The Divine Conspiracy by Dallas Willard - My Book Notes - Part 10 - The Restoration of all Things

Welcome to the final part 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 final chapter is an attempt to create a vision of what the divine conspiracy is working towards. It is an incredibly powerful vision and speaks of a life that begins now and carries on into eternity. For me personally the conversation around materialism and the kingdom of heaven were very helpful (I particularly enjoyed the "God doesn't have a brain, and he has never missed it" line). I love Dallas's description of ourself becoming more christlike towards death and the end quote from Augustine's City of God is truly wonderful.

Chapter List

Chapter 1 - Entering the Eternal Kind of Life Now
Chapter 2 - Gospels of Sin Management
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 10 - The Restoration of all Things

Why We Must See a Future

Our lives lie before us - always

What is significant is the kinds of people we have become.

The human mind must have some picture of the future.

Materialism - natural world as closed system with a future determined entirely by its own resources.

The Cosmos Open to God

In the Bible the universe is not a closed system.

Personality is primary - responds to and pervaded by what is not a part of it, but of which it is a part or product.

Not a system that is closed off to itself. Determined by personal factors, sources of energy and direction that cannot be discerned by physical senses or understood by the physical sciences - these are God and His kingdom.

The Human Future in this Universe

We will actively participate in the future of the universe - we will join the eternal logos and reign with Him in the on-going works of God as kings and priests.

Our faithfulness over a few things develops the kind of character of someone who can be trusted with many things.

We are permitted to enter into the joy of the Lord (the creation and care of what is good).

His plan is for us to develop to the point where we can take our place in the on-going creativity of the universe.

The Older Prophecies

They captivate our hearts and are a human treasure.

Isaiah 65:17-25

New city - Jerusalem (the peace of God), all cultures and languages come together and the message is transmitted to all people who will come together to worship him.

The power of God's presence both directly and indirectly will bring about an order that earthly kingdoms cannot.

Forcing Jerusalem to Happen

The greatest evil perpetrated by humans is to try and bring about a new Jerusalem by human means.

They cannot change the heart and spirit of a human being.

They always eliminate truth, or mercy, or both.

The problem is in the human heart, and until it engages with the rule of God, the good that we feel must be cannot come, and will be defeated by the very means meant to produce it.

God's will is to bring about transformation of the human heart by speaking to human beings and living with and in them (He finds an Abraham, a Moses, a Paul, a you).

The day will come when God's heart will be the human heart, when His law will be written on it.

For all of Humankind and Beyond

Phrase "every tribe and tongue and people" plays a very important part in the book of Revelation.

Not humanity that is the focus of God but the whole cosmos.

Why the Prophetic Vision and Hope

Why should we have such hope?

It is found in the vision of God that underlies the prophetic vision.

This vision is brought to striking clarity in Jesus.

We live in a Trinitarian universe.

Jeremiah 10:23

We are of significance only as a very important part of an immense struggle between immense forces of good and evil.

The universe is then recognised as God's place.

We live in a huge nuclear reactor.

In our Trinitarian universe nuclear power is one more provision in our father’s storehouse.

Nothing indicates that sub-particle physics is the basis of reality.

The laws of science making nothing intelligible by themselves. Those laws must have something from which they can start.

Science explains many important things, but it does not explain existence.

The reality from which all other realities derive is the society of divine persons (the Trinity).

God's nature as love is the source of our hope.

The prophetic witness speaks of the restitution of all things - this is the divine conspiracy.

The way of God must succeed, because God is God.

God is Really Knowable Only Through the Redeemed Community

God will bring what is good to pass.

The church is far less than what it should be.

God chose to occupy a tent for decades.

Community of people inhabited by God is carried through into new testament - e.g. Ephesians 2:19-22

C. S. Lewis - we have never seen an ordinary human being.

G. K. Chesterton - one of the hardest things for us to understand is the immeasurable important that God places on an individual person.

God is the sustainer and inhabitant.

Same purpose that manifests God's creation of the world.

Love unknown is love unfulfilled.

The plan had remained a mystery to human beings, and they were drawn into a divine conspiracy that they did not fully understand.

It is gently brought to light through the gospel.

The Human Significance of God's Future For Us

Meaning - is a kind of spiritual oxygen that enables our souls to live.

It is a going beyond towards that which completes it.

The meaning of present events in human life is a matter of what comes later.

Anything that has no future is meaningless - in human order.

A human life is like the words of an unfinished book. The meaning can only be comprehended once the book is finished.

There is a future fullness to the kingdom.

We are greatly strengthened in the kingdom now, by understanding our future.

Plato's account of Socrates trial = life only understood in terms of future.

Pictures of heaven and hell are unhelpful to us.

The Reasonableness of Preserving and Restoring Humanity

Will we really carry on beyond the demise of our bodies? yes.

John Hick - if we trust what Jesus said, we shall share his belief in the future life - a God of infinite love would not create finite persons and then drop them out of existence when The potentialities of their nature, including their awareness of Himself, have only just begun to be realised.

Our continued existence is not for our benefit but God's. He has made a great investment in human beings (and corporate humanity) through great effort.

We exist and continue to exist because it is pleasing to God.

Psalm 23 - psalmist knows God and what God will do.

And the Possibility

Personal existence is not dependent upon matter. Rather matter is dependent on him.

God does not have a brain, and he never misses it.

Body and brain come from him and not the other way around, and we will be just as much ourselves without them.

The truly brave person is the one who can truly face on-going existence.

You are never going to cease existing, and there is nothing that you can do about it.

What Will Our Future Life be Like?

Do we know nothing about our future existence?

Jesus pointed towards a limitlessly enhanced life.

We will be more intensely alive.

Heaven is just our future in this universe. There is no other one.

Time is within eternity, not outside it.

The created universe is within the kingdom of God, not outside of it.

Really Knowing, For the First Time

When we pass through death we do not lose the world, rather we see it as it truly is.

They see and know things as they truly are.

We will have a fullness and a clarity.

Angels are understood to be watchers.

By contrast we always see things in distortion, as in a mirror (in Paul’s day mirrors weren't very good) - 1 Corinthians 13:12.

No Death

For the godly, death is nothing (Matthew 10:28, John 11:26)

Talking of his own death Jesus said, "if you knew where I was going, you would be happy for me".

Statement to the thief - the thief would be himself, in a fine shape, with Jesus and others.

We are always better off dead (from the personal point of view). - to die is gain.

Jesus has abolished death (2 Timothy 1:10)

The Changes to Come

What changes?

When we pass through death we will not lose anything except the limitations of and powers over our body (these kinds of things happen as we move towards death anyway - The Body as intermediary is losing its function as the soul prepares for a new arrangement.

We do not lose a personal sense of who we are.

We will be in possession of ourselves as never before.

We will not disappear or go into extended animation. God has much better use for us than that.

Our experience will not be that much different in character from what it is now, though it will be changed in significant details.

It will instead be rooted in the fundamental reality of God's kingdom.

His Glorious Body

Experience rooted in post resurrection Jesus - he had a body, but it was radiant and was not restrained by space time in the manner of physical bodies.

1 Corinthians 15:44 - we have a physical body and we have a spiritual body.

in God's universe matter is subject to mind.

Right now our citizenship is in the heavens and from his we expect our saviour who will transform our bodies (Philippians 3:20).

We are clothed with a dwelling place of the heavenly sort.

The mortal part of us is swallowed up by life.

We have a down payment of this through the spirit.

Running Steadfastly the Race Set Before Us

What will happen next?

1 - The time of growing steadily. We should be constantly growing in drawing from the kingdom and in our interactions with God, where the heart and character is transformed more to be like his. 1 Corinthians 13 will become who we are. Increasingly what we do and say will become eternal. We are now co-labourers with God. Ageing will be a process not of losing but of gaining as our spiritual body grows richer and deeper. As we age we should become obviously more glorious (George MacDonald - our old age is the scorching of the bush, as our old self burns off and our wings spread).

2 - The time of passage

Our personal existence will continue without interruption.

3 - The time of reigning with Jesus

We will begin to assume new responsibilities.

Many of the last shall be first and the first shall be last.

We will not be celestial bureaucrats.

We should think of our destiny as being absorbed in a tremendously creative team effort with unimaginably splendid leadership on an inconceivably vast plane of activity with ever more comprehensive cycles of productivity and enjoyment - Isaiah 64:4.

This is Shalom

Augustine, City of God - question of how saints shall be employed. He is at a loss to explain the nature of that employment but settles on the word peace. The beatific vision.

"There we shall rest and see, see and love, love and praise, this is what shall be in the end without end, for what other end do we propose to ourselves than to attain to the kingdom of which there is no end."

Even these words do not capture the restoration of all things.
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