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Interview with Dallas Willard

Video from Corbyn Tyson

"Had the privilege of being able to spend the day with Dallas Willard and John Ortberg as they chatted about spiritual formation." from video introduction.

"My name is Dallas Willard and my work is to teach the teachings of Christ. Then to live if you want to change whether it's stopping smoking or saving money or losing weight or whatever you had to be specific and you have to take specific steps towards the end and there's almost nothing that cannot be changed especially in the area of grace if you just be specific and learn as you go and then you can do but we don't have that teaching unfortunately and maybe we will. Now that we have Mon V on the job we have cultivated an understanding of the devotional life which leaves life out of it right so we have a devotional life but we don't have a life of devotion, we have a prayer life not much but a little one but what we need is a praying life and that's where real spiritual growth because it puts us in touch with reality. And when Jesus said if you continue in my word you're my disciples and did he meant you putting it into practice now. Think of your church as a place where that's what's going on his people are learning how to put into practice the things that Jesus said once you do that then of course you're talking about whole life because you're not going to just do that on Sunday. Sunday will be sort of where you come back together with those who love you and you encourage one another teach one another help one another and to form a community of love like that as a as a group of disciples it's what you need in the way of a church and then of course in that context you need teaching and preaching and arranging for things and taking some of the teachings of Jesus for example and say now we're going to devote six weeks to learning this who wants to go with us well spiritual growth doesn't respond well to guilt period. What we have learned to do is to try to motivate people by guilt but guilt is not constructive because it is always something that has a negative impact on the individual so what they come out knowing is I ought to do this I ought to do that I ought to do the other but it doesn't help them find out how and a major part of that is is finding out why it's a good thing to do these things.

And once you understand that like most people understand for example why it's a good thing to share with your friends and neighbors where a good deal in stocks or refrigerators or things of that sort they don't have a problem with this and it's because they see this as an act of friendship and love and so for something like witnessing where there's huge guilt over this the real problem, is to know why it's a good thing and as Senator Gaston said many centuries ago we want to want people to know because we love them and now once you understand that then you've got a positive motivation.

The same way we're giving I'm giving us a primary step in life in the kingdom of God but most people don't know that they don't understand that it is participating in what God is doing for good in their surroundings not Church but not just Church and for that matter why is it good for the church, I mean that then gets you into the positive issue of what is the value of their being a church as we use that language well primarily it is to form a community of love where all the bad habits that we gain in the world apart from God are broken and we are convinced that we can trust love and that's one reason why our churches don't always run smoothly so we can find out that you can and you don't have to fall back into all the devices. That we have when we are running through the bushes of wild on our own trying to make a life like King so that that's basically what it's for and the effect of that is to make disciples and to grow disciples and this is where the good teaching needs to come in and that will help people get past all these guilt points and do things in an appropriate way because they're good to do. Conviction of sin is not just guilt it is a kind of vision of change and I think confession really is important in it because confession is is very like the point at which you abandon yourself to God and when you study the history of revivals and the lives of people you see it plays a huge role but it isn't just guilt. It isn't sin so I'm worthless or I'm terrible or something of that sort it's it's there's a different world and repentance is the proclamation of that for yourself and you enter into it and then there is a different world and that's where the side of spirituality takes over is when that begins to move in you after you have abandoned yourself to go on then I think that's always a matter of degree I think like when I was nine years old line I abandoned myself to God but I didn't know much and then as I grew then I made choices many of them wrong and so I I had to learn more about abandonment. To go on yeah and I think that when you come into ministry especially as a Christian I don't just mean preachers like you and me but you you now see your life as a ministry then you're going to come to know more and more about what it is to be abandoned to God so the presence of God to me is something that is to be counted on and expected then so when I'm preaching or teaching or writing or whatever that's what I'm counting on and it seems like simply put it works but it's not something that I just talked about it is real presence and I can see it and know it working well redemption means to buy us back from the position we have fallen to in rejecting the simpler the supremacy of God in our lives, and so the total process is one of restoring us to God's intention for us in creation and that basically is that under him we should live as people who are creative all good under him by his power actually that's why we don't want to be cut off from him and the way that redemption takes place is through God coming to us in history and above all of course in the incarnation of his son Jesus Christ.

So the full story of redemption is the story of incarnation and in the process of incarnation there are many things that Jesus does one is he establishes his place in ordinary human history by being born and raised and living as a businessman or an independent contractor, if you wish and then as a rabbi a teacher and find me by his death on the cross and his resurrection beyond death all of that goes into redemption, as Paul says in first Corinthians 15 if Christ be not risen you are your faith is in vain you are still in your sins, you see that's the whole picture of Jesus now coming into history dying on our behalf in our place he did that and then rising again and allowing us to live resurrection life by our relationship to him and that's more or less the full story on Redemption the Bible doesn't begin in Genesis 3 the fall of man is not the beginning of history begin us with the story of God to speak generally God deciding to make human beings that's Genesis 1:26 and of course he's done a great deal before that now so you have to start with creation if you're going to make sense of redemption because it is creation as expressed in Genesis 1:26 let us make man in our image or likeness and let him have responsibility and the first thing you're given responsibility over his fish of all things get creeping things and all sorts of deaths but see that's human beings have lived on the back of animals ever since they got here and so that's natural and by the time you get to solid you've moved up to domesticated animals you start with sheep they are not fish what would you start with today well most people haven't had that haven't actually seen a sheep for a long time so the question is what are we responsible for and that is what we are called to do is to be responsible for the earth under God and of course that moves right into living under God because we never expected to do that on our own and it was mistrust of God that caused our problems now then we can come to Genesis 3 Dominion primarily means governance it means to have in other words a kingdom and every human person has a kingdom and to be responsible to it they have to live under God and the great temptation is to step out of that and have a kingdom of your own and so the great threat to God's kingdom in my life is making them and of course everyone else has one of theirs and that's where the terrible story of human life steps forward all of the suffering and failure the horrible thing is that you can hardly stand to think out that go on all the time around the world it's because of individuals hoping to get what they want and putting that a supreme instead of subjecting their kingdoms to God's kingdom but Dominion is built into the human being it is it can be eradicated and it's not bad except when it is not under God and then when it's not under God it's an unsolvable problem and the issue of who will have dominion comes deadly breaks out in wars international relations politically enforced famines broken homes children with no ones take care of them all these terrible things come out of human Dominion apart from God and we have to understand that as responsibilities for good under God and then we've got Dominion right well Jesus's message was repent for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand and how it changes you is you learn to trust Jesus Christ and live in his kingdom and that means to bring your whole life and everything you do into a position of dependence on him and of course the issue of forgiveness of sins has to be dealt with and that's taken care of by him are in his life and his death and his resurrection that's the whole story because they're the the real test of your understanding of redemption is what does it have to do with life not just what does it have to do with death but life and the picture of the New Testament is that salvation is eternal life and that's not something that starts after you die this eternity has been running for quite some time and though we get to take our life into it's a learning process occurs as are disciples of Jesus we learn more and more how to do that see if the death of Christ were the only thing involved in atonement that could have been taken care of in the Garden of Eden Christ could have died on the spot but he didn't and a long and painful process of history was necessary before he came in the fullness of time he came and what he did was time to the fullness of time in God's plan of human history and the eternity so that's what we have to see to understand and it will help us to remember that Jesus is the redemption my relationship to him is what redeems us that's one of faith and trust for life as a whole." Transcript


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