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We Perish for Lack of Knowledge (KCT 2)

"Lack of knowledge is the cause of great harm to human life....We constantly see individuals suffer because of what they don’t know, or what they refuse to accept though they do know it.”

~ Knowing Christ Today, by Dallas Willard (p39)

What follows are simply the notes I took in studying the Dallas Willard's book, Knowing Christ Today. Because there are so many wise insights, I've split my notes over five posts; this post highlights chapter two: "How We Perish for Lack of Knowledge." For the most part, I've included page numbers and quotations as reference, but you should know that all of this is from the book. None of it is mine. Now let's dive in!

“People perish for lack of knowledge because only knowledge permits assured access to reality.” (p39)
One example of this is the Israelites.

“Hosea knew this well…(Israel’s) origin and survival had been, from the very beginning, due to a supernatural, personal presence that was guiding and protecting it – its God Jehovah. Knowledge of him and his ways was the Israelites’ only essential resource…It was lack of knowledge of this living reality that Hosea saw destroying his nation.


To fail to know the God who was the main source of Israel’s life – and then to fail, as a natural next step, to organize life around him and his actions was to pursue the path of sure destruction…


(Hosea) knew that the ultimate outcome would be the disappearance of the nation of Israel as a corporate, political entity. He was, of course, right. That is exactly what happened. …


What Hosea was confronting was a failure of knowledge at the level of ‘worldview’ and the general disintegration of life that comes from acting on falsehoods at that most fundamental of levels.” (p40-43)


Worldview…consists of the most general and basic assumptions about what is real and what is good – including assumptions about who we are and what we should do. It is not abstract…


...There is in fact nothing more practical than our worldview, for it determines the orientation of everything else we think and do….it is unavoidable…It dictates what we will or will not count on as resources and recognize as dangers. It determines our aims and our means and, eventually, the quality of our life and the kind of person we will become.” (p43-44)


Following are four key questions that shape one’s worldview, along with the answers that we find Jesus teaching during his time on Earth. Willard offers us this gentle reminder as we move forward…


Let us consider the answers to the four questions that Jesus Christ gives. It will help us in doing so if we suppose, for the moment, that he was quite intelligent and knew what he was talking about. That is not unreasonable in the light of his place in world history. (p50 )

Jesus answers are based on his firsthand experience and knowledge of this reality. People concluded Jesus was God because he could speak to anything, and it would obey!


1: THE REALITY QUESTION (p45, 50)

What is reality? God and his Kingdom.


The kingdom of (God) is the range of his effective will. It is, in the simplest possible terms, where what God wants done is done.” (p51)


The foundational part of a worldview is always what it considers to be real. Reality is what you can rely on. Knowledge of reality tends toward successful and confident interactions with reality. In James 1:8 a “double-minded” person is someone with a reality problem.

This is what lack of knowledge at the worldview level does to you. (p45)


Because the ‘double-minded’ are, as we say, ‘on again, off again,’ they are not able to receive what they are asking for. They are unable to act upon it. One day or hour they are asking God for wisdom, and the next day or hour they are relying on themselves or others. While they are asking God, they have in the corner of their mind the thought that God isn’t going to give them what they need, so they must take care of themselves. They are really relying on two different and incompatible things. And when they are trying to get wisdom on their own, they are thinking about the possibility of God giving it to them. On both sides they are undercut by their inner uncertainty about the reliability of God and God’s goodwill toward them. (p46)

2: WHO “HAS IT MADE?” (p46, 51)

Who is well off (blessed)? Anyone who is alive in the Kingdom of God.


That is, anyone who is interactively engaged with God and with the various dynamic dimensions of his reigning. Such engagement with God is an eternal living, an eternal life... where “eternal” has more to do with quality of life than quantity.


3: THE CHARACTER QUESTION (p47, 53)

Who is a really good person? Anyone permeated with agape love.


Remember that “love” means “to will the good” of that which is loved.


“This third question…is so vital to our worldview that our answer to it and our success in living out the correct answer affect our health and pervasively tinge all our relations to others...if you are convinced that you are not a worthy person, that puts your whole being under constant stress.” (p48)


A really good person, as Jesus teaches, is anyone who is pervaded with love: love for God who ‘first loved us’ and who in his Son taught us what love is (1 John 4:9-11). And then out of the abundance of such a kingdom life, we bring love to all with whom we have meaningful contact, our ‘neighbors.’ (p53)

4: THE DEVELOPMENT QUESTION (p48, 53)

How do you become a really good person? Place your confidence in Christ and become his student in Kingdom living.


No one else can produce the human transformation (Jesus) has in mind.”


“This amounts to progressively entering into the abundance of life he brings to us. You learn from him how to live in the Kingdom of God as he himself did. There is much to learn after you enter. To go through the door is not necessarily to live in the house!” (p53)


“We today live in a curious period when almost no one is willing to discuss the question of how one becomes a truly good person. There is now a widespread tendency in American culture to think that everyone is already good…They mistake worth for worthiness; the most unworthy of persons still has worth, value, a certain dignity to be respected…


...by contrast, the question of how one becomes a good person was uppermost in the minds of classical and medieval moralists…they thoroughly understood that the well-being of a society depends upon the predominance of genuinely good people.” (p49)


Jesus famously said that you could know the truth, and the truth would set you free. What is often left off is the preceding statement, where Jesus says that if you obey / understand / put into practice his words…THEN you would know the truth (and remember, believing isn’t the same as knowing) and THEN the truth would set you free.


Willard says it best:

It is as Jesus' personal friends, living interactively with him, that we know the truth and have the freedom – power over evil- that comes with such knowledge. John 8:31-32

(For more detail on the four key questions, including their importance to our every-day life, study The Divine Conspiracy, also by Dr. Willard.)


 

This was from Chapter Two. Don't Miss the Other Knowing Christ Today Notes:

You may also enjoy listening to Willard teach these concepts in "Knowledge of Christ in Today's World" - his video teaching, here.


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