Jesus promised that those who follow him, “Will not see death.” They will not taste it. They won’t even experience it! (John 8:51-52)
Is Jesus crazy? Everybody knows that eventually people die. No. Dallas Willard (pictured on the left) explains that Jesus was standing in another world, the reality of the Kingdom of God. He literally meant that by putting our confidence in him we will not experience death!
This article explores Dallas’ explanations of Jesus’ promise for us who put our confidence in him, “You will not experience death.” What will it be like when we “die”? How does it affect our living today to put our trust in Jesus Christ as “the Resurrection and the Life”?
Don’t Be in Denial About Death
Jesus’ words, “You will not experience death,” are not about denying our emotions. (That is the opposite mistake of being controlled by our emotions.) But many Christ-followers go into denial about death, intellectualizing the issue without being honest about their emotions, struggles, or needs as it relates to their own death or that of a loved one.
Death is something we don’t like to think about in our culture. Most of us deny our fears about dying. But the ancient devotional masters, like the Psalmist, knew a better way (e.g, Psalm 16, 23, 49, 107:20, and 116). They talk about death. They face whatever fears or grief they may have and offer their emotions to God. They even imagine their death to help them die to self and live only for God’s glory today. They see death as the ultimate submission to God. “Father, into your hands I commit spirit,” Jesus prayed on the cross (Luke 23:46; Psalm 31:5).
To find life in Jesus’ words, “You will never experience death,” we need to be honest about how we feel about death. We need to find comfort and strength from the Lord, often through people we trust. We need to let go of living life as a self-help project or trying to get God to make our lives turn out the way we want and instead abandon all outcomes to God, submitting to his kingdom and his purposes, knowing that regardless of what happens to us physically the greater reality that we can experience now and forever is the spiritual reality of being part of God’s kingdom.
Dwight Moody, the great American Evangelist of the 19th Century believed Jesus’ words, “You will never experience death.” He told people he’d never die and it could be the same for them. He took Jesus literally! God used his messages to convert many thousands of people. They confessed their sins at the cross of Christ, put their trust in the Lord, and came to experience “the life that is truly life,” the eternal and abundant living that Jesus offers us (1 Timothy 6:19, John 10:10). They are enjoying God in heaven right now!
Many a sermon and funeral has quoted Dwight Moody’s famous words testifying to the truth of Jesus’ words, “You will not experience death”:
Some day you will read in the papers that D.L. Moody of East Northfield, is dead. Don’t you believe a word of it! At that moment I shall be more alive than I am now; I shall have gone up higher, that is all, out of this old clay tenement into a house that is immortal- a body that death cannot touch, that sin cannot taint; a body fashioned like unto His glorious body.
I was born of the flesh in 1837. I was born of the Spirit in 1856. That which is born of the flesh may die, that which is born of the Spirit will live forever.
(The Autobiography of Dwight L. Moody, introduction. In 1899 he went up in to higher glory with Jesus.)
“Enter the Joy of the Lord!”
Dallas Willard unpacks the teaching of Jesus Christ that his followers will not experience death (see Chapter 10 of Divine Conspiracy). So many people fear aging, death, or not making it into heaven. Those who have the hope of heaven often experience it as a distant hope that doesn’t have much to do with how they live today.
Dallas says, “To live strongly and creatively in the kingdom of the heavens, we need to have firmly fixed in our minds what our future is to be like” (p 376). With sure hope, he explains that the future for those who put their confidence in Jesus is to reign with Jesus “in the endlessly ongoing creative work of God” (p. 378). He says this is what means to “enter into the joy of our Lord” (Matt 25:21).
How do we know this is our future? Because the Bible says so. Yes, but God intends for us not only to have rational beliefs based on historical truth and perfect wisdom, but also personal experience.
Experience Eternal Living Even in Suffering and Death
Dallas teaches us to venture on God’s kingdom today. “Eternal living” begins today! We don’t have to wait till we get to heaven. We can know the reality of divine life and glory in increasing measure starting now. In The Divine Conspiracy Dallas explains Jesus’ teaching, “You will not experience death.”
For the godly, death is nothing. Have no fear of those who can only kill the body, Jesus says (Matt. 10:28). We will not even experience death (John 8:51-52) and will, in fact, not die (John 11:26)…
Such is the understanding of the New Testament as a whole. Those who live in reliance upon the word and person of Jesus, and know by experience the reality of his kingdom, are always better off ‘dead,’ from the personal view… We live in the knowledge that, as Paul elsewhere says, ‘Jesus the Anointed has abolished death and has, through the gospel, made life and immortality obvious (2 Tim 1:10). (Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, p 393-394.)
“You will not experience death.” Are these just nice words? Are they just “spiritual” truths that don’t have much impact on our physical being and life?
The bodily resurrection of Jesus Christ proves the truth of his words. But maybe we still separate them from our experience of day-to-life and especially suffering. Maybe we see Jesus being tortured on the cross and think it’s awful. Maybe we imagine ourself suffering in some way or dying and we’re afraid. Then we haven’t understood Jesus’ teaching on death or what it means to be alive in God’s kingdom.
Jesus was experiencing eternal life even as he was in such pain on the cross. Stephen experienced it while he was being stoned. Countless martyrs for Christ through the ages have shown us that this is possible to be very much alive and vibrant in God while suffering. We see this all around us today in less extreme cases in which people suffer painfully and yet at the same time they rejoice in the Lord who is caring for them.
This was true of the Thessalonians who were persecuted for Christ in the 1st Century. Paul affirmed them, “You became imitators of us and of the Lord, for you welcomed the message in the midst of severe suffering with the joy given by the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:6). In the midst of pain or when we we’re dying we can experience increasing measures of the love, joy, and peace of God if we’ve learned to place ourselves in the Kingdom of God, finding our identity and draw our life from being under God’s rule and embraced in his presence.
Dallas Willard’s Death
In his tribute to Dallas Willard John Ortberg wrote:
When Dallas Willard was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer in late summer of 2012, one of his reflections was: “I think that, when I die, it might be some time until I know it.” Dallas was always saying things that would never occur to anyone else. He said that a person is a series of conscious experiences, and that for the one who trusts and follows Jesus, death itself has no power to interrupt this life. Jesus himself said that the one who trusts in him will not taste death.
Indeed, Dallas Willard himself proved the truth of Jesus’ words, “You will not experience death.” He entered into the eternal glory of heaven on May 8, 2013.
Furthermore, from his family and closest friends I have heard stories of how Dallas dealt with his cancer, surgeries, suffering, and dying. He practiced what he preached. He Abandoned Outcomes to God and drew sustenance from Jesus and his word, his gospel of the Kingdom of God. For specific examples of how Dallas himself dealt with his dying read my article, “Personal Reflections from Dallas Willard’s Funeral.”
Dallas Willard gives the best and most helpful explanation I have found on Jesus’ teaching, “You will not experience death.” He does of this at the end of The Divine Conspiracy. Also I have appreciated the way he unpacked this message as part of his “Kingdom Living: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God” series at Church of the Open Door in Minnesota back in the year 2000. (Information on how to order these CD’s is at the bottom of this article.) I have listened to this series over a dozen times! Still more times I’ve gone back to a thirty minute section of the 5th CD. Finally I decided to transcribe that portion for my own meditation and to share it with you.
This reading will take some time, but it’s worth a slow read. It’s a feast for your soul today, in your preparations to face “death”, and as you imagine your life in heaven for eternity.
The remainder of this article is Dallas Willard’s words with only very minor edits from me, including adding section headings.
Dallas Willard’s Words on Eternal Living Today and Heaven Forever
The last enemy to be destroyed is death. I want to talk about what Jesus had to say about this and in particular his teaching that those who accept his word will never see death, will never experience death.
This is a very big issue because a great deal of the fear that hovers over people’s lives is associated with death. Look at the futility of life, the idea, for example, that as you grow older you’re coming to the end of your life. Now if you believe Jesus you won’t believe that! You’ll have a different view of aging, of sickness, of the cessation of the body. You’ll understand all that differently and the fear will go out of it.
We live in a worldwide culture in which death is an awful thing. That’s the way it is experienced, the way it is looked it. You want to understand that if you enter into the eternal life of the kingdom of God you will never experience that awful thing which people are expecting to experience — you’ll never experience that.
Jesus Speaks From the Eternal Kingdom of God
You may have to revise your plans if you’ve been planning for something like that to happen to you. So let’s look at John chapter 8 and just get Jesus’ words before us. Jesus is speaking to us from the Kingdom of God. It’s such a different world that often we think, “Is this guy on track? Can he possibly mean what he is saying? ‘Don’t be anxious for anything… Don’t worry about the boat going down…’ All of that, is it real?”
Yes, it’s real! Now you have to remember that he is speaking from the eternal kingdom of God. And to use Paul’s language in 1 Timothy 6:16, “God, who only has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light,” God, “whom no man can see” with the physical senses. That’s God, that’s the world that Jesus is speaking from, that’s the reality, the spiritual being God and his world. “To him be honor and eternal dominion,” Paul says.
Jesus is speaking from that world. He’s in a battle here with with the people of his day. Jesus did not have an easy time with it. And the Jews, the leaders, are really giving it to him. Verse 48 of John 8, they’re calling him names. “The Jews answered him and said, ‘Did we not rightly say that you are a half-breed with the devil?” What they’re calling him here is a demon-possessed half-breed!
That’s not nice. That’s bad language. And Jesus said, “I do not have a demon, but I honor my Father. And you dishonor me. But I do not seek my own glory. There is one who seeks and judges. Jesus is setting the example here [of not seeking his own glory]. He is leaving [his reputation] to God, he’s leaving it all to God.
Jesus says, “Truly, truly I say to you, if anyone keeps my word.” Now, “keeps my word” means you have found the kingdom of God and you’re living in it. It doesn’t mean you’ve got it all, but it means that you’ve found it and you’re [learning what it’s like to be] living in it. “He shall never see death.” Then in the next verse the Jews feed Jesus’ words back to him, “If anyone keeps my word he shall never taste death,” he shall never experience death.
That goes along with other passages. For example 2 Timothy1:10. Speaking about what Jesus did, “Now Christ has been revealed,” or the purpose of God in Christ has been revealed, “by the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the gospel.” That’s how he abolished death.
Now when you abolish something where is it? It’s no longer there. Christ abolished death. Now what does that mean? That’s what we need to think about today.
God Alone is the Source of Life
Now God is one who preserves life in all things, as 1 Timothy 6:13 says. He has life in himself as, John 5:26 says. He has life in himself and gives life to everything else. So God is the foundation of life.
Life is the power of self-initiating, self-directing, self-sustaining energy. That’s what life is. Self-initiating, self-directing, self-sustaining energy. Life also has the power to utilize resources. So when your goldfish goes belly up in your tank what does that mean? It doesn’t have life anymore. It’s not initiating, sustaining, directing. It doesn’t nourish itself. It’s life is gone.
God is the ultimate source of life and he gives that to everything else that has life. Now the reason why you are not going to see death — why you are going to be maintained in life — is because God has invested in you, has a purpose for you, and he likes you. Those three things. God has invested in you, has a purpose for you, and he likes you. And he has the resources to keep you in existence and to cause you to thrive.
Stop Thinking of Your Life as Coming to an End!
Now folks, you want to stop now, if you haven’t already, of thinking of your life as coming to an end. Put that out of your mind. And reinterpret what is going to happen at what we call physical death. Falling asleep is the way it’s put in the New Testament because from this side that’s what it looks like. You’re not going to be asleep. You’re not going to experience some terrible thing.
This is so important because if you believe in death it will be extremely difficult for you to live in the light. Because this death is the ultimate futility. Death [in our world] not only means that everything that is good that you have cherished will cease to exist, but that you will cease to exist and very soon there won’t even be a memory or anything that is left of you. That’s the ultimate futility.
“Blessed are the Aged”
If you have [that view of death] in your mind then aging is experienced as coming into that ultimate futility. And so in our culture aging is just thought to be a horrible thing. One of the beatitudes that you have to say is, “Blessed are the aged. Blessed are they in nursing homes. Blessed are they in comas.” That’s the stretching that you experience. “Blessed are you when your kidneys start to fail. Blessed are they with cancer.” See now if you can’t put the gospel in those terms then you haven’t got the vision of the kingdom.
Once we have [understood Jesus’ gospel of the availability of God’s kingdom through confidence in him] then we can understand why its truth to say, “Christians are the only people better off dead.” That’s what Paul said, wasn’t it?
Now we want to be sure that we’re not just whistling in the dark when we say that, we’re not trying to whoop up something. Christian teaching is not cheerleading. Human beings are given to cheerleading because we’re often in very desperate situations. Its so funny to watch cheerleaders in games that have been lost an hour ago saying still, “We’re going to win!” The score is 93 to 2 and there’s two minutes left and they’re out there pumping cheer. Give us a break! That’s not what Christians are into. So we don’t hype stuff. Just let it be. We don’t need to cheerlead.
So much of what people get into is a false consciousness. Now that’s not what we’re talking about here. And again this takes us back to [the idea that Jesus is the Smartest Person alive]. Jesus knows what he’s talking about. He’s not cheerleading. He’s just telling it like it is — it’s all in the light of God and of his kingdom.
If you really believe Jesus then the burden of death is simply going to be lifted. The word which we keep, which makes it so that we never experience death is, precisely, the word of his kingdom. And we step into that, we keep it, by learning to live it. And then the verses that we read in funerals, like John 11 and 14, take on a new meaning because they’re not just statements about what is going to happen at death, but about who we are now. It’s about who we are now.
So Jesus allows Lazarus to die so that he can teach about death. That’s not a bad metaphor, he’s going to allow us to die — in many ways, you understand — so that the life that is eternal can be manifested in our body.
Listen now to Romans 8. Paul is talking about, “If you are carnal you will die, but if you are spiritual you will live. The carnal mind is enmity against God, it can’t be subject to the law of God” and so forth. But now he says, “If the Spirit of him that raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead shall also quicken your moral body.” So a new life begins to move in your mortal body and you begin to be identified with that. That is your life.
Paul continues, “So then brethren we are debtors not to the flesh, to live after the flesh, for if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if you through Spirit you do mortify the deeds of the body you shall live.” And then he goes on, “As many as are led by the Spirit…” You see this life from God is moving in you. And now then you’re that kind of [eternal] being.
So Lazarus has physically died. And Jesus comes now to minister to them and, in a typically human way, Mary and Martha reproach him because he didn’t keep Lazarus from dying. But what Jesus is here to do is to show that there is much more to Lazarus than they had suspected. And the life that is in Jesus is one which makes Lazarus alive still. Then Jesus brings him back [to the world].
You know many people wonder why did Jesus weep? I’ve often thought that he wept because he didn’t want to have put Lazarus through this process again — he was a friend of Lazarus’. Or maybe he wept because he saw that such an incredible fuss was being made about death. In fact, they hired people to come and mourn and scream and carry on about death!
But Jesus says to Martha in John 11:25: “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in me shall live even if he dies and everyone who lives and believes in me will shall never die. Do you believe this?” And Martha says, “Well, I believe you are the Christ.” And that’s important, but she hadn’t got the message. She believed he was the Christ but she didn’t understand what that meant. And so, as you know, he goes on to say, “I am the resurrection and the life.”
So that life which we receive from Christ is one that tells us who we are now.
Jesus Prepares a Place for You in Heaven
Then in the larger context of John 14 Jesus says, “Don’t let your hearts be troubled. You believe in God.” Now that’s crucial. Believe in God. God is precisely the one who alone as immortality in himself and gives it to others. “You believe in God, believe also in me.” Have that same confidence.
“In my father’s house are many dwelling places.” Now what’s he talking about? He said, “I am going away” and they don’t know what to do because they’re limited in their understanding to this side of death and Jesus is stretching them, saying, “No, you have to enlarge your understanding of this universe. That’s what “my Father’s house is” — it’s this universe. Now when you die you’re not going to leave this universe. The places that are prepared for you are in this universe. And when you read about all that is going on in the Cosmos (the “billions and billions and billions of planets”) that’s Jesus at work. That’s Jesus at work.
You’re not going to disappear in a fog bank. You’re going to see this universe for the first time as it really is — you’re going to see it to be full of God and you’re going to continue to live in that universe with God. That’s what it means to say, “You’ll never die.”
The Great Cloud of Witnesses Will Come for You
Now let’s try to be as specific as we can about that language, “You will never die.” It means that your life as you now experience it, you as a person, will continue right on through. It’s very likely that for awhile you will not even realize that you are dead unless you happen to see your body off somewhere. That’s why you will never experience death, you will never taste death. Your experience will continue. You will be in the presence of those whom God will send to receive you — he will send people to receive you — you will not be alone.
If you have been around dying people then you know that very often they start talking to people who have come to receive them before they leave you. Doctors used to have a name for it, before they had so much medication, they called it “the roving eye phenomenon.” And people who were conscious and dying in a normal state would see people, they would look at them and talk to them.
Now what I’m saying to you is real. The story about Lazarus and the rich man is not a parable, it’s a story of something that actually happened. What happened when Lazarus died? How did he go? Did he go alone? No. The angels came and took him into the embrace of Abraham. When you as a child of God die you will become angelic in form. Let’s relate that to Luke 20:36: “Neither can they die anymore because they are like angels.” Now, they are not angels, but they are like angels — “and are sons of God, being sons of the resurrection.”
So what you should expect is that at the moment that people are watching your body expire you will be in the company of those God has sent to receive you.
Now if you’re not on God’s side then the story runs a little bit differently. With reference to “Divies,” as we’ve endearingly come to refer to him, the rich man, it simply says, “He died and in hades he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham a far off.” That’s a different story. He experienced death, which in its deepest meaning is isolation from God.
The Time of Growing Steadily (1st Stage of Life)
It’s helpful to think about our life, as we move towards eternity, as being in three stages. The first stage is the time of growing steadily in kingdom substance, the time of growing steadily. This is preparing for our future existence. A good way to think about what we’re doing now is, “Training for reigning.” We’re training for reigning. We’re supposed to be learning that now. Remember Romans 5 talks about how sin had reigned and now we are reign through one, Christ Jesus. So everything you do, everything you have say over, that’s your opportunity to bring the kingdom of God into that, take your kingdom into God’s kingdom and make that as training for reigning.
[This is why prayer is important.] You might ask yourself why there would be an arrangement such as prayer. It’s actually kind of strange when you start thinking of it from the human point of view. Many people can’t sustain a prayer life because it doesn’t make sense to them. But fundamentally, the function of prayer is enable us to move into increasing power as we reign with Christ in our life now. We’re training for reigning.
Aging is Not a Loss, It’s a Gain
So what is aging? Aging is a progressing movement away from the natural powers of the body, which if you’re getting a little older you know that you are moving away from those. Right? But that’s not a bad thing because simultaneously God’s intent is that you’d be increasing in your spiritual power. That’s why we age.
Again you could imagine that God could’ve arranged something else for us. James Thurber, the American humorist, had a book called, Is Sex Necessary? Well, if you’re looking at it from God’s point of view you could image that there could be another way to get people than that, but there are reasons why sex is important. It’s the same way with aging. Could people just be like some of our people who have books and programs to sell [and their picture is from when they were much younger], couldn’t they just stay the way they are until it comes time to die — or maybe just not die?
That’s a human dream from a human kingdom, don’t expect much from it. God’s plan is that aging is a progressive increase in spiritual substance. That’s what aging is. Aging is not a loss — it’s a gain. When we understand kingdom of God reality we have to re-think so many things. Like fasting is not doing without, it is appropriating something else. So fasting is feasting. Aging is not losing something, though something is lost, it is primarily gaining something.
Now if I had time I’d like to talk more about what aging means in the family and the community and how the person who is aging becomes, among other things, an opportunity for the blessing of those who care for them. See that’s really a revolutionary way of thinking about in our culture. There’s one reading that I use in Applied Ethics from a woman named Jane English and her thesis is that if you don’t particularly like your parents you don’t owe them anything because you didn’t ask them to have you. So if you don’t like them just wave them on.
It’s very interesting when I read that. You talk about cultural differences. The Hispanic kids will sit there and say, “Are you serious?” The Asian kids will be literally writhing in pain to discuss this. And the Anglo kids will be saying, “Hey, man, that’s a good idea! I hadn’t thought of that — it’s wonderful!” That’s where this individualism thing has gone.
This is so important, isn’t it? You know most human cultures have respected the elderly because they have treated them as having more wisdom. Now, of course, the elderly can’t program DVD video players — seven year old kids can do that. So whose smarter? Well, the answer is that the DVD player doesn’t have much to do with smart. We have a radical shift here with this idea of aging.
I quote some words in The Divine Conspiracy. George MacDonald has written these words:
Our old age is the scorching of the bush
By life’s indwelling, incorruptible blaze.
O life, burn at this feeble shell of me,
Till I the sore singed garment off shall push,
Flap out my Psyche wings, and to thee rush.
You know the poem, The Chambered Nautilus by Oliver Wendell Holmes? The nautilus that little shell that gets bigger and bigger after just starting out with a little tail.
Build thee more stately mansions, O my soul,
As the swift seasons roll!
Leave thy low-vaulted past!
Let each new mansion, nobler than the last,
Shut thee from heaven with a dome more vast,
Till thou at length art free,
Leaving thine outgrown shell by life’s unresting sea!
The Time of Passage (2nd Stage of Life)
So then there’s the time of training for reigning and aging, and all the things that go with it. Of course, this should be done in community and unfortunately it isn’t often.
Then there’s the time of passage. And that is what we call death, from the physical point of view. That is when we move out of connection with our body that keeps us enmeshed in this world. It’s a sad time. It means that, for example, my sister who died six or seven years ago, I just would love to be able to pick the telephone and talk to her and to hear her laugh again — she had a crazy laugh. I can’t do that now. That’s the sad part for those who are here because we can no longer contact them — their body does not function as the place where we can meet them.
So that’s sad [to lose a loved one], but it’s temporary. And for the person who goes on there is no sadness if they’re alive in Jesus.
The Time of Reigning with Jesus (3rd Stage)
[Those who are alive in Jesus in heaven] are with those that they know and those that they don’t know as well. They are entering the full world of God and we want to just remember that they are fully occupied with good things. Jesus is preparing a place for us. Perhaps it wasn’t an accident that he decided to be a carpenter here.
As Paul says, “Those who are absent from the body are to be present with the Lord.” So I imagine that those who have gone on with Jesus are not just watching, I am sure that they are engaged with him. And really that’s what our future is, it’s good work — it isn’t harp playing, though it might involve a little of that — it will be creating. The joy of our Lord is creating and we will enter into the joy of our Lord with him.
Don’t worry about the details of this, as if you’ve got to go hang in a warehouse somewhere until the judgment. That is not a picture of reality! That is not a picture that is New Testament. Jesus said to thief that was dying with him, “Today you will be with me in Paradise.” And Paradise is a wonderful, beautiful natural setting. People are so lacking in imagination. “There’s no hell,” they say. How about Jupiter and Saturn? Oh, they would do very nicely. You want sulfur? I’ll give you sulfur, clouds of it!
And heaven is the same way. Look around you. Look at this universe! Listen. Any God that can make this earth isn’t going to have any problem with heaven. Streets of gold? No problem. Just arrange a few molecules differently and you’ve got all the gold they wanted. So often people think they’re arguing logically when they’re simply suffering from a lack of imagination.
So we want to understand that there is the time of passage and we go through that and there’s the time of reigning with Christ.
If you’ll excuse me I’ll read a few lines out of The Divine Conspiracy. I find it hard to improve on them. I’m still working on them.
Thus, we should not think of ourselves as destined to be celestial bureaucats, involved eternally in celestial “administrivia.” That would only be slightly better than being caught in an everlasting church service. No, we should think of our destiny as being absorbed in a tremendously creative team effort, with unimaginably splendid leadership, on an inconceivably vast plane of activity, with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment. This is the “eye hath not seen, neither ear heard” that lies before us in the prophetic vision (Isa 64:4).
That’s the time of reigning. You want to be looking forward to that. You want to understand that this is what Jesus is bringing to you when he brings to you the Kingdom of God.
Confidence in a Good and Loving God
Well, how am I going to quit? Maybe this summary.
You see, confidence in God is what we’re talking about. The reason why we have to talk about death is because we want to understand that he has conquered death, that he has abolished death, that this is not a problem or an issue. We want to understand that all that is good and right will be preserved, we will not lose anything that is good. Much that is evil, and in a sense all that is evil, will be redeemed so that every knee will bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2). In other words, Hitler, Nietsche, whoever it is, Giguis Kahn, everyone is going to say, “Jesus is Lord. Glory to God.”
Whatever their destiny is I don’t want to get into that. I myself believe that there are two destinies. I’m not particularly pleased with that, being a human being, but I am fairly sure that there are some beings who will recognize God for who he is and say, “I want nothing to do with him.”
Confidence in God is the foundation of deliverance from the normal human condition. And that confidence is faith. Confidence in God is based on perception or knowledge of how good he is in creation in redemption and in history. And it is to personally have the assurance that, “God has done well by me. Given everything that has happened in my life — the tragedies, the failures — still, this God is so good that I am sure that he has done well by me — by us — who I am, the events of my life, and the purposes he has for me, he has done well by me.
With this perception and confidence you will be naturally inclined to love the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul and all your mind and all your strength. Love. Love is the natural expression of our understanding of the goodness of God. And this is the condition of life in which the human system is meant to function. If we’re not in that condition then we don’t function well and our emotions and our thoughts will eat us through our glands and make our lives miserable and perhaps kill us with sicknesses simply because we do not live in this condition for which we were made to flourish in. We were made to flourish in the Kingdom of God.
On the foundation of love of God and of neighbor you become a disciple of Jesus. You learn by practicing disciplines for life in the Spirit how to free ourselves from the sin that is in our members and in our world. And so we know sanctification — what used to be called “Victory!”, I don’t know if you talk about victory.
“Kingdom Living: Rediscovering our Hidden Life in God” includes five sessions of Dallas Willard’s teaching that he gave at Church of the Open Door in Minnesota during the year 2000. Also you can read the tenth chapter of The Divine Conspiracy, “The Restoration of All Things,” which generally covers some of the same material.