“The Cost of Grace”, Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Dietrich Bonhoeffer on Cheap Grace

Let the Christian rest content with his worldliness and with this renunciation of any higher standard than the world. He is living for the sake of the world rather than for the sake of grace. Let him be comforted and rest assured in his possession of this grace – for grace alone does everything. Instead of following Christ, let the Christian enjoy the consolations of his grace!

That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and from whom sins departs.

Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession.

Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must the asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, 1906-1945, Pastor-Theologian of the Confessing Church, executed by the direction of Hitler

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: “ye were bought at a price, and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us.

Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

 

- Dietrich Bonhoeffer, “The Cost of Discipleship

Nothing!

“Yes, I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers,  nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Romans 8:38-39, NCV

Paul oozes out an incredible confidence in the words of these two verses.  He has an exceptionally deep certitude in a profoundly deeper God.  In the history of the Crusades, men would fanatically charge into battle. Not only did they carry their sword and shield, many carried holy relics.  They believed that a special magic covered them, keeping away all harm and every evil.

But this is not how we are to understand and embrace these promises. They aren’t magical.  When soldiers put a copy of the New Testament in his breast pocket he will be quite disappointed when the bullet just whizzes right through.  He will end up dead.

But the promises in Romans 8 are not bulletproof.  But they are certainly trustworthy to all who believe them.  Paul declares, with no hesitation, exactly what has happened through our faith.  In the strongest sense possible he works through a catalog of things which, (in the past especially) which are all very strong and intensely powerful.

“…neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor ruling spirits, nothing now, nothing in the future, no powers, nothing above us, nothing below us, nor anything else in the whole world…” 8:39 

This pretty much covers everything, (including IRS audits, and jury duty.)  Nothing can divide me from His love.  It seems to me that this very love very aggressively penetrates everything.  Love seems to be the tangent He works on.  (Actually, it is much more than we could ever dream.)

As believers who struggle deeply, we would do well to think about these two verses (vv 38-39.)  Perhaps even commit them to memory.  They have carried the faith of generations (it’s a very a very old and faithful donkey.)  As we trust in these we will find “no magic.”  But they are spirit and they are life.  Your confidence in these two verses alone will make you invincible.

A Statement of Dedicated Ministry

My calling is sure.  My challenge is big.  My vision is clear.  My desire is strong. My influence is eternal.  My impact is critical.  My values are solid.  My faith is tough.  My mission is urgent. My purpose is unmistakable. My direction is forward.  My heart is genuine.  My strength is supernatural.  My reward is promised.  And my God is real. ”

“I refuse to be dismayed, disengaged, disgruntled, discouraged, or distracted.  Neither will I look back, stand back, fall back, go back or sit back.  I do not need applause, flattery, adulation, prestige, stature or veneration.  I have no time for business as usual, mediocre standards, small thinking, normal expectations, average results, ordinary ideas, petty disputes or low vision.  I will not give up, give in, bail out, lie down, turn over, quit or surrender.  I’m dedicated to doing the work of the ministry. God help me.”

 There is such a thing as a “Seal of Good Housekeeping” that is given as a mark of approval.  As I read the above quotation, I thought of all the men and women that could make this declaration.  So many that we could approve of and to put a definitive seal of Kingdom approval on. 

I have friends in ministry in Mexico, India, China, Italy, Peru, Kazakhstan, San Francisco and so many other places.  They stand boldly and minister lovingly.  We must pray for them, all the time.  People like you and me who suffer with a mental illness are poor candidates for this level of intense ministry.  But we make great prayer warriors!

As we pray, standing in the gap for others, often we will experience a release from our own issues.  They just melt away.  I focus on you, and I won’t hurt as much.  I have to reach out, so God can reach in. This is what Jesus intends for me as His disciple; “in training.”