Logos and Rhema, An Exaltation of Logos, Part 4
by Karl Kemp
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We begin Part 4 in the middle of a discussion of Matt. 13:13, while discussing Matt. 13:1-24 on the Parable of the Sower. After five more paragraphs under verse 13, we come to verse 14.
God certainly doesn't want to lose any people who can be brought to true repentance and faith by His marvelous grace (cf. 1 Tim. 2:4-6). But the sin problem runs very deep, including in the heart of man. Who would have believed that Satan would rebel and a third of the angels would follow him? And who would have anticipated that mankind would be so prone to follow the devil in his rebellion against God, so much so that Jesus would have to tell some of the people of Israel of that generation that they were children of the devil in John 8:31-59? It's no wonder that for such people, Jesus' word (logos) found no place in them. As this paper shows, the results would have been exactly the same if the word rhema had been used.
We desperately need the balanced truth regarding what the Bible teaches about God's role and man's role in our salvation. We must understand that our salvation comes 100 percent by the saving grace of God in Christ (we did not, and could not, earn it), and God must receive 100 percent of the glory for our salvation. But it is also true that God's salvation plans include a very definite role for man. Even though we are totally dependent on God's grace to save us, which includes the incarnation and Sacrifice of His Son; His calling, drawing, convicting, enlightening, strengthening, enabling work, which includes His sending the gospel to us as individuals, and the fact that He didn't let the evil one consume us, and the fact that He calls us to repent and submit to the gospel in faith and to continue in faith until the end, HE DOESN'T JUST GIVE US SAVING FAITH, and (although He gives us the enabling grace to continue in faith to the end, which includes all the work of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us) HE DOESN'T MAKE US CONTINUE IN FAITH TO THE END. He calls us to always walk by the Holy Spirit, not the flesh (old man), for example (Gal. 5:16), but that doesn't mean that all Christians will do what He calls us to do, enables us to do, and wills us to do.
I believe the New Testament is quite clear on these super-important points if we take the balanced truth of all that it says on these things and don't limit ourselves to the favorite proof texts that many Christians use. (See my "A Paper on Faith" and "Once Saved, Always Saved?) However, the fact that we are required to submit to God, His Son, and His gospel in faith and to continue to walk in faith and by the Holy Spirit has nothing to do with our earning or deserving salvation in any way. Rather, we were all spiritually dead sinners in desperate need of salvation. The most true Christians can say for themselves is that they eventually submitted to God's love and grace, and that God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit must receive all the glory forever. However, we will be glorified and reign with God the Father and His Son forever.
The fact that we must submit to God's saving grace in Christ, rather than continue in spiritual death, being out of the divine order we were created for, does not in any way detract from the fact that we are saved 100 percent by the saving grace of God in Christ. We are saved by grace through faith, and from the time we are born again all the good that we do is a work of God wrought by His grace (see Eph. 2:10, for example), especially through the work of the indwelling Spirit of God, who enables us to live in the righteousness and holiness of God, with the victory over sin and Satan and his hosts.
We need to be very careful about passing judgments - we are not the Judge. We don't know the hearts of people like God does; we don't know all the facts, and we don't know what will happen to them in the future. Many of us would have been sure that Saul, who became the apostle Paul, would not turn out to be a totally committed Christian. No matter how great the sin, God can totally save those who will truly repent and submit to His saving grace in Christ.]] (14) In their case the prophecy of Isaiah is being fulfilled, which says "You will keep on hearing, but will not understand; you will keep on seeing, but will not perceive; (15) for the heart of this people has become dull, with their ears they scarcely hear, and they have closed their eyes, otherwise they would see with their eyes, hear with their ears, and understand with their heart and return, and I would heal them." [As Isaiah chapter 6, from which these verses were quoted, shows, God was going to send very intense judgment against the people of Israel (especially referring to the attacks and exiles by the Babylonians, who destroyed the city of Jerusalem and the temple in 587/586BC), through which He would save a repentant remnant.] (16) But blessed are your eyes, because they see; and your ears, because they hear. [See verse 11.] (17) For truly I say to you that many prophets and righteous men desired to see what you see, and did not see it, and to hear what you hear, and did not hear it [cf. 1 Peter 1:10-12.] (18) Hear then the parable of the sower. (19) When anyone hears the word [logos] of the kingdom and does not understand it, the evil one comes and snatches away what has been sown in his heart. This is the one on whom seed was sown beside the road. (20) The one on whom seed was sown on the rocky places, this is the man who hears the word [logos] and immediately receives it with joy; (21) yet he has no firm root in himself, but is only temporary, and when affliction or persecution arises because of the word [logos], immediately he falls sway. (22) And the one on whom seed was sown among the thorns, this is the man who hears the word [logos], and the worry of the world and the deceitfulness of wealth choke the word [logos], and it becomes unfruitful. (23) And the one on whom seed was sown on the good soil, this is the man who hears the word [logos] and understands it [[Mark 4:24 has, "hear the word [logos] and accepts it." We must put a very high priority on the word [logos] of the kingdom (and all of God's Word); we must understand it; we must accept in into our hearts; and we must (we have the privilege) to live it (by grace through faith). Mark 4:24 goes on to warn us to "take care what you listen to." We must listen to the truth of God's Word. Bad seed (which includes bad doctrine) produces bad fruit in hearts and lives. The words of Luke 8:15 emphasize the need for perseverance/steadfastness, "But the seed in the good soil, these are the ones who have heard the word [logos] in an honest and good heart, and hold it fast, and bear fruit with perseverance [or, steadfastness]."]]; who indeed bears fruit and brings forth, some a hundredfold, some sixty, and some thirty." Whatever the good fruit, it comes 100 percent by God's saving grace in Christ Jesus through faith, and God must receive all the glory. It is His salvation plan; His Son became a man (the God-man), lived a sinless life, and died for us bearing all our sins with the guilt and the penalties, including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin, so we could be born again and walk with the victory over sin in the righteousness and holiness of God.
In Jesus' day, many of the people who would be part of the good soil would be those who had been appropriating the grace of God that was available to believers under the old covenant. And God's grace that flowed through the ministry of John the Baptist was significant. For such people, the good news of salvation from spiritual death and sin was exactly what they wanted. Then too, no matter how sinful the lives of the people were (or are), if their hearts were receptive to God's call to repent and make Him and His Word and righteousness top priority by His grace, they could become good soil very quickly. God can change hearts and lives, and that is a big part of what new-covenant salvation is all about. It works for Gentiles too, for all who humble themselves before God and submit to, and persevere in, His sufficient saving grace in Christ.
Some more verses that show that we must receive God's living, powerful, effective, personal Word into our hearts, understand it, hold it fast, obey it, etc.
Matthew 7:24 (also see Matt. 7:25-29; Luke 6:47 with 6:46-49). "Therefore everyone who hears these words [plural of logos] of Mine and acts on them, may be compared to a wise man who built his house on the rock."
Luke 8:21. "But He [Jesus] answered and said to them, 'My mother and My brothers are these who hear the word [logos] of God and do it."
Luke 11:28. "But He [Jesus] said, 'On the contrary, blessed are those who hear the word [logos] of God and observe [or, keep, obey] it.' "
John 8:31, 32. "So Jesus was saying to those Jews who had believed Him, 'If you continue in My word [logos], then you are truly disciples of Mine (32) and you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.' " Verses 34-36 show that this includes being set free from being a slave of sin.
John 8:51. "Truly [Amen], truly [amen], I say to you, if anyone keeps My word [logos] he will never see death."
John 12:48. "He who rejects Me and does not receive My sayings [plural of rhema], has one who judges him; the word [logos] I spoke is what will judge him at the last day."
John 17:6. "I have manifested Your name to the men whom You gave Me out of the world; they were Yours and You gave them to Me, and they have kept Your word [logos]." Logos is also used in 17:14, 17, and 20. The plural of rhema is used in 17:8, with no substantial difference in meaning.
Acts 2:40, 41. "And with many other words [plural of logos] he [Peter] solemnly testified and kept on exhorting them, saying, 'Be saved from this perverse generation!' (41) So then, those who had received his word [logos] were baptized; and that day there were added about three thousand souls."
Acts 4:4. "But many of those who had heard the message [logos] believed; and the number of the men came to be about five thousand."
Acts 8:14. "Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word [logos] of God, they sent them Peter and John." Also see Acts 11:1.
Acts 17:11, 12. "Now these [the Jews at Berea] were more noble minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word [logos] with eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so. (12) Therefore many of them believed, along with a number of prominent Greek women and men."
1 Corinthians 15:2. "by which you are saved, if you hold fast the word [logos] which I preached to you...."
Philippians 2:15, 16. "so that you will prove yourselves to be blameless and innocent, children of God above reproach in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you appear as lights in the world, (16) holding fast the word [logos] of life, so that in the day of Christ I will have reason to glory because I did not run in vain nor toil in vain."
1 Thessalonians 1:6. "You also became imitators of us and of the Lord, having received the word [logos; the word of the gospel] in much tribulation with the joy of the Holy Spirit."
Titus 1:9. "holding fast the faithful word [logos] which is in accordance with the teaching, so that he will be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict."
Hebrews 4:2. "For indeed we have had good news preached to us, just as they did also; but the word [logos] they heard did not profit them, because it was not united by faith in those who heard."
James 1:21-22. "Therefore, putting aside all filthiness and all that remains of wickedness, in humility receive the word [logos] implanted, which is able to save your souls. (22) But [And] prove yourselves doers of the word [logos] and not merely hearers who delude themselves." James 1:21 is discussed in my article dealing with the meaning of the words spirit and soul.
1 John 2:5. "but whoever keeps His word [logos], in him the love of God has been perfected [cf. 1 John 4:12]. By this we know that we are in Him."
1 John 2:14b. "I have written to you young men, because you are strong, and the word [logos] of God abides in you [The word abides in them because they have received it and make it a top priority to walk in accordance with the word, by grace through faith.], and you have overcome the evil one."
Revelation 1:3. "Blessed is he who reads and those who hear the words [plural of logos] of the prophecy [the book of Revelation], and heed [keep] the things which are written in it for the time is near." There is no time left to live in sin.
Revelation 3:8, 10. "I know your deeds [works]. Behold I set before you an open door which no one can shut, because you have a little power, and you have kept My word [logos], and have not denied My name. ... (10) Because you have kept the word [logos] of My perseverance [They had kept His Word (by His grace), which required perseverance.], I also will keep you from [out of] the hour of testing, that hour which is about to come upon the whole world, to test those who dwell on the earth."
Revelation 22:7. "And behold, I am coming quickly. Blessed are those who heed [or, keep] the words [plural of logos] of the prophecy of this book [the book of Revelation]." Revelation 22:9 speaks of "those who heed [or, keep] the words [plural of logos] of the prophecy of this book." We are required to heed/keep all the written word of God, which includes having correct doctrine and righteous and holy living (by grace through faith) in agreement with God's word.
Some more passages that will help us understand why so many people don't submit to, love, or persevere in God's Word, even though it is alive, powerful, effective, etc.
John 3:19-21. "This is the judgment [condemnation], that the Light has come into the world [referring to the incarnation (see John 1:4-10, for example)], and men [but not all men] loved the darkness rather than the Light [God's light includes His truth, righteousness and holiness], for their deeds [works] were evil [and they did not want to repent]. (21) For everyone who does evil hates the Light, and does not come to the Light for fear that his deeds [works] will be exposed. [If their hearts were open to God, they could receive forgiveness for their sins and be set free from bondage to sin.] (22) But he who practices the truth comes to the Light, so that his deeds [works] may be manifested as having been wrought in God." Some of the Jews under the old covenant lived relatively righteous lives by the grace of God available under the old covenant (especially consider those who submitted to the ministry of John the Baptist), but all of them will be quick to confess that they needed to be saved through the far greater grace available under the new covenant established on the atoning death of the Lamb of God and by the outpoured Spirit that was promised in the Old Testament.
John chapters 1-20 are discussed verse-by-verse in much more detail than I have here, in papers on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching).
John 5:37-47. "And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form. (38) You do not have His [God the Father's] word [logos] abiding in you, for you do not believe Him whom He sent [the Son of God]. [Jesus was speaking here to Jews who were rejecting Him and His words. The Father's word that Jesus was referring to here was His word in the Old Testament (see verses 45-47). Jesus was saying that the fact that they were rejecting Him proved that they didn't really have God's word in their hearts, even though they put a high priority on searching the Scriptures (see the next verse).] (39) You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify of Me [see verses 45-47]; (40) and you are unwilling to come to Me so that you may have life. (41) I do not receive glory from men; (42) but I know you, that you do not have the love of God in yourselves. [The context helps show, and most commentators agree, that Jesus was speaking of their not loving God, in spite of their claims to the contrary.] (43) I have come in my Father's name [having been sent into the world by Him], and you do not receive Me [or His Word]; if another comes in his own name, you will receive him [ultimately including Antichrist (cf. Dan. 9:27)]. (44) How can you believe, when you receive glory from one another and you do not seek the glory that is from the one and only God [referring to God the Father]? (45) Do not think that I will accuse you before the Father; the one who accuses you is Moses, in whom you have set your hope. (46) For if you believed Moses, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. (47) But if you do not believe his writings how will you believe My words [plural of rhema]?"
It isn't surprising that those who do not really love God the Father (verse 42), who do not have His word abiding in them (verse 38), and who receive glory from one another and do not seek the glory of God the Father (verse 44), all without any openness to repent, don't have room in their hearts for the Lord Jesus or the gospel. Faith includes an attitude of the heart where we make God and His Word top priority.
John 7:17. "If anyone is willing to do His will [God the Father's will], he will know of the teaching [of Jesus' teaching], whether it is of God or whether I speak from Myself." Sin is mankind's one basic problem, with the root sins of pride and unbelief. The primary purpose of the gospel of new-covenant salvation for this present age is to bring all who will repent and submit (in faith) to God's new covenant salvation, with its strong emphasis on the impartation of His righteousness and holiness, not to minimize forgiveness. God hates sin! The gospel is good news indeed for all who seek first God's kingdom and His righteousness (cf. Matt. 6:33). It's bad news for those who want to continue in sin.
The problem was that large numbers of the people of Israel in Jesus' day did not want to do the Father's will (and they were not about to repent), according to Jesus. (That problem was not limited to that generation, and it certainly isn't limited to the people of Israel.) That attitude of the heart kept them from receiving God's word in their hearts. They were not open to be drawn, enlightened, etc. by God, and God (who knows the hearts of all people) doesn't draw to His Son those who are sold out to sin and the evil one (cf. John 6:44). See on John 6:35-65 in my "A Verse-by-Verse Study of John Chapters 5-8" on my internet site (Google to Karl Kemp Teaching). Any repentance or faith on the part of such people would be quite unsatisfactory and quite temporary and would not yield true salvation or glorify God.
John 8:37-47. (These verses are discussed in more detail in my "A Verse-by-Verse Study of John Chapters 5-8" that is on my internet site (karlkempteachingministries.com.) " 'I know that you are Abraham's descendants; yet you seek to kill Me [cf. John 5:18; 7:1, 19, 25; 8:40, 44, 59], because My word [logos] has no place in you. (38) I speak the things which I have seen with My Father; therefore you also do the things which you heard from your father.' [Jesus goes on to tell His opponents that their father is the devil (verses 40-44). They were children of the devil doing the works of the devil (cf. 1 John 3:8-12; we'll briefly discuss these verses as we continue).] (39) They answered and said to Him, 'Abraham is our father.' Jesus said to them, 'If you are Abraham's children, do the deeds [works] of Abraham. (40) But as it is, you are seeking to kill Me, a man who has told you the truth, which I heard from God; this Abraham did not do. (41) You are doing the deeds [works] of your father.' [[I'll quote 1 John 3:12a, "not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother." For one thing, as Jesus goes on to say in John 8:44, their father, the devil, "was a murderer from the beginning." They were the devil's children in a spiritual (actually unspiritual), moral (actually immoral), family sense; they had the same desires he had (John 8:44), and they acted like him. He was the spirit working in them (Eph. 2:2) and through them. They were doing his works as they yielded to him. This means a lot more than the devil's children imitate him. The devil is anxious to help people sin, including believers, if we will let him.] They said to Him, 'We were not born of fornication; we have one Father: God.' (42) Jesus said to them, 'If God were your Father, you would love Me [As it was, they hated Him, like their father, the devil, hated Him.], for I proceeded forth and have come from God, for I have not even come on My own initiative, but He sent Me. [And Jesus was totally like the Father, and He spoke the words the Father wanted Him to speak and did the works the Father wanted Him to do. You can't really love the Father and reject His unique Son.] (43) Why do you not understand what I am saying? It is because you cannot hear My word [logos]. (44) You are of your father the devil ["not as Cain, who was of the evil one and slew his brother" (1 John 3:12a)], and you want to do the desires of your father. [They have the same murderous (and other sinful) desires that their father, the devil, has.] He was a murderer [The Greek noun used here is "anthropoktonos." I'll quote part of what A. T. Robertson's "Word Pictures in the New Testament" says here: "Old and rare word...from "anthropos," man, and "kteino," to kill. In N.T. [used] only here and 1 John 3:15." ] from the beginning
[[Jesus did not mean, of course, that the devil was a murderer from the time of his creation. He was created good. He was a murderer at least from the time that mankind joined him in his rebellion against God (in the fall) and then Cain killed Abel (Gen. 4:8). Cain was motivated by the devil and was yielding to the devil (so was Judas when he made his major contribution to the murder of Jesus [John 13:2, 27]), and in one very real sense the sin of Cain, and the sins of man in general (especially the sins of the people who align themselves with the devil like Cain and those who opposed Jesus like in John 8:37-47), can be considered the works of the devil. In John 8:41 Jesus said that his opponents were doing the works of their father, the devil (also see John 8:38, 44). (This does not mean that people are not responsible for their sins.) Compare, for example, Eph. 2:1-3 [Ephesians 2:2 speaks of the devil "working in the sons of disobedience"]; 1 John 3:4-15
[I'll quote 1 John 3:5a, "You know that He (Jesus) appeared to take away sins...." In the verses that precede and follow 1 John 3:5, the apostle John speaks of Christians doing righteousness and not sinning. (See 1 John 2:29; 3:3, 4, 6-15.) Jesus took away their sins! In the ideal case, they would never sin again (see 1 John 2:3-6; 2:29; 3:3, 6-9, for example). I'll quote 1 John 3:8, "the one who practices sin [or, the one who is doing sin] is of the devil; for the devil has sinned from the beginning. The Son of God appeared for this purpose, to destroy the works of the devil." I believe the primary "works of the devil" that Jesus came to destroy are sins. But it would probably be better to translate the last words of 3:8, "to do away with the works of the devil," or the equivalent. (The BAGD Greek Lexicon translates "destroys the works of the devil" in 1 John 3:8, but it lists this verse under the heading, "to do away with, destroy, bring to an end, abolish." The devil has been sinning since the time of his rebellion against God, but the idea here seems to be his sinful works that have been manifested in all those who have yielded to him and sinned since the time of the fall of man. Christians certainly don't want to do any works of the devil.
We will continue this important discussion of John 8:37-47 in Part 5, the last section of this paper.
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