Rhema and Logos.

Rhema and Logos are two Greek words meaning ‘word’.

The traditional Pentecostal teaching goes something like this: ‘Logos’ means written word, and ‘Rhema’ means dynamic utterance. Applied to questions of discerning the voice of God, what we want is to hear the specific-to-our-situation Rhema word of God — and then test it by proven biblical ‘Logos’ principles to ensure that it is indeed a sound God-given directive.

The more conservative Evangelical teaching is traditionally unconvinced by this position. They argue that the Greek words ‘Logos’ and ‘Rhema’ cannot consistently be distinguished the way that the Pentecostals claim. And they use this to justify their stance that waiting on God for a personal ‘Rhema’ word is hypercharismatic nonsense, and that all we can faithfully do is study to work out how best to apply the biblical ‘Logos’ principles to any given situation.

My personal position is that while I’m happy to accept that linguistically ‘Logos’ and ‘Rhema’ might not consistently function in NT Greek the way that Pentecostals now use the words, nevertheless it is a very helpful theological distinction.

And I would even suggest that we can also paint a broad brushstroke picture of Liberal Christians’ behaviour here. Whereas Pentecostals believe in Rhema and Logos, using Logos to test Rhema, and Rhema to direct Logos; and Conservative Evangelicals believe only in Logos; Liberals (perhaps) believe in Rhema but not Logos: that is, they continue to believe that as they stay in a position of prayerful openness to God, they can experience His guidance but have lost confidence in the reliability of biblical principles by which to test this sense of guidance. And thus they are in danger of being swept away on the currents of whatever contemporary society feels most strongly.

Oh, and here is a more thorough example of the classic teaching.

Revelation 4-5 & the Meaning of Life

– People might not be interested in talking about ‘spiritual’ things — but everyone wonders about the meaning of life.

– The creatures that are most fully alive (Rev. 4:8 ‘living creatures’) are those consumed by a vision of the holy reality of God. Life’s meaning is found in beholding God’s beauty.

– The tragedy of life is that life’s meaning has been ‘sealed’ from our view, and none of us is worthy (Rev. 5:4) to unseal that revelation. No-one is clever enough, no-one is good enough. But in spite of it being sealed up, still God’s abundant revelation overflows undeniably into our sphere of consciousness (the scroll is written in front and behind! Rev. 5:1) And Jesus has done what no-one else could do (Rev. 5:5) to unseal life’s meaning and reveal and release God’s plans and purposes for creation — and for you and me!

– All of creation is caught up in this whirlwind of loving interaction. At the centre of it all is the Holy Trinity: the three persons of the God-who-is-Love (1 John 4:8) each self-sacrificially glorifying the other; around them the cherubim declaring the holiness of God; around them the elders casting down their crowns; around them myriads of angels; and then all of creation joining in the song of worship.

– In short, the meaning of life is perfect, uncontainable love — and this love can be (and must be!) encountered personally through Jesus.

What is the ‘Tabernacle of David’?

I was asked to unpack the biblical basis for night and day prayer and the restoration of the tabernacle of David as part of our YWAM Cambridge staff training retreat. I started with a quick run-through of my seven reasons for 24:7 prayer, and then looked at the ‘tabernacle of David’.

– It’s a phrase that has been particularly foundational in the development of IHOP Kansas City’s ministry of non-stop worship and intercession: they received a word from the Lord that He would establish ‘prayer in the spirit of the tabernacle of David’.

– It’s mentioned in Acts 15, specifically in verse 16, in the context of the discussion of Gentiles becoming believers. James confirms the will of God has always been to reach the Gentiles by quoting the prophecy of Amos 9:11-12:

‘After this I will return
And will rebuild the tabernacle of David, which has fallen down;
I will rebuild its ruins,
And I will set it up;
So that the rest of mankind may seek the Lord,
Even all the Gentiles who are called by My name
Says the Lord who does all these things.’

– But what exactly is this ‘tabernacle of David’? 1 Chronicles 16 picks up the story (found in 2 Samuel 6) of David bringing the ark of the covenant into the city of Jerusalem. And it specifically states that the ark of the covenant was set “in the midst of the tabernacle that David had erected for it”, before going on to talk about those who were appointed to lead worship on their musical instruments: “stringed instruments and harps,… cymbals,… trumpets”.

– It’s particularly important to notice a little detail that is easily missed if you let Biblical place-names blur into each other (as we are too often guilty of doing!). In 1 Chronicles 16:39-40, it specifies that the old tabernacle (of Moses) was still at Gibeon, and was still maintaining the rituals of morning and evening sacrifice. But this means that the tabernacle of David was not the same as the tabernacle of Moses!

– So then we need to remember what the tabernacle of Moses was like. It’s described in the latter half of Exodus, and in Leviticus. There was a courtyard, where only Israelites were allowed, with an altar for sacrifices and a wash-basin. There was the tabernacle itself, in which only Levite priests were allowed, in which was the altar of incence, the menorah and the show-bread. Then there was the Holy of Holies, into which only the High Priest could go and only once a year, after he had been sprinkled with the blood.

– In contrast, the tabernacle of David had no animal sacrifices, and there is no evidence that it had any hierarchical separation either.

– When we note that David brought it into Jerusalem at the start of his 33-year reign, where it continued until it was replaced by Solomon’s temple immediately after David’s death, then suddenly we’re struck by the vivid prophetic picture the tabernacle of David is of Jesus Christ, the descendent of David, whose 33-year life made possible free access for all into God’s presence.

– And we continue to ask God for revelation as to what it means for the tabernacle of David to be fully ‘restored’.

Greg Boyd on Romans 9

(Note that the things I post here on my ‘Footnotes’ are points of reference, not necessarily my own views)

Greg Boyd argues against the deterministic (Calvinistic) interpretation of Romans 9 on six counts:
#1 The Absoluteness of Christ
#2 The Question is, ‘Has God broken Covenant with Israel?’
#3 Election is to Vocation, not Salvation
#4 Paul’s Summary and Free Will
#5 The Flexbile Potter and the Willing Clay
#6 It’s About Wisdom, Not Power

(From here — follow the link for the full discussion).

Michael Oh and Krish K on the Gospel

Krish K assesses Michael Oh’s gospel presentation:
1. Energy and fluidity
2. We never graduate from the gospel
3. Rhetorical flourish
4. Emphasis on the Lordship of Christ

1. Pretty individualistic
2. Relatively Marcionite (nothing about Israel)
3. Little about Jesus.
4. Nothing about justice or reconciliation
5. Full of Pauline proof-texts
6. Isn’t quite Trinitarian (Holy Spirit not mentioned)

But in Michael’s defense, he confesses that the gospel isn’t something we master, but something we’re mastered by.

Fading West

Documentary about Switchfoot on tour, using their travels as inspiration for a new album, and as an excuse to go surfing in the world’s most beautiful waves. The missionary possibilities of art; the struggle to do family well while being faithful to your vocation; the liberating possibilities of sound and sea.