Abstract: Which should take greater precedence in the life of a disciple: the written word (“logos”) or the spoken word (“rhema”)?
Acts 1:8 “But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”
The primary purpose of the Holy Spirit is to empower us to be witnesses of Jesus Christ in the whole world for the purpose of fulfilling the Great Commission. The Holy Spirit enables and emboldens us to obey what Jesus commanded his disciples in the gospels.
Acts is a record of how through the power of the Holy Spirit the early disciples carried out the commands of Jesus Christ given in the gospels. We are today in the final chapter of Acts—Chapter 29—now being written. The words and commands of Jesus Christ as written in the gospels are just as valid today as they were in the first 28 chapters.
Some, however, have chosen to focus on the Holy Spirit in an unbalanced way so as to discount and go beyond the words of Jesus Christ in the gospels. In Matthew 24:35 Jesus said, “Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away.” In Greek, “my words” refer to the words Jesus spoke and are recorded in Scripture—logos. His words as recorded and written in the gospels will never pass away.
Contrast the written word logos with rhema—the word spoken by the Holy Spirit, given to address a need in a particular situation or context.
In some circles of the Church great emphasis is placed on what is thought to be a rhema or a spoken word from the Holy Spirit—for example, a leading from the Holy Spirit. The problem with this is that what is received is not necessarily from the Holy Spirit. Paul says to evaluate every prophecy. We are to weigh every spoken prophecy—especially in light of written Scripture.
Therefore when much importance is ascribed to every rhema from the Holy Spirit, it is possible to be led astray when the leading, vision, or revelation is actually not from the Spirit of Christ, but from another source.
Paul warns us in Colossians 2:18-19.
“Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19 They have lost connection with the HEAD, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.”
Our Head of course is Jesus Christ. We are to place emphasis on what our Head has commanded as written in Holy Scripture.
Colossians 2:6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in HIM, 7 rooted and built up in HIM, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
In some circles on the Church today, there are well-known ministries which place much emphasis on the Holy Spirit. Some of their teachings and practices are strange and not found in Scripture. They might be relying more on what they are absolutely convinced is rhema from the Spirit instead of following the logos from written Scripture. They may have lost connection with the HEAD.
To minimize the possibility of losing connection with our Head seated at the right hand of the Father, we should instead be rooted in Him and built up in Him, and focus on what he taught and commanded in Holy Scripture. Heaven and earth will pass away, but His words will never pass away.
John 14:26 But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and will remind you of everything I have said to you [referring to logos].
Acts 15:26 “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will testify about me.
We must be careful not to place excessive emphasis on the Holy Spirit to the point of going beyond the Word of Jesus Christ as recorded in the gospels. When we do, what we “see” or “hear” might not be from the Holy Spirit since he was sent to remind us of everything Jesus said, and to testify about him. He was sent to empower us to obey Jesus fruitfully and glorify Him.
John 1:1 In the beginning was the Logos, and the Logos was with God, and the Logos was God.
Logos should take precedence over rhema.