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Make Every Effort

I remember reading Dallas Willard's "Divine Conspiracy" almost 20 years ago and that book has affected me in more ways than I can count.  What he presented was an argument for the "NOW" of the Kingdom of God.  Not a future Kingdom that I had been taught, but a reality of the life of the Spirit in the church that transforms not only the individual who puts their faith in Christ as Savior, but also transforms their entire world around them.  This was the "Divine Conspiracy" he wrote of.  

It saturated my mind, heart, spirit and soul and took me from the arm-chair intelligent side of Christ to the "walk along-side" as a disciple of mine in my Kingdom.

The book is one of my "All-time-Favorite" reads and one I have recommended to people in all phases of life.

Here are a few gems from Dallas writing:

“Suppose our failures occur, not in spite of what we are doing, but precisely because of it.” 

“We don't believe something by merely saying we believe it, or even when we believe that we believe it. We believe something when we act as if it were true.” 

“The greatest issue facing the world today, with all its heartbreaking needs, is whether those who, by profession or culture, are identified as ‘Christians’ will become disciples – students, apprentices, practitioners – of Jesus Christ, steadily learning from him how to live the life of the Kingdom of the Heavens into every corner of human existence.” 

“Much of our problem is not, as is often said, that we have failed to get what is in our head down in our heart. Much of what hinders us is that we have had a lot of mistaken theology in our head and it has gotten down into our heart. And it is controlling our inner dynamics so that the head and heart cannot, even with the aid of the Word and the Spirit, pull one another straight.” 

“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.” 

Those are just a few of his, but it's this last one that arrested me 20+ years ago.  

"this grace from God is not opposed to our effort in growth, it is opposed to our earning salvation because of our effort."

As a Pastor and student of God's word "Grace" has always been a message of God's love to those who realize their Sinfulness.  But, what Dallas was reminding me was that Grace is not an excuse for not growing.  It was Dietrich Bonhoeffer writing to Christians under the Nazi government in the 1930's who observed a German religious population and talked of "Cheap Grace"... Grace without the cross...without cost."

It's actually Peter in his own epistle who reminds us that Grace involves effort:

Make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, [etc.].
2 Peter 1:5-6
 Here's Spurgeon on what that means for a life of Grace:

If you would enjoy the eminent grace of the full assurance of faith, under the blessed Spirit's influence and assistance, do what the Scripture tells you: "Make every effort." Take care that your faith is the right kind-that it is not a mere belief of doctrine, but a simple faith, depending on Christ and on Christ alone.
Pay careful attention to your courage. Plead with God that He would give you the face of a lion, that you may, with a consciousness of right, go on boldly. Study the Scriptures diligently and get knowledge; for a knowledge of doctrine will help a great deal to confirm faith. Try to understand God's Word; let it dwell in your heart richly.
When you have done this, add to your "knowledge . . . self-control." Pay attention to your body and soul. Be controlled in speech, life, heart, and thought. Add to this, by God's Holy Spirit, patience; ask Him to give you that patience that endures affliction, which, when it is tried, will come forth as gold. Array yourself with patience, so that you do not murmur or be depressed in your afflictions.
When that grace is won, look to godliness. Godliness is something more than religion. Make God's glory your object in life; live in His sight; dwell close to Him; seek fellowship with Him; then you will have "godliness"; and to that add brotherly love. Have a love for all the saints: And add to that a charity that opens its arms to all men and loves their souls. When you are adorned with these jewels, and just in proportion as you practice these heavenly virtues, you will come to know by clearest evidence "your calling and election." "Make every effort," if you would get assurance, for lukewarmness and doubting very naturally go hand in hand.




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