The Written Word in the Progress of Redemption (from Hearing God by Dallas Willard)

Posted: March 19, 2013 in Life Revised

Once the life of Christ has entered into us there are many things that we may do to increase the extent and depth of our identification and union with Him. But the proper use of the written Word is most central to our cooperative efforts with God toward full conformity with Christ.

The written Word may come to us in many ways. It may come through sermons, through art, through casual conversation, through dramatic performances, literature or song. All of these are important. Although all these means are good and helpful, however, the person who wishes to grow in grace is by far best advised to make a close and constant companion of the book – the Bible. I do not mean it should be worshipped. Its uniquely sacred character is something that does not need to be exaggerated or even insisted on, because it is self-authenticating to any earnest and open-minded user. For just as openness to and hunger for God leads naturally to the Bible, if  it is available, so the eager use of the Bible leads naturally and tangibly to the mind of God and the person of Christ.

The written Word of God is an expression of God’s mind just as surely, though in a different manner, are as creation and Jesus, the living Word. As we read and study it intelligently, humbly and openly, we come increasingly to share God’s mind.

This use of the Bible is not superstitious or magical, because a natural connection exists between a proper use of the Bible and its ideal result – union with Christ. The Bible expresses the mind of God, since God Himself speaks to us through its pages. Thus we, in understanding the Bible, come to share His thoughts and attitudes and even come to share His life through His Word. Scripture is a communication that establishes communion and opens the way to union, all in a way that is perfectly understandable once we begin to have experience of it.

We will be spiritually safe in our use of the Bible if we follow a simple rule: Read with a submissive attitude. Read with a readiness to surrender all you are – all your plans, opinions, possessions, positions. Study as intelligently as possible, with all available means, but never study merely to find the truth and especially not just to prove something. Subordinate your desire to find the truth to your desire to do it, to act it out.

When we come to the Scriptures as part of our conscious strategy to cooperate with God for the full redemption of our life, we must desire that his revealed will should be true for us. Next, we should begin with those parts of Scripture with which we have some familiarity, such as Psalm 23, the Lord’s Prayer, the Sermon on the Mount, 1 Corinthians 13 or Roman 8. Go first to those parts of the Bible you already know, therefore, and count on your later growth and study to lead you to other parts that will be useful.

Do not try to read a great deal at once. It is better in one year to have ten good verses transferred into the substance of our loves than to have every word of the Bible flash before our eyes. We read to open ourselves to the Spirit.

Come to your chosen passage as to a place where you will have a holy meeting with God. Read a small part of the passage and dwell on it, praying for the assistance of God’s Spirit in bringing fully before your mind and into your life the realities expressed. Always as, “What is my life like since this is true and how shall I speak and act because of this?” 

The general train of development is as follows:

1. information

2. longing for it to be so

3. affirmation that it must be so

4. invocation to God to make it so

5. appropriation by God’s grace that it is so

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Hearing God by Dallas Willard

Being close to God means communicating with Him. But how do we hear His voice? How can we be sure that what we think we hear is not our own subconscious? What role does the Bible play? What if what God says to us is not clear? In this classic work, the author provides rich spiritual insight into how we can hear God’s voice clearly and develop an intimate partnership with Him.

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