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Willard: "Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Christ"

If you have known me,
You would also know my Father.
From now on you know him and have seen him.
Philip told him, "Lord, show us the Father,
And that will satisfy us."
"Have I been with you all this time, Philip,
And you still do not know me?"
Jesus asked him.
The person who has seen me has seen the Father.
So how can you say,
'Show us the Father'?
-John 14:7-9

Knowledge of the Glory of God in the Face of Christ, from Dallas Willard
Accordingly, we bring the heart-wrenching goodness of God, his incomprehensible graciousness and generosity, before the mind of disciples by helping them to see and understand the person of Jesus.  On a wearying, dreadful night, Jesus was saying a lot of things that were confusing and upsetting those in his little circle of friends.  Philip blurted out, "You talk about the Father all the time.  Just show us the Father and that will satisfy us" (John 14:8).  Jesus patiently replied, "Haven't you yet understood who I am Philip?  Whoever has seen me has seen the Father" (v. 9).  No doubt Philip and the others experienced this as just too good to be true.  Could the character of God be that of Jesus?  The stunning answer is, "Yes indeed."
The key, then, to loving God is to see Jesus, to hold him before the mind with as much fullness and clarity as possible.  It is to adore him.  For purposes of training disciples, we should divide this into four main aspects.
-Dallas Willard, Divine Conspiracy, p. 334

The four aspects, from Willard, are:

  1. "Teach his beauty, truth, and power while he lived among us as one human being among others.  The content of the Gospels should be explained and brought to life in such a way that the Gospels become a permanent presence and possession of the mind of the disciple."
  2. "We teach the way he went to execution as a common criminal among other criminals on our behalf.  We don't have to understand how it works.  Anyone who thinks he or she does fully understand what theology calls the atonement undoubtedly has some surprises coming.  Nowhere, is theological arrogance more commonly displayed than on this subject.  But the fact is something that we must always have before our minds....   No one can have an adequate view of the heart and the purposes of the God of the universe who does not understand that he permitted his son to die on the cross to reach out to all people , even people who hated him.  That is who God is.  But that is not just a "right answer" to a theological question.  It is God looking at me from the cross with compassion and providing for me, with never-failing readiness to take my hand to walk on through life from wherever I find myself at the time."
  3. "We teach the reality of Jesus risen, his actual existence now as a person who is present among his people.  We present him in his ecclesia, his motley but glorious crew of called-out ones.  We trace him from those uncomprehending encounters on the first Easter morning and on through the amazingly different historical periods of the church.  But we also show him now active among his disciples.  Who he is, is revealed in a special way in his people.    So, the continuing incarnation of the divine Son in his gathered people must fill our minds if we are to love him and his Father adequately and thus live on the rock of hearing and doing..."
  4. "We must teach the Jesus who is the master of the created universe and human history.  He is the one in control of all the atoms, particles, quarks, "strings", and so forth which the physical cosmos depends... Satan in tempting him claimed to be in possession of all the kingdoms of the earth.  But he was lying, as is his nature.  Lies are his only hope.  It is Jesus himself who is king of the kings of the earth..."
"Thoroughly presented in all these ways, the love of Jesus for us, and the magnificence of his person, brings the disciple to adore Jesus.  His love and loveliness fills our lives."
-Dallas Willard, The Divine Conspiracy, pp. 334-6


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