Editor's 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.

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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.