Spiritual Formation is When the Student Grows to Resemble the Master — Dallas Willard

The student resembles the master

Spiritual formation in Christ is the process through which disciples or apprentices of Jesus take on the qualities or characteristics of Christ himself, in every essential dimension of human personality. The overall orientation of their will, the kinds of thoughts and feelings that occupy them, the “automatic” inclinations and “readinesses” of their body in action, the prevailing posture of their relations toward others, and the harmonious wholeness of their soul—these all, through the formative processes undergone by his disciples, increasingly come to resemble the personal dimensions of their master. “A pupil is not above his teacher,” Jesus said, “but everyone, after he has been fully trained, will be like his teacher” (Luke 6:40).

From Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks. Copyright © 2016 by Willard Family Trust. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Becoming a Good Person — According to Dallas Willard

Becoming a good person

How do you become a really good person? You place your confidence in Jesus Christ and become his student or apprentice in kingdom living. That amounts to progressively entering into the abundance of life he brings to us. You learn from him how to live in the kingdom of God as he himself did. There is much to learn after you enter. To go through the door is not necessarily to live in the house. Our confidence that Jesus is “the One” leads us to go constantly to school with him, taking our whole life with us, and it is in so doing that love comes to pervade our life to such an extent that we are unmistakably his students. He said, “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (John 13:35). He can impose this challenge upon himself as teacher because he knows no one else can produce the human transformation he has in mind

From Knowing Christ Today: Why We Can Trust Spiritual Knowledge. Copyright © 2009 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Knowing About God — Dallas Willard

How is one to know about God?The question that lingers in the air within our communities and world at large is: How is one to know about God? This is why the proclamation of the gospel as the knowledge of God is absolutely fundamental, essential, and unequivocally necessary for the common well-being. The preaching and teaching of the Logos of God is to reveal the nature of God and his ways. Very simply, this is what the gospel consists of. The gospel is the good, true, and real news about God. In order for us to understand the entire gospel, we must also understand it in the fullness of God. Therefore reducing the gospel to certain doctrines pertaining to things like salvation, justification, atonement, or social/political activism, as important as these are, risks overlooking that these are subsidiary to the fullness of the nature and essence of God’s person. If we merely think of the gospel as the work of Jesus during a few moments on a cross during his earthly existence, we will miss the grand entirety of his mission on earth. Most crucially, we will miss the essence of God as he is in himself, including his Trinitarian relationality, and the ways in which he provides for all of those who are created by him. This is what Paul is attempting to bring across in Ephesians 4:17–24: “Now this I affirm and insist on in the Lord: you must no longer live as the Gentiles live, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance and hardness of heart. They have lost all sensitivity and have abandoned themselves to licentiousness, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. That is not the way you learned Christ! For surely you have heard about him and were taught in him, as truth is in Jesus. You were taught to put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to clothe yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.”

From The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth. Copyright © 2014 by Dallas Willard amd Gary Black Jr. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

We Must Focus Our Minds on God — Dallas Willard

Focus your mind on God

If we do not use our ability to turn our minds and thoughts toward God, we do not have contact with God. Undoubtedly God could move into the human realm and invade the mind. If God did act in such a way, what are the chances the receiver would properly interpret such an encounter, if there is no knowledge of God at all? Therefore, what human beings can and must do is progress to the point where we consciously, intentionally focus our minds on God. The minister of the gospel is tasked with the very special and essential calling of directing and illuminating our minds toward the reality of God and his ways.

From The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth. Copyright © 2014 by Dallas Willard amd Gary Black Jr. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Seeking to Better Receive God’s Grace from Dallas Willard

Seeking what cannot be earned

We must stop using the fact that we cannot earn grace (whether for justification or for sanctification) as an excuse for not energetically seeking to receive grace. Having been found by God, we then become seekers of ever-fuller life in him. Grace is opposed to earning, but not to effort. The realities of Christian spiritual formation are that we will not be transformed “into his likeness” by more information, or by infusions, inspirations, or ministrations alone. Though all of these have an important place, they never suffice, and reliance upon them alone explains the now-common failure of committed Christians to rise much above a certain level of decency.

From The Great Omission: Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship. Copyright © 2006 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

The Importance of the Book of Psalms According to Dallas Willard

The power of the Book of Psalms

Still today the Old Testament Book of Psalms gives great power for faith and life. This is simply because it preserves a conceptually rich language about God and our relationships to Him. If you bury yourself in Psalms, you emerge knowing God and understanding life.

And that is by no means a matter, as some suggest, of the “poetic effect” of the great language. No mere emotional lift is involved. What makes the language great and provides the emotional lift is chiefly its picture of God and of life. We learn from the Psalms how to think and act in reference to God. We drink in God and God’s world from them. They provide a vocabulary for living Godward, one inspired by God Himself. They show us who God is, and that expands and lifts and directs our minds and hearts.

From The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. Copyright © 1997 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Trusting God — Dallas Willard

What does it take to trust God?

If you want to know whether you truly believe in God, you have to ask yourself what you really trust. This includes when you get up in the morning, when you deal with problems in your family, and when you deal with your business or your church. Many folks who profess to believe in God, act from disbelief. They may believe that Jesus died for their sins and when they die they will go where he is, but as far as an operational belief in God here and now, they don’t have one. This is partly due to the way we’re educated in our society and in our world and partly due simply to the massive presence of natural reality. Psalm 42:10 expresses something of the despair of the individual who is crying out for God, and God does not appear. You’ll remember those words: “As with a deadly wound in my body, my adversaries taunt me, while they say to me continually, ‘Where is your God?’ ” The massive presence of the physical, natural world seems to stand between us and God. We have to deal with all those physical things and processes that are all around us, and we are tempted to deal with them as if it were merely a matter of our own strength. I want to tell you that it is not an easy thing to count on God. It’s easy for us to print on our money, “In God We Trust,” but what do you believe that means for us as a nation? What does it mean to trust God? Do you think our nation really does trust God? How many people do you meet in a day who really trust God? In the decision processes at work or at home, in your neighborhood, in the quietness of your own room, are you able to really trust God?

From The Allure of Gentleness: Defending the Faith in the Manner of Jesus. Copyright © 2015 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Kingdom Living from Dallas Willard

Faith in God is Returned in Faith

God nevertheless pursues us redemptively and invites us individually, every last one of us, to be faithful to Him in the little we truly “have say over.” There, at every moment, we live in the interface between our lives and God’s kingdom among us. If we are faithful to him here, we learn his cooperative faithfulness to us in turn. We discover the effectiveness of His rule with us precisely in the details of day-to-day existence.

From The Divine Conspiracy: Rediscovering Our Hidden Life in God. Copyright © 1997 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Dallas Willard Answers the Question: What is Joy?

What is Joy?

Joy is a positive outlook of hopefulness based upon a pervasive, overall sense of well-being. Joy, like love, has a “feeling” component that is pleasant. Yet joy, like love, is not a feeling. Joy maintains a positive posture in life that assumes that good will be supported and eventually triumph over any apparent obstacle. Therefore, joy is fully compatible with the experiences of pain, disappointment, or sorrow, because joyfulness always takes a wider view of circumstances and works with hope to expect good to prevail. Joy enables patience, faithfulness to commitments, and the all-important ability to defer instant gratification. Joy gives one the ability to say no, or perhaps a very firm “not yet,” to the immediacy of desire. Both responses are evidence of joy’s ability to overcome the tyranny of the urgent, since one is joyful with the present state of affairs, whatever that may be. The bearing of joy on the good life should be obvious. It is indispensable to steady contentment and perseverance in any task. Joy liberates from the demand or temptation of immediate satisfaction, which resists waiting for what is good or best. Accordingly, joy is the best platform from which to make any sound investment.

From The Divine Conspiracy Continued: Fulfilling God’s Kingdom on Earth. Copyright © 2014 by Dallas Willard amd Gary Black Jr. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Kingdom Living with Dallas Willard

Where there is a will, there is a way

In the spiritual life it is actually true that “where there is a will there is a way.” This is true because God is involved and makes his help available to those who seek it. On the other hand, where there is no will (firm intentions based on clear vision) there is no way. People who do not intend to be inwardly transformed, so that obedience to Christ “comes naturally,” will not be transformed. God will not pick us up and throw us into transformed kingdom living, into “holiness,” against our will.

From Renewing the Christian Mind: Essays, Interviews, and Talks. Copyright © 2016 by Willard Family Trust. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.