“The word of God kept on spreading, and the number of the disciples continued to increase greatly.” (Acts 6:7)
“For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but I received it through a revelation of Jesus Christ.” (Gal. 1:12)
There are two words in the Greek for the “word” of God: Logos and Rhema. Logos refers to the revealed, or written, knowledge of God. It is the general knowledge of God disseminated to all, both believers and not. Its goal is salvation of the unsaved, and foundation for the saved. Paul said, “So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ” (Rom 10:17). Combining this with the verse above, we see salvation comes to men by preaching and teaching this Logos, and nothing more is needed than the pre-existent conviction of the Holy Spirit. Also, God spoke through the prophet Hosea, telling us His people perished for lack of knowledge. The Logos is the beginning of the walk for the believer, and throughout the process of his or her life remains the foundation of this critical knowledge of God upon which all else must be built.
But after salvation, and to continue to build upon and complete the process of the Christian life, the other aspect of God’s Word to us is the Rhema, or unwritten, revealed side. It is God’s personal communication to individual believers. It is where we move beyond mere salvation, to the “better things that accompany salvation” (Heb. 6:9-10). However, God does not grant it to “babes”, until they have matured to a place of solid understanding of the Logos, regardless of how long they may have considered themselves Christians. Revelation, along with the foundation of knowledge, is where God becomes personal and intimate with us, and gives us answers that lead us and transform us at the deepest possible level. As Paul says above, it is not something that can be taught, or received from another man like the Logos is. It must be received directly from God through a revelation directly from His Spirit imparted to our spirit.
Neither of these is greater nor lesser than another. One builds upon the other, but Scripture tells us many think they are receiving Rhema from God who are not, and that we are to test everything supposing to be of the Spirit by the Logos (1 Thess. 5:2, 1 John 4:1). Try removing the foundation of your home from all that has been built upon it and see how long that which was built lasts. On the other hand, try finding shelter from the cold and the rain standing on a foundation without much built upon it. Paul says of this walk with Jesus, “For I am confident of this very thing, that He who began a good work in you will perfect it until the day of Christ Jesus” (Phil 1:6-7). God began a good work in us through the Logos, and will continue to perfect that walk by personal interaction via the Rhema planted firmly in that Logos.
The Logos and the Rhema are there to bring us from one point of the process to the next, without ever dismissing where we came from. The foundation must always stand, but at the same time the construction of that which is personal and new in our lives must never end. The truth is this: as followers of Christ we must be as much witnesses to the process as historians to the revealed.