In many Christian circles, it is taught that believers should usually wait for a “rhema” before taking action regarding a particular matter of importance. This refers to the word of the Lord or leading of the Holy Spirit regarding the matter. This is especially true when moving in the area of the supernatural. For example, before attempting to minister actual healing to an infirm person—not just to pray for him—we want first to be sure that it is the Lord’s will and time to heal. This is especially crucial when we are ministering before a crowd of people. After all, it will prove very embarrassing to us in front of the people if the person is not healed. Thus we attempt to minister the healing only when the Holy Spirit gives us a rhema.
While there is much to be said for this particular approach (especially as taught by John Wimber), there is another factor which can add balance to this approach. This other factor we call the “logos,” which is the written word of God.
The reason why we want to address this issue is our finding that at least part of our motivation for wanting a rhema is our fear of failure in the sight of man. We are concerned that if we attempt to minister healing without first receiving a rhema, the person might not be healed. If this happens, we might cause someone to stumble. Or we are concerned that we could end up guilty of presumption or of tempting God or “forcing” Him to heal. However, could it be that these reasons are partly a cover-up for the fear of public failure and embarrassment when the sick are not healed?
Fear is certainly not the best reason for which we wait on the Lord. God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of love, power, and a sound mind. We do not believe that Jesus in the gospels and the early disciples in Acts operated with any element of fear. Did they always wait for a rhema from the Holy Spirit before ministering healing to the sick? From a study of the Scriptures it turns out sometimes they did not. The reason they did not was because they understood the role of the logos as well.
In Acts 3, Peter heals a beggar born lame in the name of Jesus Christ. Although it is very likely from the context that Peter and John had met this man before on previous occasions, Peter did not attempt to heal the man until that particular day. As the beggar asked Peter for alms at the temple gate, he was stirred by the Holy Spirit—perhaps through a rhema—to command the man to stand up and walk. A great miracle took place, and a crowd gathered to hear the gospel from Peter. The man had been lame for over forty years. It is likely that a rhema from the Holy Spirit in this situation prompted Peter to act.
In contrast, Peter meets a man named Aeneas in Acts 9 who had been paralyzed for only a mere eight years. Peter did not waste time—did not wait for a rhema from the Holy Spirit—because he knew that this case would be easy by comparison. He knew from the logos (from Jesus himself according to Luke 9:1-2) that he had already been given a measure of authority to heal the sick and cast out demons.
Luke 9:1 When Jesus had called the Twelve together, he gave them power and authority to drive out all demons and to cure diseases, 2 and he sent them out to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick.
Luke 10:1 After this the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go. …9 Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
Although this measure of authority was not sufficient to bring healing to the man lame since birth, Peter knew that healing Aeneas of his mere eight-year condition would be a simple matter by comparison. The authority he was given was enough, and so he exercised it by commanding Aeneas to get up.
It is good to receive a rhema or leading from the Holy Spirit in a particular matter. But when these are absent, as is often the case, we are not necessarily helpless. We might have direction from the logos upon which we can act. We can walk by faith in the logos, not only by sight, i.e., by hearing the rhema.
I recently experienced this as I taught in a Plenary Session at Global Prayerquake Summit 2004, a conference in Nigeria attended by 10,000 delegates. I had taught the people about the measure of authority over disease and demons that the Lord had given to every disciple in order to confirm the gospel. Then I set about demonstrating this authority so that the people would know that this teaching was not theory only. Before 10,000 people I asked for someone with pain in their knees to come forward for healing. How could I possibly dare to attempt such a thing before such a large crowd? I dared to because the logos says that I have a measure of authority over disease, and I believe the word of God. And from much experience I knew that the level of authority I had been given was sufficient to minister relief to arthritic knees.
A woman came forward with pain in her knees such that she could not bend them. I laid hands on her in the name of Jesus Christ and with authority rebuked the pain, commanding her knees to be healed. She tested her knees and reported that she felt better. Again I laid hands on her knees and rebuked the pain. This time she was able to bend her knees and there was no more pain. Afterwards more people with similar problems were healed as I invited delegates to come forward to minister as I had just taught them.
I did this before 10,000 people not because I received a rhema from the Holy Spirit instructing me to do so, but because the logos, the written word of God, said that I could. For something as simple as arthritis, that’s all I needed.
Luke 10:9 …Heal the sick who are there and tell them, ‘The kingdom of God is near you.’
The church no longer needs to be crippled by a spirit of fear. These are the days of Elijah, and the Lord is restoring to us the spirit and power that He gave to Elijah. This spirit gives us the boldness to proclaim to the world publicly: “my God is the true God, and I will demonstrate it to you in power.” God has begun to restore His miraculous healing power to His Church.