Every once in a while, I get to engage my inner Word Nerd and dig deeply into the WORD for one of these posts. But I have to admit, this one was a little overwhelming because it actually encompasses three words.
In the New Testament there are three distinct words used to refer to different aspect of the all-encompassing Will (of God):
Boule – plan or counsel, deliberate wisdom, the result of a deliberate determination (Strong’s Concordance G1012)
Thelema – heart’s desire, God’s preferred will (Strong’s Concordance G2307)
“Your kingdom come, Your will be done on earth as it is in Heaven.”
Oh, that His will would be done here on earth as it is in Heaven. Isn’t that the cry of all believers? Yet we wrestle with what exactly the will of God is for our lives.
What God wants us to know about His will, He revealed to us through His Word. Elements of all three translations of His will are woven throughout the Bible.
Prothesis and Boule
Both His prothesis and His boule cover those things which He planned before the dawn of time. Creation. The Israelites deliverance from Egypt and conquering of the Promised Land. The conquering of Jerusalem, the displacement of the remnant to Babylon, and the rebuilding of His holy city. Jesus’ birth, ministry, crucifixion, and resurrection that redeem us from sin and death. Jesus’ triumphant return, judgment of all people, and establishment of the eternal Kingdom of Heaven. This is also sometimes referred to as His providential or sovereign will.
“Who hath saved us, and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose (prothesis) and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before time began.”
2 Timothy 1:9
“This Man [Jesus] was handed over to you by God’s deliberate plan and foreknowledge (boule); and you with the help of wicked men, put him to death by nailing him to the cross.”
Both prothesis and boule deal with God’s what He has accomplished or will do regardless of earth’s circumstances or man’s contribution. Sometimes He uses people to accomplish His purposes, but we are not a necessary ingredient in His preordained recipe. But thelema refers to the way He wishes us to live.
The Greek word used in our key verse was thelema. In this passage Jesus is teaching His followers to pray The Lord’s Prayer. This encourages me because I see it as a way we can ask for God’s assistance in doing His will. The following verses explicitly speak of God’s heart’s desires, His preferred will (thelema), for the lives of all people.
Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father.
2. To Be Filled With The Spirit
Therefore, do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is. And do not be drunk with wine, which is dissipation, but be filled with the Spirit.
For this is the will of God, even your sanctification
1 Thessalonians 4:3
4. Giving Thanks
In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
I Thessalonians 5:18
5. Submit to Governing Authorities
Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme or to governors as sent by Him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people.
1 Peter 2:13-15
6. Suffering (for some)
For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that should be God’s will, than for doing evil.
1 Peter 3:17
The part we usually struggle with is that which is unknown, what God has not chosen to reveal to us. The things that are neither permitted nor prohibited. Questions that don’t necessarily have a right or wrong answer. Where to live. Who to marry. Take a job or leave a job. Adopt a child. Start a business or a establish a non-profit. Go into ministry. Discipline our children with spankings or time outs.
I believe that by gaining a better understanding of God’s revealed will, the answers to these daily decisions will become more clear. The more we understand God’s prothesis (purpose), boule (counsel), and thelma (heart’s desire) as He has chosen to reveal to us through His Word the more equipped we will be to make decisions that please Him. By reading and studying His word, with the help of the Holy Spirit, we will discover how to do His will on earth as it is in heaven. Of one thing we can be sure, His desire for our lives will never be in opposition to His Word.
The will of God will never violate the Word of God.
With all this in mind, I hope you’ll find encouragment in the fact that what God wants us to know about His will is in His Word. So, when we face difficult decisions or challenging circumstances, the first place we should turn is toward God both in prayer and His Word. We can trust His will -His purpose, His counsel, and His heart’s desire for our lives – in it’s entirety because God is omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent, gracious, and loving.
For more encouragement please join the discussions on these fabulous blog link ups – Suzanne Eller, Thought Provoking Thursday, Susan B. Mead, Faith Filled Friday, Grace and Truth, Faith and Fellowship Friday, Grace and Truth Friday, Good Morning Monday, Soul Survival, Monday Musings, Rah Rah Link Up, Tell His Story, Woman to Woman Wednesday, Women With Intention Wednesday, Sitting Among Friends, Testimony Tuesday, Planting Roots.