Renovation of the Heart
Take on the character of Christ through the transformation of your spirit.
We aren’t born again to stay the way we are. But how many times have we looked around us in dismay at the lack of spiritual maturity in fellow believers? It is evident in the rising rate of divorces among Christian couples. We find it in the high percentages of Christians, even pastors, who regularly view pornography. And we face it each time a well-known leader in the Christian community is found in sexual sin or handling finances dishonestly. Perhaps you have struggled with your own character issues for years, even decades, to little avail.
There’s good news. You CAN experience significant growth in your Christian walk, shed sinful habits, and take on the character of Christ. In Renovation of the Heart, Dallas Willard calls it “the transformation of the spirit”—a divine process that “brings every element in our being, working from inside out, into harmony with the will of God”. As we become apprentices of Jesus our spirits are transformed.
But just what is this transformation? Dr. Willard explains that its ideal end is when “all of the essential parts of the human self are effectively organized around God, as they are restored and sustained by him. Spiritual transformation in Christ is the process leading to that ideal end, and its result is love of God with all of the heart, soul, mind, and strength, and of the neighbor as oneself.”
Although you may acknowledge this as the ideal, you may still wonder: “How do I get there”? Renovation of the Heart is a realistic guide to discipleship and the real challenges of Christian formation that helps to answer that inquiry. It lays a foundation for understanding the ruin and restoration of humanity, by discussing human nature and its components, how they operate, and how they are renewed. It describes common misunderstandings about our human nature, and the discipleship process. Most importantly, it outlines the general pattern of personal transformation—not as a formula, but as a systematic process that we have the responsibility to undertake as intentional apprentices of Jesus. Only then will our transformation be accomplished, through interaction with the grace of God in Christ, the presence of the Holy Spirit, and spiritual treasures stored in the body of Christ.
Additional Renovation resources:
Jan Johnson presents us with 61 devotional readings which guide us in applying the teachings of Renovation of the Heart in our daily living. Think of this as a lab manual to help with the most important renovation project we'll ever get to work on—our hearts. Jan's creative ideas and daily experiments will help move us all further along the path to becoming like Christ.
Ideally formatted for High School and College ages, this interactive book by pastor and author Randy Frazee provides opportunities for students to discuss ways to put on the character of Christ and live as He would live in their place.
Don Simpson's accessible distillation of Renovation of the Heart can be read as a devotional book for personal study and prayer or on retreat. Suggestions for meditation and response appear at the end of each chapter.
This 13-part study can be used for adult Sunday School or Bible Study groups of any size. Each session focuses on one chapter of Dr. Willard’s book, but participants do not need to have read the book and are not required to read it because all the key concepts are discussed in detail.
Each 20 minute video segment lets us listen-in as Dr. Willard teaches on the human personality and how it can be transformed into Christlikeness. He then participates in a brief 3-way conversation with John Ortberg and Larry Crabb that will begin a discussion to be continued among the members of your class or study group. Sample portions of the session on “Transforming the Will” are available on YouTube.
An exceptional set of Leader and Participant Guides, written by Gary W. Moon, accompany the videos. The Participant Guide includes Central Truths and Exercises for each subject, followed by discussion questions on the video lecture, video conversation and the original book. Each chapter closes with a Bible Study and Transforming Exercises for our thoughts, emotions, will, behavior and social interactions.
Christianity Today has selected Renovation of the Heart as the winner of their 2003 Book Award in the category of Spirituality. They describe the book as “Reading for people ready to make spiritual discipline a regular practice in their lives.”
“Once again we are in debt to this modern master of spiritual life. For all who are tired of formulas and clichés, for all who are frustrated by the failure of systems and revolutions, Dallas Willard’s explanation of the cultivation of the heart is fresh, practical, and timely.”
“From the pen of one of today’s most insightful spiritual instructors, Renovation of the Heart is a book that must be read by all who care deeply about the life of discipleship unto Jesus. Rooted in a deep, yet clear and understandable analysis of the human person, powerful guidance for discipleship sprouts forth on every page.”
“No one has thought more carefully than Dallas Willard about the human personality and how it can be transformed into Christlikeness. I give my highest recommendation to *Renovation of the Heart*.”
(Richard Foster shares further comments along with two sample suggestions of ways to practice the themes discussed in Renovation of the Heart in Renovare’s October 2002 issue of Perspectives.)
“*Renovation of the Heart* is a realistic guide to discipleship and the real challenge of Christian formation. For all would-be apprentices of Jesus, Renovation of the Heart is for you. Its aim is to help you find and fully live in the kingdom of God and his righteousness.”
(Colorado Springs, CO: NavPress, 2002) 269 pp., ISBN: 1576832961.
U.K. edition, slightly modified (Inter-Varsity Press), 2002.
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