The Mystery of the Will of God
Wednesday, May 5, 2021
Pastor Troy Brewer, OpenDoor Church, Burleson, TX
The revelation and mysterious will of God:
The two Greek words are boule and thelema.
Kenneth Wuest distinguishes “boule” from “thelema” noting that “boule is a desire based upon
the reason, but thelema is a desire based upon the emotions. God’s will or desire here
(Ephesians 1:9, 11), comes from His heart of love.”
His will according to strategy and His will according to His heart
The Meaning of Boule
The term boule has its roots in an ancient verb which meant a “rational and conscious desire,”
as opposed to thelema, meaning “an impulsive or unconscious desire.” The ancient subtle
distinction was between rational desire and impulsive desire. As the Greek language developed,
however, this distinction was softened, and eventually the words became used at times as
synonyms, with authors switching from one to the other for purposes of stylistic change.
In the New Testament the use of boule usually refers to a plan based upon careful deliberation
and is most often used with respect to the counsel of God. Boule frequently indicates God’s
providential plan, which is predetermined and inflexible. Luke is fond of using it this way, as we
read in the book of Acts:
“This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan (determinate counsel KJV determined
purpose NKJV “boule”) and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of
Strategy and prophesy: the the way it ultimately has to be.
Here the resolute decree of God is in view, which no human action can set aside. God’s plan is
impregnable; his “will” is unalterable.
“My Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me; nevertheless, not as I will, but as you
What does the will of God refer to in this verse? It refers to the sovereign plan of God that will
happen in the coming hours. You recall how Acts 4:27–28 says this: “Truly in this city there were
gathered together against your holy servant Jesus, whom you anointed, both Herod and Pontius
Pilate, along with the Gentiles and the peoples of Israel, to do whatever your hand and your
plan had predestined to take place.” So the “will of God” was that Jesus die. This was his plan,
his decree. There was no changing it. Jesus bowed and said, “Here’s my request, but you do
what is best to do.” That’s the sovereign will of God.
The will of God is God’s sovereign governance of all that comes to pass.
Now the other meaning for “the will of God” in the Bible is what we can call his “will of
command.” His will is what he commands us to do. This is the will of God we can disobey and
fail to do. The will of decree we do whether we believe in it or not. The will of command we can
fail to do. For example, Jesus said,
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who
does the will of my Father who is in heaven.”
Therefore do not be unwise, but understand what the will of the Lord is.
God’s Will of Decree or “Sovereign Will”
Not all do the will of his Father. He says so. “Not everyone will enter the kingdom of heaven.”
Why? Because not all do the will of God.
The word “thelema” is rich in its diversity of meanings. It refers to what is agreeable, what is
desired, what is intended, what is chosen, or what is commanded. Here we have the notions of
consent, desire, purpose, resolution, and command. The force of the various meanings is
determined by the context in which thelema appears.
2307 thélēma (from 2309 /thélō, “to desire, wish”) – properly, a desire (wish), often referring
to God’s “preferred-will,” i.e. His “best-offer” to people which can be accepted or rejected.
[Note the -ma suffix, focusing on the result hoped for with the particular desire
(wish). 2307 (thélēma) is nearly always used of God, referring to His preferred-will. Occasionally
it is used of man (cf. Lk 23:25; Jn 1:13.]
W E Vine – Man is able to resist the will, the thelema, of God, but whatever takes place God’s
determinate counsel, boulema, is never prevented from fulfillment. Thelema, when used of God,
signifies a gracious design (cp. Ro 2:18; 12:2; 15:32); the similar word boulema denotes a
determined resolve (see Ro 9:19). To do the will of God, then, is to yield ourselves to the
accomplishment of His designs for us by obeying Him in all that He has revealed to faith, cp. Ro
1:17; He 11:3. But since neither the desire, nor the power, to do the will of God, dwells naturally
in the believer, God works in Him “both to will and to work of His good pleasure,” Php 2:13,
cp. He 13:21 and 1Co 12:6. This, however, does not relieve the believer of his responsibility, for
he is to “understand what the will of the Lord is,” Ep 5:17, and understanding it, he is to do it
from the heart, Ep 6:6. (Vine, W. Collected writings of W. E. Vine. Nashville: Thomas Nelson)
…and do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that
you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect
May Prove – Wouldn’t it be nice to prove what God’s will is for you? Isn’t that what we all need
to know? Paul seems to suggest that the transformation process leads directly to proving God’s
will. That should spur us on to look at the deepest possible meaning here. But what we find
isn’t exactly what we expected.
Paul has a unique approach to Greek. He often constructs his own way of saying things. If we
aren’t aware of the subtleties of his use of the language, we miss out on the deeper meanings.
This translation is a prime example. The Greek is eis to dokimazein. This combination of Greek
words is translated “may prove,” but that isn’t quite right. You see, Paul uses the
construction eis to plus a verb infinite in a special way. Forty-three times Paul applies this
combination to indicate purpose. So, what Paul is really saying is this: “renew your mind with
the purpose that you prove what God’s will is.” Renewal has a goal. That goal is wrapped up in
the verb dokimazo.
What does this verb mean? Well, it’s not about offering proof. It’s about discerning, trying and
distinguishing. It is to examine (and therefore prove) by some method. Now we see that Paul is
not suggesting that renewal of your mind will give you divine insight into God’s perfect plan for
your life. What Paul says is that as a result of renewal, your transformed life will act as the
testing ground for God’s will. You will be the proof. The purpose of the will of God will be
demonstrated in you. The goal is not for me to get the inside scoop on what God is doing. The
goal is that I am the vehicle that proves what the will of God is.
Does this discourage you? Did you think that if you could just get the right frame of mind you
would suddenly have your life’s plan all mapped out for you? Do you see that thinking like this
is out of character with God? God never shows the cards before it is necessary. Why? The
answer might be that if He ever did show us His full plan, we would crumble. Imagine how Paul
felt when Ananias came to him to tell him “all that he must suffer” for Yeshua. Only a few of us
could take that kind of announcement. God graciously hides the truth until we are ready to
receive it. Furthermore, our preoccupation with knowing the future is idolatry. It denies the
sovereignty of God and blocks our practice of dependence. Since God wants us to have
constant communication with Him as Father, you can be assured that He will not reveal what
you don’t need to deal with now. He is training us to rely on Him, not to get tomorrow’s news
today. We read this verse as a secret door to the future because we want to be self-reliant and
independent even in the midst of a relationship with God. It’s time to see what it really says.
God’s will is showing itself in you. How? By the renewal of your mind. By submitting to Him in
every facet of your life. That includes your plans for tomorrow. When you take on God’s
perspective, you become the proof of God’s will. That is a moment-by-moment trust in His
reliability. “Give us this day our daily bread” is enough for the renewed person. Is it enough for
That ye may prove – Εις το δοκιμαζειν, That ye may have practical proof and experimental
knowledge of, the will of God – of his purpose and determination, which is good in itself; infinitely
so. Acceptable, ευαρεστον, well pleasing to and well received by every mind that is renewed
“so that you may prove (dokimazein—prove, test) what is the good, well-pleasing (euareston—
well-pleasing), and perfect will of God “ (v. 2c). The renewing of our minds enables us to
“discern the will of God” (v. 2). The world is full of people who assume that God’s will mirrors
their own—people who try to force God into the mold of their own thinking. Republicans and
Democrats alike assume that God endorses their respective party platforms. Denominations
often assume that their particular slice of the church has discovered truths that make them
superior to other Christians. But these are examples of the ways that we allow this age (aioni) to
shape our thinking. If we are to discern God’s will, it will not be by trying to remake God in our
own image—by having God conform to our prejudices—but by allowing the Spirit to renew our
thinking—by becoming putty in God’s hands, so to speak—by allowing God to shape our
thinking and our lives.
Definition of the word WILL in Romans 12:2
what one wishes or has determined shall be done
of the purpose of God to bless mankind through Christ
of what God wishes to be done by us
will, choice, inclination, desire, pleasure
…having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He
purposed in Himself
There have been many things said about God’s will, and especially about God’s will for “my life”
but I think we have missed something in our quest to find “God’s will for me” or “my life”. The will
of God is God’s will, not mine. The will of God is what God Himself desires. Did you know that
God desires something? There is something that God has desired from before the beginning of
creation, this will and desire is actually the purpose of all eternity and all created things, and it is
well pleasing to God, it is: “His good-pleasure”. God’s will, the desire of His heart is the source
of His good-pleasure and His purpose for creating all that has come into existence. All of this,
God’s will, good-pleasure, and purpose have been hidden in God Himself, UNTIL He made it
known to us, and that is what this verse is saying!
“IN WHOM ALSO WE HAVE OBTAINED AN INHERITANCE, BEING PREDESTINATED
ACCORDING TO THE PURPOSE OF HIM WHO WORKETH ALL THINGS AFTER THE
COUNSEL OF HIS OWN WILL.”
Here the statement is made that God has made known “THE MYSTERY OF HIS WILL,” His
purpose. Note Ephesians 3:11, “GOD’S ETERNAL PURPOSE.” Then God’s will in His eternal
purpose should no longer be a mystery, that is, a secret. If God has made known His precious,
glorious secret, which He purposed for us in Christ before the foundation of the world, why
should any child of God be ignorant concerning the mystery of God’s will?
A “mystery” in the New Testament is something that had at one time been hidden but is now
revealed to God’s people. Jesus spoke of “the mystery of the kingdom of God” (Mark 4:11,
NAS) that He was at that point revealing to His disciples. The apostle Paul used the
word mystery 21 times in his Epistles. In each case, the “mystery” involved a wonderful
declaration of spiritual truth, revealed by God through divine inspiration. A mystery is that “which
was not made known to people in other generations as it has now been revealed by the Spirit to
God’s holy apostles and prophets” (Ephesians 3:5).
The mystery of God’s will is that “which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the
times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ”
(Ephesians 1:9–10; cf. 1 Corinthians 2:7; Revelation 2:7). The mystery of God is the
consummation of God’s plan in bringing His kingdom in Christ to fulfillment. The kingdom had
long been prophesied, but the how and the when and the by whom was not clear until the time
of Christ. It is in Christ that God has been manifested to all of mankind. As Jesus said, “Anyone
who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Colossians 1:9 (NIV)
We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and
understanding that the Spirit gives…
One of the clearest is the way Jesus spoke of the will of God in Gethsemane when he was
praying. He said, your will be done.
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