The insights of Bonhoeffer

I am currently reading The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer in conjunction with my daily devotions.

First of all, Bonhoeffer was such an inspiring man. He realized that the church in Germany during the 1930s and 40s looked no different from secular society. The church was not living out the life of obedience and discipleship it is called to do. It possessed “a form of godliness but den[ied] its power” which is what Paul warned would happen to some churches in the later days. [2 Tim 3:5] Bonhoeffer spoke out against this and continued preaching the true gospel and working to show people the love of Christ until he was eventually imprisoned and killed by the Nazis in 1945.

I am only a couple chapters into the book but will write briefly about what has struck me so far.

Bonhoeffer distinguishes between what he calls “cheap grace” and “costly grace”. Cheap grace he defines as “a doctrine, a principle, a system”, “a cheap covering for… sins; no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God.” “It is justification of sin without the justification of the sinner”.[pp 45-46]  This is when we know we are forgiven and therefore possess no urgency to change–to become real disciples. How many Christians today just accept God’s forgiveness but live in the exact same way as their secular counterparts?

Costly grace, in contract, is an acknowledgment that grace is a gift that comes in conjunction with a truly repentant heart [and thus a radical change in lifestyle]. Grace IS costly…the Son of God gave his life to buy it for us. It does not make us followers of Christ to merely acknowledge forgiveness and go on behaving the same way. We must strive always to become like Christ and to forego those things which cause us to stumble. We really should look different from the world around us if we remove those things which keep us from being like Christ…so why don’t we? Just a thought.

I’ll write more after I have read more of the book, but in closing:

“Happy are they who know that discipleship simply means the life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship. Happy are they who have become Christians in this sense of the word. For them the word of grace has proved a fount of mercy.” [Cost of Discipleship p 60]


One thought on “The insights of Bonhoeffer

  1. Loved reading this post and leaving about “cheap” and “costly” grace! It’s challenging to find the Christians in the world that live up to God’s expectations of costly grace… so many people float around in the “cheap” grace realm and fail to live up to the call of discipleship.

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