The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard - My Book Notes - Part 3 - What Jesus Knew: Our God Bathed World

Welcome to part 3 of my book notes on the book "The Divine Conspiracy". I will be releasing a new part each week, with each part looking at a different chapter. The contents section below has links to all of the different parts of the series (as I release them it will be updated).

What I Learnt From This Chapter

This chapter was extremely powerful for me. A lot of my theological reading had been in the vein of the "crucufied God" perspective; centring on that idea of a suffering God, and a deeply aggrieved God at the tragic situations of human affairs. The idea of God as the most joyous being ever took me by surprise. To be completely honest it took a lot of time to sink in, with me working towards some kind of synthesis between the idea of God as a suffering God, and God as truly joyous. Once I had come to that place of acceptance it makes perfect sense to me. There is indeed suffering, but there is also great joy in life, and if God is the one who feels suffering in a deeper way than humanity, then God must feel joy in a deeper way also.

Equally this idea of the world being a perfectly safe place to be is another idea that I am still wrestling with. I remember reading a (secular) parenting book, and the author explaining that one of the primary conditions for a child growing up as a healthy, well adjusted adult is whether they grew up knowing that the world is a perfectly safe place to be. If they do not believe this then a lot of their mental faculties are bound up in fear, rather than towards learning the skills for life (like attachment). I presumed that this was not a reality, but something that parents created for their children to protect them from the harsh realities of life. But if God is a parent, and as Jesus points out (Matthew 7:9), a better parent than we are, then why is this reality of the world being perfectly safe any less true. It is not that we do not suffer hardship, but we know that there is a good God in charge of it all.

Chapter List

Chapter 3 - What Jesus Knew: Our God-Bathed World
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 3 - What Jesus Knew: Our God Bathed World

Revisioning God and His World

Jesus Good news of kingdom can only be effective for our lives only if we share his view of the world - it is a God bathed and God permeated world.

God's Joyous Being

What do we think of when we think of God?
God leads a very interesting life and is full of joy, he is the most joyous being ever.
This what it means to be a "perfect being".
Jesus is also joyous and creative.
"He that has seen me has seen the father" - John 14:9 - Jesus is joyous.
God does not love us without liking us, He cherishes the earth and each human being on it.

Finding Language to Express This Great God

To trust in God we need a vivid and accurate picture of Him.
We learn from the Psalms how to think and reflect in reference to God.

The Heavens as the Human Environment - Some Advice on Living

Jesus claimed that the universe is a perfectly safe place to be (Matthew 6:1-34)

The Heavens Are Also Here

To be born from above is to be joined with a dynamic unseen system of divine reality in the midst of which all humanity moves about (this is the kingdom among us).

Heaven Invading Human Space

Hagar in the desert - God opened her eyes and she saw a well of water (Genesis 21:19) - heaven is never far away, it is always at hand (Jacob's ladder - Genesis 28:12).
Sky is different from air. - tau arano translated air or atmosphere rather than sky (i.e. with Peter's vision of the sheet - Acts 10:11).
Sundar Singh - raised Sikh, arose to pray, gave God ultimatum, room filled with light at 4 in morning, saw glorious face filled with love, voice in Hindustani said "how long will you persecute me? I died for you etc.", saw the scars on his body and knew it was Jesus and turned to him.
Books by John Wimbur and Agnes Sanford denote similar events.

Kingdom of the Heavens, and Kingdom of God 

Kingdom of Heaven and Kingdom of God are not synonymous.

Space Inhabited by God - Spirit and Space 

Modern ideology on space conflicts with New Testament understanding.
God is everywhere, not in a specific place (such as heaven or our hearts).

The Human Spirit 

I am a spritual being who currently has a physical body.
I occupy my body but you cannot find me in a specific part of my body.
God relates to space, as we do to our body.
Every physical object and natural law is a manifestation of God willing.
In the same way that the furniture in your house is in the way that you will it, even though you are not willing it right now.
Persons rarely become present where they are not wanted. Seeing God's world comes through a process of seeking and growing.

The Myth of Empty Space

The air we require envelops all of us at all times, and all we need to do is breathe, same with the spiritual air we need, all we need do is open our hearts.

All Things Visible and Invisible

What is spiritual reality?
Spiritual is something we are, it is our nature and destiny


Spiritual is not perceptible by five senses and does not have physical properties - 2 Corinthians 4:13 - things unseen.
It does have power / energy.
Spirit is a form of energy (it does work).
It is the ultimate form of power.


Everything around us is the result of someone's will.


Disposition, feeling, evaluation = our will.
The centrality of the will or heart.
Will = heart (in biblical language).
Will = executive centre of self.
The heart more than anything else is who we are.
William James - sense of effort we can put forth belongs to different realm.
Because we have will we are not things.

The Substantiality of the Spiritual 

Spirit is unbodily personal power.
It is primarily a substance.
Spirit as substance is of utmost importance.
Spirit is something that exists in it's own right.
From the cabbage to the waterbuffalo everything lives from it's certain world that it is suited to, it's wellbeing lies there and cut off from that world it dies.
Our world is the spiritual one.
Our future life will have no dependance on physical reality (1 Corinthians 15:1-58).
Wilder Penfield - "in order to survive after death the mind must establish a connection with a source of energy other than the brain." - Closer To The Light p197.

The Human Quandry

Death Dismissed - Carelesness About Death

Reality is God's and so paradise is no problem.
Our familiar life will never stop, in this marvelous universe.

Moving Out Of Our Tent, or Temporary House

Conscoiusness continues when we are asleep.
Peter Marshall - picture of child playing in evening among toys, becomes tired, next thing experienced is morning light waking up in bed.
Another picture, walking between doorways while continuing to talk to people.

The Dual Context of Life In God's World

Which side really is up? The first shall be last and the last shall be first

Kingdom of God contrasted with kingdom of man, where mans will is able to be contrary to God's will (Psalm 115:16).

The Resistance Built Into Our Daily Life

Humanity resists the inversion (upside down, first being last etc).
Kingdom of God interacts with us at every point of our life.
Our souls are soaked with secularity

The Smartest Man In The World

It is not possible to trust Jesus in matters where we do not believe he is competent.
He is the smartest man.
We think people are smart who make stuff out of stuff. He made stuff.

Master of Molecules

Knew how to turn water into wine at molecular level.
John 10:18 - Jesus Christ able to lay down life and take it up again. it is he who raised himself?
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