Dallas Willard

Archived Posts from this Category

Don’t Give Up So Easily

Posted by on 12 Feb 2011 | Tagged as: Christian Ministry, Church Fathers, Dallas Willard, Hearing God, J. Sidlow Baxter

open_doors_0001

Opportunities and Opposition

For a great door and effectual is opened unto me, and there are many adversaries.

1 Cor 16:9 KJV

God’s call may be an inward drawing, an internal prodding, or a wooing sense in one’s spirit. On occasion, God’s direction may come as an outward audible voice, which sounds much like our own human voice (1 Sam. 3: 1-21). Mostly, God speaks in our hearts as a thought that is much like our own reasoning. God’s thought appears to come out of nowhere and is not an idea we normally would have conceived. Dallas Willard calls this type of inward direction, “a God characteristic type of thought” (1 Kings 19: 12). God is not playing a cat and mouse game disappearing when we most need him. He is no trickster playing with our lives while we stumble around in the dark. The Lord will make his will known even if he has to repeat it continually.

God’s call may lead us to a season of difficulty and opposition from the enemy (Matt. 4:1). Trials do not indicate that we missed God or somehow lost our way. The very thing that God most desires to accomplish in us and through us, intimacy with him, is the very thing that the kingdom of darkness wants to oppose. We should not allow difficulties and discouragements to prevent us from obeying the call of God. If we obey and trust God’s call, the Lord will be glorified by our obedience and our faith will grow exponentially.

There are open doors in every life, doors to high achievement and wide usefulness and spiritual discovery. Many of us, in moods which we allow too often, look upon our circumstances in life as barriers to attainment; but in our moments of truer perception we discern that the imagined prison bars are in reality open doors of opportunity. Our circumstances only look like barriers because the inward eye by which we recognize spiritual values is diseased.

But there are never open doors without opposition. . . . There is an opportunity in every difficulty and difficulty in every opportunity. That is why so many blessings are missed, so many heights left unscaled, so many chapters of service left unwritten. Some of the finest foreign missionaries are those who never went! They heard the call, they felt the urge, they were keen to go, they saw the open door and would had gone through; but there were adversaries, obstacles, discouragements; there was hesitation; the vision faded; and the grand vocation was never fulfilled.

J. Sidlow Baxter, Awake my Heart: Daily Devotional Meditations for the Year (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Zondervan, 1960), 10.

It was precisely because the opportunities were so great that Paul had so many adversaries. The devil is always active when he risks losing his booty.

John Chrysostom cited in 1 & 2 Corinthians: Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, Ill.: InterVarsity Press, 1999), 186.

Hearing God for the New Year (Part One)

Posted by on 26 Dec 2009 | Tagged as: Dallas Willard, God's Love, Hearing God, Sanctification, Surrender

Hearing God

To him the gatekeeper opens. The sheep hear his voice, and he calls his own sheep by name and leads them out.

John 10:3

As believers, we enjoy the Blessed Trinity’s personal presence through the indwelling Holy Spirit. Therefore, we should experience an on-going conversation with God: speaking to God and being spoken to by his Spirit. The normal Christian life is God speaking, directing, and guiding us by his love and through his Spirit. In turn, we can respond in delight by honoring his leadership through obedience to his will. This process of being directed, guided, and led by the Holy Spirit in the affairs of everyday life is called hearing God (John 10:25-30).

Personal Presence

Dallas Willard affirms that as believers, we were meant to live in God’s presence and fellowship.

People are meant to live in an ongoing conversation with God, speaking and being spoken to by him. God’s visits to Adam and Eve in the garden, Enoch’s walks with God and the face-to-face conversations between Moses and Jehovah are all commonly regarded as highly exceptional moments in the religious history of humankind.

Aside from their obvious unique historical role, however, these moments are not meant to be exceptional at all. Rather they are examples of the normal human life God intended for us. God’s indwelling his people through personal presence and fellowship. Given who we are by basic nature, we live—really live—only through God’s regular speaking in our souls and thus ‘by every word that comes from the mouth of God’ (Deut. 8:3).

Dallas Willard, Hearing God Through the Year (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2004), 9.

Inward Call

God’s voice may be an inward drawing, an internal prodding, or a wooing sense in one’s spirit. On occasion, God’s direction may come as an outward audible voice, which sounds much like our own human voice (1 Sam. 3: 1-21). Mostly, God speaks in our hearts as a thought that is much like our own reasoning. God’s thought appears to come out of nowhere and is not an idea we normally would have conceived. Dallas Willard calls this type of inward direction, “a God characteristic type of thought” (1 Kings 19: 12). God is not playing a cat and mouse game disappearing when we most need him. He is no trickster playing with our lives while we stumble around in the dark. The Lord will make his will known even if he has to repeat it continually.

Sin’s Dullness

God’s guidance is restricted and hindered by unrepentant sin. Many believers do not hear God because they are unwilling to do God’s will. If God is silent, ask the Holy Spirit to reveal hidden sin.He will be faithful to convict us by exposing our sin, so that, we might find forgiveness and mercy. Continual disobedience hardens our hearts, thereby inhibiting God’s personal and direct guidance.

If we desire intimacy, we need to open our spirits to Christ’s Lordship expressing to God our willingness to change. God’s direction may be correcting, even rebuking, but his voice always contains the enabling grace to obey. If sin is not the reason for God’s silence, then move forward, knowing that God has promised to be with us (Matt 28:20, Heb.13:5). God especially works through our sanctified reasoning as we grow in maturity and Christlikeness. Remember, the voice of God will not lead us to be disobedient to his Word, the Bible (Psa. 119:105).

To be continued: “Hearing God for the New Year: Part Two” will be posted tomorrow.

Death by Discipleship

Posted by on 03 Sep 2009 | Tagged as: Dallas Willard, Discipleship, Early Church Father

A Follower, Lover, and Learner of Jesus

If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple. Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple. . . . So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.

Luke 14:26-27,33 (ESV)

Discipleship means to walk with Jesus where he walks, go with him wherever he goes, study the words that he says, obey the instructions he gives, imitating his life as he lived it–even if it means certain death. Discipleship requires that Jesus be given primary allegiance: full and wholehearted devotion with special focus on obedience to his commands is required (Matt. 16: 24-26). Discipleship is a result and consequence of a genuine and living faith in Jesus’ sinless life, his shed blood, and glorious resurrection.

I gave as an offering my all to Him Who had won me and saved me, my property, my fame, my health, my very words… In considering all these things, I preferred Christ. And the words of God were made sweet as honeycombs to me, and I cried after knowledge and lifted up my voice for wisdom. There was moreover the moderation of anger, the curbing of the tongue, the restraint of the eyes, the discipline of the belly, and the trampling under foot of the glory which clings to the earth.

St. Gregory of Nazianzus

Ambivalence in the life of a disciple toward Jesus’ lordship means no peace that passes all understanding, no full and complete experience of God’s unconditional love, no faith that trusts God’s eternal goodness, no hope in the midst of disappointing circumstances, no ability and power to do the right thing at the right time, and no strength to stand against Satan’s wiles and temptations (James 1:6-7). If he or she is double-minded, they will lack that abundance of life that Jesus spoke of and promised for every believer (John 10:10).

As a disciple of Jesus I am with him, by choice and by grace, learning from him how to live in the kingdom of God. This is the crucial idea. That means, we recall, how to live within the range of God’s effective will, his life flowing through mine. Another important way of putting this is to say that I am learning from Jesus to live my life if he were I. I am not necessarily learning to do everything that he did, but I am learning how to do everything that I do in the manner that he did all that he did.

Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 1997), 283.