The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard - My Book Notes - Part 4 - Who Is Really Well Off: The Beatitudes

Welcome to part 4 of my blog series on Dallas Willard's book "The Divine Conspiracy". Please look at the chapter list to move between the other parts of this series.

What I Learnt From This Chapter

The beatitudes (Matthew 5:3-12) of Jesus are often very misunderstood. Dallas does an amazing job of clearing up many misconceptions, and perhaps the greatest one for me was his statement about how we often take Jesus out of our treatment of the list. The beatitudes only work when we understand who Jesus is and his role in the availability of the kingdom of God.

Chapter List

Chapter 4 - Who is Really Well Off? - The Beatitudes
Chapter 5 - The Righteousness of the Kingdom Heart: Beyond the Goodness of Scribes and Pharisees
Chapter 6 - Investing in the Heavens: Escaping the Deceptions of Reputations and Wealth
Chapter 7 - The Community of Prayerful Love
Chapter 8 - On Being a Disciple, or Student, of Jesus
Chapter 9 - A Curriculum for Christlikeness
Chapter 10 - The Restoration of all Things

Chapter 4 - Who Is Really Well Off - The Beatitudes

The Puzzle of the Beatitudes

The two major questions of life:
1. Which life is the good life?
Beatitudes help clarify this first question.
2. Who is truly a good person?
Rest of sermon on the mount deals with second question.
Plato's Republic, Aristotle's Ethics, John Locke, Thomas Hobbes, Immanuel Kant, John Stuart Mill all preoccupied with these two questions.
George Herbert Palmer - "ethics is the study of life in it's fullness, not its restriction".

Pretty Poison?

Beatitudes have been seen as pretty poison - as a picture of the ideal christian.

Teaching from the Context

Should be seen in the light of the availability of the kingdom of the heavens - the main theme of the sermon on the mount.
It is in the midst of the mass of raw humanity that Jesus gives his discourse.
The discourse is preceded by his healing of the people.
The poor in spirit are blessed because of the availability of the kingdom.
Blessing is not because of the thing, but in spite of it.
Not an excuse for not changing things that need to be changed.

Staying in Charge

Most interpretations of beatitudes disregard Jesus himself. (i.e. it is through Jesus that we are blessed).
Not teachings on how to be blessed, or for situations that God looks upon favourably, or conditions for who will be on top; but explanation of the personal availability of the kingdom of heaven through Christ - otherwise they are not good news.

Dealing With the Soul in Depth, Jesus' Manner of Teaching

Parables = to lay one thing down beside another - placing something we are familiar with, with something we are not familiar with.

Teaching to Correct Prevailing Assumptions and Practices

The rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-34) - to them wealth meant being in God's favour.
He upset the prevailing opinion on God and riches.

Don't Have Your Relatives to Dinner?

Luke 14:1-35 - provide for more than our specific circle, and place ourselves in larger context of heavens rule.

The Case of the Good Samaritan

It was his heart that made him the good one.

How to Make a Neighbour

Assumptions about life must be changed

Why Jesus Teaches in this Manner

No value was placed on mere information in Jesus' day.

What Jesus Really Had In Mind With His Beatitudes, a Look at Luke's Version of the Beatitudes

Luke's beatitudes also drawn from people who are in his immediate audience.

Beatitude Under the Personal Ministry of Jesus

Luke 4:18-19 - read from Isaiah, these blessings come through him.
The Isaiah scroll read is a parallel of the beatitudes (people who are "out").
John sent message to Jesus, "are you the one?" (Luke 7:21-23).
More list of people who are out, even using phrase "blessed".

Making This Message Personal Today

Can you go to anybody in society and ensure that they can be blessed?
The silly, the serious, and the immoral.

These Are To Be the Salt of the Earth, Light of the World

Scythian = the barbarians barbarian - blessed are the scythians.
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