Great Omission : Rediscovering Jesus' Essential Teachings on Discipleship

  • ISBN13:


  • ISBN10:


  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2010-05-11
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publications

Note: Supplemental materials are not guaranteed with Rental or Used book purchases.

Purchase Benefits

  • Free Shipping On Orders Over $35!
    Your order must be $35 or more to qualify for free economy shipping. Bulk sales, PO's, Marketplace items, eBooks and apparel do not qualify for this offer.
  • Get Rewarded for Ordering Your Textbooks! Enroll Now
List Price: $23.99 Save up to $22.56
  • Rent Book $4.99
    Add to Cart Free Shipping


Supplemental Materials

What is included with this book?

  • The New copy of this book will include any supplemental materials advertised. Please check the title of the book to determine if it should include any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.
  • The Used and Rental copies of this book are not guaranteed to include any supplemental materials. Typically, only the book itself is included. This is true even if the title states it includes any access cards, study guides, lab manuals, CDs, etc.


Bestselling author of The Divine Conspiracy reveals that being a Christian is more than a ticket to heaven but a lifelong process of being trained by God to be like Jesus. In his earlier books Dallas Willard has laid out the principal ideas for a revolutionary understanding of what the Christian life is really about. This volume collects articles, talks, and interviews where Willard explains the practical application of his ideas. He answers such questions as what does it mean to be Jesus' disciple? How does God teach us? How do we know what God wants for us? How do we explain Jesus to others? And much more.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix
Apprenticed to Jesus
1. Discipleship
For Super Christians Only?
2. Why Bother with Discipleship?
3. Who Is Your Teacher?
4. Looking Like Jesus
Divine Resources for a Changed Life Are Always Available
5. The Key to the Keys to the Kingdom
Spiritual Formation and the Development of Character
6. Spiritual Formation in Christ Is for the Whole Life and the Whole Person
7. Spiritual Formation in Christ
A Perspective on What It Is and How It Might Be Done
8. The Spirit Is Willing, But...
The Body as a Tool for Spiritual Growth
9. Living in the Vision of God
10. Idaho Springs Inquiries Concerning Spiritual Formation
11. Personal Soul Care
For Ministers...And Others Discipleship of the Soul and the Mind
12. Spiritual Disciplines, Spiritual Formation, and the Restoration of the Soul
13. Christ-Centered Piety
The Heart of the Evangelical
14. Why?
15. Jesus the Logician
Books on Spiritual Living: Visions and Practices
16. Letters by a Modern Mystic by Frank C. Laubach
17. The Interior Castle of Teresa of Avila
18. Invitation to Solitude and Silence by Ruth Haley Barton
19. When God Moves In: My Experience with Deeper Experiences of Famous Christians
20. A Room of Marvels by James B. Smith
A Parting Word: "As You Go..." 225(6)
Notes 231(4)
Credits and Permissions 235


The Great Omission
Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship

Chapter One


For Super Christians Only?

The word "disciple" occurs 269 times in the New Testament. "Christian" is found three times and was first introduced to refer precisely to disciples of Jesus—in a situation where it was no longer possible to regard them as a sect of the Jews (Acts 11:26). The New Testament is a book about disciples, by disciples, and for disciples of Jesus Christ.

But the point is not merely verbal. What is more important is that the kind of life we see in the earliest church is that of a special type of person. All of the assurances and benefits offered to humankind in the gospel evidently presuppose such a life and do not make realistic sense apart from it. The disciple of Jesus is not the deluxe or heavy-duty model of the Christian—especially padded, textured, streamlined, and empowered for the fast lane on the straight and narrow way. He or she stands on the pages of the New Testament as the first level of basic transportation in the Kingdom of God.

Undiscipled Disciples

For at least several decades the churches of the Western world have not made discipleship a condition of being a Christian. One is not required to be, or to intend to be, a disciple in order to become a Christian, and one may remain a Christian without any signs of progress toward or in discipleship. Contemporary American churches in particular do not require following Christ in his example, spirit, and teachings as a condition of membership—either of entering into or continuing in fellowship of a denomination or local church. I would be glad to learn of any exception to this claim, but it would only serve to highlight its general validity and make the general rule more glaring. So far as the visible Christian institutions of our day are concerned, discipleship clearly is optional.

That, of course, is no secret. The best of current literature on discipleship either states outright or assumes that the Christian may not be a disciple at all—even after a lifetime as a church member. A widely used book, The Lost Art of Disciple Making, presents the Christian life on three possible levels: the convert, the disciple, and the worker. There is a process for bringing persons to each level, it states. Evangelizing produces converts, establishing or "follow-up" produces disciples, and equipping produces workers. Disciples and workers are said to be able to renew the cycle by evangelizing, while only workers can make disciples through follow-up.

The picture of "church life" presented by this book conforms generally to American Christian practice. But does that model not make discipleship something entirely optional? Clearly it does, just as whether the disciple will become a "worker" is an option. Vast numbers of converts today thus exercise the options permitted by the message they hear: they choose not to become—or at least do not choose to become—disciples of Jesus Christ. Churches are filled with "undiscipled disciples," as Jess Moody has called them. Of course there is in reality no such thing. Most problems in contemporary churches can be explained by the fact that members have never decided to follow Christ.

In this situation, little good results from insisting that Christ is also supposed to be Lord. To present his Lordship as an option leaves it squarely in the category of the special wheels, tires, and stereo equipment. You can do without it. And it is—alas!—far from clear what you would do with it. Obedience and training in obedience form no intelligible doctrinal or practical unity with the "salvation" presented in recent versions of the gospel.

Great Omissions from the Great Commission

A different model of life was instituted in the "Great Commission" Jesus left for his people. The first goal he set for the early church was to use his all-encompassing power and authority to make disciples without regard to ethnic distinctions—from all "nations" (Matthew 28:19). That made clear a world-historical project and set aside his earlier strategic directive to go only to "the lost sheep of the house of Israel" (Matthew 10:6). Having made disciples, these alone were to be baptized into the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Given this twofold preparation, they were then to be taught to treasure and keep "all things whatsoever I have commanded you" (Matthew 28:20). The Christian church of the first centuries resulted from following this plan for church growth—a result hard to improve upon.

But in place of Christ’s plan, historical drift has substituted "Make converts (to a particular ‘faith and practice’) and baptize them into church membership." This causes two great omissions from the Great Commission to stand out. Most important, we start by omitting the making of disciples and enrolling people as Christ’s students, when we should let all else wait for that. Then we also omit, of necessity, the step of taking our converts through training that will bring them ever-increasingly to do what Jesus directed.

These two great omissions are connected in practice into one whole. Not having made our converts disciples, it is impossible for us to teach them how to live as Christ lived and taught (Luke 14:26). That was not a part of the package, not what they converted to. When confronted with the example and teachings of Christ, the response today is less one of rebellion or rejection than one of puzzlement: How do we relate to these? What have they to do with us? Isn’t this bait and switch?

Discipleship Then

When Jesus walked among humankind there was a certain simplicity to being his disciple. Primarily it meant to go with him, in an attitude of observation, study, obedience, and imitation. There were no correspondence courses. One knew what to do and what it would cost. Simon Peter exclaimed, "Look, we have left everything and followed you" (Mark 10:28). Family and occupations were deserted for long . . .

The Great Omission
Reclaiming Jesus’s Essential Teachings on Discipleship
. Copyright © by Dallas Willard. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.

Excerpted from The Great Omission: Rediscovering Jesus' Essential Teachings on Discipleship by Dallas Willard
All rights reserved by the original copyright owners. Excerpts are provided for display purposes only and may not be reproduced, reprinted or distributed without the written permission of the publisher.

Rewards Program

Write a Review