Words, what are they? One thing is for sure. It is amazing that language can be used to talk about language. We have a word for the unit of text or sound that is used for conveying a concept. That word is word.
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.
John 1:1-5, NIV
It isn’t only a funny feature of language that the curious of us realize exists. It is serious business for some. In fact, in mathematics, this concept has caused many to ponder, and explore the groundwork of this phenomenon. How can a word speak of itself when it is one itself? The search for answers on this topic still continues to this day, even though much has been written about the matter.
The problem I am speaking of, or rather the subject, is called self-reference. In the historical “lore” of mathematics, there was a school of thought called Logicism in the period of the late 1800’s to the early 1900’s. Logicism, in part, stipulates that all mathematics (descriptions of patterns and how these patterns interconnect, and interact with one another) can be reduced to logical descriptions, and all the rules thereof can be derived from these logical statements.
Common sense should dictate that some statements need more clarification in order to be understood correctly. We see this all the time in written and spoken communication. For all of the inherent redundancy in language that we run into on a daily basis, such as hearing multiple names for one thing (car, vehicle, auto, automobile, ride, whip, etc) — quite often there still needs to be more description in order to differentiate what meta-meaning is meant with the particular word, or phrase being used.
Turning back to the math side of the story — though I am no mathematician — I will do my best to describe the realization that a mathematical genius had with this tricky subject. The late mathematician and logician Kurt Gödel, in the early 1930’s with his Incompleteness Theorems, developed an intriguing argument that showed if one uses the assumption of Logicism — where the principles and truth of a statement can be derived from a limited set of statements — one runs into a condition of what is known as undecidability. That is when a statement may be true, but its truth cannot be shown from the statement itself. In other words, the proofs show that sometimes a statement needs more information from elsewhere to be proven true, or false.
Gödel’s Proofs gave logicians and mathematicians of his day major headaches, and with good reason. The hope that the universe of math, and the truth therein, could be systematically described and encoded in a limited set of statements was a dream scenario for these adventurous explorers of the arcane and enigmatic structures of logic, and for some — the universe. I’m not confusing the domains of physics, and mathematics — I’m only acknowledging the overlap between them. They certainly are different fields and disciplines, yet even in pure math, there are structures found that show up in the real world in surprising ways.
To me it is a cool bit of trivia that Kurt Gödel was a theist, and he also wrote an ontological proof of the existence of God. I mention his work in detail here because it is fascinating. For the curious, you can find more information about him, and his works at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kurt_Gödel.
Now for the fun stuff — Logos and Rhema. What are they? No… one isn’t those foot bombs kids play with and you step on, and the other isn’t some exotic name. They are deeply beautiful Greek words for different aspects of “Word”, and for certain the scribes of the scriptures employed these meanings to the fullest.
In scripture, Logos is the Greek word for “the Word”, yet it goes far deeper than the English meaning of it. Not referring to the mere lexical contraptions that we mostly understand words to be — it’s meaning is more akin to the very lines and structure of the universe. The order, the frame, i.e. the very STUFF, in a platonic sense, of the cosmos, and of the earth. The immaterial frame of the galaxies, and of common life that we face on the daily is the essence of the Logos.
We recognize the Logos dynamically through how it interacts with the world. Logos in a way is static. It can be recognized, but only when it is in contrast with a known thing — through its relationship to it. When we focus on a single aspect of something, we see the Logos as a point where we can place our minds towards, and start to branch out our comprehension of it.
How does one start to branch out their understanding of something? One of the ways to do that is to compare the thing in question to a known thing, and towards the actions of a known thing, in order to at least have some meta-comprehension of it. That is the essence of the Rhema.
Rhema can be thought of as the spoken word, the verb and action of the thing, the SPARK in the cylinder. Rhema in Greek refers to spoken words. I feel it is safe to say that Rhema is the life in the Word (Logos) in some form of conscious or subconscious motion.
In scripture, there is one who brings the Word (Logos) to life, and it doesn’t matter if the Word is in the scriptures themselves, or in nature. That is the job of the Holy Spirit. The Spirit was sent to the earth on the day of Pentecost as a gift from God, with the directive to love, teach, supply, and guide all they who call on the name of the King.
Wow! So let’s get this straight… God sent the Holy Spirit to do the things that Jesus did for his disciples for all? Anyone who calls on Christ? YES. One of the top things that the Spirit does is TEACH, and those words are not her own. They are expressly of Christ.
John 16:13-15, NASB
But when He, the Spirit of truth, comes, He will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on His own initiative, but whatever He hears, He will speak; and He will disclose to you what is to come. “He will glorify Me, for He will take of Mine and will disclose it to you. “All things that the Father has are Mine; therefore I said that He takes of Mine and will disclose it to you.
It follows then that when anyone has a major problem in life, in understanding something’s structure, not knowing what to do, and facing a myriad of other very practical human problems — God is still present and indwelling inside us, ready to help us if we LISTEN.
When God speaks to the heart about a life matter, or a matter pertaining to scripture, that word given is the Rhema. That sparky meta-understanding that only God knows, and as it is said in John, he freely discloses to his children.
Sometimes the words the Spirit speaks to us will reveal the Logos of something. Other times, the Spirit will reveal the proper understanding (Rhema) of something to us. In any and all cases the words from her are not only applicable to the domain of the mind. They are not only for information we can use to further our understanding of theology, and/or philosophy. They are for LIFE. Yes, this LIFE we live right here, right now.
Sometimes the Spirit will tell us to wait for something in order to receive it. Not everything God gives requires us to DO something. Sometimes we have to REST and receive the gift that God wants to bestow on us. I will say from experience that this is one of the hardest things to do. Waiting on God for something for he is promising you. Even when you have all the signs, the reasons, and the confirmations — it doesn’t make it easier. From prior experiences though — I know he always delivers, and blows away all expectations.
I pray that these words touch you. I pray that you can learn to sense the conveying presence of the Spirit in your heart. Above all, I pray that you can learn and use the words, both Rhema and Logos, that the Spirit gives liberally to anyone who seeks the face of Truth. The face of the Son, Christ Jesus.