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Hearing God 9: The With-God Life

May 21, 2013

Hearing God by Dallas WillardIn the final video session on Hearing God, Dallas Willard told the story of the Bible – from Genesis to Revelation – as the story of the “With-God Life.” Before we get to that, let’s first take a step back and say that it is important – for a variety of reasons – for us to have some understanding of the story of the Bible. Different people have different ways of summarizing the Bible’s story – most of them have great similarities, but sometimes emphasize a particular idea or focus over another. One way of summarizing the story comes from Scot McKnight in his (excellent) book The Blue Parakeet:

  • Created for Oneness (Genesis 1-2)
  • Otherness Introduced (Genesis 3-11)
  • Otherness Expands (Genesis 12-Malachi)
  • Oneness in Christ (Matthew-Revelation 20)
  • Perfectly One (Revelation 21-22)

Another even simpler way of telling the story of the Bible as a five-act play comes from N.T. Wright from his (also excellent) book Scripture and the Authority of God:

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Israel
  • Jesus
  • Church

A third way that I picked up somewhere modifies Wright’s five-act play slightly:

  • Creation
  • Fall
  • Redemption
  • Reconciliation

All of these ways of summarizing the story of the Bible have their strengths, and which one you choose really depends on what you are trying to emphasize. In this session, Willard does something different than what I’ve encountered before. He tells the story of the Bible as the story of the “With-God Life” – that is, as the story of how God interacts with humankind throughout history. I’ll summarize his approach:

  • Adam & Eve – Prior to the fall, God walks with them in the garden
  • Cain, Enoch, Noah – After the fall, the Bible shows God interacting with a few individuals
  • Abraham & Israel – Beginning with the covenant in Genesis 12:1-3, God meets first with Abraham’s family, and then the nation of Israel
  • Tabernacle & Solomon’s Temple – God’s shekinah glory settles on the Tabernacle and Temple. God lived in these structures in the presence of his people. (Exo 40:34-38; 2 Chron 7:1-3)
  • Judges – God is present with the people through the Judges
  • Monarchy – The people reject God but God does not reject them (1 Samuel 8:7).
  • Exile – The Temple is destroyed in 587 B.C. and the people are taken into exile in Babylon. The Temple, the place where God lived, was destroyed – and the Israelites began to learn that God was still present with them, even in a foreign land.
  • Jesus – The shekinah glory of God in person. The incarnation – God becomes man and lives among us.
  • The Church – The continuing incarnation – God sends his spirit to live within his people. No longer does God live in the Temple – now God lives inside each one of us. We are the Temple (1 Cor 6:19-20).

Willard’s way of telling the story of the Bible shows the remarkable development of God’s interaction with humankind – from dwelling in the Temple, to dwelling among us (Jesus), to dwelling within us. The video session closes with Richard Foster observing that throughout the Bible, God continually says these words: I’m with you. I’m with you. I’m with you. And all along the question is asked…Are you willing to be with me? The With-God Life is available to each one of us – God desires a real, authentic relationship with us. He invites us into the kind of life where hearing God is a normal occurrence. Our first step is simply to answer that question: Are you willing to be with me?

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