Solitude and Silence and the Tongue

Dallas Willard Part 4 of 11

Dallas Willard teaches through a variety of disciplines at the church where he, as he later admitted, got his start as a Christian teacher.


Dallas:  . . . conversational relationship with us so that we might live before you as your children and as co-laborers in Your Kingdom. Now, as we come this evening to speak more of these activities we call the spiritual disciplines, we pray for a wonderful openness of mind and habit and heart that we might find things that would open up our experience of you so that our faith might grow and that our power in your Kingdom and in your Word might grow.

We know that there are many things that we see all around us; sometimes in us, that are not in conformity with what you would have. Encourage us to believe that we can turn them loose. Instruct us in the ways in which we can do that so that we will not only know THAT we should do them, but know HOW we can go about doing them. Above all, help us to approach these matters as matters for experiment and give us the freedom of faith in you that will allow us to be prepared to fail and to learn from our failures as we go forward.

We are glad to know that we are accepted by your grace, that your love is unbounded, that there is no one too far away, that there is nothing too hard but what we can bring it to you and though we do not always understand how you work, believe with good confidence, well-founded confidence, a confidence that will not mislead us that you will make a difference for your Glory and so we pray to that end on behalf of Christ our Savior. Amen. [1:54]

Now, we are considering the disciplines in these evenings as we meet and we remember that disciplines as I have described them are consciously or purposively undertaken activities, which we enter into in faith that in those activities, we will learn to live by the power of God and in the character of God. [2:22]

On our first evening, we spoke about confirmation to Christ. We spoke about “putting off the old man” and “putting on the new man.” We have spoken about the problem that we find in our members when we come to that place where we know what we should do and want to do it but find that alas we do not do it anyway.

Then we begin to appreciate the many metaphors for sin that are contained in the words that are used in the Bible. The metaphor of twistedness—you have a bow and you put an arrow in it and you take good aim and you turn loose and the arrow goes off over here—the best of intentions, the clearest of vision—just a crooked bow, and so you miss the mark. But the missing of the mark, of course is not the cause. The cause is the interior twist. The sting, which Paul says, “I behold another law at work in my members.” (Romans 7:23)

I was tremendously gratified and inclined to believe that the Lord was in it the other day after being here last Wednesday, I turned on the 700 Club for breakfast and there was some people talking about agoraphobia. You know what that is? Agoraphobia is sort of fear of open spaces; fear of going out and there was a lovely discussion of it right along the lines which I thought if some of you may have been listening, you would find very interesting because the discussion was in terms of what goes on in the members of the person who is afflicted with agoraphobia—the sweating, the palpitations, the difficulty in breathing. I’ll tell you. It doesn’t do any good to say to people, “It’s only in your head” and in fact, it isn’t only in your head. It’s in your palms; it’s in your heart; it’s in your brain; it’s in your body. [4:31]

You see Paul was not a dummy. He knew what he was talking about and he spoke literally when he spoke about the problem that is in the members. Some of you who have read in The Literature of Psychology may know that that there is something called The James Lang Theory of Emotions. Any of you recognize that; James Lang Theory of Emotions? Now, this is something that was written in the last part of the 19th century and in The James Lang Theory of Emotions, there is a simple identification of the emotions with the bodily manifestations, as we would say.

Fear is a sweating, a palpitation of the heart; it is a readiness of the organism but many people find this offensive because they think it’s unspiritual and that fear ought to be something kind of spiritual floating around on the inside and then it makes your heart go bump, bump, bump, bump, bump and so on but I think probably that The James Lang Theory of the Emotions, if you don’t take it as the last word on the nature of the soul is very instructive for us and much closer to the Biblical view of personality than those views of personality which turn the emotions and thoughts and all of that into something that is utterly, utterly disembodied and utterly spiritual. [5:55]

Now, we talked on our first evening about the distinction, and of course, you can’t begin to do justice to it but the distinction between spirit, soul and body but let me just say that when we look into the book of Romans and into the New Testament, we find there a view of the nature of the self which is very closely related to many of the findings of modern Psychology.

If you watched that program, you may have noticed the treatment and the treatment involves a friend or counselor simply taking the person to the place where they feel like they are going to die and where their heart starts to jump out of their chest and leading them through that and teaching them among other things that they aren’t going to die. I suspect they have some fatalities sometimes because when this gets bad enough, you can almost die from the fear of what is going on in your body. And so, the counselors lead them through that and bring them to the point to where they break the power of what is in their members. [7:08]

Now, I don’t want us to lose the general Biblical point about what is in our members by reference to this case of abnormal behaviors we might say. Because you see, the Biblical doctrine of the body is not only that craziness is in our members and that sin is in our members, but that the members are where we are to dwell with God.

We are to be the temple of God. Our body is the temple of God. How does that work? And what I am saying to you is it works as in our pursuit of righteousness in the pathway of Christ, we submit our members as servants to righteousness as Romans tells us and bring forth the holiness of Christ and in our selves, God then dwells. It isn’t like God is sitting over this ear and I am sitting over that ear. See, someone might say, “Well, if God dwells in there, where am I?” Well, beloved, now are we the children of God and God’s children are not simply distinct from their Father. [8:34]

You may go back and think of all of those words about abiding that are found in the Gospel of John. I wish I had time to play them out for you. Abide in me! “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” (John 15:7) So, what I want to say is that when we hear those words, we are hearing a description by the Master of the human self—of something that is to be literally true—literally true. And so, we enter into the pathway of Christ and we learn to follow Him. We learn to engage in the activities, which Christ engaged in so that we may have His character literally IN our bodies and then the saying is true that you are the temple; your bodies are the Temple of the Holy Ghost. [9:44]

You know, untold damage is done to us by reading the Bible on the one hand saying, “Yes, we believe it from kiver to kiver” and on the other hand in our heart saying, “I haven’t the remotest idea what that means.” Right? So then we are faced with things—faced with statements, which we must believe. We do believe. We want to believe but we don’t know what they mean, see? And the problem is to bring an experiential understanding of what they mean. [10:19]

Now, last time, we talked about fasting and I am not able, given my teaching habits, I am not really able to cut these sessions cleanly between them. I am going to have to go back and talk a little more about fasting before I move on to solitude and silence.

There are two things in particular that I felt I must cover in talking about fasting and one of these is—well, they are both statements by Jesus. First of all, general statements in the 6th chapter of Matthew; I would like you to look at that with me if you would. And I want you to understand Jesus’ teachings here in the 6th chapter of Matthew as an extension of Matthew 4:4, which I read to you and Deuteronomy 8:3. Please understand this as an extension of that and so let’s remind ourselves of what that says.

Jesus was tempted to turn bread into stones and He replied to the tempter, “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Now, if one learns to live by the speaking of God in the soul and learns to find in that a literal and real nourishment of the human self, then you are prepared to fast in a way entirely different from the way fasting is ordinarily thought about. [11:57]

Fasting is ordinarily thought of as a kind of torture, right?  And of course, if you are fasting to lose weight or something like that, then probably it is. But, if you are fasting to learn how the soul is nourished by God, you are in a position to rest completely satisfied in your nourishment.

So now, look at what Jesus says in Matthew 6:16—“Moreover when ye fast . . .”—it doesn’t say, “If” you fast, and the reason it doesn’t say that is because, frankly I’ll just put it to you, I said last time, there is no commandment that we fast but it is assumed that you will fast. It was assumed in that day of course because it was explicitly practiced and there were ways of doing it, which were outlined and this has been true in many parts of the history of the Christian church. Jesus just assumes that people will fast. [13:08]

Now He says, “ . . . when ye fast, be not, as the hypocrites, of a sad countenance: for they disfigure their faces, that they may appear unto men to fast. Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” In other words, they got what they wanted. They wanted to appear unto men to fast and they appeared unto men to fast, right? “Verily I say unto you, they have their reward.” They worked for that pay and they got their check.

“But thou, when thou fastest, anoint thine head, and wash thy face; That thou appear not unto men to fast, but unto thy Father which is in secret: and thy Father, which seeth in secret, shall reward thee openly.” (Matthew 6:17-18) There will be a reward if you fast unto the Lord.

Now, the question here is: Is Jesus telling you to fake it? Is Jesus saying you are really going to be miserable but act like you are not? No, He is not. He is operating on the assumption that as you enter into and you grow in your understanding of fasting, you will find a nourishment so rich and so complete that it will be completely appropriate that you should anoint your hair and wash your face and be happy.  See? Because you know now that when it says that man lives by the words, which proceed from God, He is not just talking pretty language. [14:54]

Let me ask you this. How did the world get created?—By the word of God. Now, if you think God can create the world by His Word, do you think He can’t feed you by His Word? Tuck that away and think about it, okay? Seriously.

See, one of our problems with this is that we don’t understand the reality and substance and power of the Word of God and we could do a worthwhile series just by taking the Bible and going through it and showing what the Word of God is and it’s relationship to creation and redemption. [15:35]

Now, God has not generally ordained that ye should live by eating only the Word of God. There is a general order of nature in which you are placed and in that order, you should eat meats and beans and potatoes and bread and drink milk and things of that sort and there is a reason for that. But God does not want you to get to the point where you believe that that is the main thing you live on because after all; that stuff was created by what—the Word of God.  Right?

So, he doesn’t want you get bogged down in what older theologians call “secondary causes,” right? So, he turned cows loose in the world and they make milk and you can make cheese and butter out of that and it’s great stuff but that’s “secondary causes” because cows came out of the earth when God commanded it to bring forth the living animal forms. That’s the Word of God. That’s the creative Word of God. [16:39]

Let’s turn to Mark. The other statement on fasting I wanted to give you—Mark 9:18 & 29. This is an intriguing passage and it is very instructive once you begin to get the idea that the spiritual life is very much like the physical life in that what you can do depends on what you are in shape to do.

Jesus is up on the Mount of Transfiguration and in the meantime, there was some need down on the lower parts of the countryside there and a man brought a child to have the child helped. In particular, this child had some kind of spirit that grasped it and used it for its purposes. [17:50]

You remember, I defined spirit for you as/or described it. I shouldn’t want to say that I defined it; that’s a little more technical and I’d rather doubt I could do that but I described it as disembodied power—disembodied power. And in these times at least, people believed—many people don’t believe this today—but in these times, it was believed that disembodied powers could actually enter into a human personality and control it. Jesus seems to have accepted that idea and to have worked with it. His disciples did. Others did and they brought this child and said, “help us.” [18:37]

Mark 9:18—“ . . . and I spake to thy disciples that they should cast him out; and they could not.” They tried and they could not. Now, Jesus was rather stern with them in verse 19 and the reason He was stern with them is because, you see, He had been trying to teach them how to do this for some time and in fact, they had had some success of it by this time in His ministry, but now they were up against something that they couldn’t handle. The mere fact that you can run a ten-mile race doesn’t necessarily mean you can cut it in a marathon. If you are pretty good on the sand lot, that doesn’t mean you can do it in Yankee Stadium. And what happened was, these fellows got up against something that was bigger than anything they’d had ahold of yet. [19:33]

I go over that slowly because you see, I want you to think of your own experience like that because as you enter into the work of the ministry of Christ, you’ll go through stages. You’ll have powers. You will have things that happen to you but they won’t be the end of it. You will always have a lot more to learn and I hope that you will understand that. You see you have to avoid this tendency to try to win it all at one shot and then if you fail, say, “Well, see there. See there.” You don’t do that. Now, listen, you wouldn’t do that in any area of life. Not a one, unless you were really in a pretty bad mental condition. I mean, think of all the disasters you may have had when you started dating? [Chuckling] I can remember when it was the biggest mystery in the world to me what you said to a girl. [Laughter] But, you know, you learn, don’t you? You learn what to say. [20:45]

Now, why not understand that in a universe where there is an incarnating God that uses history to form the will and character of His people, why not understand that in fasting? In all of the matters of the Spirit—praying and so on? You learn the same way and approach it in that way.

You see you’ve got to get your ego off the line. I’ll tell you, the main problem is ego, because we think, “Oh man, I couldn’t cast that demon out. Oh, yeah.” And then, of course Jesus just jumped right on them and He said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? (Matthew 9:19)—as if to say how long am I going to hang around with you people? [21:26]

Now, of course, you see, He was their teacher and teachers have to do that. That’s right! Teachers have to do that and in fact, you know, I’ll bet that most of you here would say that you have come—at least In later years—to appreciate most your teachers, if they were fair and loving and kind, you will come to appreciate most of your teachers who will get on you like that. The teacher who won’t get on you doesn’t care about you. Jesus loved His people. He loved His disciples and so HE got on them and said, “How long am I going to put up with you people,” right?

That’s like in a graduate seminar, you walk in and you take the seminar paper that the student has prepared and you look at it and tear it into pieces and walk on it and stalk out the door, right? [Laughter] Now, that fella won’t have to go home ad say, “Now, I’ve got to memorize this so I can remember it.” Will he? Now, you don’t want to do that every time. You just do that every three years so you keep them on edge. [Laughter} It also keeps your class size down so you won’t have much to do. [Laughter] [22:55]

Now, I want you to notice something very interesting about the way Jesus handled this situation. It’s a beautiful story—so many lessons in it. Verse 24 is one I just can’t pass over because again it gets us to this matter—this matter of paradox in our growth and in our experience. This Father, and if you know the Father’s heart, you know what he is going through. He says to Jesus in verse 22 (Mark 9): “ . . . but if thou canst do any thing, have compassion on us and help us. Jesus said unto to him, if thou canst believe . . .” Jesus put it right back on him. “ . . . if thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” (Mark 9:23) And the man made the most beautiful reply. He “cried out. And straightway”—the Father cried out—he blurted out immediately. He just blurted out.  “ . . . and said with tears, Lord, I believe, help thou mine unbelief.” (Mark 9:24)

There is an honest man. He DID believe. If he didn’t believe, he wouldn’t have been there but he also didn’t believe. That’s okay, isn’t it? He didn’t believe. He was there. He showed up. This really does justice to the condition of the faithful soul who comes seeking Christ. “I believe but I don’t really know what it is I believe. I don’t know why it’s true and maybe I haven’t got a good experiential grasp on it but I believe. [24:26]

Now, when Jesus saw the crowd running together, He took care of the matter. He rebuked the foul spirit and of course He was in condition to do that. He had the power; but now, after it is over, the disciples ask Him the appropriate question. They were puzzled because you see, as I want you to remember now, these were not people now who had never done this kind of thing; they had. They had experience with it. Now they had hit this one and they couldn’t and so they said, “Why not? Why not?” And Jesus says in reply something that is very interesting because it brings us to; again, the realities of the differences of situations that we have to learn to master—the differences in the tasks, which we encounter. He says,“ . . . This kind can come forth by nothing, but prayer and fasting.” (Mark 9:29) [25:28]

One of the strange things about the verse is that He didn’t—when the man came and said will you help my son?” He didn’t say, “Well, all right, let’s pray and fast.” Did He?  He didn’t pray and fast. He was all prayed and fasted up. He didn’t have to run and get in shape. He was in shape. But to the people He was teaching, He had to say, “You need to learn that there is a preparation for these things and they involve prayer and fasting.” Yes? [26:11]

Question: Inaudible

Dallas: Yes, I know that there is some question about that. Our problem with manuscripts on those kinds of points is that we use standards for—I believe what is omitted there is fasting, isn’t it? So you come out by prayer and fasting is added on. I really don’t know what to say about that and I’ll tell you why. The manuscript evidence that we have is I think adequate for our needs but when you start in turning a doctrine on something like that, I have a lot of trouble with it frankly. [27:12]

For example, many people have wanted to say, “Now this does not say that we must fast in order to get in position to do this kind of work.” Well, it depends on what conclusion you want to draw from that. If you want to say, you can do just as well without fasting, that’s a question of experience and anyone who wants to go that way is welcome to try it. Certainly, if it is a suggestion that Jesus Himself did not fast, did not encourage His disciples to fast and so on, that’s just simply contradicted by the rest of what is in the text. Not in this one, but elsewhere.

I’m glad you asked this question because I really wanted to say in concluding the discussion of fasting. I wanted to say this; that we have to be careful about reasoning about these things in the following way and I hope you will not say that we have to be careful about reasoning and not reason. I am not saying that. We need to reason but we have to be careful about reasoning without experience. And I think that what we have to say is, on a case like this; if you are facing a difficulty, try it with prayer and fasting. Try it with prayer. Try it with fasting without prayer. You better believe that this is the way that you will grow in the Spirit and you will not grow in any other way. [28:45]

So, I really think that this is what we have to say about that verse and in general, the practice of fasting. We look at the times in which the church was obviously most prosperous and we ask ourselves, were they fasting or were they not? The answer is almost without any exception; they were fasting. We look at those who have set the watermarks for Christian experience and we ask—I should say the high watermarks—and we ask ourselves, did they fast or did they not? With almost universal truth, they were people who fasted. [29:31]

Now then, that’s the sort of thing I think we need to look at and we need to ask ourselves, is this something I should enter into or is this something I can do without? How am I doing without it? Okay? If you are doing okay without it and you are happy with where you are, then that is the sort of way you should go. But if not, then I think it is something we should try. And I think that the witness of both Protestant and Catholic testimony through the ages has been that fasting puts people in a position to deal with the realities of their spiritual and physical life in a way that not fasting simply does not.

Now, I do think that you want to be practical about this. You want to avoid fanaticism with it. You do not want to believe that it is the cure of all things. I went through a bunch of things the other day that I hope that you will understand . . .[Went silent at 30:24 and came back at 30:35] . . . obligation to stop the man. It’s ridiculous. Just ridiculous He can pray and stop the man and if he doesn’t pray, for goodness sakes, stop the man, right? {Laughter] [30:49]

And now listen, that’s Christian love. Christian love is not retreating into some little cubbyhole fasting or praying or whatever it may be and saying, “Oh, this is it.” That isn’t it. There isn’t anything that’s it. That’s just legalism gone to pot. That’s all that is and it’s an exercise in self-righteousness and so many people who get caught up in this business of just praying for everything, they are doing nothing except trying to prove to somebody how much faith they’ve got. Very often—I won’t say always and I’ll take it back if it sounded like that but very often and I know that to be he case, they are trying to prove to themselves and to God how great their faith is by just doing nothing and praying and what they are proving is how utterly irresponsible and fearful they are. Jesus Christ did not just pray. He prayed but He did not JUST pray and He is our example in this as in all things. [31:58]

I’m glad you asked the question and the reason I spoke because I know there is a tendency to think prayer somehow would answer everything.

There is this marvelous passage in Ecclesiastes, which is a challenge to some of us, which says, “Money answereth all things.” No, it doesn’t. It doesn’t. And so we have to have that kind of sense of wholeness when we approach the disciplines and the sense of moderation and we approach them experimentally and we approach them before God and not before everyone else. We are not trying to impress anyone and we learn in our relationship with Him something we did not know before. [32:36]

Let’s turn now to solitude and silence because solitude is a kind of fasting and a very important kind of fasting it is. I have handed out a little selection that I hope you will have a chance to meditate upon. This is actually a selection from one of the very greatest spiritual classics. It is from Wesley’s version. The first thing that John Wesley published, I believe, as a minister was a version of Thomas a Kempis’ Imitation of Christ, and he called it The Christian’s Pattern and I decided to take this out of his version because I liked some of it so much better. It really isn’t a translation. It is a paraphrase that enabled Wesley to provide the riches of this book without what he took to be certain offensive references to the worship of Mary and other things of that sort that he did to want to give to his people so its an expurgated version, if you wish for Protestants of a great Catholic classic. [33:52]

You notice as you look here, I put by the section fifteen as it is referred to, “Of the Love of Solitude and Silence.” There are some wonderful words here about going alone, retiring unto thyself. “If thou wilt withdraw thyself from superfluous talk and useless visits as also from hearkening after news and rumors thou shalt find sufficient leisure to mediate on good things.” And he goes on to enlarge there. Skip over to the center paragraph there by Arabic number three—Arabic numeral three.  “If Thou desire compunction of heart, enter into thy closet and shut out the tumults of the world according to the advice of the Psalmist, commune with your own heart and in your own chamber and be still.” [34:47]

The word of the Psalm, I believe it is, it says, “Be still and know that I am God. Be still.” We have to understand that the knowledge of God depends upon a stillness that enters our soul. “In thy closet thou shalt find what abroad thou often losest. The more thou frequentest thy closet, the more thou wilt like it. The less thou cometh then, the more thou wilt loath it.” [Laughter] “If in the beginning of thy conversion, thou passeth much time in it, it will afterward be a dear friend to thee and a pleasant comfort.” The final words in the next column from that section—“Shut thy door upon Thee and call unto thee Jesus, Thy beloved. Stay with Him in thy closet for thou shalt not find so great peace anywhere else. Hadst thou not gone abroad and hearken to idol rumors, thou mightest had better remained in peace but so long as thou delightest to hear novelties, thou must endure trouble of heart.” [35:55]

They are some lovely worlds over on the other side. I think to save time, I would like to just commend this to you and ask you to take and meditate on it. I hope there are enough copies to go around.

Jesus was much alone. He is our pattern in all of these things and Wesley’s words, “the Christian’s pattern” does a good job of translating the idea of the imitation of Christ. I did by the way copy the very opening statement from the Imitation, this number 1 on the other side which is one of the most thrilling presentations of the opportunity of the Christian that you will find anywhere but he is to be our pattern and He was much alone. [36:41]

I like the words with which Richard Foster opens his chapter. I think it’s something like this. “Jesus calls us from our loneliness into His solitude.” We need to think about loneliness and solitude and the most remarkable thing about them is how they differ.

Loneliness is a condition of insufficiency. Solitude is a condition of complete sufficiency.  In both cases, a person is isolated—in the one case, to his despair; to the other, to his joy because in his solitude, he has found his God.  [37:26]

Solitude was something Jesus sought. In the Gospel of Mark, in the first chapter and I believe it’s the 31st verse, maybe it’s the 35th; you see the picture here. If you start at verse 32, it takes Him from the evening through the morning—verse 32 is evening. This was the Sabbath evening and of course they did not work. This is Mark 1:32-33—“And at even, when the sun did set, they brought unto him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with demons. And all the city was gathered together at the door.”

This is one of my favorite pictures in the Gospels is this picture of Jesus “And he healed many that were sick of divers diseases, and cast out many devils and suffered not the devils to speak, because they knew him.” (Mark 1:34) It’s ironic that they were the only ones who did you know. [Laughter] It’s very ironic but they knew Him. Of course, He didn’t want to get in trouble before He got His work done and so, He would make them shut up. “Shut up and don’t tell them who I am. I have some things to get done and once they find out who I am, I can’t get it done.” [38:54]

So, now, “And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, he went out and departed into a solitary place, and there prayed.” (Mark 1:35) He was entering into His relationship with His Father to replenish His resources. You remember that when the woman with the issue of blood came and touched Him in the crowd, He felt the power go out of Him. The dunamis went out of Him. He felt it flow out and Jesus being in His finitude had to have that replenished. And the way He replenished that was to get up and go while others were replenishing themselves in sleep.

Do you remember the word of Jesus to Peter? Much sleeping—and they were sleeping because of their sorrow. Much of our sleeping is because of sorrow. Jesus found that He got more rest by getting up and meeting God. That’s something we have to learn. You can’t whip yourself into it. [40:06]

Jane and I love a story that a minister we used to listen told about how as a young man in the Methodist ministry, he heard about how Wesley got up in the morning and prayed and he thought he would try that too and after some weeks, he found out he could sleep better in bed and so he quit. [Laughter] It’s a lovely story.

You see, they were like the people who couldn’t cast out the devil. They just hadn’t got there yet. I’ll tell you—you can really give yourselves a spiritual stomachache by tempting these spiritual heroics that you hear. Martin Luther did such and such and Wesley did such and such and Mother Theresa of Calcutta does such and such. “Well, I’ll go to that!” Uh-huh? Yes, you will. Yes, you will. You will need someone to clean you off the floor is what you will need because it will wipe you out. You grow into this. You grow into it. You have to look at what Wesley went through before he could profitably arise at 4:00 in the morning and pray. You go through what he went through and then you can do that too. You have to look at what Luther went through. You go through that and then you can do that too and maybe even more. [41:35]

You look at what praying Hyde—do you know praying Hyde?—a  great prayer missionary? Go through what he went through and you can do what he did. Remember how the Apostles James and John came to Jesus and said, “We want to sit at your right and left hand.” Jesus said, “Can you drink the cup that I am going to drink?”  “If you are going to sit up with me, up with the big boys, you will have to be able to drink from the cup.” “Oh, yes! We can do it Lord!” And they did eventually. That’s the good side of it. They did eventually. You see, they didn’t have the remotest idea what they were talking about and thank God, God doesn’t require that of us. Right? [Laughter] He just requires well-meaning committed devotion, which will somehow hang in there as we grow. And then God willingly will have opportunities to learn and will be in a loving, free atmosphere which we have in some of our churches where we can learn and where we can be different and we can raise questions and we can think and we can challenge one another and not be rejected. [42:59]

See, that’s what Jesus really gave to His disciples. He got on their case occasionally but He stuck with them. He stuck with them and that’s His offer to us as we grow and as we increase in our knowledge and in our understanding and become more and more able to.

Now, Jesus did not want to just go it alone entirely. He called some people to be with Him and one of the nicest descriptions of the job of the disciples is contained in Mark 3:14 “And he ordained twelve, that they should be with him . . .” Isn’t that interesting? He ordained them that they should be with Him. That was their main job was to be with Him. [43:47]

Now, He didn’t get the kind of association that He needed at all times. You will remember that when it comes right down to the last night of His ministry before His crucifixion, He needed someone to be with Him and He took His most favored disciples and they went together into the Garden of Gethsemane in Matthew 26:37 for example, “And he took with him Peter and the two sons of Zebedee, and began to be sorrowful and very heavy.” Those were the two fellows that were gonna drink the cup, you know.

“Then saith he unto them, my soul is exceeding sorrowful, even unto death, tarry ye here, and watch with me.” (Mark 26:38) “Watch with me.” With me. That was their job. Their job was to be with Him, see? “And he went a little farther, and fell on his face, and prayed, saying, Oh my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me . . .   (Matthew 26:39) “And he cometh unto the disciples, and findeth them asleep, and saith unto Peter, What, could ye not watch with me . . .” Watch with me? (Matthew 26:40) “Watch and pray, that ye enter not into temptation; the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.” (Matthew 26:41) [45:11]

All right. Well, Jesus was not alone. If you look at John 8, you see his attitude on this and He had paid the price of solitude. You remember as we read last time that immediately after His baptism it was a time of great solitude. We often think of it as a time of fasting but it was basically a time of solitude. That’s why it is called a wilderness. It is simply that Jesus was out in the fields; out in the uninhabited parts of the country side and He was alone and His fasting was a part of that.

In John 8:16—“And yet if I judge, my judgment is true: for I am not alone, but I and the Father that sent me.” Skipping across—verse 28—“Then said Jesus unto them, When ye have lifted up the Son of man, then shall ye know that I am he, and that I do nothing of myself: but as the Father hath taught me, I speak these things. And he that sent me is with me: the Father hath not left me alone . . . “ (John 8:28-29) I don’t have time to go over to Timothy and read those wonderful words of Paul, you will recall, when he stood before Caesar, everyone left Him but God was with Him and will be with me, He said. He had learned the lesson. He had been alone. He had been alone. Can you be alone? Is loneliness your lot or solitude before God? Is it sweet to simply be in the presence of God? [46:53]

We are going to have to work on silence next time too but I do want to just say just a word or two about silence. Al, go ahead.

Question: Inaudible

Dallas: Watch God. We are to be God-watchers! We watch God.  That’s what Jesus did, wasn’t it? He went to watch God and talk to Him. Not just watch of course but watch and pray. [47:42]

See you know really this comes to something very fundamental that if we don’t watch it, we are apt to slip into and that is the idea that somehow when we are just alone with God, nothing’s happening and that gives us a very eloquent testimony of our beliefs about God. If I were to take you and set you down in a room with Ronald Reagan or depending on your philosophy—some other person—you might wonder what you should do but you wouldn’t wonder whom you should watch.

That’s a good point. Watch! Another word is wait. “They that wait upon the Lord. . . . “ What are you waiting for? You are waiting to see what God will do with you. Hmmm? When you are with your beloved, you watch them and you wait and they watch and they wait and that’s the sweetest thing in personal relations, isn’t it?—to watch another person; to watch God; to speak with Him. Watch! [49:06]

Now, of course that also involves watching yourself. He meant for them to watch themselves. He meant for them, among other things, to not go to sleep. Stay awake. They were overwhelmed with what was in their bodies. OK? They got right up here and went, (he yawns), and their eyelids just went SMACK. And if you don’t believe that’s in your body, just check your eyelids, okay—if not now, a few hours from now and you will find that they become suddenly very heavy. There is something right in there and that’s a quality and that’s just what overwhelmed these people and that’s why Jesus looked and said, “Well, the spirit is willing but the eyelids are weak. [Laughter] The flesh is weak. So, that’s a good point. [49:55]

Let me just say a thing or two about speech and it’s connection to “prime our pumps” for next time and we will have to work on this next time along with the other topics we have lined up because silence is essential to solitude. We come off of man—off of mankind—when we turn them off and turn ourselves off. We have a thing here we have to turn off and a thing here we have to turn off. That way, we get silence.  Some people turn this one off and just let this one run and then there are others that turn this one off and let this one run. And I don’t know, I wouldn’t want to say which is in worse condition.

If you’ve always got to have something banging your eardrums—if absolute silence is shocking and terrifying—if you find you cannot sit still in absolute silence; then you need to understand that you have an affliction.  It’s noise addiction. And you will suffer withdrawal symptoms and many of you won’t be able to make it. See how long you can stand silence and you will get a sense of how tied in you are to the world system. It’s one thing to rave about the wicked world system but you may find that you are feeding off of it and living off of it through your eardrums. [51:26]

Silence has to do with turning off our hearing and turning off our talking. And when we do that, we begin to enter into solitude. If we go into solitude and we keep talking, we will not be alone because our words will continue to evoke the sorts of things, which constitute the world system in which we live. Silence cuts all of that off.

I find that people are afraid of silence and I have a few reasons I’d like to give you just to provoke your thinking as you think about this for the coming week. I think one reason why people are afraid of silence is because the noises we have keep us from facing ourselves. They keep us from recognizing who we are. We dress ourselves up with our words and with what is being said to us. We prop up our facades. It is so hard for us not to speak when we feel we might be misunderstood and a great test of how much faith we have in God is our readiness to simply be silent.  Simply be silent and let people do what they will. Let people think what they will. Let the responsibility be theirs. If they don’t receive what a brilliant person I am, let it be their responsibility. Don’t let me come to the rescue. OK? See? [Laughter] [53:26]

Did you ever think about why Jesus didn’t say anything before Pilot? When Jesus said, “I lay down my life.” Jesus had to let Pilot assume the responsibility for what He was going to do. I’m sure if Jesus had said much of anything, Pilot would not have had Him crucified but Jesus picked His spot to die and He knew that He had to have Pilot’s help. Pilot did not want to crucify Jesus and you know, Jesus could have given Him every excuse not to but He did not do it. And it’s very important for us to understand the responsibility that others have to come to know us for what we are and to let them do that.

Ever think about Jesus’ words—“ . . . let your ‘yay’ be ‘yay’ and your ‘nay’ be ‘nay’ for whatsoever is more than this cometh from evil.” (Matthew 5:37)—cometh from evil. He is saying, “Say yes; say no; say it is this way; it’s not that way.” Don’t embellish it. Just let it stand because if you go into the other, all the songs and dances we learn to do in front of other people, He is saying, “You are simply trying to mange and manipulate your images. You are not trusting God. You are not trusting the people. It comes from an evil motivation.” [55:06]

Well, there’s a lot here and we must talk about it next time. Next time, I will want to go into some of the ways our tongue works and that sort of thing. Are there any final comments or questions this evening before we leave?  Al? [55:26]

Question: Inaudible

Dallas: I didn’t. I don’t get to see it every morning.

Comments: Inaudible

Dallas: Well, it should. It should but it’s true and there is no question about it but let me tell you this. Why shouldn’t they when some of our most outstanding leaders in the Christian scene have engaged in things worse than that? We live in a time where there is no sense of the meaning of these kinds of actions. [56:34]

There is a man whom I will not name who was engaged in homosexual and heterosexual activities and was known to have done so and he is back on the airwaves carrying on. I’ll tell you what this does to me. This makes me wonder what is the basis of our appeal in the Christian ministry today? I think that the problem with these people that you are talking about is really a serious indictment of our teaching and it isn’t that we don’t say it’s wrong. It’s that we don’t lead people into an understanding of why, of what life is like, or what the meaning of sexual relationships are and of the nature of sexuality. I’m afraid that I may be a little shocking when we come to discuss this because I want talk about some of these things pretty frankly. And, I want to say that this business of having a body has aspects of it, which we do not deal with truthfully in the churches. [57:47]

The other side of this, Al is this. I mean, what is the meaning of celibacy today? Hmmm? I see the profligacy of sexuality as only one side of a many-sided coin if I can break the metaphor. You see, our problem is not just that our teaching about the sins of sex are not affected; our teachings about sexual purity are non-existent. What is it? How does it work? What’s its basis? Right?

So, there is a lot to be said there. There is no question that’s true. I don’t know what your own experience in this is but I’ve been in many large evangelical churches and if you talk to the people who have supervised youth programs in those churches, this is the open secret. It’s the open secret.  [58:52]

Anyone else want to make a comment? All right, you are practicing silence. [Laughter] Well, the Lord bless you and we will try to carry on with that next time and we certainly will get into our next topic as well. [59:15]

Listen to all parts in this The Disciple, the Disciplines, the Triumphant Life series