by Mike Ratliff
34 ὃν γὰρ ἀπέστειλεν ὁ θεὸς τὰ ῥήματα τοῦ θεοῦ λαλεῖ, οὐ γὰρ ἐκ μέτρου δίδωσιν τὸ πνεῦμα. John 3:34 (NA28)
34 For He whom God sent speaks the words of God; for He give the Spirit without measure. John 3:34 (translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In the New Testament we have a Greek word translated “Word” that most of us are very familiar with, which is λόγος (logos). This word is used by the writers of New Testament most often to refer to a “Christian proclamation as a whole of the N.T.” On the other hand, there is another Greek word translated as “word” or “words” in the New Testament which we will look at in this post. It is ῥῆμα (rhēma). The plural of this word found in the passage above is ῥήματα (rhēmata) and I translated it as “words.” This word usually relates to individual words and utterances.
We find ῥῆμα (rhēma) again in John 8:47.
44 You are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a lie, he speaks from his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies. 45 But because I speak the truth, you do not believe Me. 46 Which one of you convicts Me of sin? If I speak truth, why do you not believe Me? 47 He who is of God hears the words of God; for this reason you do not hear them, because you are not of God.” John 8:44-47 (NASB)
Jesus was speaking to the Jewish religious leaders. Yes, they knew much about the λόγος (logos) of God, that is, the O.T., but they were ignorant of the very ῥήματα (rhēmata) of God. Paul used ῥῆμα (rhēma) in Romans 10:17.
17 So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ. Romans 10:17 (NASB)
Let us look at Ephesians 6:17 where Paul uses ῥῆμα (rhēma).
17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17 (NASB)
Here we see that part of the Christian’s spiritual armor is “the word[s] of God” If we study that passage in English we may believe that Paul is talking about the entire Bible, but he is talking about knowing and using God’s words effectively.
As we look for what are the causes of the sad shape of the visible church I submit that the main culprit is a willingness to compromise with nearly everyone in order to maintain an artificial peace even if it means saying ridiculous things like, “Oh, yes, we believe in the Word of God, but then others have their own views on certain doctrines…” When you examine those things you will find the compromises are made on the ῥήματα (rhēmata) of God, the “words of God.”
I made up my mind many years ago to never compromise on this. I believe the ῥήματα (rhēmata) of God, every one of them, every jot and tittle. When you take that stand you immediately find that certain things tolerated in the visible church can no longer be tolerated by you such as the diluted Gospel, the seeker-sensitive movement, the emergent church in all its forms, NAR, et cetera, and any effort to bring the world and its ways into the Church.
Another part of this stance is that we cannot tolerate a form of Bible translation called Dynamic Equivalence. I know that many of you reading this may not agree with me, but I do not care. I lovingly submit to all of you that those so-called Bibles based on a thought-for-thought translation, such as the Message or the NLT are inferior to translations made on the word-for word concept. Why? The thought-for-thought translations lose God’s “words” while the word-for word translations preserve them. I believe what I shared in this post proves my point.
Soli Deo Gloria!