Your Personal Relationship with God Matters — Dallas Willard

Your Personal Relationship with God Matters

When people ask, “Why are you hopeful in the midst of this world, with all of the suffering and evil that goes on and all of the things that are happening to you?” they don’t want to hear merely about a great God. They don’t want to hear merely about redemptive history, an infallible book, or a covenant people who are a constant testimony to the real hand of God in history. They want to know what’s happening to you, what’s going on in your life. You are saying, “He is my fortress, he is my deliverer.” So they’re going to want to know when the last time he delivered you was. What does deliverance mean? How does this really work? Sharing the good news is often about sharing the personal good news of your life in Christ and not the abstract and generalized good news. They want to hear about your personal relationship to this personal God, who is the foundation of all of reality.

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.

Your Life Comes From the Kingdom of Heaven — Dallas Willard

Your life comes from the kingdom of Heaven

But we get a totally different picture of salvation, faith, and forgiveness if we regard having life from the kingdom of the heavens now—the eternal kind of life—as the target. The words and acts of Jesus naturally suggest that this is indeed salvation, with discipleship, forgiveness, and heaven to come as natural parts. And in this, he only continues the teachings of the Old Testament. The entire biblical tradition from beginning to end is one of the intimate involvement of God in human life—or else alienation from it. That is the biblical alternative for life now. “The crooked man is an abomination to the Lord,” as the proverb sums it up, “but He is intimate with the upright” (Prov. 3:32 NAS).

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

Being With Jesus — Dallas Willard

Being with Jesus

“But if I am to be someone’s apprentice, there is one absolutely essential condition. I must be with that person. This is true of the student-teacher relationship in all generality. And it is precisely what it meant to follow Jesus when he was here in human form. To follow him meant, in the first place, to be with him.

If I am Jesus’ disciple that means I am with him to learn from him how to be like him. To take cases from ordinary life, a child learning to multiply and divide numbers is an apprentice to its teacher. Children are with their teachers, learning from them how to be like them in a certain respect—similarly for a student of the piano or voice, of the Spanish language, of tennis, and so forth. The “being-with,” by watching and by hearing, is an absolute necessity. . . .

God can, of course, make himself present to the human mind in any way he chooses. But—for good reasons rooted deeply in the nature of the person and of personal relationships—his preferred way is to speak, to communicate: thus the absolute centrality of scripture to our discipleship. And this, among other things, is the reason why an extensive use of solitude and silence is so basic for growth of the human spirit, for they form an appropriate context for listening and speaking to God.”

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

In Spiritual Growth, Where There is a Will, There is a Way — 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.

Being in the World is All Right — Dallas Willard

Being in the World

Being in the world is not a bad thing; it’s a good thing. The world is—in the end—God’s creation. The world is the place where God has appointed you to live. Your birth and life to this point haven’t taken God by surprise. God has prepared this time and this place for you. We find this place prepared through our family, through our country, and through our education. You have been prepared to rule for good. That’s the purpose for which God made you.

“‘Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the animals, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.'” (Gen. 1:26)

God made you similar to Him and made you to rule over all the earth. This is a command that extends throughout Scripture, beginning in Genesis and continuing into eternity. This is the place you have in God’s order—to be the person He intended you to be—forever.

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

We Need to Practice Christlikeness ALL the Time — Dallas Willard

We Need to Practice Christlikeness All the Time

Asking ourselves “What would Jesus do?” when suddenly in the face of an important situation simply is not an adequate discipline or preparation to enable one to live as He lived. It in no doubt will do some good and is certainly better than nothing at all, but that act alone is not sufficient to see us boldly and confidently through a crisis, and we could easily find ourselves driven to despair over the powerless tension it will put us through.

The secret of the easy yoke, then, is to learn from Christ how to live our total lives, how to invest all our time and our energies of mind and body as He did. We must learn how to follow His preparations, the disciplines for life in God’s rule that enabled Him to receive his Father’s constant and effective support while doing His will. We have to discover how to enter into His disciplines from where we stand today – and no doubt, how to extend and amplify them to suit our needy cases.

From The Spirit of the Disciplines: Understanding How God Changes Lives. Copyright © 1988 by Dallas Willard. All rights reserved. Used with permission of HarperCollins Publishers.

Spiritual Growth — Dallas Willard

Spiritual Growth

While the initiative in the revival and reformation of the soul originally comes from what lies beyond us, we are never merely passive at any point in the process. This is clear from the biblical imperatives to repent and to believe, and—for the person with new life already in them—to put off the old person and put on the new, to work out the salvation that is given to us, etc., etc. It is certainly true, as Jesus said to his friends, “apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5). But it is equally true for them that “If you do nothing, it will be without me.” In the process of spiritual reformation under grace, passivity does not exclude activity and activity does not exclude passivity.

Hence, the invasion of the personality by life from above does not by itself form the personality in the likeness of Christ. It does not of itself restore the soul into the wholeness intended for it in its creation. It does not alone bring one to the point where “the things I would, that I do, and the things I would not, I do not,” where “sin will have no dominion over you” (Romans 6:14). Rather, I must learn and accept the responsibility of moving with God in transformation of my own personality. Intelligent and steady implementation of plans for change are required if I am to lose the incoherence of the broken soul and take on the easy obedience and fulfillment of the person who lives ever more fully within the Kingdom of God and the friendship of Jesus.

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.

Conducting Business in a Good Way is a Good Way to Share God’s Love — Dallas Willard

Doing “good” business is a way to share God’s love

The fact that religious leaders often resist the idea that the entire business arena as a place of divine action is testament to the lack of a holistic perspective regarding the type and nature of “good things” (blessings) God is working in and through our lives. In such circumstances local businesspeople may be farther ahead in the ways of the kingdom than those leading a local church. Business is an amazingly effective means of delivering God’s love to the world by loving, serving, and providing for one another. God loves the world (John 3:16), and because he does, he has arranged the enterprise and organization of business as a primary moving force to demonstrate this love throughout human history. Thus, the field of business and its unique knowledge fall perfectly into what can and should be understood as an essential realm of human activity that can and must come under the influence and control of God’s benevolent reign.

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.

Spiritual Formation is a Lifelong Process — Dallas Willard

Spiritual formation is a lifelong process

Spirituality and spiritual formation are whole life matters. A “spiritual life” for the human being consists in that range of activities in which, being brought to spiritual birth by God’s initiative through the Word, he or she cooperatively interacts with God and with the spiritual order (“kingdom”) deriving from God’s personality and action. The result is a new overall quality of human existence with corresponding new powers. A person is a “spiritual person” to the degree that his or her life is effectively integrated into and dominated by God’s Kingdom or rule. For the “babe in Christ,” much of their embodied and concretely socialized personality is not under the direction of God, and the reintegration of their whole life under God is not yet achieved.

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.

Having a Faith to Build Your Life On — Dallas Willard

Faith to Build Your Life On

We don’t have to look very far into our own thinking and living to see the effects of either being sure of God or not being sure of God. I believe that scripture always presents real faith as something that is based on knowledge as well as something that goes beyond anything you could know, and involves a commitment to God and his kingdom. Those two things, knowledge and commitment, are not exclusive of one another; rather, they are related. If we do not have a knowledge of God at the foundation of our commitment, that commitment simply will not hold up. It will waver; it will not govern our lives. It will be like pulling a chair away from someone in the act of sitting down. We will not be able to hold on to our belief as God intends, by the action of his Spirit on our hearts and our minds.

Knowledge and faith are intended to go together. For example, when you read Hebrews 11, the great chapter on faith, you will see faith equated with a vision of reality. We are told that Moses endured as one who sees the invisible. Faith is not a mere thought that something is true or the hope or resolve to believe it is. As Martin Luther said in the preface to his commentary on Romans:

Faith is a living, well-founded confidence in the grace of God, so perfectly certain that it would die a thousand times rather than surrender its conviction. Such confidence and personal knowledge of divine grace makes its possessor joyful, bold, and full of warm affection toward God and all created things—all of which the Holy Spirit works in faith. Hence, such a man becomes without constraint willing and eager to do good to everyone, to serve everyone, to suffer all manner of ills, in order to please and to glorify God, who has shown toward him such grace. It is thus impossible to separate works from faith—yea, just as impossible as to separate burning and shining from fire.”

So when we contrast faith and sight, we always have to be sure that we qualify it, so that we understand what kind of sight we are talking about. And that kind of sight—the vision of the Self-subsistent Being without which all of the universe as we know it would simply fold up and disappear—that knowledge, that faith, that vision is the rock upon which we can build our lives.

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.