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Chapter 13 of Renovation of the Heart Class

Slides for chapter 13 from class and discussion about Dallas Willard's Renovation of the Heart.

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Chapter 13 of Renovation of the Heart Class

  1. 1. Wednesday Night Class Renovation of the Heart: Putting on the Character of Christ November 18, 2020 1
  2. 2. Chapter 13: Spiritual Formation in the Local Congregation 2
  3. 3. A Spiritual “Hospital” • Ephesians 4: A people not swept up in every current of teaching or taken in by human trickery is a goal. • A group of disciples won’t all be at the same stage in their spiritual journey. • The analogy of hospitals is used. 3
  4. 4. The Central Cause of our Current Situation • Lieth Anderson: – Those who strive to be New Testament churches must seek to live its principles and absolutes, not reproduce the details. • The matters so many churches devote themselves to are not the primary matters that are addressed in the Bible. 4
  5. 5. The Vessel and the Treasure • We can mistake the vessel for the treasure • The outer man decays, but the light of Christ is the treasure. In the same way, congregations treasure traditions and their higher level groupings, or denominations. • These denominations become “100-percent vessel” and yet, so often they are regarded as the treasure. • List of traditions that people can obsess over. • Spending most of your time on these matters will not lead to progress in spiritual formation or Christlikeness. 5
  6. 6. Righteously Mean Christians • IN FACT, STANDING ON these things as essential is what produces mean and angry Christians. • “Why are Christians so mean?” becomes the question. • Many in the American church have the basic goal flipped. They try to get people into heaven rather than heaven into people. • This actually implodes upon itself because it “creates groups of people who may be ready to die, but are not ready to live.” • How do you avoid this? 6
  7. 7. God’s Plan for Spiritual Formation • The Great Commission becomes the basis of the plan for spiritual transformation of the local congregation. And there are three stages: – Make Disciples, apprentices of Jesus – Immersing the apprentices at all levels of growth in the presence of God – Transforming disciples inwardly in such a way that doing the words and deeds of Christ is not the focus but the natural outcome or side effect 7
  8. 8. Stage One • Making apprentices of Jesus is the first stage. • So what is an apprentice of Jesus? • They are those who are with him and learning to be like him. They are learning to lead their life in the same way Jesus would lead it were it him in their place. 8
  9. 9. Two Inseparable Aspects of Apprenticeship • There are two aspects of what we are learning about, but they are inseparable: – One is the “religious” aspect. What were the teachings of Jesus? – The other is the “secular” aspect of our lives. It’s the “how” of our lives. How do you as a Christian run a business, get along with neighbors, participate in government, etc? 9
  10. 10. Giving Up Your Life • Becoming a disciple is a matter of giving up your whole life • When the vessel overwhelms the treasure in these groups, discipleship to Christ is dropped or redefined as devotion to the institution. • The vision and intention to be and make disciples must be present (V & I of VIM). 10
  11. 11. Disciples Are Us • The primary candidates for discipleship are the people who are already present in the gatherings. • Those who are present should understand clearly what it means to be a disciple of Christ. • We’re not the ones to judge between wheat and chaff. • Serious work will have to be done. It could very well cause people to show how 11
  12. 12. Stage Two • The next two stages come under the M in the VIM pattern. • The second stage is “Immersing the apprentices at all levels of growth in the presence of God.” • The presence of God in the midst is the only sure mark of the true ecclesia. 12
  13. 13. Eliminating Performance • Honesty and openness means we must eliminate performance (where we try to make an impression rather than just be what we are) • When we gather, we should be gathering to encounter the presence of God through the others who are present. • We should not hold up leaders and speakers or their actions as the objects of our worship. • Far too often, those who gather focus too much on the small stuff. 13
  14. 14. Stage Three • Transforming disciples inwardly in such a way that doing the words and deeds of Christ is not the focus but the natural outcome or side effect. 14
  15. 15. We Do Not Choose to Believe or Not • Beliefs and feelings cannot be changed by choice. We can choose to take in ideas and information that form our beliefs and feelings. • Focusing our input on the word of God will pull us in a godly direction. • There is a difference between professed belief and actual belief. • And the changing of belief is very much the work of God, though we work to understand or help others to understand in the teaching at a local congregation. 15
  16. 16. And Beyond Teaching • There are going to be people who will not be reached or helped by “regular church services.” • “We must be Spirit led, Bible informed, intelligent, experimental, and persistent.” • We must flatly say that one of the greatest contemporary barriers to meaningful spiritual formation in Christlikeness is overconfidence in the spiritual efficacy of “regular church services,” of whatever kind they may be. Though they are vital, they are not enough. It is that simple. 16
  17. 17. Two Steps of Confidence • There are two things the local congregation must do to be stabilized and “drawn onward.” – First, openly expect the apprentices to learn to do the various things that Jesus taught us to do. – Second, announce that you teach people to do the things that Jesus said to do. 17
  18. 18. Postlude • Patience: Take the long view of the race that is set before us. • Keep our eyes focused on Christ who gave us faith to run in the first place. • Time is now for specific planning. What are the particular things we must do to bring our dimensions in alignment with Christ? • Leaders or those with influence over others, what are you doing to aid and direct the progress of those in our care? 18
  19. 19. Next Week: November 25—No Class December 2, 9, 16, 30—Single Topic Studies January 6—Start new series; TBD 19
  20. 20. Matters for Thought and Discussion • 6. Does “righteous meanness” actually happen? If so, do you agree with the explanation given in this chapter of why it is acceptable behavior? • 11. Could it really be true that “outreach” should not be a primary goal of church life? What should be primary goals? • 12. Could we really eliminate “performance” from our church gatherings? What would our meetings be like if we did? • 14. What things could your local congregation do beyond “regular church services” to advance spiritual transformation in its members? • 15. Could we really publicly announce that we teach people how to actually do the things Jesus said for us to do? What would have to change around the church house if we were to do that? • 16. “It really matters little what else you do or don’t do in the local congregation, so long as all is organized around God’s plan for spiritual formation as given in Matthew 28:18-20.” Could this possibly be true? If so, what should we do about it? 20