Proverbs 3:5-6 "Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. (6)In all your ways acknowledge Him and He shall direct your paths."
For the past several days we have been featuring blogs that have to do with the will of God. We began by noting the necessary ingredients for knowing and following His will more effectively, namely: Word of God, Indwelling Holy Spirit, Living Obediently and Loving your fellow Christian. We have also explored the necessary distinctions of God's will that help us to better understand how God's excercises His desires and purposes in our lives. For instance, God has a Sovereign or ultimate will that includes unrevealed, revealed and permissive aspects. Having spelled out some of the Biblical foundations for better understanding the will of God, I want us to explore how God enables us as Christians to practically discern His will in everyday decisions.
Two helpful concepts: Logos and Rhema
We now come to the point where we ask about God's will for your life? How does one know it? Two words translated "word" in the New Testament, "Logos" and "Rhema", aid us in understanding how God's word in general in the scriptures is made specifially knowable and applicable in your life.1
To see how "logos" (God's general word) and "rhema" (God's word brought to you) function further, consider how we see Paul describing the preaching of the scriptures in the book of Romans. In Romans 9:6 Paul speaks of the "Word of God", the scriptures, having been delivered by God to the Jewish nation who failed to believe them. The term for "word" in 9:6 is the Greek word "logos", meaning the scriptures or God's word to all people. The Bible had not failed, rather the people had. When you come to Romans 10:8 and 10:17, Paul speaks also of the "word of God", however the term translated "word" is a different Greek word, the word "rhema". In those verses we see the Holy Spirit taking the objective "logos" or written word and bringing it to bear on the heart of the unbeliever so as to bring forth a response of saving faith. This pattern, which results in saving faith, comes to characterize for the remainder of the Christian walk how you and I know God's will from His word. When the Spirit accompanies the preaching of God's general word (logos), and I am able to see how that word specifically applies to me (rhema), I know what I know I need to do - and thus I have just heard God's will on a given matter. Even when God gives you an insight (a rhema) throughout the day, that came as a result of your prior meditation and reading of the scripture (that is, the logos). 2
1 The Old Testament illustrates these two ideas in Proverbs 22:17-18 states: "17Bow down thine ear, and hear the words of the wise, and apply thine heart unto my knowledge. 18For it is a pleasant thing if thou keep them within thee; they shall withal be fitted in thy lips." In these two verses we see two aspects of God's voice speaking to us from the scriptures: God's word in general, or logos (written word applicable to all people, at all places at all times) and God's specific word, or rhema (a specific insight from scripture that is applicable to a specific person, at a particular place at a particular time).
2 Remember, a true rhema never conflicts nor replaces the objective logos of the scriptures. When Jesus was speaking for to the disciples in Luke 24, He was giving them the Logos or general word of the law and prophets of things concerning Himself. By God's grace their eyes were opened, they heard what Jesus was saying and they were given a specific word (a rhema) that the one speaking to them was Christ. They saw that those words had immediate application to them.