“The significance of rhema (as distinct from logos) is exemplified in the injunction to take “the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God,” Eph. 6:17; here the reference is not to the whole Bible as such, but to the individual scripture which the Spirit brings to our remembrance for use in time of need, a prerequisite being the regular storing of the mind with Scripture.” (Vine’s Expository Dictionary)
According Vine’s, logos can include the whole Bible, the written word, while rhema can refer to an individual scripture quickened to us by the Holy Spirit for a specific need. The rhema need not necessarily be a quote from the Bible, but a word spoken to a believer by the Spirit.
Traditionally, evangelicals have put much emphasis on the written word, devoting much time and effort to Bible study. They purpose to lead their lives in accordance with the counsel found in God’s written word. While charismatics believe in the importance of the written word as well, they also believe that God will give a specific rhema to them to address a specific need. Each approach has its strengths and potential weaknesses. Evangelicals are indeed justified in centering their lives around the correct interpretation of the Holy Bible. At the same time, it is certainly advantageous when a believer receives specific instruction or information from the Lord regarding some particular matter. When the rhema concerns the course of action the believer is to take, he can expect God’s blessing or God’s will to be accomplished in the matter when he acts upon the information. But each approach has its weaknesses when taken to an extreme.
When an evangelical believer puts all emphasis on the logos to the exclusion of the rhema, he may rarely sense the leading of the Holy Spirit. There will be relatively less opportunity for the Spirit to speak to or direct him about a certain matter if he is not waiting and inclining his ear to listen. Thus although the believer is most certainly living a righteous Christian life according to the written word, incursions of God’s miraculous grace into that life may be rare. The believer might not be experiencing all the victories that God intends for him.
Similarly, charismatics who choose to place excessive dependence on receiving a rhema from the Holy Spirit might also find themselves falling short of walking in the victory that God has for them. For example, if as a rule a believer will not act until she receives a word from the Lord, she might eventually find herself in a fruitless state of semi-paralysis. Of course, when we do receive a rhema from the Lord, we act upon it with confidence and may see God’s supernatural intervention. However, does God will to give us a word for every matter or decision that we must make in life? For example, do we share the gospel to someone only when we feel led to, or may we share the gospel to others simply because the logos, the written word, commands us to? I believe it was John Wesley who said, “when I share the gospel, people get saved; when I don’t share the gospel, they don’t get saved.”
In my own ministry as a preacher, the Holy Spirit will sometimes give me a word of knowledge concerning particular infirmities He wants to heal in a meeting. For example, I may receive a rhema about back problems. When I speak forth these words in the meeting, those people who respond and come forward for healing prayer are almost always healed of their back pain. It is indeed very exciting when that happens. But what if I don’t hear anything from the Holy Spirit? Does that mean I cannot minister to the sick in that meeting? By no means.
I may not always have a rhema from the Spirit, but the written word of God, the logos, does tell me I have a measure of authority over disease in the name of Jesus for the sake of the gospel.
Luke 9:1 Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. 2 He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. 6 So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere.
Luke 10:1 After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. 9 “And heal the sick there, and say to them, ‘The kingdom of God has come near to you.’
Even when I do not have specific leading from the Holy Spirit to minister healing to someone, I still do by virtue of the authority the Lord has given me. With this measure of authority I can get things done. The logos tells me to preach the gospel to every creature, and that when I do so, miraculous signs will accompany the preaching to confirm the gospel. This is sufficient for me. To take an everyday example, let’s say my boss gives me a job to do along with the authority to successfully complete it. Do I need to go back to her several times each day and ask her for her permission to work on the job she’s already told me to do? Although the parallel is not exact, the same principle holds to a large extent in each case.
Charismatic believers who place very heavy emphasis on receiving arhema or the direct leading of the Holy Spirit on every matter before taking action might be robbing themselves of the power of the logos. Because of this they might find themselves in a state of timidity and indecision which can lead to paralysis in life or in ministry.
We should remember that “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word (logos) was with God, and the Word (logos) was God.” Could the logos in some sense have come before the rhema? Could the logo sbe the foundation of the rhema?