How do we define a relationship with God? Is it a form of fire insurance? Do we hold to God as our golden ticket? Does it have any impact on the way we live every moment of our life, or is faith something that changes where we go in the afterlife?
To conspire is to act in harmony toward a common or agreed upon end. God wants to conspire with us, to act in harmony with us, so that we might walk in his footsteps. This conspiracy means that God calls us to give our lives to Him, to surrender completely, so we might live more fully, by walking with Him.
In The Divine Conspiracy, Dallas Willard helps us to understand what it means to be a follower of Christ. Over the course of ten weeks, Willard explains what God means when He calls us into a life of discipleship. We invite you to follow along through lesson one. The rest of this series can be found on Study Gateway. This might be the perfect time to discover what Study Gateway can do for your study group, and for the growth of your church. (Remember the first 30 days are FREE!) ~ Fred Bittner, FaithGateway Bible Study
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Repent, for the kingdom of the heavens is at hand. — Matthew 3:2; Matthew 4:17; Matthew 10:7
This is a call for us to reconsider how we have been approaching our life, in light of the fact that we now, in the presence of Jesus, have the option of living within the surrounding movements of God’s eternal purposes, of taking our life into His life.
God longs to entrust His presence and power in the lives of ordinary human beings. To do this, He must grow character within us and often this is forged in the fires of adversity, pain, and loss. Is God growing your character through the tough times of life? The kingdom is near!
The gospel is more than an offer of cleansing from personal sin or a battle against injustice in this world. It is about the way we live life today. Grace not only cleanses us, but it is the fuel that propels us forward as we bring the presence and love of God into the world each day. As we live for Jesus and bring His love to the world, the kingdom is near.
God is more aware of the pain in this world than we are. Yet, He is a God of joy and overflows with happiness. When His joy is in us and we let it resonate wherever we go, the kingdom of God is near.
To trust the real person Jesus is to have confidence in Him in every dimension of our real life, to believe that He is right about and adequate to everything.
As you watch the video teaching segment for session one, featuring John Ortberg’s conversation with Dallas Willard, use the following outline to record anything that stands out to you.
The meaning of “divine conspiracy”
The importance of character
Understanding “the gospel”
God is present with human beings now
Becoming a student or apprentice of Jesus Christ
The good news of Jesus contrasted to the gospel of sin management
A fresh understanding of grace
God as Father
The happiness of God
Questions To Study
- What is an example of something God is doing in the world, but many people don’t notice or realize it?
- Dallas Willard believes that God might allow hard things in this life so that He can develop character in His children. How have you seen life’s tough times and painful circumstances grow character in yourself or in others and draw you/them closer to Jesus?
- Willard suggests that God wants to develop character in people so that He can trust them with His power. What are some possible consequences when a person has power but does not have character shaped by God?
- Read: Matthew 6:25-34. What does it mean to “seek first His kingdom”? When you are really seeking God’s kingdom first, what kinds of attitudes and actions rise to the surface in your life?
- Willard says that one of the keys to becoming an apprentice and student of Jesus is to “think well enough of Jesus to trust Him.” How can this impact how we walk through life?
- The gospel of sin management is all about what to do with sin. For some, it is about what we do about our personal sin. For others, it is what we do about structural evils such as injustice and poverty. How have you seen both of these approaches to sin management in the lives of believers?
Another way to look at the good news of Jesus is to ask not only the question, “What do we do about sin?” but “What do we do about life?” How might our approach to Jesus and the gospel be transformed if we spent more time asking the latter?
- Willard defines grace as “God’s action in our lives to help us do what we can’t do on our own.” When you think of grace, what comes to mind? How does Willard’s explanation of grace include the forgiveness of sins, but take us even further?
- Willard suggests the best way to think of God is as a father. How do you respond to this invitation?
In an ideal world, what should a healthy father do, and how could this mirror what God desires to do for His children?
- Read: Genesis 1:29-31. What are examples of the joy and happiness of God that we see throughout the Bible?
- What have you learned in your journey through life that helps you continue to grow in happiness even when things are painful and difficult?
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Come join the conversation on our blog! We would love to hear your comments and answers to The Divine Conspiracy study questions!