Bringing Truth to Life

January 17-20, 2008
NavWorld Conference - Colorado Springs

“I have been given say over everything in heaven and on the earth. As you go because of that, make disciples of all kinds of people, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to conform to all that I have commanded you. And look, I am with you every day until the job is done.”    (Matt. 28:18-20)

We are to go into the world as Jesus’ people to make disciples to him and teach them the truth about God and humanity.  This is the only hope of humankind to escape the deadly cycles of passion and evil. We must be the teachers of the nations.

 

NavWorld Conference 
Colorado Springs, CO
January 17-20, 2008

Resources

1: Overview: Bringing Truth to Life

"Bringing Truth to Life" is a topic that The Navigators have long used in their publications, and, of course, it's what being a disciple of Jesus is all about. And in this conference the folks have decided to emphasize "The truth and sufficiency of the scriptures for the whole of life" and "Emphasizing families and relational networks in discipling the nations." In this first session, Dallas gives an overview of those themes.

2: What Truth Is and Why It Is So Important

Truth is a feature of our thoughts that allows us to live with realities that are not directly present to us. Realities that are not visible—at least at the time.  But also some realities that are never visible: God, His kingdom, the human heart, for example. Not being visible makes it easier for us to go wrong about realities that will, nevertheless, deeply affect our life, and to deny realities that we do not want to be so.

3: The Good News That Makes Disciples

Dallas Willard looks at common misconceptions about truth and discipleship. Discipleship to Jesus is the core method of bringing truth to life, rather than mere mental assent.  True discipleship involves learning to obey Christ's teachings and living them out in every aspect of life.

Overview: Bringing Truth to Life

Highlights:

  • Importance of Living in Truth: Dallas emphasizes that living in truth is crucial for disciples of Jesus, impacting how we interact with the world and aligning us with God's kingdom. He highlights Jesus' prayer in John 17, focusing on the desire for his followers to be sanctified in truth, which would inherently set them apart from the world's systems.
  • Sanctification as a Process, Not a Human Effort: He clarifies that sanctification is not about human effort or trying harder but is a side effect of living in truth and engaging with the word of God. Sanctification comes from a transformation within, guided by the Spirit of truth, and is a journey rather than a destination to be achieved through human strength.
  • Role of the Word of God in Transformation: The talk underscores the transformative power of the word of God in believers' lives. Dallas encourages meditation on Scripture, suggesting it's not merely for intellectual understanding but for practical application in daily life, leading to prosperity and success as defined by God's standards.
  • Discipleship and the Kingdom of God: A significant part of Dallas's message is the concept of discipleship as entering into and living within the kingdom of God here and now. He stresses that following Jesus and his teachings opens up the reality of God's kingdom to believers, offering a life that transcends earthly concerns and connects them to eternal truths.
  • Transformative Power of Living in the Kingdom: Dallas paints a vivid picture of how living in accordance with the kingdom's principles transforms individuals' lives, making them light-bearers in a world enveloped in darkness. This transformation is evident to those around them, compelling others to seek the same truth and life found in Jesus.
  • The Challenge to the Church: Lastly, Dallas challenges the contemporary church to embrace its primary role in discipleship, suggesting that the failure to do so has led to the necessity of para-church organizations. He calls for a reevaluation of what it means to be a follower of Christ, emphasizing the need for a church that lives out the transformative power of the gospel, thereby becoming truly contagious in its faith and practice.

What Truth Is and Why It Is So Important

Highlights:

  • Importance of Truth in Jesus's Purpose: Dallas emphasizes that for Jesus, truth was central to His mission. He cites Jesus's dialogue with Pilate, underscoring that Jesus’s kingdom is not of this world but is present within it. This distinction points to a kingdom that operates not on human power and deceit but on spiritual truths and realities.
  • The Power and Role of Truth: Dallas articulates the transformative power of truth, not just as an abstract concept but as a practical force capable of changing lives and societies. He discusses how Gandhi used truth as a political weapon effectively against the British, showcasing truth's potential beyond religious or spiritual domains.
  • Nature of Secularity and Its Implications: Dallas challenges the notion of secular openness, labeling it as a form of closed-mindedness. He argues that the secular approach in universities and culture tends to exclude the comprehensive understanding of truth and knowledge found in Christian teachings, which he sees as detrimental to genuine education and understanding.
  • The Great Commission and Discipleship: Dallas explains the foundational role of the Great Commission (Matthew 28:18-20) in Christian discipleship, highlighting Jesus's authority over all things as the basis for making disciples. He underscores the process of transforming lives through living out the teachings of Jesus within the context of a community of believers.
  • Relationship Between Human Desire, Will, and Truth: Dallas delves into the conflict between human desires and the will, describing how desires often lead to falsehoods and life choices that are contrary to God’s truth. He points to the necessity of aligning one’s desires with God’s will to live a life based on truth and in accordance with God's kingdom.
  • Christian Knowledge and the Reality of God's Kingdom: Dallas closes by affirming the existence of a body of Christian knowledge that provides real insights into reality and truth. He calls for Christians to live out and proclaim this knowledge boldly, assured of its transformative power in their lives and in the world.
     

The Good News That Makes Disciples

Highlights:

  • Truth and Its Importance: Dallas begins by emphasizing the absolute nature of truth, countering the idea that truth is relative. He illustrates the necessity of truth with the analogy of people lost in the woods, arguing that only by recognizing and following the truth can they find their way out. He defines truth as an "accurate representation of how things are."
  • Discipleship to Jesus as Bringing Truth to Life: Dallas identifies discipleship to Jesus as the core method of bringing truth to life. He explains that discipleship goes beyond mere knowledge or agreement with Jesus' teachings; it is about actively following and implementing those teachings in one's life. 
  • Mistake of Separating Faith from Obedience: Dallas critiques a common misunderstanding in Christian culture that separates faith from obedience, leading to a form of Christianity that lacks genuine discipleship. He argues that true discipleship involves learning to obey Christ's teachings and living them out, which is fundamentally different from merely adhering to a set of rules or doctrines.
  • Role of Suffering and Service in Following Jesus: Reflecting on Jesus' example, Dallas discusses the significance of suffering for others and serving them out of divine love. He challenges the notion of discipleship as merely asking "What would Jesus do?" and emphasizes the deeper commitment to live as Jesus lived..
  • Discipleship as a Lifestyle, Not Just a Religious Activity: Dallas underscores that discipleship to Jesus is not confined to religious activities or settings but is a comprehensive way of life. He illustrates this by discussing how the early disciples learned from Jesus by being with Him, observing His life, and following His example in every aspect of their lives.
  • The Good News That Makes Disciples: Dallas concludes by questioning the efficacy of contemporary gospel preaching in making true disciples. He critiques various versions of the gospel that fall short of promoting genuine discipleship and advocates for a return to the gospel of the kingdom of God that Jesus Himself preached. This gospel emphasizes the availability of God's kingdom through faith in Jesus, leading naturally to a life of discipleship marked by obedience to Christ's commands and transformation into His likeness.

The Bible as Indispensible Source of Truth: The Best Information Available to Human Beings on the Most Important Subjects in Life

Highlights:

  • Unique Role of the Bible in Revealing Truth: Dallas emphasizes the unparalleled way in which God has made His Word accessible to humanity, notably through Jesus. He underlines the current era's hunger for spiritual truth, paralleling it with historical periods of spiritual famine, and positions the Bible as a vital, unmatched source for addressing the deep needs of human hearts for identity and power.
  • Bible as Liberation from Human Control: The talk presents the Bible as a means to escape human-imposed layers of control, offering each individual direct access to God's Word. Dallas discusses Martin Luther's view of the priesthood of all believers, suggesting that access to scripture empowers every individual, regardless of status, to live in God's will.
  • Subversive Nature of Scripture: Dallas describes the Bible as subversive to human systems of power because it refuses to be contained or controlled by human authorities. This aspect makes the Bible a force for true spiritual freedom and transformation, not bound by denominational or institutional limits.
  • Foundational Questions Answered by Jesus: The speaker outlines four fundamental questions of life that every philosophy and religion attempts to answer: What is reality? Who is truly well off? Who is a good person? How does one become a good person? Dallas asserts that Jesus provides the most complete and satisfying answers to these questions, through both His teachings and example.
  • Personal Transformation through Obedience to Christ: Emphasizing the importance of discipleship, Dallas argues that following Jesus involves more than intellectual agreement or religious observance; it requires learning to live out Christ's teachings in everyday life. This process of obedience leads to deep personal change and aligns individuals with the reality of God's Kingdom.
  • Role of the Christian Community in Interpreting Scripture: Dallas cautions against individualistic interpretations of scripture, advocating instead for a communal approach to understanding the Bible. This perspective respects the diversity within the body of Christ while maintaining a unified commitment to living according to Jesus's commands.