"Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice..."
Before Peter could speak, he had to be spoken to. Before Paul could speak, he had to be spoken to. Even before Jesus spoke, He was spoken to:
"I do nothing on My own initiative... the things which I heard from Him, these I speak to the world."
Does it not follow then, that before we can speak, we must be spoken to? But how does this happen? We know that Jesus is the Word. We know He spoke to Paul on the road to Damascus, to John on the island called Patmos, giving them specific instructions for serving Him. Is Jesus still speaking to His followers today? If so, how does He speak to us? Scripture tells us the word of God has a voice.
"Bless the Lord, you His angels, mighty in strength, who perform His word, obeying the voice of His word."
Jesus confirms this:
"My sheep hear My voice and I know them and they follow Me."
Have you and I heard His voice? The answer is "yes" if we are Christians. We heard His voice the day John 3:16 leaped out from the printed page and into the depths of our heart and soul; we heard, we believed, we were born again. It was to be the beginning of a wonderful relationship, (the same relationship Jesus had with His Father); Jesus would speak, we would obey. But some of us, new and unschooled in the life of the Spirit, did not realize that hearing the voice of His word was to be a continuing process -- that "faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of Christ." Nor did we realize that true growth in the Spirit depends on what God has to say to us personally and specifically.
Watchman Nee explains:
"In the New Testament two Greek words are used to denote word. One is logos, the other is rhema. Logos is the word, the Holy Scriptures; it refers both to things which have been eternally determined and to things used in an objective way. It is the word as we generally use it, and the word, as it is generally used in an objective way. It is the word as it is generally known in Christianity. Rhema refers to words which are spoken. This is more subjective than logos.
John 3:16 is a verse many of us can quote from memory. Is this verse the word of God? Certainly! But it is logos. There came a day, however, when we read this verse and it became an entirely new experience; it spoke to us personally, it became rhema. 'God so loved the world' became 'God so loved me.' 'That He gave His only begotten Son' became 'He gave His Son for me.' Rhema is something the Lord has spoken previously (logos) which He is now speaking again. In other words, rhema is the word which the Lord speaks the second time.
Are we saying that logos is of no use? Logos has its definite use, for without logos, we could never have rhema. All the rhema of God is based upon logos. But merely having the word from a certain chapter and verse in the Bible is not sufficient. We are saying that logos is of no use by itself:
One day a messenger came to tell a mother that her son had been run over by a car and was at the point of death. The mother immediately opened her Bible and happened to turn to John 11:4: 'This sickness is not unto death...' Because of this verse she felt peaceful and even began to rejoice, but when she arrived at the scene of the accident, she found that her son had already died.
Did this mean that what is recorded in the Gospel of John is not the word of God? It is the word of God but it is logos. The word she grasped was not the word which God spoke to her at a specific time. Both logos and rhema are the word of God but the former is God's word objectively recorded in the Bible, while the latter is the word of God spoken to us at a specific occasion.
Knowledge is one thing and spiritual stature is quite another. All doctrine, teaching, theology, and knowledge are of little use if they just flow from one person to another... A person with a clear mind can divide the book of Romans into sections -- salvation, justification, etc. A man may have knowledge and yet be without God's word. Many people think that knowledge of the Scriptures and understanding of the doctrines are spirituality. There is no such thing! Bible knowledge can never be a substitute for spirituality.
Only the word which the Lord speaks to us is of any use. Rhema reveals something to us personally and directly; it reveals what we need to deal with and what we need to be cleansed from. Our Christian life is based on rhema. We must remember that today's Christianity is still the Christianity of personal revelation. If the Lord does not speak with us, it is not Christianity, nor is it the New Testament."
"I will stand on my guard post and station myself on the rampart; and I will keep watch to see what He will speak to me..."
"Today if you hear His voice, do not harden your hearts."