The Human Contribution to Holiness

January 4-8, 2010
Christian Formation and Soul Care Intensive - Denver Seminary

Dallas's hope for this teaching series is to strengthen you and engage you in what he calls "the great omission from the Great Commission." This is his great commission of the Great Commission which is to “teach them to do everything that I have commanded you.”

This Denver Seminary Masters-level course was held in January 2010 at  The Hideaway in Monument, CO.  This week-long retreat-style intensive is a carefully crafted walk through how we engage with the Holy Spirit in the work of transformation into Christlikeness for ourselves and those under our care. Be ready to take notes!

There are 19 sessions in all. Most of them are known by two different names. Enjoy!


1: What Does Holiness Look Like Shorn of its Legalistic Expressions? 1 --- The Human Side of Holiness, session 1

Dallas begins the course with an in-depth study of The Great Commission as a mission statement for the church, and reminds this group of pastors that the one who said, "I have been given say over everything in heaven and earth," is the one we work for. Dallas invites his audience into an intimate exploration of what it means to live as an apprentice of Jesus, making progress in a holy life devoid of legalism. 

2: What Does Holiness Look Like Shorn of its Legalistic Expressions? 2 --- The Human Side of Holiness, session 2

Dallas challenges listeners to shift their focus from earthly concerns (visible) to the things above (invisible). Learning to live in the kingdom of God is to learn to see/live from the invisible. That is the pathway to holiness. Dallas takes an in-depth look at the three gospels most commonly heard in churches today, and offers a recommendation for a fourth: Put your confidence in Jesus and live with him as his disciple now in the present kingdom of God.

3: Considering the Whole Person: Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength and Neighbor --- The Human Side of Holiness, session 3

Dallas discusses the interplay between divine grace and human responsibility in achieving holiness. He challenges listeners to reconsider traditional views of salvation, grace, and knowledge, framing them as dynamic and interactive processes involving active participation in Christ’s work today. Dallas emphasizes the importance of starting with creation to fully understand redemption and outlines the roles of personal growth and practical discipleship in living a holy life.

4: Taking 1 Corinthians 13 Seriously - Intending to Do It 1

Dallas dives deeply into the profound implications of 1 Corinthians 13, exploring the true essence of love and holiness as central themes in Christian life. He challenges common misconceptions and invites listeners to a transformative understanding of discipleship and the mystical union with Christ. Dallas's discussion is not just theoretical but deeply practical, emphasizing real-life application and the transformative power of living out the principles taught by Jesus.

5: Taking 1 Corinthians 13 Seriously - Intending to Do It 2 --- Love as Life, session 1

Dallas explores the profound interconnection between love and spiritual life, emphasizing how true holiness embodies a life of love grounded in divine power. He delves into the challenges and misconceptions about holiness, using biblical insights and practical wisdom to illustrate that holiness is not about adherence to rules but about embodying love in everyday actions. This talk offers an enriching perspective on spiritual growth, emphasizing the transformation that occurs when divine love becomes the driving force in our lives.

6: Taking 1 Corinthians 13 Seriously - Intending to Do It 3 --- Love as Life, session 2

Dallas explores the intricate connections between humility, love, and holiness. He challenges common misconceptions about love and holiness, weaving together biblical insights with practical wisdom. Dallas emphasizes the nuanced, often counterintuitive nature of true love—how it must be both giving and self-limiting to flourish within the realities of human finitude and communal life. Whether addressing the perils of legalism, the virtues of humility, or the complex dynamics of personal relationships, Dallas offers a compelling vision of living out love in the everyday.

7: Salvation in Christ is a Life: Eternal Living Now - The Reality of Spirit --- Visible and Invisible

Dallas examines the profound interconnectedness of the spiritual and physical realms, emphasizing the power and reality of the spiritual in influencing our daily lives. Dallas explores the nature of true spirituality, the role of the law, and the transformative power of living in the Spirit. This session, rich with theological depth and practical wisdom, challenges listeners to reevaluate their perceptions of spirituality, urging a life that transcends the visible and embraces the eternal.

8: Human Effort, Human Character and Divine Grace: Why Grace Requires Effort 1 --- The Gospel, the Great Commission and the Beatitudes

Dallas explores the intricate relationship between the gospel, the Great Commission, and the Beatitudes, providing a deep dive into what it means to live a holy life in the modern world. He challenges traditional views on spiritual leadership and discipleship, urging a reexamination of our roles within the church and community. Dallas offers a compelling vision for living out one's faith with intention and grace, emphasizing the importance of spiritual formation and the transformative power of living in God's kingdom.

9: Human Effort, Human Character and Divine Grace: Why Grace Requires Effort 2 --- Soul Rest, Transformation, and the Mind and Body

Dallas sheds light on the profound interconnections between the soul, body, and spiritual transformation. He offers insights into how our physical and spiritual selves influence one another, shaping our character and actions. With discussions ranging from the challenges of personal transformation to the impact of bodily habits on our spiritual lives, Dallas navigates through the intricate dynamics of holiness, making it accessible and relatable. 

10: Human Effort, Human Character and Divine Grace: Why Grace Requires Effort 3 --- Foundations for Holy Character: The Fruit of the Spirit, Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines

Dallas discusses the concept of discipline and what it means in terms of development. He starts with the fruit of the Spirit because they are essential in developing Christian character. The goal is not behavior modification, although there will be some of that. Rather, the objective is character change. Character consists of the deep habits of the whole personality. It is habit and it can be modified. And the primary thing to do when changing habits is to keep on thinking in terms of joy, peace, hope, etc.

12: The Place of “Disciplines” in Christian Discipleship and Spiritual Formation 2 --- Relationship of Mind and Spirit

Dallas explores Christian discipleship, spiritual formation, and the role of disciplines. He examines the deeper meanings and personal applications of living a life centered in the kingdom of God. He discusses how disciplines are not just religious tasks but are integrated into every aspect of life. He explains how the reliable pattern of Vision, Intention and Means (VIM) moves us forward in personal transformation, and points out that these are two of the points in The Golden Triangle of Spiritual Growth.

13: The Transformation of the Mind: Thoughts and Feelings 1 --- The Will and Discipleship

Dallas explores the relationship between our thoughts, feelings, and the will. He looks into the philosophical and theological implications of how ideas form and influence our actions, offering a perspective that challenges conventional understandings of free will and mental autonomy. Dallas sheds light on the struggle for intellectual and spiritual freedom and how it shapes our ability to choose and act. This lecture is not just an academic exploration but a practical guide on navigating the complexities of mind and spirit in everyday life.

14: The Transformation of the Mind: Thoughts and Feelings 2 --- Disciplines

Dallas plumbs the depths of spiritual disciplines and their profound impact on our daily lives. From the necessity of solitude for personal growth to the role of imagination in spiritual practices, Dallas offers insightful perspectives on how these practices shape our relationships with God and others. His engaging discourse also explores complex topics like the influence of silence, the virtues of frugality, and the true meaning of chastity. 

16: The Sermon on the Mount 2 --- Life and Transformation of the Heart

Dallas takes us on a journey of the Sermon on the Mount, exploring its challenging concepts and practical implications for living a life transformed by the teachings of Jesus. With his characteristic clarity and depth, Dallas dissects complex biblical passages, offering a fresh perspective on righteousness, the human condition, and the transformative power of living in alignment with God’s will. Whether you are a scholar, a spiritual seeker, or someone looking for practical guidance on leading a life of genuine faith, this talk promises to enlighten and inspire.

17: Three Paths of Christian Progress --- Chance, Discipline and Indirection

Dallas identifies 3 paths of Christian progress: 
1. Trying Harder to Live Up to Commandments - try, fail, repeat  
2. Living in Defeat or Embracing Brokenness - "stay broken until you're dead and out of here"
3. Progress Toward the Character and Power of Christ by Indirection - "the secret is not trying but training" - Indirection is about engaging in practices that transform the believer’s heart and mind, making obedience a natural outflow of their changed character.

19: What Is the Local Congregation For? --- Discipleship and the Local Congregation

Dallas explores the fundamental role and challenges faced by local congregations in today's Christian practice. He addresses the distractions and traditions that often sidetrack churches from their core mission of disciple-making. Through a blend of personal anecdotes and robust scriptural backing, he advocates for a return to the essential teachings of Jesus, emphasizing the transformation of believers and the practical application of faith in everyday life.

What Does Holiness Look Like Shorn of its Legalistic Expressions? 1 --- The Human Side of Holiness, session 1


  • Holiness Shorn of Legalism: Dallas questions traditional views of holiness that are tangled in legalistic expressions. He invites his listeners to envision holiness as a dynamic and personal journey that goes beyond mere rule-following, encouraging an authentic transformation that aligns with the spirit of Christ’s teachings.
  • Essence of Discipleship: Being a disciple of Christ involves more than adhering to a religious label. Dallas discusses the profound nature of discipleship as a relational and experiential process, urging a shift from viewing discipleship as a church-centric activity to seeing it as a way of life.
  • Apprenticeship Versus Discipleship: Dallas likes the term apprenticeship to describe the practical, day-to-day learning and living out of Christian teachings. “It has a strong applied concept.” He contrasts it with the more commonly used disciple, “a good word, if it hasn't been washed out, as it has, in our … religious culture.”
  • Revisiting the Great Commission: Dallas revisits the Great Commission, interpreting it as a call to genuine discipleship rather than mere religious conversion. He highlights the importance of understanding and practically applying Jesus’ teachings about making disciples who are actively living out their faith.
  • Challenging Conventional Church Roles: Dallas challenges traditional church roles and methods that often separate 'being a Christian' from 'being a disciple.' He points out the pitfalls of churches focusing more on denominational identity than on the transformative discipleship that Jesus modeled.
  • Practical Applications of Faith: He discusses practical ways to integrate faith into daily living, stressing the importance of not only learning Christ’s teachings but also embodying them in every aspect of life. Dallas aims to equip his listeners with the tools to practice their faith in tangible, impactful ways.
  • Rethinking Holiness: Dallas urges a rethinking of what it means to be holy in today’s context. He challenges the audience to consider how holiness manifests in real-world actions and attitudes, rather than settling for superficial or outdated markers of piety.

What Does Holiness Look Like Shorn of its Legalistic Expressions? 2 --- The Human Side of Holiness, session 2


  • Foundations of Holiness: Dallas begins by discussing Colossians 3:1-4, emphasizing that true holiness involves setting our hearts and minds on higher, divine realities rather than earthly concerns. Holiness is not an abstract concept, but a practical reality shaped by where we direct our deepest attentions.
  • Treasure vs. Vessel: Dallas explains the apostle Paul's metaphor of the "treasure in jars of clay," highlighting the distinction between our eternal soul (the treasure) and our mortal body (the vessel). This distinction underscores the enduring value of spiritual over physical existence.
  • Spiritual Formation and Church Life: Dallas critiques how modern churches often focus more on survival than on their divine mission. He argues that a church's true success is not measured by its longevity but by its fidelity to Christ's teachings and its heavenly mandate.
  • Viewing Life Through Two Landscapes: He presents the concept of dual landscapes—the visible and the invisible. Dallas encourages the audience to recognize the unseen spiritual realities that influence and underpin our visible experiences and challenges. "The major thing you have to understand to get your life straight is the fundamental reality in your life is God and His kingdom"
  • Kingdom of God and Daily Living: Dallas dives deeper into the practical aspects of the kingdom of God, stressing that it involves not just anticipation of an afterlife, but active participation in God's will here and now, which includes managing our personal domains responsibly.
  • Role of the Body in Spirituality: Dallas discusses the importance of the body in spiritual practices, countering common misconceptions that denigrate the body's role in holiness. He asserts that our physical presence is central to practicing and experiencing God's kingdom.
  • Three Gospels Heard at Present: 1. Gospel of the Forgiveness of Sins/Go to Heaven When you Die. 2. Gospel of Liberation for the Oppressed. 3. Gospel of the Faithful Church Member.
  • Jesus’ Gospel - “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at Hand:" Jesus invites us to live now in the kingdom of God as his disciples. His Kingdom is near and available to all who put their confidence in him for everything. Jesus’ gospel includes the forgiveness of sins and concerns for issues of justice and liberation and so much more.

Considering the Whole Person: Heart, Soul, Mind, Strength and Neighbor --- The Human Side of Holiness, session 3


  • Creation as the Starting Point: Dallas emphasizes that understanding holiness begins with creation, not redemption or justification. By acknowledging creation, we grasp our true identity and purpose, setting the stage for a meaningful engagement with God's redemptive work.
  • Salvation in the Present: He describes salvation as an active engagement in what Jesus Christ is currently doing on Earth. This perspective shifts the focus from historical events to ongoing, dynamic involvement in Christ’s work today.
  • Grace as Interaction: Dallas redefines grace not merely as forgiveness but as continuous, interactive divine action in our lives. He challenges the traditional notion of grace to expand it to encompass a living, breathing relationship with God.
  • Knowledge Through Relationship: He argues that true biblical knowledge is about interactive relationship rather than mere intellectual understanding. This kind of knowledge involves a deep, covenantal relationship with God, which is more profound than mere facts.
    Imperative of Growth: Dallas stresses the importance of personal growth in grace and knowledge, which is not passive but requires active, intentional effort from believers. This growth is crucial for our participation in the divine life.
  • Role of Tribulations: Dallas discusses how tribulations offer opportunities to witness God's direct intervention in our lives. He encourages believers to rejoice in these moments as they provide a real-time experience of God’s care and provision.
  • Perseverance and Character: He outlines a biblical analysis of how perseverance through challenges plays a crucial role in character development, which in turn fosters hope and a deeper understanding of God’s love.
  • Practical Discipleship: Dallas concludes with practical advice on discipleship, emphasizing that the gospel should naturally lead to disciple-making, not just passive consumption of religious services. He underscores the importance of engaging and teaching followers to actively practice their faith.

Taking 1 Corinthians 13 Seriously - Intending to Do It 1


  • Understanding Holiness: Dallas begins by clarifying the often misunderstood concept of holiness, emphasizing it as a gift through Christ that enables believers to cling to Him and follow Him fully. Holiness means full obedience to Christ.
  • Heart of Calvinism: Dallas argues that Calvinism’s true essence is not in its theological nuances but in its capacity to bring incredible life to people across various circumstances. It is about self-denial and practical living, rather than mere doctrinal accuracy.
  • Kingdom and Self-Denial: He discusses the practical aspects of self-denial, likening it to laying down one’s kingdom at Jesus' feet. This act of surrender opens up a more genuine, complete life in God.
  • Human Side of Holiness: Dallas emphasizes understanding and teaching the human aspects of holiness. He discusses the necessity of transforming the inner person to achieve outward obedience to Christ’s teachings.
  • Fear and Love: Exploring the relationship between fear and love, Dallas teaches that perfect love casts out fear, thereby enabling believers to live out the teachings of Jesus more faithfully and freely.
  • Practical Love: He elucidates on practical love, drawing from 1 John about how true love originates from God and how this understanding should radically change how believers live and interact with others.
  • Law of Love: Dallas connects the commandments of God with love, proposing that true adherence to God's laws springs from a heart of love and is a manifestation of grace rather than a burdensome set of rules.
  • Redefining Love through Jesus: Dallas redefines love as taught by Jesus, urging his listeners to love others not just as one loves oneself but as Jesus has loved us, setting a higher, divine standard for love and interactions within the community of believers.

Additional Assets

Taking 1 Corinthians 13 Seriously - Intending to Do It 2 --- Love as Life, session 1


  • Understanding Love Through 1 Corinthians 13: Dallas begins by examining the intimidation people feel towards 1 Corinthians 13, emphasizing the high standards of love it sets. He argues that understanding this type of love, agape, is essential, as it reflects the life of God and should permeate all aspects of life.
  • Transformative Power of Love: Dallas discusses how true love transforms one’s entire being, aligning thoughts, actions, and desires with God’s commandments. He compares negative traits like contempt and anger to love, showing how each organizes life and impacts behavior.
  • Confronting Personal Challenges/Temptations: He tackles difficult personal issues such as pornography, illustrating how overcoming such temptations requires transforming how one views themselves and their desires, moving towards a self-conception rooted in divine love.
  • Lifeline of Agape: Dallas emphasizes that agape is not just an ideal but the very lifeline to God’s power. It should guide not only personal actions but also enhance spiritual gifts, which he argues are meaningless without love.
  • Practical Steps in Spiritual Growth - Spiritual Disciplines: He advises practical steps for spiritual growth, such as scripture memorization and setting the mind on higher things, to cultivate a life that naturally aligns with God’s kingdom.
  • Integrating Faith with Knowledge: Dallas stresses the importance of understanding faith as not just belief but as actionable knowledge that aligns with God’s truths, influencing all decisions and actions.
  • Life Through Spiritual Rebirth: He explores the concept of being 'born from above,' discussing how spiritual rebirth changes one’s source of life, drawing sustenance and direction from divine rather than earthly sources.
  • ‘Setting the Lord Before Us’ as an Anchor in Life: Dallas describes how setting the Lord before oneself provides a stable anchor in life’s tumultuous situations, enabling one to respond with love even in the most challenging circumstances.

Taking 1 Corinthians 13 Seriously - Intending to Do It 3 --- Love as Life, session 2


  • Essence of Humility: Dallas begins by linking humility directly to love, stating that humility is crucial because it allows individuals to remove themselves from the center, thus enabling genuine love to flourish. This concept is anchored in the scriptural advice to let God exalt the individual in due time, emphasizing a passive, yet expectant, posture towards personal recognition.
  • Love and Its Limits: He warns against a misconstrued notion of love that equates to unconditionally granting others' wishes, which can lead to detrimental outcomes. Instead, Dallas argues that true love involves understanding and respecting one's own limitations within the context of a community under God.
  • Judgement and Responsibility: Dallas explores the need for personal judgment in love. He stresses that responsible judgment, guided by what is good for all involved, is essential. This aspect of love challenges the listener to consider the broader impacts of their actions, moving beyond simplistic or legalistic interpretations of Jesus's teachings.
  • Love in Difficult Circumstances: Dallas tackles the challenging scenario of loving an enemy, questioning whether fulfilling an enemy's harmful desires truly constitutes love. He presents a more complex view where loving actions consider the ultimate good, rather than mere compliance or appeasement.
  • Role of Spiritual Understanding: Dallas shifts focus to the spiritual underpinnings of love, linking it to living in harmony with God’s kingdom. He discusses how a deep understanding of spiritual truths is necessary to navigate the challenges of loving well in a flawed world.
  • Balancing Love with Practical Wisdom: Dallas discusses the practical aspects of love, especially in terms of setting boundaries and making wise choices that do not enable harmful behaviors in others. This includes a nuanced discussion on handling situations like domestic violence with a blend of love and decisive action.
  • Misconceptions of Unconditional Love: Dallas critiques the popular understanding of unconditional love. He argues that this concept, when misunderstood, can lead to impractical and unhelpful outcomes, suggesting instead that love must be informed by wisdom and reality.
  • Integrating Love into Everyday Life: Dallas wraps up with practical advice on integrating love into daily interactions and relationships. He encourages a reflective approach to understanding how best to love others in various contexts, advocating for a disciplined, thoughtful engagement with the teachings of Jesus.

Salvation in Christ is a Life: Eternal Living Now - The Reality of Spirit --- Visible and Invisible


  • Understanding Spiritual Law: Dallas begins by discussing the concept of spiritual law as different from human law, highlighting its role in freeing individuals from the law of sin and death through Christ.
  • Limitations of the Flesh: He elaborates on the inherent limitations of the flesh, noting that while it isn't inherently bad, problems arise when it assumes a role it shouldn't, overshadowing spiritual priorities.
  • The Two Planes - Spiritual vs. Physical: Dallas emphasizes the difference between living according to the flesh and according to the Spirit. He describes this distinction as essential for understanding how one's focus—whether on temporal or eternal matters—shapes their life's trajectory.
  • Role of Faith as Perception: Exploring the role of faith, Dallas describes it as a type of perception that enables individuals to perceive and interact with the spiritual realm, thus integrating their faith with their lived experience.
  • Covetousness and Spiritual Defeat: Reflecting on personal struggles with covetousness, Dallas shares insights into how internal vices can be more challenging to conquer than external actions, stressing the deeper spiritual battle at play.
  • Spiritual Empowerment in Practical Terms: Dallas discusses how spiritual truths must translate into practical living, stressing that being 'spiritual' involves one's entire life being influenced and directed by the Spirit.
  • Transcending Visible Limitations: He urges listeners to look beyond the visible, to the spiritual, where true reality and the essence of life reside, thus fostering a deeper understanding and connection with the divine.
  • Continuity of Life Beyond Death: Dallas touches on the Christian assurance of life beyond death, reinforcing the continuity of spiritual existence beyond the physical cessation of life.

Human Effort, Human Character and Divine Grace: Why Grace Requires Effort 1 --- The Gospel, the Great Commission and the Beatitudes


  • Vision of the Gospel and Life in the Kingdom: Dallas emphasizes the importance of vision in maintaining spiritual and life goals. He discusses how a clear and rooted vision in the gospel and the living presence of Jesus is crucial for forming steady intentions and overcoming the usual human wavering in pursuit of good.
  • Leadership and Maturity: Dallas critiques the common approach to church leadership selection, which often overlooks spiritual maturity. He shares insights from a colleague on the pitfalls of the 'warm body method' of leadership recruitment, highlighting the need for leaders who are actively engaged in their spiritual growth.
  • Spiritual Being and Identity: Dallas encourages the audience to see themselves as eternal spiritual beings with a significant role in God's universe. This perspective is meant to empower individuals to live out their faith dynamically and purposefully.
  • Eternal Life Now: He expands on the concept of eternal life, explaining that it begins in the present moment through a relationship with God. Dallas stresses that eternal life is a type of life, not just a future state, which profoundly impacts how we live today.
  • Holiness and Human Effort: Dallas argues that holiness is not just a divine imposition but grows through intelligent human effort in collaboration with divine grace. He clarifies that grace supports effort but is not a substitute for it, illustrating how active engagement in spiritual disciplines fuels transformation.
  • Character Revealed in Actions: Dallas explores the relationship between one's character and actions, suggesting that true character is revealed by actions taken without prior contemplation and how these are aligned with God's will.
  • Social Dimension of Faith: Dallas discusses the significance of the social aspect of faith, pointing out that no one is isolated in their spiritual journey. Social interactions and community life are integral to spiritual growth and transformation.
  • Transformation and Discipline: He concludes with the importance of spiritual disciplines in transforming the human heart and mind. Dallas explains how practices like solitude, meditation, and worship reorient one's life towards God and foster a deeper transformation in character.

Human Effort, Human Character and Divine Grace: Why Grace Requires Effort 2 --- Soul Rest, Transformation, and the Mind and Body


  • Transformation and Acceptance: Dallas emphasizes that transformation often begins with the body and mind, acknowledging that spiritual disciplines aren't always the solution, especially for those who struggle with deeper issues like possession.
  • Character and Identity: He discusses how personal failures reflect one's character, using an example of impulsivity to illustrate that our actions are expressions of our true selves, not anomalies.
  • Technological Extensions of the Body: Dallas explores the notion that the human body is directly accessible to the will, allowing us to extend our influence into the world, a concept mirrored in the development of technology that enables control over external objects.
  • Body as a Kingdom: He argues that to be a person, one must have a 'kingdom,' and for human beings, this kingdom is intrinsically linked to the physical body, which can either comply with or defy divine command.
  • Sin and the Body: Dallas delves into the scriptural concept of sin living in our body, discussing how habits and bodily tendencies can lead us astray, despite our best intentions.
  • World, Flesh, and Devil: He outlines the three main adversaries in Christian spirituality—the world, the flesh, and the devil—explaining how each influences and distorts our spiritual lives.
  • Habit in Spiritual Life: Dallas discusses the power of habits in shaping our actions and character, emphasizing the need for conscious effort to cultivate spiritual disciplines that align with God's will.
  • Fasting as Dependence on God: Finally, Dallas explains fasting not just as abstention from food but as a practice of dependence on God, linking it to a deeper spiritual nourishment that transcends physical sustenance.


The William James book Dallas reads from extensively in this session is "Psychology: The Briefer Course."

Human Effort, Human Character and Divine Grace: Why Grace Requires Effort 3 --- Foundations for Holy Character: The Fruit of the Spirit, Discipleship and Spiritual Disciplines

  • Highlights:
  • Fruit of the Spirit as Character Foundation: Dallas discusses the fruit of the Spirit, explaining that characteristics like love, joy, and peace are not mere actions but conditions of the whole person that fundamentally shape Christian character.
  • Priority of Peace in Spiritual Growth: He emphasizes the primacy of peace in the sequence of spiritual development, explaining its role as the starting point for addressing internal conflicts and aligning personal and social realities with God’s forgiveness.
  • Joy Defined: Dallas clarifies that joy is not a feeling but a pervasive and firmly established sense of well-being that is consistent even in the face of suffering.
  • Role of Joy and Suffering: Dallas explores the relationship between joy and suffering, clarifying that joy is a stable state of well-being that transcends circumstances, unlike fleeting pleasures which are dependent on external factors.
  • Understanding Faith and Action: He defines faith as a readiness to act based on the presupposed reality of God's goodness, highlighting how faith acts as a bridge to genuine knowledge and deeper spiritual experience.
  • Interconnectedness of Spiritual Qualities: Dallas articulates how spiritual qualities such as love, joy, hope, faith, and peace interconnect and reinforce each other, forming a composite that is greater than the sum of its parts.
  • Peace as Soul Rest: Peace is rest in goodness—not bad to say “soul rest” because the soul is the most fundamental part of personality.
  • Discipleship in Everyday Life: Dallas describes discipleship as learning to lead one's life as Jesus would, encompassing all aspects of life from personal challenges to professional engagements, emphasizing the integration of faith into everyday activities.
  • Spiritual Disciplines: These are described as practices that help modify deep habits of the whole personality, moving a person towards the fruit of the Spirit and real character change.

The Place of “Disciplines” in Christian Discipleship and Spiritual Formation 1 (AUDIO ONLY)


  • Foundation of Prayer: Dallas begins with a touching reflection on an old prayer from Coventry Cathedral, emphasizing the holistic sanctification of life, from industry to arts and governance, as a pursuit of hallowing God's name in every aspect of existence.
  • Discipline Is Not Punishment: He clarifies a common misunderstanding about disciplines, pointing out that they are not meant to be punitive or painful but are practices that enable growth and mastery in various aspects of life, much like learning a skill such as riding a bicycle.
  • Role of Discipline in Education: Dallas highlights the importance of incorporating God into all areas of life, including education, where the integration of spiritual awareness can profoundly influence personal development and growth.
  • Discipline and Spontaneity in Performance: He discusses the illusion of spontaneity in performances, illustrating how what appears spontaneous is often the result of rigorous discipline, thereby underscoring the hidden depths of practiced skill and preparation.
  • Misconception of No Pain, No Gain: Dallas debunks the myth that pain is necessary for gain, advocating for disciplines that are effective yet not painful, thus promoting a more humane approach to personal and spiritual development.
  • Integrating Disciplines with Grace: In a powerful explanation, Dallas discusses how disciplines should interact with the concept of grace in Christian theology, suggesting that grace and discipline are not mutually exclusive but complementary.
  • Practicality of Spiritual Disciplines: He offers practical advice on the application of spiritual disciplines, emphasizing their role not as ends in themselves but as means to facilitate deeper relationships with God and alignment with His purposes.
  • Importance of Solitude and Silence: Dallas reflects on his personal experiences with solitude and silence, sharing how these disciplines significantly enhanced his ministry and spiritual life by providing space for reflection and connection with God.

The Place of “Disciplines” in Christian Discipleship and Spiritual Formation 2 --- Relationship of Mind and Spirit


  • Strangely Dim, Strangely clear: Dallas begins by discussing the dual nature of earthly things under God's sovereignty—how they can appear dim yet simultaneously become clearer when properly understood within the context of God’s kingdom.
  • The Cross vs. Crosses: Dallas clarifies the concept of 'taking the cross' as a universal Christian requirement, contrasting it with 'crosses'—individual struggles and trials, emphasizing the importance of not confusing these terms.
  • Integration of Disciplines in Teaching: He discusses the necessity of integrating spiritual disciplines into Christian teaching, particularly focusing on the Sermon on the Mount, highlighting its central role in discipleship.
  • Vision-Intention-Means in Christian Life: Dallas explores the critical components of vision and intention in the Christian life, illustrating how a lack of vision can lead to ineffective spiritual practices (means) and a disconnect from one's deeper spiritual intentions.
  • Role of the Church and Individual Discipleship: He addresses the role of the church in supporting individual discipleship, emphasizing that discipleship should primarily occur in everyday work and life environments, rather than being confined to organized religious activities.
  • Spiritual Formation and Social Impact: Dallas explores how effective spiritual formation can lead to significant social transformation, challenging listeners to rethink how their spiritual lives intersect with broader societal issues.
  • Golden Triangle in Spiritual Formation: Dallas introduces the concept of the Golden Triangle to illustrate how spiritual disciplines fit within a broader spiritual framework. He emphasizes that spiritual disciplines alone are not sufficient for growth; they must be integrated with other aspects of spiritual life to be truly effective. This concept encourages believers to view their spiritual practices as interconnected, supporting a holistic approach to living out one's faith.
  • Work as a Platform for Discipleship: He advocates for viewing one's workplace as a primary arena for discipleship, stressing the importance of integrating faith into everyday activities and interactions to fulfill God’s purpose.
  • Final Reflections on Divine Service: Dallas concludes with insights on what it truly means to serve God, critiquing conventional views and urging a deeper, more personal engagement with God's will in everyday life.


The books Dallas reads from are The Curate's Awakening by George MacDonald and Psychology: The Briefer Course by William James.

The Transformation of the Mind: Thoughts and Feelings 1 --- The Will and Discipleship


  • Predicament of Preexisting Ideas: Dallas begins by addressing the complex nature of choosing our ideas, pointing out that our decisions are inevitably based on preexisting thoughts. This limitation challenges the notion of true freedom in our cognitive processes, emphasizing the influence of our initial mental framework on our choices.
  • Understanding Will: Dallas examines the nature of the will—whether it's inherently flawed or pure from the start. He questions the responsibility for our mental state, emphasizing the significant role our initial ideas play in shaping our will and subsequent actions.
  • Misconceptions About the Will: Dallas discusses common misconceptions about the will, particularly how people often mistake their feelings for their will. He stresses the importance of recognizing the will as a distinct faculty that can govern feelings, underscoring its role in moral and ethical decision-making.
  • Power of Ideas: Dallas highlights the critical influence of ideas on human behavior and spiritual outcomes. He points out that even negative ideas, if unchallenged, can dominate one's actions and lead to spiritual downfall, stressing the importance of scrutinizing and refining our thoughts.
  • Submission to Divine Will: Dallas emphasizes the safety and correctness of submitting one's will to God. He discusses how aligning our will with divine intentions can lead to righteousness and peace, illustrating his point with scriptural references to emphasize the spiritual security found in divine submission.
  • Practical Aspects of Will: He elaborates on the practical implications of understanding and exercising our will in everyday life. He discusses how true understanding of our will can lead to ethical living and spiritual depth, highlighting its significance in Christian ethics and personal growth.
  • Social Structures Versus Individual Will: Dallas discusses the limitations of social structures in possessing will or undergoing repentance. He argues that organizational change lacks the moral and spiritual capacities inherent to individual will, urging a focus on personal transformation over structural reforms.
  • Solitude and Self-Reflection: Dallas advocates for solitude as a means to deepen personal understanding and spiritual connection. He describes solitude not as mere isolation but as a strategic retreat from societal noise to engage in meaningful self-reflection and spiritual renewal.

The Transformation of the Mind: Thoughts and Feelings 2 --- Disciplines


  • Entering Solitude: Dallas discusses the value of solitude in spiritual practice, advising that one begins without distractions like music or books to truly understand its purpose. He emphasizes the importance of being non-heroic and experimental in these practices to discover what truly serves one's spiritual growth.
  • Support in Solitude: Addressing the practical aspects of solitude, Dallas highlights the importance of community support, especially for roles as demanding as parenthood, suggesting that partnerships and community understanding are crucial to successfully integrating spiritual disciplines into one's life.
  • Imagination in Spirituality: Dallas explains how imagination plays a critical role in spiritual life, suggesting that it should be nurtured through appropriate literature and creative engagement with biblical stories, particularly in children, to foster a healthy spiritual imagination.
  • Power of Silence: He delineates two types of silence—quietness and refraining from speech—and their distinct spiritual benefits. Dallas teaches that silence not only affects the soul but helps cultivate a deeper presence to oneself and God.
  • Understanding Frugality: Dallas discusses frugality, not as deprivation, but as a disciplined approach to avoid unnecessary luxury and manage resources wisely, aligning one's lifestyle more closely with spiritual and communal values.
  • Misconceptions of Chastity: Dallas describes chastity not simply as abstaining from sexual activity but as a deeper discipline of refraining from allowing sex to dominate one's mind and actions, thus enhancing spiritual freedom and personal integrity.
  • Role of Sexuality in Identity: He challenges the common perception that sexuality defines one's identity, arguing for a broader, more integrated understanding of personal identity that transcends sexual definitions.
  • Addressing Misconceptions and Challenges: Dallas tackles difficult topics like the misuse of sexual identity and the challenge of maintaining genuine intimacy in relationships, emphasizing the spiritual over the physical in personal identity and interactions.

The Sermon on the Mount 1 --- The Disciplines and What We Can Learn From Them


  • Understanding Spiritual Disciplines: Dallas emphasizes the importance of clearly understanding what spiritual disciplines are and how they function. He advises that the key to benefiting from them is to practice and learn from them consistently.
  • Becoming a Disciple: The first step in spiritual practice is the decision to live as a student of Jesus. This involves a commitment to follow and obey Jesus' teachings, which is foundational before any spiritual disciplines can be effective.
  • Discipline Defined: A discipline is something in your power that you do to enable yourself to do what you can't do by direct effort.
  • Dealing with Failure: Dallas outlines a process for addressing failures in practicing disciplines. “The secret of the spiritual life is not if at first you don't succeed, try try again. It is if at first you don't succeed, find out why you fail, fix it, and then try again.”
  • Sermon on the Mount as Essential Teaching: Dallas points out the centrality of the Sermon on the Mount in understanding Jesus' teachings. He discusses its importance for anyone serious about training others in the ways of Jesus.
  • Reality and Righteousness: He engages with the concept of 'reality' as taught by Jesus, emphasizing that understanding this concept is crucial for grasping the essence of Jesus' teachings on righteousness.
  • Role of Righteousness: Dallas explores the idea that true righteousness, as taught by Jesus, is not about adhering to external laws but about transcending them through a transformation of the heart and spirit.
  • Justice and the Kingdom of God: He discusses the concept of justice in the context of Jesus' teachings, advocating for a reconciliation that transcends traditional notions of justice through love and understanding.
  • Advancing the Kingdom: Dallas concludes by reflecting on how living out the teachings of Jesus in the Sermon on the Mount naturally leads to a life characterized by abundance, strength, and engagement in the advancing kingdom of God.

The Sermon on the Mount 2 --- Life and Transformation of the Heart


  • Understanding Kingdom Righteousness: Dallas begins by emphasizing the real-life application of Jesus' teachings, focusing on how the Sermon on the Mount reveals a righteousness that goes beyond legalistic adherence to embodying the values of God's kingdom through transformation of the heart.
  • Challenge of Anger: He discusses the destructive nature of anger and contempt, noting that Jesus teaches us to address these issues not just through avoidance but by fundamentally transforming our disposition towards others, fostering a spirit of reconciliation and forgiveness.
  • Addressing Sexuality: Dallas explores Jesus' approach to human sexuality, describing it as a matter not just of physical actions but of heart and will, and how managing anger and contempt can fundamentally transform one's approach to relationships and sexual ethics.
  • Divorce and Its Roots: He addresses the sensitive issue of divorce, emphasizing how much of it could be avoided if people removed anger, contempt, and misuse of desire from their relationships, highlighting Jesus' deep concern for the well-being of individuals, particularly women, affected by divorce.
  • Law, Oaths, and Integrity: Dallas contrasts the Pharisaical adherence to the letter of the law with Jesus’ call for a more profound integrity that transcends legalistic righteousness, focusing on sincerity and truthfulness in our interactions.
  • Righteousness of the Kingdom: He elaborates on the concept of Kingdom righteousness, explaining how it moves beyond the "don’ts" of Pharisaical rules to a more holistic understanding of living in alignment with God's will, which naturally leads to ethical living.
  • Beyond Retaliation: Dallas discusses Jesus' teaching on retaliation, explaining the radical move from "an eye for an eye" to a kingdom perspective that emphasizes forgiveness and grace over justice as retaliation.
  • Power of Prayer in Community: Finally, Dallas discusses the Lord's Prayer within the context of community and the kingdom, showing how prayer is not just a personal spiritual exercise but a transformative communal practice that aligns us more closely with God’s intentions for our lives and relationships.
  • Dallas shares his paraphrased version of The Lord's Prayer
    Dear Father always near us, 
    May Your name be treasured and loved, 
    May Your rule be completed in us---
    May Your will be done here on earth in just the way it is done in heaven.  
    Give us today the things we need for today,
    And forgive our sins and impositions on You 
    as we are forgiving all who in any way offend us.  
    Please don’t put us through trials, 
    but deliver us from anything bad.  
    Because You are the One in charge, 
    and You have all the power, 
    and the glory too is all Yours—forever 
    —which is just the way we want it!

Three Paths of Christian Progress --- Chance, Discipline and Indirection


  • Problem with Traditional Efforts: Dallas begins by critiquing standard religious services and the ineffective approaches to teaching obedience in Christianity. He emphasizes that spiritual growth requires more than sporadic efforts, likening them to taking a shower one drop every five minutes for 3 years.
  • Paths of Christian Progress: He identifies two common but flawed paths to Christian growth: trying harder to obey commandments and living in a state of defeat or 'brokenness'. Dallas argues these approaches are misguided and often lead to spiritual stagnation.
  • Humility vs. Brokenness: Responding to an audience question, Dallas delineates the difference between humility and brokenness. He suggests that while humility empowers individuals by fostering dependence on God, brokenness often leaves one feeling powerless and stuck.
  • Power of Indirection: Dallas advocates for 'indirection' as a more effective approach to spiritual growth. He compares this to practicing scales in music, which indirectly prepares one to perform complex pieces, emphasizing that spiritual disciplines should function similarly.
  • Challenging Conventional Teachings: He criticizes the tendency within the Christian community to elevate the state of brokenness, arguing that it contradicts the victorious life that the gospel promises.
  • Role of the Conscience: Dallas discusses the role of the conscience in spiritual life, advising caution in relying on it solely without alignment to Scriptural teachings and the Holy Spirit’s guidance.
  • Spiritual Formation vs. Discipline: He warns against reducing spiritual formation to mere practice of disciplines. Dallas stresses that the goal of spiritual disciplines should lead to obedience and a personal relationship with God, not just ritualistic practice.
  • Embracing Self-Denial: Dallas explores the concept of self-denial not as a negation of self but as an alignment of one's will with God’s purposes. He explains this process as vital for genuine spiritual growth and character development.

The Calvin book Dallas reads from is The Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life.

Christian Discipleship and the Mission to the World: Churches and World Leadership --- Knowledge, Grace and Disciplines


  • Understanding Knowledge and Faith: Dallas emphasizes the importance of knowledge in the realm of faith, arguing against the notion that faith exists devoid of knowledge. “You need your belief to be environed in knowledge so that your belief is steady and established.”
  • Role of Commitment: Reflecting on the process of making disciples, Dallas discusses the significant difference between mere profession of faith and true commitment. He stresses that real commitment is often lacking in congregations and how this impacts the effectiveness of church missions.
  • Biblical Foundation of Faith: Dallas argues that biblical faith is always accompanied by knowledge, using the example of Abraham’s journey, fueled by his trust and knowledge of God’s presence, to illustrate faith that is deeply rooted in understanding rather than blind leaps.
  • Clarifying Faith as a Gift: Addressing the complexities of faith as both a divine gift and a result of deliberate cultivation of knowledge, Dallas challenges the simplistic interpretations of faith's origins and encourages a more nuanced understanding aligned with scriptural teachings.
  • Knowledge and Action: He articulates the practical implications of knowledge, particularly how it empowers believers to take responsible actions in alignment with Christian teachings, contrasting this with the limitations of mere belief.
  • True and False Belief: Dallas differentiates between true belief, grounded in reality, and mere assertions devoid of truth, discussing the implications of holding beliefs that are not substantiated by evidence or knowledge.
  • Discipleship and Learning: The talk shifts focus to the practicalities of discipleship, which Dallas defines as learning from Christ to live according to His teachings, thereby influencing others through example rather than coercion.
  • Vision and Intention in Discipleship: In concluding, Dallas speaks about the essential role of a clear vision and intentional living in the process of making disciples, emphasizing that understanding and living out the teachings of Jesus are foundational to genuine spiritual growth.

What Is the Local Congregation For? --- Discipleship and the Local Congregation


  • Problem of Distraction: Dallas begins by acknowledging that local congregations often lose focus from their principal mission of disciple-making, getting sidetracked by less central aspects of church life such as building maintenance and service styles.
  • The Vessel and the Treasure: He introduces the concept of the 'vessel trap', where churches prioritize maintaining their traditions and structures over nurturing the spiritual growth of their members, leading to a lack of Christlike character development among believers.
  • Redefining Church Success: Dallas critiques the common church goal of preparing members for heaven rather than instilling heavenly values in them on earth, highlighting a misalignment with Jesus’s teachings and the essential Christian mission.
  • Biblical Basis for Action: Dallas emphasizes the importance of aligning church actions with biblical teachings, specifically pointing to the Great Commission as a foundational scripture that should guide all church activities.
  • Discipleship as a Priority: He argues for making discipleship a central objective within congregations, stressing the need for churches to actively engage in teaching and embodying the principles taught by Jesus.
  • Addressing Internal Church Conflicts: Dallas discusses the inevitable conflicts that arise within churches that focus on discipleship, advising how to manage disagreements and maintain a focus on Christ’s teachings.
  • Performance Versus Presence: He critiques the common church focus on performance and external success, advocating instead for a genuine engagement with God’s presence and a rejection of superficial measures of church health.
  • Practical Steps for Transformation: Dallas provides concrete suggestions for churches to more effectively teach and embody the teachings of Jesus, encouraging openness in expecting and teaching discipleship.