I hope to give a more formal review on the book later on, but I just finished reading my chapter for today - and I wanted to share some of what I was reading. I don't know what to think about it yet, other than it's extreme importance in (my) Christian spirituality.
From Page 62:
"The gospel is not just "Your sins can be forgiven." The gospel of the entire New Testament is that you can have new life now in the Kingdom of God if you will trust in Jesus Christ. Trust the whole person of Christ in everything he touches - which is everything."
"If you preach a gospel that has only to do with the forgiveness of sins - you will be as we are today: stuck in a position where you have faith over here and obedience and abundance over there, and no way to get from here to there." (Willard goes on to state that the bridge to get from here to there is discipleship, and the church does not do a good job of teaching us how to be disciples and walk with Christ. Too often, it's how to "save souls".)
"What transforms us is the will to obey Jesus Christ from a life that is one with his resurrected reality day by day, learning obedience through inward transformation."
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.[a] 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. 8But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
12Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. 16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. 17And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.Verse 17 illustrates the whole-life nature of our spiritual formation in Christ.
My summary of this: (I think my passage choices are just a little disjointed and difficult to understand..I'm sure the only reason I understand it is because I just read it.)
A. Christians are unaware that they are able to live an abundant life in Christ...right now. We are more often than not taught that our reward for trusting in Christ is given to us after we die (heaven).
B. Therefore, many Christians are unfulfilled in their spirituality, and the full implications of a Christian life (on ourselves, our friends, family and our community) are never realized.
C. The solution is to become an obedient disciple of Christ.
Well, I'm still chewing all this over. Just wanted to share what I was thinking about! (Any thoughts anyone may have are more than welcome, and will be very helpful, I'm sure!)