In 1993 Dallas began teaching an intensive two-week residential course for Fuller Theological Seminary’s Doctor of Ministry program. His task was to teach about spiritual life in a systematic way so that its full connection to the work of the minister was clear. These sessions from 2012 are from Dallas’s last year of teaching the course before he died. Though a bulk of the course was usually centered on the nature and practice of disciplines, the beginning of the course dealt with more theological themes like the nature of spiritual reality and the end of the course dealt with topics in spirituality like vocational issues. [Editor’s Note: We know that the class was taped on other occasions and would be glad to find these recordings.]
Q: Would you be willing to talk a little bit more about over preparing and letting God speak?
……what it came down to me was, I found that I was trying to get people to come and hear me and I noticed that Jesus never did that. Actually, He spent a lot of time driving people off and that is what, as a young “would be” pastor of a Baptist church, I said, “I’m doing something wrong.” Now, obviously, there is a great difference between me and Jesus in other terms, but then I knew that there were people who also were not Jesus but they were speaking something that really, not necessarily got people to come, but lead them into very soul searching and life changing quests for a “kind of life” and so that threw me into some years of research. The research was mainly just reading the Bible. Now, I had read the Bible until it was “blue in the face,” but you know, what I found was that the theology you bring to the Bible will determine what you can find in the Bible. But I had been raised in an idea that somehow if it was from the Bible, it was fine, right? And I still think that if you came out of the Bible by a fair interpretation, you better not say it and so, that’s one reason why I proceed in the way I do and use so much of Scripture because I think that’s the way it’s supposed to be used and that if you use it that way, it has tremendous helpfulness for people. So, we can come back to this and I am willing to talk more about it though I don’t, I think there are more profound things we can spend on but my experience was I had to finally identify what Jesus taught. What was it Jesus taught? And, of course, the thing is it’s as obvious as the nose on my face and you ask any New Testament scholar, “What was Jesus’s message?” They don’t get it right but they will say something about “the Kingdom of the Heavens.” [3:13] The Kingdom of God—that was His message. Well, no, not really; it was some specific thing about the Kingdom of God that was His message and that was, “the Kingdom of God is now available to anyone who wants to live in it” and you will find famous New Testament scholars that even say things as dumb as, “Jesus brought the Kingdom of God to earth.” Well, you know, you wonder if they have ever read the Old Testament or things of that sort. The Kingdom of God doesn’t start; it’s as old as God. It is His Kingdom and He exercises it and He’s always exercised it and always will exercise it. So, you have to say something definite and you get this by—now, we are going to spend this coming session and probably all afternoon talking about these things. You have to look at what He said. What did He actually say? And, of course one reason why we have four gospels and a bunch of letters and so on is to help us get in different ways at what He was talking about. So, that was the big turn in my own experience and as a result of that, I began to see individuals change. That’s what I hadn’t seen. See, I was a Baptist and Baptists can’t get saved again and so what I discovered was that when I came down hard, the people who came forward to re-dedicate their lives were the best people in the congregation and so they would want to start over but I wasn’t saying anything to them that would help them. Right? So, re-dedication, in those contexts becomes a kind of ritual but it doesn’t advance people and I talked a little bit about this yesterday—revival, I found didn’t really change people—some people it changed, but it was more like a fever that passed and most people who were caught up in it, they didn’t change and I realized that I was thinking wrongly about the method of change in people’s lives and that what I was missing was discipleship and that I was missing discipleship because I was preaching a message that had no natural tendency to produce disciples. [6:05] So, now that’s why I in so far as there is “method in my madness” in our days together, we start out with spirituality and the spirit and then we move on now today to the gospel. What is the gospel? And then discipleship and then disciplines. That’s the structure of the whole thing, you know? [6:37]
OK, so now, I am on page sixteen of your notebook and we are now going to go at a snail’s pace over passages in the Bible primarily and try to get our minds around this issue of “What is the gospel that comes out of the understanding of Jesus and how He brings God to us and opens the doorway to life in the Kingdom of God?” [7:24]
So, now we’ve said the gospel is a spiritual reality. It is about a spiritual reality and that spiritual reality is the Kingdom of God. The Kingdom of God is the center of Jesus’ gospel. [7:47] A central verse as central as it can get is Matthew 4:17. Now, the wording here is exactly the same as the opening of Matthew 3, and that’s an interesting case because here you have someone who is giving a message—Matthew 3:1: In those days, John the Baptizer came preaching in the wilderness of Judea saying, “Repent for the Kingdom of the Heavens is at hand.” The Kingdom of the Heavens has drawn near; it is available. To say, it is “at hand” is to say that it is right here. It’s like if you didn’t know this building and I was taking you around, I might say at a certain point, “Turn, for the dining room is at hand.” Right? Turn, it’s right there and the Kingdom of the Heavens is right there—to anyone. Now, some people are a little further in their capacities than others and you will remember the lawyer that Jesus had this conversation with about what was the great law. Jesus said to him afterwards in Mark 12: “You are not far from the Kingdom of God.” So, there is a dimension of nearness but that’s in the person. It’s not in the realities; it’s in the person. “You are not far,” He said, “from the Kingdom. You’re not in but you are not far.” It’s important for us to recognize nuances like that because the people we deal with, they differ. Some of them internally are far from the Kingdom of God because they are wrapped up in their own Kingdom and you’ve got a few people who are wrapped up in Satan’s Kingdom—perhaps many—a very troubling point of view. But, this is John’s message now and Jesus lets John finish his course and verse 12 of Matthew 4, “When He heard that John had been taken into custody, He withdrew into Galilee; and leaving Nazareth, He came and settled in Capernaum” and all of that is very interesting in terms of His strategy for ministry. But verse 17 simply tells us, “From that time, Jesus began to preach and say, ‘repent, for the Kingdom of the Heavens.’ “ Now, this is not a trivial point that in nearly every case, you see that phrase in Matthew; it’s plural. “The Kingdom of the Heavens”—that’s really important because we today use the word Heaven to refer to something that is far away and usually a lot later and the Heavens for the Jewish people was right around your head—the first Heaven. There are three Heavens—the Heavens of the birds and the clouds—that’s the one that goes all the way to your socks. This is Heaven [and he gestures with his hand.] Then there was the Heaven of the stars? Usually thought of as the moon and above. Then there was the Heaven of the angels as it was called and that was God’s proper dwelling place though earth was His footstool and He stretches all the way through it all. Now, what’s the point? Not some narrow grammatical or historical point—the point is, “God is right here. He’s right here.” Now, the Jews supposedly knew that and that is why Jesus scolded Nicodemus for being supposedly a teacher in Israel and Nicodemus did not know about the birth from above. Yes, John?
Q: What is the difference between that and understanding the temple?
You know, that’s right and you study Solomon’s great prayer at the temple and you see, it’s stretching all the way down to Jerusalem and Jerusalem is said to be His footstool and Jesus revised that in the Sermon on the Mount-don’t swear by Jerusalem because it’s God’s footstool and so that’s just another illustration of the Jewish understanding that God is here.
Q: Was that here in Jerusalem or here in Rome?
They started, of course with Jerusalem and they had to have Jerusalem destroyed before they could find out that God was in Babylon so that’s a part of their learning and I want to show you some—actually, the talk about the “God of Heavens” does not emerge in the Scripture until the end of 1 Chronicles and to say that the God is the God of Heavens is precisely to free Him up from localization and say, “Wherever you are, it’s there—wherever you are.” [14:08] Whoever you are, which is a bigger one. It’s there. You can come and we have an old hymn, Whosoever Will May Come, right? That now is the message. But, you have this wonderful passage in Deuteronomy 33, verse 26: “There is none like the God of Jeshurun, who rides the Heavens to your help.” See, they experience God as coming through the air—the air that was around them. “And through the skies in His majesty. The eternal God is a dwelling place and underneath are the everlasting arms.” So, do you know, “What a fellowship, what a joy divine, leaning on the everlasting arms?” That’s where this comes from. That’s a teaching about where Heaven is from here. Now, Jesus has to get past the mis-teachings that the Kingdom of the Heavens is not available to everyone and so, this is a major part of His teaching is helping people come to understand that the Kingdom of the Heavens is not under the control of people and is not subject to the misunderstandings that human beings have about God that fits Him into their Kingdom. So, now this is a major part of what we have to learn from the gospels. And you have him preaching this message and then as I have listed here, Matthew 10:7-17 (and the further thing there you have 28-33; that I don’t know what that is.) It should be Luke 10:3-11, Luke 10:3-11 so I have listed there 4:17, 10:7-17 and then Luke 10:3-11. Sorry about the misprints. [16:48]
Now, what’s the deal with Matthew 10? Well, that is where He sends His people out after a period of preparation and what is it that they do? Well, they preach the same message. See verse 7 of Matthew 10: “And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The Kingdom of the heavens (it should be plural) is at hand.’ “At hand” there is used in many other passages in the scripture—like for example, in Philippians 4 where Paul says to the Philippians, “Let your gentleness and your moderation be known to all men; the Lord is at hand.” A little difference in the grammar but it is the same wording, “The Lord is at hand.” Now, that’s a crucial passage because now He is going to go on to teach about “Don’t be anxious for anything, but with prayer and thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God, the peace of God that passes understanding will guard your heart and mind and that wonderful passage in Philippians 4 where Paul is teaching out of prison and he knows that in prison the Lord is at hand.” Now, what did Jesus say? “I am with you always.” [18:25] And that carries over to the marvelous passage in Hebrews 13: “Let your lives be free of greed or covetousness. Be content with such things as you have, knowing that He hath said, ‘I will never leave you nor forsake you.’ So, we can boldly say, “The Lord is my helper. I will not be afraid of what men can do to me.” See how all that hangs together?
Now, Psalms 73; if you don’t know that, I better be sure and give you the right verse on this. Psalms 73 is a fascinating account of the Psalmist being, shall we say, “rather discouraged” and he is discouraged because he got into the flesh that is human abilities and he says, Well, God—this is the opening of Psalms 73, he says, “Well, God you are good to Israel to those who are pure in heart” and then you realize he is whistling as he is walking to the graveyard when he says that, because the next word is, “but as for me, my feet came close to stumbling. My step had almost slipped for I was envious of the arrogant.” He got out of the vision and got to looking around. Then there is a long tory here. You know this; you have probably preached it—about how the wicked do so well and verse 21, “when my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant. I was like a beast before Thee.” Like a dog watching a chess game. [Laughter] That’s, I mean, you now, the dog likes to be there but what does it know? “Nevertheless, I am continually with you.” In other words, I am hanging in there. I realize that you have taken ahold of my right hand and with thou council, thou wilt guide me and receive me unto glory.” Ok; he’s getting better. And now, the realization, “Who have I in heaven but thee and besides thee, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail but God is thee strength of my heart and my portion forever. Now, living with that, see, living with that and that’s why it is so important for us to understand that we are “spiritual beings living in God’s world by His grace and our choice” and then to recognize the terrible tragedy of thinking, “No, I will live in the material world.” See, here, the “two landscape deal” and the decision that is to be made, you see. “God is my strength for behold those who are far from you shall perish; and you have destroyed all of those who are unfaithful to thee.” Now, here is the great verse. “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good—the nearness of God is my Good.” Now, that is intended to be something that you consciously live in. [21:52] You know, it’s not a metaphysical doctrine that God of omnipresence, see? That, well, of course God’s here; He is everywhere. Right? No, this is a conscious realization of yourself living in companionship with God. Whatever! I love that phrase, “But as for me, the nearness of God is my good. I have made the Lord my God my refuge that I may tell all of thy works.”
So then you have this opposition, the opposition of Heaven and of men and I give you a reference here on page 17 to Matthew 21:25 and I believe that’s the passage that is where He is in a dog fight again with the Pharisees and He challenges them. The Baptism of John—was that of Heaven or of men? Did I get the right verse? OK. Now, of course, this is (as I say) a “dog fight” because they are trying to corner Him and beat him down and they are saying, “Where did you get your authority?” Now then you see his strategy with God of being baptized by John because everyone accepted John. It was from Heaven, not of men. John was a wild man that comes out of the brush and manifests of power and preaching that no one could question. Right? So now Jesus corners them and says, “You tell me—the Baptism of John, the authority of John, where did that come from? Now they know that if they say from Heaven, then Jesus is authorized. That’s what they were questioning. If they say from men, they better get ready to have the stones fly at them and so they just don’t answer but the opposition you see of Heaven or of men? Born from above or born of woman? See, those are contrasts and so then his teaching to seek first the rule or Kingdom of God so you are seeking Heaven when you seek that. You are seeking what is form above and then He has to get past the fact that the Father has been terribly misinterpreted and so he tries to encourage people to forget what they think they know about God and listen to what He has to say. [25:12]
Now, that is a word that has a power of life in it—the word of availability of life in the Kingdom of God. That is the word that the sower sows and if I had not myself been able, back to Brian’s question, If I had not been able to realize that the Word has the power in it so that I didn’t have to make things happen, I would have been out of this business 35 years ago, because I’ll tell you if you think you’ve got to make happen what’s supposed to happen, give up early and avoid the rush. We can’t do it. But here is the passage that saved me. This is Mark 4:26: And Jesus was saying, “The kingdom of God is like a man who casts seed upon the soil.” So now that’s you and me out here doing our job as ministers; we are casting seed upon the soul and he goes to bed at night, and ministers must remember to do that. [26:32] You know, Psalms 127, “it is vain to rise up early and stay up late and eat the bread of sorrow.” For goodness sakes, go to sleep. Rest. You are not building the house; the Lord is building the house. Psalms 127 is really profound for us to think about. We will probably have to come back to that as we go along. “He goes to bed at night and gets up by day; the seed sprouts up and grows. How he himself does not now.” Farmers don’t know how seed works. “The soil produces crops by itself; first the blade, then the head, then the mature grain in the head. And when the crop permits, he immediately puts in the sickle, because the harvest has come.” So, it’s a story about life and life being in the seed but now what is the seed? You see, if you don’t sow the seed of the Word, which Jesus gave us, you won’t get the crop that He intends and there will be both for us individually and for our work as ministers, as people who are attempting to serve the Lord in His work of redemption in the world. So, now we have to think about that, you see.
Then you go back and think about the other parts of the scripture. Finish this verse for me, “Pure religion and undefiled before the God and the Father is this—what? Can you finish it? Hmmmm? [Care for the widows and orphans and keep yourself unspotted from the world] Is that it? Finish this one. Titus 2:11, “the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared unto all men teaching us that—what? Keep going. [Live soberly, righteously and Godly……cannot hear but students are talking] Is that the gospel? How about 2 Corinthians 5:15? [Inaudible comment] Here we go—“and He died for all, that—they could go to Heaven when they die? If they believed that he suffered for their sins? How does that verse go? He died for all that they who live should not live for themselves. Now, you get a very different outcome depending on what you are preaching. OK? [30:24]
Now, if the message is, “Hey, you can now live in the Kingdom of God; you can live now in the Kingdom of the Heavens.” If that’s the message, well, a lot of different things follow including the ones in these verses I just referred to and I mean, there is a whole list of such verses. I’ve just given you three; I mentioned one earlier about what is the message we heard from Him? God is light and there is no darkness in God. That’s a message. Well, that’s pretty easily the message of the goodness of God and opening the Kingdom to anyone and now, I want to be all assured to add, and we will come back to dwell on this, that what he is talking about is the Kingdom is made available to anyone through Him. You trust Him and that begins with, “OK, I believe that He said that the Kingdom of the Heavens is now available to everyone so it must be. And, so, I will begin to count on it.” Counting on it. Expecting is the way you enter the Kingdom.
Now, of course, there is a side that involves God here. You can’t do this just on your own. That’s called the new birth; the birth from above. What is the birth from above about? It’s about seeing and entering the Kingdom. It is not about forgiveness of sins. John 3 is not a forgiveness of sins passage. I’ve ruined a lot of sermons for people who thought John 3:16 was about forgiveness of sins. Well, certainly that’s in there but that’s not what it’s about—God so loved the world that he gave His uniquely begotten Son to the world. He came into the world that those who put their confidence in Him would not perish. Now, see, you can go through that and at each point you can plug in a different gospel. [33:17] He gave His only begotten—well, that means He died for our sins. Well, He did, right? Shall not perish; well, perish means “go to hell.” Is that it? But have eternal—and most versions translate basically the same word as both everlasting and eternal—everlasting eternal life. It’s a life first. Now, if you aren’t careful, you will present that in the light of a gospel that does not bring you into the Kingdom of the Heavens but is focused on what happens after you die. So, nearly all of the verses that Jesus gives us and we have to come back and spend time in the Sermon on the Mount and for example, 5:20, “unless your righteousness succeeds the righteousness of the Scribes and the Pharisees, you will in no wise enter the Kingdom of the Heavens.” Someone said, “Well that’s about going to heaven when you die.” Is it? Now, that’s where you—you are people who study the word and you are scholars of the word—you need to look into that. So often, what Jesus says is taken just to refer to forgiveness of sins and Heaven. A passage in which He says, “If you deny me before men, then I will deny you before the Father.” People immediately translate that into what is going to happen at the judgment? Is that what it’s about? Or is it about, “I won’t claim you to God for your life.” Hmmmm. OK–something for us to think about.
So, let me just stop for emphasis here and see if you have some comments or questions. What I am saying is that the gospel is the good news that you and I and in fact anyone can now live in the Kingdom of God which is the understanding that’s right here because it is the Jewish teaching was they knew the Kingdom of God was a Kingdom that resides in the Heavens and the Heavens is where you are. Of course, it goes beyond that a long way but the important thing is it’s where you are. That’s what the Jewish experience taught. God is now available to you. A little problem with ethnicity there but it’s very clear that while the Jewish people had a special responsibility, it wasn’t that God didn’t have anything to do with people who were not Jewish. Now, that gets into the strategy of God and history and all of that and maybe we’ll want to talk about that but for now I just want to emphasis here’s the gospel. The good news is that anyone can trust Jesus Christ and live in the Kingdom of the Heavens. [37:07]
And then, out of that comes everything that Jesus’s gospel, “Seek first the Kingdom.” Well, there is something for us to do. Right? It’s not all done when you get “in.” Now, there is something—what is it? It’s to “seek the Kingdom of God.” You say, “I’m already in it.” Yeah, but you don’t know all about it. It’s not in everything that has to do with you yet. You seek it. What does it mean to seek it? Well, look for it everywhere—like you seek your keys. You look for it everywhere. Watch for it.
Now, we have to spend a good deal of time on this issue of what it is and so I just say now, as I say in the notes, the Kingdom of God is God in action. That’s the Kingdom of God. We say it’s the reign of God. Yeah, that’s true but what is the reign of God? It’s God in action. How does that work? Well, we have a lot to say about that but let’s just start with the basic point and the gospel that Jesus preached is the availability to everyone of life now in the Kingdom of God through trusting Him. You trust Him. Well, you say, “Maybe I can get in without trusting Him.” Well, lots of luck. You are going to need it. [39:11]
So, now once we understand that, I think a lot of other things begin to light up, you see? For example, He said, “Don’t worry. Don’t worry about anything. Don’t worry about food and clothing and all of that.” People who don’t know God; otherwise, known as Gentiles, do that. You say, “Don’t do that.” Matthew 6—don’t worry about it. And I like to put all that He says along that line in the phrase, “If you are alive in the Kingdom of God, this world is a perfectly safe place for you to be.”
Q: How do you look at the people who have accepted the Lord, but do not know how to live in the Kingdom?
Well, they have heard a different gospel, haven’t they? They haven’t heard what we are talking about here and probably some person of authority or some tradition has told them, “Oh, no this is not for you.” And it’s very common so now you have moved us along quite a distance in where we have to go. We have to go there and talk about this because we are here as ministers of Christ. Now, if we are shepherding a congregation where the people are not living in the Kingdom of God, we’ve got a different ballgame and then the issue of discipleship comes up, see? Because really fundamental now to this whole discussion is, “Am I preaching a gospel that has a natural tendency to produce disciples or only consumers of religious goods and services? [41:13] Shall I say that again? Am I preaching a gospel that has a natural tendency to produce disciples of Jesus or only consumers of religious goods and services? So, this is where the nitty meets the gritty. Not every gospel that you might hear preached produces disciples and we have now an accepted language like they’ve accepted the Lord. Now, actually, many of them haven’t done that. They have accepted what they regard as a Savior but there is a well known argument about Lordship salvation and the heart of that argument is, “Can you be saved if you don’t accept Jesus as Lord?” meaning by that that you are committed to doing what He said. Right? So, yal know about the Lordship salvation thing, right?
Q: Do you find it helpful to look at two different Greek words for life?
Well, I think, “No, right, I think it is helpful.” Right. Paul’s wonderful phrase at the end of 1 Timothy, “Life that is life indeed.” You can be alive biologically and not be alive spiritually. That’s something we really do need to talk about and of course, that’s the difference between the flesh and the spirit and it’s a constant drumbeat as you go through the whole Bible actually. God said to Adam and Eve, ”The day you eat that, you are dead.” Well, they were still alive biologically but they were cut off from a life in God that went with their initial appointment. Right? I mean, if you are going to have domain over all the fish, you are going to need some help and “bios” probably isn’t going to do it. You will probably need to be able to speak to fish and get them to do what they need to do. I don’t know how Adam did that but I would imagine it was speaking but he spoke with God. These are things we need to really explore and think about.
Right now, I am just trying to bear down on that one thing. What did Jesus preach? What was the gospel that Jesus preached? [44:32] Yes sir?
Q: How do I get to the point of my kids asking Jesus into their hearts?
Well, I wouldn’t want to go there too fast, you see, because we are talking here about a transection essentially between the individual and God. I think God has a way of making up for a lot of misunderstandings or lack of misunderstandings. My suspicion is that children do this better than anybody and I think that’s a wonderful, wonderful thing. But, still, I mean you have to look because for example, I was converted at the age of 9. I hesitate to use the words, “I surrendered my life to the Lord at the age of 9 the best I knew how and I didn’t know much but it was very real, very meaningful. I can still remember what it was like. I was never the same afterwards but I didn’t have any guidance after that and in my circles, children were led to the Lord and in my case, I wasn’t led, I just went to the surprise of everyone. But, you know, after that, what was I told? Well, be faithful to church. Give. Pray. Read your Bible. Mainly, stay out of trouble and the main advice to young men and young women in those kinds of circles was, you know, stay out of trouble. It usually meant for young men, don’t get in jail and for young women, don’t get pregnant and if you avoided those, probably okay. That’s not very good advice and so the whole idea of having Jesus as your Lord, which children intuitively make a lot of sense of, I think but then they need help. Then you have the whole idea of what is being preached as the message and how it relates to discipleship and spiritual formation. We want to move on to that eventually. Those are the big questions and now, I wasn’t converted to being a disciple—that was in the background, see? But, I wasn’t converted to that. “Lord” was a good term and I knew that had something to do with obedience. I was supposed to obey but no one gave me any idea of how you approach that. What if you wanted to obey and so it was very common in my kind of setting that basically you just learned to feel guilty about lots of things and you read the beatitudes, for example and you thought it was telling you to do something but you didn’t think they was very good, to tell you the truth. “Blessed are the poor.” I’ll pass on that. I’ll pass that blessing. “Blessed are you when you are persecuted.” You got to be kidding. Right?
“I’m gonna witness at high school or junior high, okay, but man, I’m gonna get it from my peers;” that’s blessed? So, you see, the whole idea of teaching of life in the Kingdom of God and how it actually could be blessed to be poor. How could you be blessed if you are poor? What would the blessing consist in? Well, of course, it is explained. Yours is the Kingdom of God. That’s where the blessing is but my whole tradition as a young person in church was you just look at all this stuff and you say, “Wow, that’s hard and someone tells you, you know you don’t have to do any of that because Jesus bore the guilt of your sins on the cross and not just your past sins but your future ones and so that is not a serious issue, right? [49:15]
Q: Is Zoë and the communion of God the same thing?
Zoe is a life that is not drawn from natural resources. Now, you are born into that kind of life, which is life in the Kingdom of God so it’s very important to understand that John 3 is not talking about a new birth. It’s talking about a birth from above and we have already been talking about the “from above” here. That’s the Kingdom of God.
So, a new kind of life is what is at issue. You know, imagine a dog who not only can watch the chess game but also can actually play it. You would say, “Wow, that dog has got something different.” It would have a new kind of life and so, there are various kinds of life and there is a life from God, which we were created to live from and that was lost and so we died—Zoë and still alive bios. Now, then Jesus comes and says, “How are you doing out there with your bios? And we say, “Not really very well, you know?” We are so busy killing one another and hating one another and being frightened and caught up in our pride and arrogance. “Well, you know, there is another Kingdom and I am here to bring it to you.” That’s Zoë again and then there is a process of recovery because when we come to life in the Kingdom of God, we do not immediately transform and that’s where the complexity of the circle diagram comes from and helps us understand that there is lots of stuff in there in our will, in our mind, our emotions, our body, our social relationship and even in our soul and it is not going to be transformed without our choosing to do things that will lead to that transformation. [52:11] See, now, for Wesley, that path was open because he wasn’t thinking that if you did something, you are getting in God’s way and possibly threatening Him. He knew that if you didn’t do something, nothing would happen. “OK without me, you can do nothing” and people quote that verse and sit down and wait for Jesus to do it all. He didn’t say that. He said, “You can’t do anything without me.” He didn’t say, “I’ll do it all. You just watch.” So, those are things that we have to work through especially before we come to our discussion of disciplines but we still have some ground to cover before we get there. [53:02]
Q: If our desire is to seek the spiritual kingdom than this place is not a place to be scared of place? [This is an odd question but this is how it was on the computer screen.]
No, that’s right but we have to learn that because you know our body and our minds are ready to jump to all sorts of conclusions and so on. But, we can retrain and we have to go through the process of re-training but this is exactly what Paul says, when he says, “All things work together for good to those that love God and are called into His purposes.” Now, you can’t sign that check unless you love God and you are called into His purposes and then you can say, “No matter what happens.” It’s like the guys on the boat and they are scared silly and Jesus is asleep and they wake Him up and He calms the storm and He looks at them and says, “Why were you frightened?” And they look at one another and say, “Why were we frightened? We were only going to die.”
Well, we are living in two worlds. We have this double landscape and we are dead to the spiritual landscape at least in terms of being able to do anything with it until we come to new Zoë and then once we are there, then there’s something we can do and we have to do that and that one way of describing that is to say, “Seek first the Kingdom of God” and so when you go to your congregation and you speak to them and you say, “Now how do you do that at work?” You are running a building supply place. How do you seek first the Kingdom of God there? You are running a taco stand or teaching third grade. See? That’s where things begin to take hold. Where is God in the taco stand? [55:04] I hope we will have time to spend half an hour or so on that because that’s really where it all comes out and we are here “training for reigning” and the taco stand is the place.
We’ve got to quit talking and go eating! OK?