Monday, July 5, 2010

Preaching Myths In Modern Pulpits (Part 1)

Today I am starting a series which will examine some of the popular soundbites and cliches used by modern preachers, to see if they are based in Scripture or human inventions. To see if they are consistent with the Christian faith or contrary to it. Is "preach the Gospel, if necessary use words" a helpful catchcry for evangelism? Is hell "eternal separation from God"? Do our churches need to be "seeker sensitive"? Should we "accept Jesus into our heart and make Him Lord"? Does "God have faith in us"? Is "loving God and loving people" the Gospel? Is preaching law before grace "legalism"? Over the coming weeks I will be responding to these, and other popular myths emmanating from many modern pulpits. The first one I will examine today is the popular Charismatic/Word Faith teaching on the Greek words "rhema" and "logos".

Myth 1. The word ”word” is translated either Rhema or Logos in the New Testament. Logos means written word and Rhema means personal revelation.

I can remember 13 years ago when I lived in Australia being at a Bible camp where we were sitting under the teaching of one of the major leaders within the Australian Pentecostal movement. This leader listened to me as I counselled one of the youth on the importance of the Bible by quoting Romans 10:17 which says ”faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God”. Well, then the leader called me over and corrected me. He told me that the ”word of God” in Romans 10:17 was a ”rhema” word and that meant personal revelation – not Scripture.

I thought this guy must be right. He pastors a big church and must know a lot more than me. But about a year later by accident I heard a greek lecturer at a Pentecostal Bible school teach that the words rhema and logos are interchangeable. I was shocked by this revelation. I asked him, don’t you realize that this rhema logos teaching is widely used. There is even a whole movement based on this teaching – There are major churches and bible colleges named Rhema. The lecturer just shrugged his shoulders and said that none of the leaders were interested in having a greek lecturer teach them about greek words.

This is an idea that seems to have originated and gained major traction in the Word Faith movement. So I did some of my own research and this is what I found:

Matthew 26:75 And Peter remembered the word (rhema) of Jesus, which said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Mark 14:72 And Peter called to mind the word (rhema) that Jesus said unto him, Before the cock crow twice, thou shalt deny me thrice.

Luke 22:61 And Peter remembered the word (logos) of the Lord, how he had said unto him, Before the cock crow, thou shalt deny me thrice.

1) Jesus' word to Peter that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed is recorded in Matthew, Mark, and Luke. The Matthew and Mark accounts refer to Jesus' word that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed using the Greek word "rhema" for Jesus' word. The Luke account, however, refers to Jesus' word that Peter would deny him three times before the rooster crowed using the Greek word "logos" for Jesus' word. By comparing these 3 accounts side by side we can see that both "rhema" and "logos" can refer to a prophetic spoken word.

Ephesians 6:17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word (rhema) of God:

Hebrews 4:12 For the word (logos) of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged 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.

2) Ephesians 6:17 and Hebrews 4:12 both describe the word of God as a sword, but Ephesians uses the Greek word "rhema" for the word of God, while Hebrews uses the Greek word "logos" for the "word" of God. Should we assume that there are two different "swords" of God's word, one that is a rhema word and one that is a logos word? No, the obvious answer is that it's the same sword being described in both cases and that the words "rhema" and "logos" are not distinct enough to justify creating two different categories of the word of God.

Acts 10:44 While Peter yet spake these words (rhema), the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word (logos).

3) Acts 10 describes Peter proclaiming the Gospel to Cornelius' household. Verse 44 uses both the Greek word "rhema" and the Greek word "logos" to refer to the words Peter spoke to them. Once again, this indicates that "rhema" and "logos" are both interchangeably associated with the spoken word.

What is my point in all this? It is that we have the authority of Scripture. The reformation succeeded where the renaissance failed because it was built upon the absolute authority of God’s Word. If you look through church history and look at every movement that honored God and then fell away – you will find the troubles first started with small compromises on God’s Word. Peter said that:

For we did not follow cleverly devised myths when we made known to you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but we were eyewitnesses of his majesty. For when he received honor and glory from God the Father, and the voice was borne to him by the Majestic Glory, "This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased," we ourselves heard this very voice borne from heaven, for we were with him on the holy mountain. And we have something more sure, the prophetic word, to which you will do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts, knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit. (2 Peter 1:16-21)

Truth 1. God’s Word is a more certain than even hearing God’s voice from heaven.

Continued on Wednesday: Myth 2 - Doctrines only became true after they were written in creeds.

Go On To Part 2


DChabira said...

i've always thought that the words, 'rhema' and 'logos' were of different meaning, now i understand it isn't. It's scary how we can misinterpret the words/meaning in the bible because of ignorance. Thanks Cameron, keep it up, looking forward for the next 'myth'!

Apeleutheros said...

I haven't checked into blog land for awhile, but I want to thank you Cam, as I found this article very edifying.

I never really looked into it myself, but always got irritated with some charismatic views on the Rhema vs. Logos when they made their personal revelation to be something equal to scripture.

My reaction to them was always to just roll my eyes and shake my head. Now instead of just making an outward display of personal annoyance, I have an actual solid argument. This is sweet!

Jan Johansson said...

This truth is very important! So much confusion I had after coming to the Lord. I became a "lower-class" Christian with the revelation from the Bible only. And the charismatic people had it all. Hotlines to heaven, always hearing something new from the Lord. It's very frustrating when you are a new beliver, I can tell you...

Niel Hofmeyr said...


I agree with your reasoning here, I would just like to know from what translation did you pull that last Scripture (2 Pet 1:16-21). The link takes me to KJV but there is more emphesis on the version in the blog??