Introductory Note:

In “Rethinking Evangelism,” Dallas Willard gives fresh insights and thoughtful takes on many terms and phrases from the evangelical lexicon. Today, we’d like to share his explanation of “Preparation for the Life to Come” with you.

Renovaré Team

Prepa­ra­tion for the Life to Come

Those who remain undis­ci­pled in this age will not be devel­oped as they should be for their respon­si­bil­i­ties in the next age. I don’t think, for exam­ple, that a per­son who steps into the next world as a child of God is going to have prob­lems with rebel­lion against God, doing what they know to be wrong. But there is much more to our per­son­al­i­ty than that, because life is not just a mat­ter of not sin­ning.” When peo­ple have lived a life of sin, that affects every­thing about them — their capac­i­ty to live in a social con­text, or their abil­i­ty to han­dle jobs and car­ry out projects — which I believe is what we will be doing in the age to come.

I do think Scrip­ture teach­es per­son­al, though not moral, devel­op­ment in the life to come. I think the image of God in man is cre­ative good­ness, and that we are enlist­ed into God’s cause. The clear teach­ing of Scrip­ture is that we will reign with him for­ev­er and ever. We will serve him for­ev­er. So we need to under­stand that that is the capac­i­ty in which we will con­tin­ue to grow. And we will nev­er cease grow­ing in that regard.

So, sup­pose you have the respon­si­bil­i­ty of run­ning a solar sys­tem? That’s going to be a demand on you, even though you’re going to be run­ning it with God! So the rule is, if you were faith­ful over two cities, take five. Peo­ple who have matured in their rela­tion­ship with God are going to have a much bet­ter idea of how to run cities with God. Those who have not will have a lot of learn­ing to do. So I think our prepa­ra­tion now makes a lot of dif­fer­ence. Once you get over the idea that you are going to be ware­housed for all eter­ni­ty when you die, lying about on shelves, lis­ten­ing to harp play­ing on Muzak, you can see how it makes a real difference.

Excerpt­ed from the Win­ter, 2001 issue of Cut­ting Edge mag­a­zine, a Church Plant­i­ng quar­ter­ly newslet­ter pro­duced by the Nation­al Church Plant­i­ng Task force of Vine­yard USA. All issues are avail­able on-line at the Vine­YardUSA web site. Used here with per­mis­sion from dwillard​.org.

Text First Published November 2001

📚 The 2022 – 23 Ren­o­varé Book Club

This year’s nine-month, soul-shap­ing jour­ney fea­tures four books, old and new, prayer­ful­ly curat­ed by Ren­o­varé. Now under­way and there’s still time to join.

View Selections & Learn More >