholic Church during the Reformation period. The popes were sending out papal bulls and for centuries made decrees that were their own design. These decrees were supposed to be coming down from the throne of God and had the weight of law among the faithful because the "Holy Father" was believed to be infallible in all matters concerning doctrine, morals and faith. Many perverted doctrines came about as a result. At one point the pope in Rome was kidnapped an taken to France, so Rome appointed another one to take his place. It was pure politics. Doctrines like Mary worship, paying Rome for indulgences, celibacy, infant baptism, the confessional, transubstantiation and sacramentalism in general were all papal fabrications. These people were not idle during the dark ages, any more that the prophets of Baal were idle in Samaria.
In reaction to these perversions, the Protestant reformers declared that the word from God was found only in the Bible (the doctrine of sola-scriptura), and they soon started calling the Bible "The Word of God." Between the Catholics, the Orthodox and the rest of the Protestants, Jesus, the Living Word of God--the very Logos of God--soon lost His place of honor among the faithful as the One Head of the church. Among the Protestants the Bible and Bible teacher took center stage, displacing the Living Word of God as the One who still speaks to His sheep (John 10:1-15). All guidance for the Christian had to come from the pastor over each congregation and woe to the saint who was out from under his pastoral covering! It was the Catholic system the Reformers were protesting against all over again in short order.
Consider what John says in the opening verses of his gospel about Jesus, God's Word...
In the beginning was the Word (Logos), and the Word (Logos) was with God, and the Word (Logos) was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made that was made. In Him was life, and that life was the Light of men. And the Light shineth in darkness, and the darkness comprehended it not...That was the true Light which lighteth every man that cometh into the world. He was in the world, and the world was made by Him, and the world knew Him not. He came unto His own, and His own received Him not. But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to those who believe in His name, who were born not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God. And the Word (Logos) was made flesh, and dwelt among us (and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only Begotten of the Father), full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-14 KJ21)
In his Bible commentary, John Gill had this to say about the passage in John 1:1:
"[The Word]... is so called from his nature, being begotten of the Father; for as the word, whether silent or expressed, is the birth of the mind, the image of it, equal to it, and distinct from it; so Christ is the only begotten of the Father, the express image of his person, in all things equal to him, and a distinct person from him: and he may be so called, from some action, or actions, said of him, or ascribed to him; as that he spoke for, and on the behalf of the elect of God, in the eternal council and covenant of grace and peace; and spoke all things out of nothing, in creation; for with regard to those words so often mentioned in the history of the creation, and God said, may Jehovah the Son be called the word; also he was spoken of as the promised Messiah, throughout the whole Old Testament dispensation; and is the interpreter of his Father's mind, as he was in Eden's garden, as well as in the days of his flesh; and now speaks in heaven for the saints."
Let us now consider two words that were translated word in the New Testament, logos and rhema, and how they are used.
It is obvious from the first chapter of John that the Word, the Logos, is the very agent by whom God created all things and has chosen Him to manifest God Himself to the world, i.e., the Son of God. The Bible is not the Word of God, though it speaks of Him and records many of His words, it is not Him. Why is this so hard for us to see? Are we any different in our belief structure today than the Jews were 2000 years ago? Jesus told the Jews that they were making the Word of God of no effect because they held to their written traditions that had taken the place of what the Living Spirit had said to their fathers. They were twice plucked up and dead through and through because they refused to have among them the Living Logos, the Manna from heaven that their fathers and the prophets knew. To these Jews Jesus said,
[You are] making the Word of God [Logos] of no effect through your tradition, which you have delivered: and many such things do you. (Mark 7:13 KJ2000)
When Satan used the scriptures of the Jews to tempt Jesus, enticing Him to turn stones into bread in the wilderness after forty days of fasting, His answer was to the point. "It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). So, I ask you, my dear "Bible Christian" friend, "Do you live by every word that proceeds (is proceeding) from the mouth of the Word of God or do prefer to listen to those words that He has spoken in the past, thus avoiding the conviction of His words spoken to you that you might repent? Can He speak through the words recorded in the Bible? Most definitely, but we can so warp those same word with our traditions as to make them of no effect. Satan tried to use these very words to deceive Jesus himself, "Cast your self down for it is written..."? You see, the written Bible is not enough to keep a true follower of Christ safe from deception and delusion. Without the Living Word, the Logos of God who gives its words life, we are wide open to deceiving teachers who use the Bible everyday to deceive millions with their own little twists and contorted meanings.
Remember Paul's warning to the church at Ephesus, "For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them." (Acts 20:29-30 KJ2000).
John gave us an antidote to the words of these deceivers...
These things have I written unto you concerning them that deceive you. But the anointing which you have received of him abides in you, and you need not that any man teach you: but as the same anointing teaches you of all things, and is truth, and is no lie, and even as it has taught you, you shall abide in him. And now, little children, abide in him; that, when he shall appear, we may have confidence, and not be ashamed before him at his coming. (1 John 2:26-28 KJ2000)
It is not enough to "know the scriptures." Jesus told the Jews who knew the scriptures well, yet wanted to kill Him, "And the Father himself, who has sent me, has borne witness of me. You have neither heard his voice at any time, nor seen his form. And you have not his word [Logos] abiding in you: for whom he has sent, him you believe not. Search the scriptures; for in them you think you have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And you will not come to me, that you might have life" (John 5:37-40 KJ2000).
We must know the Word and He must know us if we are to be saved from Satan's lies and false doctrines which he has so cleverly woven among the teachings of men. If the Christ, the Anointing which you have received abides in you, and you are His sheep who knows His voice, you will not be quick to follow the voice of another. Remember, those who come into His sheepfold another way, other than by abiding in the Christ, are thieves and robbers. Satan has many a seminary graduate who knows how to search the scriptures, yet does not abide in the Anointing, the very Logos of God. Because of this they are used of Satan to sow confusion and draw away the sheep of Christ to themselves. They have entered the sheepfold by another way.
Other Logos Passages to Consider...
And it came to pass, that, as the people pressed upon him to hear the Word [Logos] of God, he stood by the lake of Gennesaret" (Luke 5:1 KJ2000). They were hungry to hear the Living Word that was proceeding out of the mouth of the Son of God! What did He teach them? Did He open up the Torah and start reading? No. He taught them in parables that were not found in their holy book.
All these things spoke Jesus unto the multitude in parables; and without a parable spoke he not unto them: That it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the prophet, saying, I will open my mouth in parables; I will utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world. (Matthew 13:34-35 KJ2000)
Do you believe that Jesus today is able to "utter things which have been kept secret from the foundation of the world"? Or is your faith in the Word of God confined to the pages of a book? Can the Word of God, Jesus Christ, still speak to us through His Spirit? Yes He can and we hold that believing this is what makes all the difference between the impotent dead denominations we see around us today and that church that turned the world upside-down almost 2000 years ago.
Another Logos verse is found in Luke 8. Jesus was teaching His disciples in a house and someone came in and interrupted saying, "Your mother and your brothers stand outside, desiring to see you."
And He answered and said unto them, "My mother and my brothers are these who hear the Word [Logos] of God, and do it [846, autos]." (Luke 8:21 KJ2000).
Here Jesus differentiates between those who said they knew Him and those in whom the Living Word abided. Jesus was not interested in who knew Him after the flesh, mere relatives, but those who lived by every word that came from His mouth. The question is, "Does He know us?" (See Matthew 7:22-24). Now consider the Greek word autos.
"he himself and no other," emphatic, e.g., Mat_1:21, where the RV brings out the emphasis by the rendering "it is He;" Mat_3:11
Autos has no business being translated "it." It was most always translated him, his or he. It is obvious that the translators had no understanding of what Jesus was really saying in Luke 8:21. With the original Greek in mind, consider Jesus' words once again and the depth of what He was saying,
"And THEN He answered and said unto them, My mother and my brothers are these who hear the Word of God, and do Him (or His)." The translators ran into a problem here in the Greek, so they translated this passage and hundreds of others according to their traditions--the word of God is the Bible and so it has to be an it.
Should we just do the Bible and follow our little slogans like "What would Jesus do?" Are we to read the Bible and set out in our flesh to do what Jesus did? Do you really think you can? If you think you can do Christ in your own flesh, you are more arrogant and deceived than most sinners. Only Jesus can be Jesus. Only Christ can be the Anointing in us. Our only hope is to yield to Him and let Him be who He is in us! The question we should ponder prayerfully in our hearts is "Is Jesus free to be Himself in me?" If not, why not? Where do I need to repent?
He said that He only did the works that He saw His Father doing and He only spoke the words He heard His Father saying. He also said, "It is enough for the disciple that he be as his teacher, and the servant as his lord." You see it is not "Christ in the Bible, the hope of glory." Paul actually wrote,
Even the mystery which has been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to[and in] his saints: To [and in] whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: (Colossians 1:26-27 KJ2000)
We see here that Jesus identifies His brothers as those who do Him. Those who were sitting at his feet were doing Jesus! Paul takes it a step further after Christ rose again and sent His Spirit, saying that those who are His are those in whom He dwells and manifests His Father's glory. He did not say those that imitate Him. The Father of us all is after one thing, that we would all return to our place in Christ, His only begotten Son, and be one of His many sons in whom the glory of His Father lives today as it did in His Only Begotten Son 2000 years ago.
Now consider another passage where autos was translated it.
Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it [846, autos]; That he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, That he might present it [846, autos- Him] to himself a glorious church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing; but that it should be holy and without blemish. (Ephesians 5:25-27 KJ2000)
You see, Christ gave Himself for Himself in us that He might present Himself in us to Himself. The church, the ecclesia of God, is not an independent entity outside of Christ left to govern itself as if Jesus died 2000 years ago, never to be heard from again. The abiding Holy Spirit did not cease to exist with the closing of the cannon, Those who believe this confess that it would have taken the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to come up with this official list of the books that should be in the Bible. The ecclesia or the "called out ones" who are members of Christ's body are totally one with Him with Him alone as its Head. Jesus died to bring forth His own body on this earth as a living manifestation and extension of Him alone! Do you really believe that what we are seeing in the churches today is a pure manifestation of Christ? Paul asked, "Is Christ divided?" If Christ is one, then what we see calling itself "the church" is not of Christ. Church corruption is on every hand. Pedophiles, homosexuals, adulterers, con artists, false teachers, false prophets, false apostles, and shepherds who do not give personal attention to their flocks, but instead to build up their own kingdoms are on every front posing as the vicars of Christ. It is long past time to wake up, saints of God. Isaiah prophesied about this time we find ourselves in.
Awake, awake; put on your strength, O Zion; put on your beautiful garments, O Jerusalem, the holy city: for no longer, there shall no more come into you the uncircumcised and the unclean. Shake yourself from the dust; arise, and sit down, O Jerusalem: loose yourself from the bonds of your neck, O captive daughter of Zion. For thus says the LORD, You have sold yourselves for nothing; and you shall be redeemed without money. (Isaiah 52:1-3 KJ2000)
Now what about this word rhema? Strong's defines it as follows:
G4487 rºh=ma rhema
From G4483; an utterance (individually, collectively or specifically); by implication a matter or topic (especially of narration, command or dispute); with a negative naught whatever: - + evil, + nothing, saying, word.
The Logos, the Word, is the one who does the speaking. Rhema is what He is speaking. Consider the following verses:
When Jesus was tempted by the devil He answered him:
But he answered and said, It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word [rhema] that proceeds out of the mouth of God. (Matthew 4:4 KJ2000)
Notice that the rhema "proceeds," not just did proceed.
Now in the fifteenth year of the reign of Tiberius Caesar, Pontius Pilate being governor of Judea, and Herod being tetrarch of Galilee, and his brother Philip tetrarch of Iturea and of the region of Trachonitis, and Lysanias the tetrarch of Abilene, Annas and Caiaphas being the high priests, the word [rhema] of God came unto John the son of Zacharias in the wilderness. (Luke 3:1-2 KJ21)
Did somebody bring John a Bible out there in the wilderness? Or did God speak to and through him? Jesus said to the Pharisees who equated Him with the devil,
"O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. A good man out of the good treasure of the heart bringeth forth good things; and an evil man out of the evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. But I say unto you that every idle word [rhema] that men shall speak, they shall give account thereof in the Day of Judgment. (Matthew 12:34-36 KJ21)
Here we see that the word rhema refers to spoken words.
"Moreover if your brother sins against you, go and tell him his fault between you and him alone. If he hears you, you have gained your brother. But if he will not hear, take with you one or two more, that "by the mouth of two or three witnesses every word [rhema] may be established.' (Matthew 18:15-16 NKJV)
And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to your word [rhema]. And the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:38 KJ2000)
Rhema speaks of words being spoken not something written down. Now let us look at two verses where both rhema and logos are found together. This should make clear the meaning of each.
Peter was preaching the gospel to Cornelius and his house and said:
To him [Jesus] give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believes in him shall receive remission of sins. While Peter yet spoke these words [rhema], the Holy Spirit fell on all them who heard the word [Logos]. (Acts 10:43-44 KJ2000)
It is not enough to just hear the words of the gospel. Salvation comes when we not only hear the words with our ears, but we hear the Logos - the Word of God speaking to us. If God does not speak to our hearts, no amount of preaching will ever save us. We can say a sinner's prayer, we can go up to an altar-call after a preacher has touched our emotions or made us feel guilty, but if God is not the one sovereignly calling us, it is all for naught. We are still-born infants painted by the mortician to make us look alive. We have become just one more dead Christian on display in our open top coffin called a pew. Those who are born into God's kingdom are "born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God."
John wrote to the church at the end of the first century,
For there are three that bear witness in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Spirit: and these three are one. And there are three that bear witness in earth, the Spirit, and the water, and the blood: and these three agree in one. If we receive the witness of men, the witness of God is greater: for this is the witness of God which he has testified of his Son. He that believes on the Son of God has the witness in himself: he that believes not God has made him a liar; because he believes not the witness that God gave of his Son. (1 John 5:7-10 KJ2000)
And if any man hear my words [rhema], and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world. He that rejects me, and receives not my words [rhema], has one that judges him: the Word [Logos] that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day. (John 12:47-48 KJ2000)
Jesus' words when received become both rhema and logos. As important as hearing is, faith must also me mixed with our hearing. "Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God." The Logos of God looks upon our hearts. We can study the scriptures until we have attained degrees in theology, but we don't live in and by the Logos of God, we are none of His.
Listening to and receiving into our hearts what the Spirit is saying to the church (ekklesia) is what is required. Remember, "...the word of God [Logos] is living, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart" (Hebrews 4:12 KJ2000). Books are inanimate. They do not discern, and they do not divide soul from spirit. Yet, when the Living Word Himself speaks to our hearts through that book, power to discern, divide and pierce comes forth out of its pages.
Peter wrote, "We have also a more sure word [Logos] of prophecy; to which you do well that you take heed, as unto a light that shines in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts" (2 Peter 1:19 KJ2000). Jesus is that word that still shines forth in the darkness and the darkness overcomes it not. Yes, we do well to take heed to the Logos of God as He speaks His word of prophesy into our hearts bringing purifying light into our darkness.
Paul wrote to the Corinthians about this sure witness we have in our hearts from the Logos of God saying,
I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ; That in every thing you are enriched by him, in all utterance [Logos], and in all knowledge; Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: So that you come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: (1 Corinthians 1:4-7 KJ2000)
The Logos of Christ is confirmed in all who truly believe in Him with all Logos, His very utterance in our hearts. The goal of the gospel is to see the Day Star rise in our hearts in all His glory, even Jesus Christ, not to just memorize the Bible by rote.
Jesus, the true Word, is still speaking through His Spirit. But we have to believe that by the end of the first century the church had already turned a deaf ear to the Logos, the Spirit of truth. The church of Laodicea had Jesus locked outside its door, knocking and asking any man to open it unto Him. Men like Diotrephes were already taking control (See 3 John and Acts 20:29-31) How much worse is it today after hundreds of years of the dark ages?
I used to have a bundle of letters my wife sent me in Vietnam. She faithfully wrote me every day and in my loneliness I would hang on her every word. When I finally got home and was in her presence once again, I never once opened those letters to find out what she wanted me to do, what was on her mind or to find out how much she loves me. Rather I spent time with HER to find out. She communicated with me not only by her words, but by her every inflection of voice, her every facial expression and the very posture of her body. Her unspoken language speaks more than her spoken words ever have and it has taken me almost forty years to learn to interpret that. I am still learning. But what would have happened to our relationship if I ignored her when she spoke to me and preferred to just read her love letters?
Unless we as Jesus' flock learn to know His voice and to intimately know him as a wife knows her husband, we will constantly be led astray by imposters. The early church was already falling away from their place in Christ by the close of the first century. We read about their decline in John's Revelation as Jesus addresses the seven churches of Asia. As Jesus speaks to them, the same phrase occurs in the second and third chapters of Revelation seven times, "He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches..." Seven times! Is there any other phrase that is repeated by God in the Bible this many times? Had the church by the end of the first century, when this was written, gone totally deaf to the voice of the Spirit?
Why is it important to hear His voice? Because with each of these seven warnings there are precious promises to the overcomers. Overcoming what? Overcoming our Laodicean self-sufficient blindness and our spiritual deafness! What are the promises to those who overcome?
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the tree of life, which is in the midst of the paradise of God. (Revelation 2:7 KJ2000)
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; He that overcomes shall not be hurt of the second death. (Revelation 2:11 KJ2000)
He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches; To him that overcomes will I give to eat of the hidden manna, and will give him a white stone, and in the stone a new name written, which no man knows except him who receives it. (Revelation 2:17 KJ2000)
And he that overcomes, and keeps my works unto the end, to him will I give power over the nations: And he shall rule them with a rod of iron; as the vessels of a potter shall they be broken to pieces: even as I received of my Father. And I will give him the morning star. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. (Revelation 2:26-29 KJ2000)
He that overcomes, the same shall be clothed in white clothing; and I will not blot out his name out of the book of life, but I will confess his name before my Father, and before his angels. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. (Revelation 3:5-6 KJ2000)
Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hears my voice, and opens the door, I will come in to him, and will eat with him, and he with me. To him that overcomes will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and sat down with my Father in his throne. He that has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says unto the churches. (Revelation 3:20-22 KJ2000)
"If any man hears my voice, I will come in to him..." The abiding Logos of God dwelling in us, speaking to us as a dear Friend; that is the promise given to those who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the ecclesia of God in this hour. His sheep hear His voice. The goats do not. Goats like to butt and say, "But the canon is closed and we do not need the Logos of God anymore; we have the Bible. But we can't trust the sheep to follow the Spirit. They might do something crazy and we would loose control!"
Finally at the end of Revelation, John writes:
And I fell at his feet to worship him. And he said unto me, See [thou do it] not: I am thy fellow servant, and of thy brethren that have the testimony of Jesus: worship God: for the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy. (Revelation 19:10 KJV)
Paul wrote to the Corinthians that we may all prophesy. To truly prophesy is to open your mouth and let Jesus testify through you as a member of His body. Some want us to believe that prophecy has also ceased with the closing of the canon. Who were the potentates that closed the cannon anyway? The Catholic Church! They would quote to you Paul's words,
Love never fails: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. (1 Corinthians 13:8-10 KJ2000)
Both the word fail referring to prophecy and the phrase shall vanish away referring to knowledge are from the same Greek word, katargeo, which means "to become entirely idle or useless." It is interesting to me that those who assure us that prophecy is useless in the church since the closing of the canon, feel that the pursuit of knowledge is necessary and honorable. If one has ceased, they both must cease. If one has become useless, both have become useless. You see, the context of this passage is referring to the perfected church that is totally IN Christ in His glory. Until then, "...we see in a mirror dimly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known" (1 Corinthians 13:12 KJ2000). No, Jesus is still able to speak to the church through prophecy, no matter how many false prophets and church scholars try to drown Him out.
Many dead church leaders who rule over their dead congregations want us to believe that God quit speaking so that they can have the final word in all things spiritual as they meter out the text with ample opinion and personal comment, Sunday after Sunday. They live and believe as if they are atheists in this world; as if "God is dead." But the Word of God, Jesus Christ, has never stopped speaking to His church. It was He who said, "I will be with you always, even unto the end." It is He who calls His sheep unto Himself. Praise His name forever.
Jesus did not promise when He went away that He would leave in His place a gilded leather bound book. But He did promise us the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Truth who would lead us into all truth. "The Word of God" is not the Bible, though He has and still speaks through it by His Spirit. The Word of God, His Logos, is Jesus Christ Himself. In this, true Christianity is different from all other religions on earth for Christ is alive in us and HE is our glory. Mohammad is dead, Buddha is dead, Confucius is dead, but our God is still alive and speaking to us and comforting us through His Holy Spirit.
This is a lesson that has taken me most of my life to learn. Most Christians live out their Christian lives vicariously through other more prominent Christians, by looking up to them and modeling themselves after these people. In short, they put another man or woman in the place that belongs only to Jesus. For years I hoped that one of these great ministers would notice me and let me hitch my star to their wagon. Paul had to rebuke the Corinthians for this very thing. He ends 1 Corinthians 3 by saying telling them that they were carnal babes still in need of the breast as long as they said, "I am of Paul or I am of Apollos." He closes the chapter by saying, "Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours; Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours; And you are Christ's; and Christ is God's" (1 Corinthians 3:21-23 KJ2000)
It has taken me all my life to even start to walk in this truth that all things are mine in Christ! Walking away from religion is the key to having our eyes opened to the reality of the abiding Christ. This is so contrary to the thinking of religious man--to walk away from religion that we might have a better relationship with the Christ who founded the Christian religion. Or did He? We are as perplexed as Nicodemus was with Jesus' words, "You must be born again." Soren Kierkegaard saw the problem well.
"When Christianity came into the world the task was simply to preach. Among 'Christian nations' however, the situation is different. What we have before us is not Christianity, but a prodigious illusion, the people are not pagans but live in the blissful conceit that they are Christians. So if in this situation Christianity is to be introduced, first of all the illusion must be debunked. But since this vain conceit, this illusion is to the effect that we are all Christians, it looks indeed as if introducing Christianity amounts to taking Christianity away. Nevertheless that is precisely what must be done, for the illusion must go."
He nailed the situation in Christendom today right on the head, yet this was written almost two centuries ago in Denmark.
Doing Away with the Delusion
It has occurred to us that everything God had Moses make as implements of the tabernacle for worshiping Him in the Old Covenant, the ark (see 2 Samuel 4), the tabernacle, the laver, that alter, the menorah (2 Kings 24:12-13), the brazen serpent on the pole (see 2 Kings 18:4), and so on had to be lost and taken from them because they started using each of these things in an idolatrous manner. Of the house of the Lord Isaiah prophesied,
Thus says the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that you build unto me? and where is the place of my rest? For all those things has my hand made, and all those things have been, says the LORD: but to this man will I look, even to him that is poor and of a contrite spirit, and trembles at my word. He that kills an ox is as if he slew a man; he that sacrifices a lamb, as if he breaks a dog's neck; he that offers a grain offering, as if he offered swine's blood; he that burns incense, as if he blessed an idol. Yea, they have chosen their own ways, and their soul delights in their abominations. (Isaiah 66:1-3 KJ2000)
They took the ark to battle as some kind of magic box that would save them when they went out against the Philistines. They lost the ark and the battle and got their carnal behinds kicked. Then they moved the tent of meeting out of reach of their enemy and kept sacrificing animals there, though the ark of His presence was not there anymore. This too was idolatry. They were worshiping the brass serpent on the pole and Hezekiah had to destroy it. Finally the ark, the furnishings of the temple, the tent of meeting, the priestly vestments and all were lost when Babylon invaded and Solomon's temple was destroyed. There was nothing left of the Old Covenant, except a few scrolls of the Torah and the prophets that had been hidden. When they returned from the Babylonian captivity only a few plates and knives were left and returned by Cyrus the King.
Finally Micah prophesied over Jerusalem,
Hear this, I pray you, you heads of the house of Jacob, and rulers of the house of Israel, that abhor justice, and pervert all equity. They build up Zion with blood, and Jerusalem with iniquity. Her heads judge for reward, and her priests teach for hire, and her prophets divine for money: yet will they lean upon the LORD, and say, Is not the LORD among us? no evil can come upon us. Therefore shall Zion for your sake be plowed like a field, and Jerusalem shall become heaps of ruins, and the mountain of the house like the high places of the forest. (Micah 3:9-12 KJ2000)
After the captivity Ezra rebuilt the temple but it was not the same and had none of the glory of the former house. Even that was eventually destroyed. It was not until hundreds of years later that Herod the Great, a despot king set up over Judea by Rome, built a new temple. This temple was no longer built after the heavenly vision of Moses, and the men in charge of it were as corrupt as the king that built it. They were still offering sacrifices before an empty holy of holies. They had two high priests and even the priesthood in the time of Christ was politically and economically motivated. They had turned the temple into a den of thieves and it was no longer a house of prayer for all nations. So Jesus prophesied against the temple and their priesthood (See Matthew chapters 23 & 24) and finally everything was destroyed by the Romans in 68AD just as He foretold.
In the same manner as the prophets before him, Stephen in Acts 7 pointed to their idolatry in the wilderness. Then he pointed to their temple and told them that they have always been idolatrous and have always resisted God's Holy Spirit! Yet, they saw themselves as God's chosen people and very devout! Stephen declared,
Then God turned, and gave them up to worship the host of heaven; as it is written in the book of the prophets, O you house of Israel, have you offered to me slain beasts and sacrifices by the space of forty years in the wilderness? Yea, you took up the tabernacle of Moloch, and the star of your god Rephan, figures which you made to worship them: and I will carry you away beyond Babylon. (Acts 7:42-43 KJ2000)
But Solomon built him a house. Yet the most High dwells not in temples made with hands; as says the prophet, Heaven is my throne, and earth is my footstool: what house will you build me? says the Lord: or what is the place of my rest? Has not my hand made all these things? You stiff-necked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, you do always resist the Holy Spirit: as your fathers did, so do you. (Acts 7:47-51 KJ2000)
Men use things that are seen to resist the Spirit. They even use those things that were once given by God, but have lost their true spiritual meaning because God has moved on. When the glory has gone out and the Holy of Holies is empty, continuing on with our religious services and sacrifices as if God were still present is the same as idolatry.
Paul wrote to the Corinthian church, "While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal" (2 Corinthians 4:18 KJ2000). When we idolize things that are seen, inanimate objects, we are in grave error. We dare not think that we are so sophisticated here in the twenty-first century that we can make an idol.
The Bible itself is something which is seen. It can be handled, read, gilded and placed in highly decorated bindings. It can be dissected, studied and intellectually manipulated to say just about anything you want it to say. It is only usable by God in as much as the Holy Spirit is the one teaching us from its words. With this being so, it is not the Bible that is of value to those who seek God, but rather the Spirit of Truth who leads us into all truth. Is the Bible evil? No, nothing in and of itself is unclean (See Romans 14:14). It is Satan and sinful man that manipulate it to say what they like for their own purposes. Could it be that just as God had to remove the last vestiges of the Old Covenant from the earth because of the idolatry of the Jews, that He might have to remove the last symbol of the New Covenant from the church to get it to turn to Him once again with its whole heart and not just with its mind?
It is interesting that right after World War II, the communists in China imprisoned all the preachers, banned foreign missionaries, disbanded all church meetings, took over their buildings, and burned their Sunday school materials and Bibles. It was then that the church in China started to grow and prosper without Bibles and without special buildings or a visible church hierarchy. Their tangible idols were taken away and they had to turn to the Spirit to lead, teach and comfort them. As a result, the church grew exponentially and China now has the largest percentage of devout Christians of any nation in the world.
Whenever we lean on anything that is temporal in the place of God's Holy Spirit, be it buildings, men in offices with ecclesiastical titles, even books, we are practicing idolatry. Worshiping the Bible and its teachers is idolatry! We have put something in our lives that is a higher authority than God Himself, the Bible scholar and teacher. When Moses and Elijah appeared on the so-called Mount of Transfiguration, they represented the law and the prophets. Peter immediately wanted to start building three tabernacles. He wanted to enshrine the moment and equally honor Jesus, Moses and Elijah. God saw his act of devotion as idolatry saying, "This is my beloved Son. Hear ye Him!"
Later in the Book of Acts, we see Peter using scripture to resist God once again. God gave him a vision on a roof-top in Joppa of all manner of unclean animals lowered in a sheet from heaven with the command, "Kill and eat." Peter knew the Old Testament law and it meant more to him than the very God who was speaking to him and dictated that law to man through Moses saying, "Not so, Lord!" The law had become an idol to Peter that meant more than a direct command from God himself. His fellow Jews hated the Son of God because He would not keep their Sabbath rules or acknowledge their authority as the lone interpreters of its meaning. This too is idolatry. Just as they resisted God's Holy Spirit with their temple worship and Old Covenant laws, so do men resist God's Holy Spirit today with the Bible. What Jesus told these Jews applies to most of our Bible teachers of today.
And the Father who sent me has himself borne witness to me. His voice you have never heard, his form you have never seen; and you do not have his word abiding in you, for you do not believe him whom he has sent. You search the scriptures, because you think that in them you have eternal life; and it is they that bear witness to me; yet you refuse to come to me that you may have life. (John 5:37-40 RSVA)
Have you ever had times where God forbids you to read the Bible for a season? Have you ever noticed that when He once again opens it to you after such a time, it is filled with new revelation and meaning? We have. God just wants us to listen to His voice and get to know it without any props. He wants us to hear what He is saying, not what we have been conditioned by the teachings of men to read into the text. Sometimes we have to be purged of all that to really appreciate what it means when Jesus said, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" (John 10:27 KJ2000).
God is always in the business of stripping away our idols so that we can learn that our sufficiency is in Christ alone. It is His mercy that all our props are taken away. It is His love for us that He forces us to grow up by depending totally on Jesus' voice as our True Shepherd. Just as Jesus told the Samaritan woman at the well so it is today for all who have ears to hear what the Spirit is saying to the ecclesia of God.
But the hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for such the Father seeks to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." (John 4:23-24 RSVA)
And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that hears say, Come. And let him that is thirsty come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely. (Revelation 22:17 KJ2000)