Knowledge for Life: Learning to Trust and Grow in Spiritual Knowledge

April 17, 2010
Vineyard Anaheim

Soon after the publication of Knowing Christ Today, the Vineyard Anaheim invited Dallas to come and teach about the importance of the knowledge of God in our Christian faith. This resulted in a Saturday conference on April 10, 2010, entitled “Knowledge for Life: Learning to Trust and Grow in Spiritual Knowledge.” Sessions included:

  1. Knowledge and Biblical Faith and Spirituality
  2. How Christian Spiritual Knowledge is Assaulted by Secularism
  3. Knowledge and Desire
  4. Knowledge and Public Presence as Witness
  5. Communities of Love and Knowledge
     

As you listen, we invite you to follow along with the Conference Handouts or with the Study Guide created by Joe Gorra specifically for use with these recordings.

Resources

1: Knowledge and Biblical Faith and Spirituality

Dallas explores the profound shift in Western culture's perception of Christianity—from a foundational knowledge to a mere expression of personal faith. He sees Christianity as a comprehensive understanding of reality, underpinned by knowledge and not just blind faith. Dallas critiques the rise of secularism, which champions knowledge as purely secular, thereby sidelining the rich, transformative wisdom found in the teachings of Jesus. 

2: How Christian Spiritual Knowledge is Assaulted by Secularism

Dallas sheds light on the foundational premises of secular education and its impact on Christian knowledge. He illustrates how the Christian pursuit of truth and knowledge is not merely an intellectual endeavor but a deeply transformative spiritual journey. This talk is an invitation to rediscover the vibrant, living knowledge found in the teachings of Jesus—a knowledge that challenges the very heart of secular assumptions and offers a radical, liberating perspective on reality, well-being, goodness, and the path to becoming truly good persons.

3: Knowledge and Desire

Delving into the nuances of desire—often misconstrued as lust—and its intense grip on our lives, Dallas unveils the transformative potential of knowledge to steer this overwhelming force towards the good. He addresses the conflict at the heart of human experience: the tug-of-war between our immediate wants and the deeper, often unheeded wisdom that warns against them. Dallas navigates through the teachings of Jesus, the practices of spiritual disciplines, and the pivotal role of the will, advocating for a life where desires are disciplined, and actions are informed by a profound understanding of the good. 

4: Knowledge and Public Presence as Witness

Addressing the skepticism and discomfort that can arise from claims of divine knowledge, Dallas examines the parallels between professional expertise and spiritual understanding, arguing that both should be seen as sources of authority rather than arrogance. He challenges the notion that asserting one's spiritual convictions inherently implies judgment or exclusion of others, instead positioning such knowledge as a foundation for witness and love. Dallas sees the role of witnessing as facilitating understanding and connection, emphasizing that true witnessing is not about coercion but about inviting others into a transformative experience of knowing.

5: Communities of Love and Knowledge

Dallas challenges the conventional approach to witnessing, suggesting that it is not a selective act but a continuous expression of our inherent beliefs and values. By drawing on the metaphor of living water, he emphasizes that like love, our witness is not something we can switch on and off at will; it is a reflection of our ongoing relationship with God. Dallas highlights the role of community in fostering growth in grace and knowledge, arguing that the true measure of spiritual maturity is found not in isolation but in the rich tapestry of relationships within the body of Christ. 

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Knowledge and Biblical Faith and Spirituality

Highlights:

  • Critique  of Cultural Shift: Dallas sheds light on the cultural shift that has relegated Christian teachings from the realm of knowledge to mere faith, arguing that this undermines Christianity's role in providing a foundational understanding of reality.
  • Secularism's Monopoly: He criticizes secularism for monopolizing the concept of knowledge, pushing the rich insights of biblical teachings to the sidelines and labeling them as irrelevant to public life.
  • Christianity as Knowledge: Dallas emphasizes the importance of recognizing Christianity as containing a body of knowledge that informs and guides one's life, rather than an emotional crutch or a set of private, subjective beliefs.
  • Faith vs. Knowledge: Dallas illustrates how the teachings of Jesus offer profound knowledge about life, spirituality, and reality, challenging the notion that faith and knowledge are mutually exclusive.
  • Knowledge of God's Presence: He passionately advocates for a Christianity that is alive with the knowledge of God's presence and power, calling for a faith that is deeply rooted in the understanding and experience of God's truth.
  • Redefining Biblical Faith: Dallas critiques the modern misunderstanding of faith as a blind leap in the dark, proposing instead that biblical faith is a reasoned trust based on the knowledge of God and His promises.
  • Transformative Spiritual Knowledge: He draws attention to the transformative potential of spiritual knowledge, arguing that it empowers Christians to live in the freedom and fullness of life intended by God.
  • Call to Action: Dallas concludes with a call to action for Christians to engage deeply with their faith as a source of knowledge, challenging them to live out the teachings of Jesus with confidence and clarity in a confused and secular world.

How Christian Spiritual Knowledge is Assaulted by Secularism

Highlights:

  • Power of Christian Knowledge: Dallas begins with a reflection on the historical presentation of Christian teachings as deep, actionable knowledge, not merely as doctrinal assertions. He emphasizes the transformative power of living in Jesus' words, putting them into practice, and thus truly abiding in Him.
  • Freedom Through Truth: Dallas delves into the liberating force of spiritual knowledge, underscoring Jesus’ teaching that true discipleship—rooted in continuous engagement with His word—leads to a profound understanding of truth, which in turn sets one free from the bondage of sin.
  •  Misconception of Sin: Dallas challenges common perceptions of sin, arguing that many do not realize their own capacity to overcome sin through the knowledge and strength provided by God. He points out the misconception that sin is irresistible and emphasizes the role of divine knowledge in breaking free from its grasp.
  • Knowledge, Faith, and Spiritual Growth: He articulates the dynamic relationship between knowledge, faith, and spiritual growth, highlighting how an experiential knowledge of God lays the groundwork for a vibrant faith that manifests in action and leads to genuine freedom and spiritual maturity.
  • Assault of Secularism on Spiritual Knowledge: Dallas identifies secularism, especially within the educational system, as a major force challenging the validity and applicability of Christian spiritual knowledge. He argues that secular education often dismisses the profound, practical wisdom embedded in Christian teachings.
  • Role of the Church and Christian Education: Dallas advocates for the church and Christian educational institutions to be bastions of spiritual knowledge, confronting secular assumptions and equipping believers to live out their faith with confidence and understanding in the modern world.
  • Importance of Personal Interaction with God: Dallas emphasizes the transformative power of personal encounters with God, through which individuals gain a deeper, more intimate knowledge of His ways. He highlights the significance of such knowledge in experiencing the miraculous and living a life marked by the fruits of the Spirit.
  • Living Unhinged Without God: In a powerful closing argument, Dallas warns of the dire consequences of a life devoid of the knowledge of God. He points to the societal and moral decay that ensues when humanity turns inward, relying solely on secular humanism and dismissing the anchor of divine wisdom and knowledge.

Knowledge and Desire

Highlights:

  • Intensity of Desire: Dallas introduces the concept of desire, emphasizing its power to dominate life and the importance of not allowing it to do so, illustrating this through Jesus' conversation with the woman at the well.
  •  Knowledge vs. Desire: Dallas highlights the inherent conflict between knowledge and desire, pointing out how our desires often lead us away from what knowledge dictates as the right path, stressing the necessity of aligning the two.
  • Role of Spiritual Disciplines: Dallas explains how spiritual disciplines serve as tools to manage and understand desires, positioning them as practices aimed at redirecting life's focus from desires to what is genuinely good.
  • Power of the Will: Dallas elaborates on the critical role of the will in managing desires, arguing that the will is designed to pursue what is best under the guidance of knowledge, rather than being swayed by fleeting desires.
  • Dangers of Unchecked Desire: Dallas discusses the destructive potential of desires when left unchecked, using scriptural references to show how desires can lead to conflict, anger, and ultimately, a life of dissatisfaction.
  • Love vs. Desire: Dallas draws a distinction between love and desire, arguing that love focuses on the good of the other, while desire seeks personal gratification, underscoring the importance of prioritizing love in our interactions.
  • Transformative Power of Knowledge: Dallas asserts that only through knowledge can we truly discern and pursue what is good, thereby establishing a stable character that transcends mere desires.
  • Living in the Spirit: Dallas concludes with the vision of a life guided by the Spirit, where individuals are empowered to overcome desires and live in alignment with God's will, exemplifying a life of contentment and peace.

Knowledge and Public Presence as Witness

Highlights:

  • Navigating Knowledge and Humility: Dallas addresses the tension between claiming knowledge of God and avoiding presumption, emphasizing the importance of humility in witnessing.
  • Authority of Knowledge: He highlights how true knowledge, including spiritual understanding, carries an authority that transcends mere opinion or belief.
  • Witnessing vs. Winning Souls: Dallas differentiates between witnessing as an act of sharing knowledge and the concept of winning souls, advocating for a respectful and loving approach to spiritual dialogue.
  • Role of the Cross: The cross is presented as a remedy for arrogance and presumption, guiding believers in a humble and love-driven approach to sharing their faith.
  • Public Presence and Love: Dallas argues for a public demonstration of faith that is rooted in love, knowledge, and a commitment to the truth, challenging the secular notion of keeping faith private.
  • Judgment and Condemnation: He clarifies the distinction between making judgments and condemning, urging believers to engage in discernment and truth-telling without falling into the trap of condemnation.
  • Living Out Faith in Public: Dallas rejects the concept of a "naked public square" and encourages Christians to openly live out their faith with integrity, kindness, and wisdom.
  • The Ultimate Motive - Love: The talk concludes with a powerful reminder that the ultimate motive behind witnessing and sharing knowledge should be love, aiming to guide others towards the goodness and truth of God’s kingdom.

Communities of Love and Knowledge

Highlights:

  • Witnessing as a Way of Life: Dallas articulates that witnessing is not a special activity but an inherent aspect of being, continuously reflecting what one truly knows or believes, emphasizing the impossibility of choosing not to witness but only what to witness to.
  • Constant Flow of Knowledge and Love: He draws a parallel between the unceasing nature of God's love and the flow of divine knowledge, suggesting that both should be constant in a believer's life, much like rivers of living water.
  • The Community's Role in Spiritual Growth: Dallas underscores the significance of the community in the journey of growing in grace and knowledge, pointing out that spiritual development and the manifestation of grace are deeply communal.
  • True Fellowship: He elaborates on the transformative power of genuine fellowship within communities of faith, where members actively practice love, encouragement, and mutual support, embodying the scriptural mandate to build one another up.
  • Rethinking Church: Dallas challenges common perceptions of church involvement, advocating for a deeper engagement based on love and understanding, especially in the face of disagreement or opposition.
  • Misconceptions of the Gospel: He critiques narrow interpretations of the gospel focused solely on forgiveness, social justice, or church membership, urging for a holistic understanding that encompasses the kingdom of God.
  • Living Out the Kingdom: Dallas emphasizes the calling of the church to be a vivid demonstration of the kingdom of Heaven on earth, advocating for a life of active engagement and governance under God's reign.
  • Reigning in Life through Abundance of Grace: He concludes with a powerful reminder of the believer's call to reign in life by embracing an abundance of grace, illustrating the profound impact of living in intimate relationship with God and manifesting His kingdom through our lives.