Kingdom Living - It's a Wonderful Life!

February 9 - March 16, 1999
Valley Vineyard - Reseda, CA

This 6-week series was presented in 1999, soon after the publication of The Divine Conspiracy, at Valley Vineyard Christian Church in Reseda, California. The six sessions have been divided into thirteen segments for easier viewing.

SESSION 1: Walking in the Character and Power of God

SESSION 2: The Basis for Death to Self for Kingdom Living 
Part 1, 2 and 3

SESSION 3: How to Be in the World But Not of It 
Part 1 and 2

SESSION 4: The New Kind of Human Life and Its Community 
part Part 1, 2 and 3  

SESSION 5: Learning Kingdom Love 
part 1 and 2

SESSION 6: The Word of the Kingdom as a Life Force

Much of this material can be found in Dallas's book, The Divine Conspiracy.

Resources

1: Walking in the Character and Power of God

Join Dallas in examining Kingdom Living, defined as living in the character and power of God.  With practical advice and profound insights, Dallas articulates how to embody the qualities seen in Jesus—faith, hope, and love—through confidence in God’s promises. This talk is an essential guide for anyone seeking to live in and from the reality of the Kingdom of God in everyday life.

2: The Kingdom of God as the Basis of Death to Self, part 1

Join Dallas as he delves into the transformative power of scripture and the profound mysteries of the Kingdom of God. Discover how memorizing scripture is not just an act of faith but a pathway to wisdom, how the Kingdom of God remains a hidden yet pervasive realm, and why spiritual disciplines are crucial for true spiritual growth. Explore the paradoxical concept of finding life by dying to oneself and the practical steps necessary for entering God's kingdom. 

3: The Kingdom of God as the Basis of Death to Self, part 2

Join Dallas as he navigates the depths of the kingdom of God and spiritual realities, drawing from scripture, science, and theology. Uncover profound insights into faith and surrender, exploring topics from God's creative power to the challenge of death to self. Prepare to be inspired and challenged to trust in God's wisdom and provision in every aspect of life

4: The Kingdom of God as the Basis for Death to Self, part 3

Join Dallas as he unveils the profound truth that while we're not often privileged to gaze directly into the reality of the kingdom, there are moments when the heavens open, granting us glimpses of its eternal splendor. Discover how living before these open heavens transforms our perception, empowers spiritual growth, and beckons us into the dramatic life of God's redemptive narrative.

5: How to Be in the World But Not of It, part 1

Dallas explores the nuances of living in the kingdom of God, emphasizing the intertwined nature of character and power. Through a candid examination of Jesus' prayer for believers to be in the world but not of it, he confronts the challenges of worldly desires and pride, advocating for a reflective will aligned with God's purpose. 

6: How to Be in the World But Not of It, part 2

In this second part of “How to Be in the World but Not of It," Dallas uses relatable examples, like a disorderly McDonald's, to illustrate the pitfalls of impulsivity and the importance of mastering one's will. He revisits the concept of sin, the power of scripture in understanding human behavior, and the necessity of cultivating a reflective will. Dallas emphasizes the role of forgiveness and humility in overcoming personal and societal challenges.

7: The New Kind of Human Life and Its Community, part 1

Dallas explores the essence of discipleship, urging us to embrace a life that truly reflects the teachings and example of Jesus. He challenges superficial expressions of faith, emphasizing the need for authentic spiritual experiences that transcend traditional boundaries and transform lives. This compelling discussion navigates through the risks and rewards of living out the Kingdom of God principles in the modern world.

8: The New Kind of Human Life and Its Community, part 2

Join Dallas Willard as he explores the profound concepts of agape love and the peace of God. Dive into the transformative power of worship and its role in cultivating joy and resilience among believers. Discover how the Kingdom of God transcends earthly institutions, offering a new kind of power that comes directly from the Holy Spirit. 

9: The New Kind of Human Life and Its Community, part 3

Join Dallas as he explores the weighty reality of living as individuals and communities truly inhabited by God. Dallas delves into how the visible and audible manifestations of God's presence among His people can transform both individual lives and collective spiritual experiences. He challenges believers to not only recognize the divine within but to also allow it to be evident to the world, reshaping evangelism and community interactions through the undeniable evidence of a life transformed by the Holy Spirit.

10: Learning Kingdom Love, part 1

Explore the transformative power of love that transcends societal positions and confronts cultural ideologies with the profound vision of Christ. Dallas challenges common misconceptions about love, emphasizing that true love is not merely about acts but a deeper state of being that naturally inspires those acts. Discover how to live out this powerful love in everyday interactions and learn to love beyond mere emotional delight, embracing a life guided by divine principles. 

11: Learning Kingdom Love, part 2

Join Dallas as he explores the profound dynamics of the "triangle of love" involving God, us, and our relationships with others. Dallas looks into the true source of love, its transformative power to eradicate fear, and the challenges we face in truly understanding and manifesting it in our lives. He urges us to reflect on our own choices and the necessity of grounding our relationships in divine love to overcome the natural human inclinations towards selfishness and discord.

12: The Word of the Kingdom as a Life Force

Discover how the word of the kingdom isn't just a message, but a transformative force that reshapes our understanding of love, sustenance, and spiritual fulfillment. Dallas delves into the parable of the sower to illustrate how our response to this word shapes our spiritual health and effectiveness. He emphasizes the importance of spiritual disciplines in nurturing our reception of the kingdom's power, encouraging a life that truly bears fruit in the reality of God's promises. 

Walking in the Character and Power of God

Highlights:

  • Core Challenge: Dallas opens his talk by addressing a common issue in Christian growth—not merely drawing in the uncommitted, but enabling the committed to experience the full life that Christ offers. He emphasizes that the transformation of committed followers is essential for reflecting Christ's life to the world.
  • Kingdom Living Defined: “Kingdom Living” is living in the character and power of God. It means inwardly taking on the qualities of God.  
  • Power of Scripture: Dallas challenges his audience to regularly read and memorize specific scriptures, such as Colossians 3:1-17 and 1 Corinthians 13, to internalize and practice the truths found therein. He suggests that these passages comprehensively cover the essentials of Christian character and living.
  • Transformative Reading: Emphasizing the transformative power of scripture, Dallas advises his listeners to not just read but meditate on the scriptures, incorporating them into daily life and conversations with others, thereby allowing biblical principles to shape one’s life profoundly.
  • Character and Power of God: Dallas discusses the dual aspects of living in God’s kingdom—character and power. He stresses that believers should emulate the qualities of God as seen in Jesus, which are expressed in love, faith, and hope as outlined in 1 Corinthians 13.
  • Faith as Confidence: He delves into the nature of faith, defining it as confidence rather than mere belief. Dallas explains that this confidence is crucial for living effectively within God’s kingdom, encouraging a bold and assured approach to life’s challenges based on God’s reliability.
  • Engaging with God’s Kingdom: Dallas speaks about actively engaging with God’s kingdom through understanding and practice. He stresses the importance of not just hearing the word but putting it into practice, thus living out the principles of the kingdom in everyday situations.
  • Practical Kingdom Living: Dallas offers practical advice on how to live out Kingdom principles. He suggests daily acknowledgment of God’s sovereignty in all things, a challenge to live out Jesus’s teachings as true, and the necessity of resting in God’s promises and timing, emphasizing the integration of God’s character and power in daily living.

The Kingdom of God as the Basis of Death to Self, part 1

Highlights:

  • Power of Memorization: Dallas emphasizes the transformative power of memorizing scripture, not as a task of righteousness but as a path to wisdom. He asserts that the attempt to memorize, even if it fails, enriches the soul by engaging deeply with the words of Christ.
  • Living Substance of God's Word: The word of God is not merely text but a living substance that, when taken into the mind, lives and operates autonomously. Dallas highlights the spiritual nourishment that comes from internalizing scripture.
  • Understanding the Kingdom of God: Dallas discusses the Kingdom of God as a hidden realm that is not obvious to the human understanding. He explains that recognizing this hidden nature is crucial to understanding life's true purpose under God's reign, contrasting it with the superficial identities people often construct.
  • Role of Spiritual Disciplines: He speaks about spiritual disciplines, like prayer and meditation, as self-validating activities that reveal their worth through practice. Dallas encourages engaging in these disciplines not just theoretically but as practical actions that bring the divine presence into daily life.
  • Death to Self in God's Kingdom: The theme of 'death to self' is pivotal in Dallas's talk. He explains that true life begins when one dies to oneself and lives through Christ. This concept underscores the paradox of finding life by giving it up for the sake of aligning with Jesus's teachings and kingdom.
  • Practical Steps to Entering God's Kingdom: Dallas outlines practical steps to genuinely live in the Kingdom of God, which include acknowledging God in all actions, risking for the divine to intervene, resting in God's reality, and accepting one's symbolic death to embrace a new life in Christ.
  • Power of Forgiveness: Through forgiveness, individuals release burdens and experience a profound liberation and peace that only divine intervention can facilitate, demonstrating the kingdom's presence and power in personal transformation.

The Kingdom of God as the Basis of Death to Self, part 2

Highlights:

  • Faith as Vision of the Invisible World: Faith isn't merely a leap, but a profound confidence in the reality of the invisible world. Dallas explores biblical passages like Hebrews 11 and 2 Corinthians 4:18 to illustrate how faith is anchored in perceiving the unseen.
  • God's Creative Power and the Physical Universe: Through the lens of science and theology, Dallas unveils the creative power of God, juxtaposing it with human endeavors. He elucidates how God's energy birthed the material universe, inviting contemplation on the magnitude of divine creation.
  • The Kingdom of God and Divine Expectation: Dallas intertwines the concept of the kingdom of God with humanity's role in it, accentuating our innate desire for creativity and goodness. He links human aspirations with divine expectations, echoing the divine-human partnership.
  • Death to Self and Surrender to God's Life: Exploring the concept of death to self, Dallas elucidates how it entails surrendering to the vast, eternal life of God. He contrasts human tendencies to manage and control with the freedom found in abandoning oneself to God's providence.
  • Ananias and Sapphira: Illustration of False Pretense: Dallas recounts the tragic story of Ananias and Sapphira, showcasing how their deceitful actions exemplify a failure to surrender to God's will. He emphasizes the danger of pretending to be something we're not, underscoring the importance of authenticity in the Christian journey.
  • Power and Danger of God's Presence: Reflecting on early Christian experiences, Dallas highlights the profound power and potential danger of God's presence among believers. He points to instances like those in 1 Corinthians 11, where the intensity of divine presence was palpable, even causing physical consequences.
  • Trusting God's Greatness in Every Detail: Dallas encourages trust in God's greatness amidst life's complexities, urging listeners to release their concerns into God's hands. He reminds them that regardless of the situation, acknowledging God's sovereignty can offer peace and assurance, even in the face of uncertainty.

The Kingdom of God as the Basis for Death to Self, part 3

Highlights: 

  • Living Before the Open Heavens: Dallas emphasizes the invitation to live constantly before open heavens, drawing parallels between biblical instances like Jesus' baptism and Ezekiel's visions. He suggests that accessing the spiritual realm requires a shift in perspective, allowing us to glimpse the eternal reality.
  • God's Presence Fills All Space: Dallas challenges the notion of empty space, asserting that it is all filled with God's presence. He implies that if God were to reveal Himself fully, it would overwhelm us, hence His arrangement for us to choose whether to seek Him or not.
  • Spiritual Perception and Self-Mastery: He contrasts impulsive will with reflective will, suggesting that spiritual maturity involves mastering the body to perceive spiritual reality. Dallas uses anecdotes about children and fasting to illustrate the journey towards self-mastery and alignment with God's will.
  • Death to Self: Drama of the Kingdom: Dallas explores the concept of death to self, framing it not as self-obliteration but as stepping into the dramatic life of God's kingdom. He emphasizes that true fulfillment comes from participating in God's redemptive narrative rather than pursuing selfish desires.
  • Repentance and Redemption: Drawing from personal experiences, Dallas illustrates the power of forgiveness and repentance in bringing about transformation. He highlights repentance as a gift that allows individuals to align themselves with God's kingdom, ultimately leading to redemption and reconciliation.

How to Be in the World But Not of It, part 1

Highlights:

  • Living in the Kingdom of God: Living in the kingdom means walking in the character and power of God, where both aspects are indispensable. Without the power of God, manifested in fellowship, the fruit of the Spirit cannot truly flourish.
  • Basis for Death to Self: Death to self is the foundation of living in the kingdom, forsaking inferior lives for one in God's kingdom. It's a shift from negative conceptions of holiness to understanding it as a positive transformation towards the likeness of Christ.
  • Being in the World, Not of It: Jesus prayed for believers to be in the world but not of it, maintaining a distinctiveness from worldly values. This involves understanding the world's systems of desire, pride, and dominance, and aligning oneself with God's will.
  • Passing Nature of the World: The world, with its desires and lusts, is transient, contrasting with the enduring nature of God's kingdom. Understanding this contrast helps believers prioritize the eternal over the temporal.
  • Crucifying the Flesh: Believers are called to crucify the flesh with its affections and lusts, freeing themselves from the dominance of impulsive will. This liberation enables the reflective will to align with God's goodness and purpose.
  • Reflective Will and Union with Christ: A reflective will, united with Christ, acts in accordance with what is truly good and is liberated from impulsive desires. Union with Christ allows believers to say, "I am crucified with Christ; nevertheless I live, yet not I, but Christ lives in me."

How to Be in the World But Not of It, part 2

Highlights:

  • Observation in Everyday Scenarios: Dallas starts his talk by describing a scene at a poorly managed McDonald's to illustrate how people can become aggressively impulsive when their environment is frustrating. He links this behavior to a deeper spiritual issue, suggesting that such impulsivity stems from an unliberated will that has mastered the individual, rather than being mastered by them.
  • Lost Concept of Sin: Dallas points out that society has lost touch with the concept of sin, likening it to a farmer who cannot acknowledge weeds affecting crop growth. He implies that failing to recognize and address sin leads to broader societal and personal issues.
  • Power of Scripture in Understanding Human Nature: He emphasizes the analytical depth of the scripture, particularly Romans 1, to explain human nature under an uncrucified and unredeemed will. 
  • Contrast Between the Impulsive and Reflective Will: Dallas discusses the importance of cultivating a reflective will as opposed to an impulsive one. He highlights the danger of letting impulsive decisions dominate, encouraging his audience to teach their children and others the value of reflection and the long-term benefits of making considered choices.
  • Role of Forgiveness and Dying to Self: He talks about forgiveness and dying to self as central to Christian life, positioning them as essential for living in the world without being of it. Dallas suggests that genuine forgiveness and humility are the pathways to freeing oneself from being dominated by personal will and societal expectations.
  • Divine Will and Human Responsibility: Towards the end of his talk, Dallas delves into the relationship between divine will and human responsibility. He stresses that it’s not about aligning our will with God as a means of gaining control but about genuinely surrendering to God's will, which is transformative and leads to true freedom and the ability to positively impact others and the world.

The New Kind of Human Life and Its Community, part 1

Highlights:

  • Essence of Discipleship: Dallas begins his talk by highlighting the challenge of conveying the true essence of a new kind of human life that revolves around becoming disciples of Jesus. He emphasizes that discipleship requires a profound transformation, influenced by the overwhelming allure of the Kingdom of God, which compels a reorganization of personal priorities and life's direction.
  • Real Encounters and the Power of Example: Dallas talks about the literal and metaphorical notion of walking on water, comparing the building of a transparent bridge on the Sea of Galilee to the authentic experiences of faith that Jesus' disciples like Peter had. He uses this metaphor to illustrate the authenticity required in faith and life, dismissing superficial or engineered experiences in favor of genuine life-changing ones.
  • Navigating Life with Kingdom Principles: Dallas discusses the practical challenges and risks of living according to the Kingdom of God while residing in the worldly realm. He criticizes the contemporary Christian experience that often fails to challenge believers to rise to the fullness of discipleship, focusing on a transformation that aligns with the spiritual realities and commandments described in the scriptures.
  • Power of Scripture in Transformation: Using Colossians 3 as a guide, Dallas explains how the scriptures provide practical directives for a life transformed by Christ. He discusses the concept of the 'new man' who lives above earthly concerns through the renewal of knowledge and the shedding of base human behaviors, fostering a community where divisive social distinctions are obliterated in Christ.
  • Forgiveness and Living Beyond Human Instruments: Dallas concludes with a profound insight into the power of forgiveness and the rejection of human mechanisms for managing relationships, such as guilt and manipulation. He challenges listeners to embrace a higher spiritual reality where actions are governed by divine rather than human principles, suggesting that this alignment with God's will unlocks true spiritual power and transformation.

The New Kind of Human Life and Its Community, part 2

Highlights:

  • Understanding Agape Love: Dallas emphasizes the significance of agape, a Greek term for love, explaining its distinction from common perceptions of love. He points out that the older translations chose "charity" to preserve the essence of agape, which encapsulates selfless and unconditional giving. Agape, as described by Paul, serves as the bond of perfectness that completes and unites various virtues such as mercy, kindness, and forgiveness.
  • Gift of God's Peace: Dallas discusses the peace that comes from God, highlighting its nature as unshakable and resilient regardless of external circumstances. This peace is not just a personal experience but is shared within the community of believers, symbolizing a collective state that transcends understanding and guards the hearts and minds of those in Christ.
  • Role of Worship in Spiritual Joy: According to Dallas, worship is a foundational activity that fosters joy within believers. He recounts the biblical story of Isaiah who experienced overwhelming joy in the presence of God despite the formidable nature of the vision he received. This joy leads to a deeper sense of peace and commitment, demonstrating the transformative power of true spiritual worship.
  • Living Out the Kingdom of God: Dallas explains the concept of the Kingdom of God as illustrated in the Book of Acts, emphasizing that it operates independently of human institutions and positions. He suggests that true power in God’s kingdom comes from the Holy Spirit and is not tied to one’s status or position, which is a radical shift from worldly values.
  • Power of Community and Song: Dallas highlights the strength of a community bonded by the wisdom of Christ, where members encourage one another through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. He suggests that such practices not only enrich individual lives but also strengthen the collective faith and coherence of the community, offering a glimpse into the uplifting and sustaining power of shared spiritual engagement.

The New Kind of Human Life and Its Community, part 3

Highlights:

  • Inhabited by the Divine: Dallas emphasizes the concept that true believers are not just inhabitants of the world, but are instead inhabited by God Himself. This divine inhabitation becomes apparent and tangible in the world, evidenced by the symbolic tongues of fire representing the Holy Spirit's energy and power during Pentecost.
  • Visible Signs of Spiritual Presence: Dallas discusses the historical and metaphorical significance of halos in paintings, suggesting that they represent visible signs of being inhabited by God. He argues that the presence of God in an individual should be manifestly visible and audible, influencing the spiritual environment around them and fostering a palpable sense of the divine.
  • Evangelizing Power of the Manifest Presence: Dallas reflects on the evangelical role of the human body, asserting that it should serve as the primary instrument of spreading Christianity. He underscores the idea that both sin and sanctity manifest visibly within the body, influencing those around us and revealing the spiritual battles we face.
  • Challenge of Maintaining Spiritual Integrity: Dallas criticizes the tendency among Christians to hide their faith to avoid seeming overly religious. He highlights the importance of letting God's presence shine through our actions and words, suggesting that concealing this presence hampers the church's mission and prevents the spontaneous spread of faith seen in the early Church.
  • Transformative Power of the Kingdom of God: Dallas concludes by calling for Christians to immerse themselves in the life and power of the Kingdom of God, which starkly contrasts with ordinary human existence. He advocates for a communal life that visibly demonstrates God's transformative work, offering a compelling alternative to skepticism and doubt through the undeniable evidence of changed lives and spiritual vitality.

Learning Kingdom Love, part 1

Highlights:

  • Power Independent of Position: Dallas discusses the profound Christian concept of exercising power that does not depend on human position, which reflects the biblical narratives of Peter and John. He explains how this power manifests when believers act beyond their comfort zones, trusting in the spiritual strength provided by God, rather than relying on worldly authority.
  • Confronting Cultural Ideologies with Christ's Vision: Dallas highlights the confrontation between the gospel and the prevailing Greek cultural ideas during Paul's time, as depicted in Acts 17. He emphasizes the importance of presenting Christ as the fulfillment of the deeply ingrained human aspirations that every culture harbors, which the gospel uniquely satisfies.
  • Understanding True Love: Dallas points out the common misconception that performing acts of love is sufficient. Instead, he argues that true love must first exist in the heart before it can manifest in actions. He underscores that understanding and experiencing genuine love is foundational to naturally performing acts of love.
  • Practical Implications of Love in Daily Life: The speaker elaborates on how genuine love should influence everyday interactions, such as lending tools without expecting them back. Dallas encourages a transformative way of living that reflects God’s unconditional love, demonstrating kindness to all, irrespective of their actions towards us.
  • Love Beyond Delight: Dallas concludes with a critical distinction between liking and loving. He stresses that love does not require delight; it is an act of will towards someone's good, regardless of personal feelings. This understanding of love challenges the listener to love beyond mere emotional satisfaction, aligning actions with the reflective will guided by God’s principles.

Learning Kingdom Love, part 2

Highlights:

  • Triangle of Love: Dallas explains the concept of a "triangle of love" involving God's love for us, our love for God, and our love for each other. He emphasizes that true love originates from God and notes the confusion prevalent among people regarding the nature of love.
  • Overcoming Fear with Love: Dallas highlights how understanding and embracing God’s unconditional love can remove fear from our relationships. He describes this transformative love as a stabilizing force that allows us to love others without fear, reflecting on the promise that God will never leave or forsake us, which bolsters our confidence and security.
  • Challenge of True Love: Dallas discusses the difficulties people face in relationships due to incorrect foundations and expectations about love. He points out the tendency of human love to falter under the pressures of minor grievances and disappointments. Dallas emphasizes the necessity of grounding relationships in God’s love to navigate tough times.
  • Choosing Love Over Natural Instincts: Love does not come naturally to humans; instead, it requires a deliberate choice and understanding. He challenges the audience to reflect on their personal decisions to embrace a life characterized by the type of love described in 1 Corinthians 13. Dallas stresses the importance of making a conscious decision to pursue this kind of love despite natural human tendencies towards selfishness and conflict.
  • Lifelong Journey of Learning Love: Dallas calls for a deep personal introspection to identify and relinquish non-loving elements within ourselves. He advocates for a persistent and mindful effort to cultivate love in every interaction, guided by the teachings of scripture and a personal commitment to embody God's type of love, agape.

The Word of the Kingdom as a Life Force

Highlights:

  • Understanding the Kingdom as Our Natural Habitat: Dallas emphasizes that the Kingdom of God is not just a metaphor but our natural environment, essential for our health and wholeness. He likens understanding human beings without this context to deciphering the purpose of a car by examining it in a junkyard.
  • Sustenance of the Kingdom: He explains that the kingdom of God offers spiritual sustenance that fulfills us completely, much like water to the thirsty and bread to the hungry. Dallas highlights Jesus's role as the provider of this sustenance, urging us to seek the kingdom first for all other needs to be met.
  • Misunderstandings Around Love: Dallas discusses common misconceptions about love, stressing that love in the kingdom is not merely delight but a profound commitment to good beyond oneself. He illustrates this with the example of our casual expressions of love for things like food.
  • Power of the Word: He talks about the 'word of the kingdom' as a transformative force that changes lives and communities. Dallas discusses the parable of the sower, explaining how the word works like seed sown in different types of soil, each representing different receptivities in our hearts.
  • Response to the Kingdom's Call: Dallas addresses the necessity of adjusting our understanding and expectations to truly embrace the kingdom of God. He warns against the perils of treating the kingdom's teachings as mere laws or guidelines, which can lead to frustration and spiritual stagnation.
  • Role of Spiritual Disciplines: Highlighting the importance of spiritual disciplines, Dallas describes them as practices that help us align more closely with the kingdom's realities. These disciplines help us access the power of the kingdom in tangible ways.
  • Bearing Fruit in the Kingdom: Dallas discusses the varied responses to the kingdom's call, emphasizing that true reception of the word leads to fruitfulness. He notes that the degree of fruitfulness can vary but the key is the transformation it brings about in individuals' lives.