Grace

I’m reading through a book with a friend, and I read the first chapter today. The book is The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. The first chapter had a lot of stuff from Martin Luther as well (not Martin Luther King Jr). These guys are pretty dang smart, I felt like a kid with water wings in an Olympic swim race. The first chapter is on grace. I was thinking, oh I know plenty about grace. Jesus gives unconditional grace to forgive sin because of His death on the cross. Dietrich Luther (name combo) blew that idea out of the water a little bit. The chapter kept talking about costly grace and cheap grace. From this book’s point of view cheap grace has greatly damaged today’s church, I think I pretty much agree. Cheap grace is grace that has been preached throughout the country. Grace that comes at a low-cost. Cheap grace has left “millions of spiritual corpses in our country to-day”. The message of unconditional grace to forgive sin is heard, “but the call to follow Jesus in the narrow way [is] hardly ever heard”. According to Bonhoeffer, this has caused the birth of a mentality that allows sin without regard because there is unconditional grace to wipe it away. Bonhoeffer says it nicely, “Is there a more diabolical abuse of grace than to sin and rely on the grace which God has given?” This cheap grace has made it seems as if desperately clinging to Jesus and obediently following Him is too legalistic, grace isn’t earned so there is no need to change our lives. I really like how horrified Dietrich Luther is at this mentality. The idea of this chapter is that God’s grace is unconditional and free, but it costs our lives. Grace isn’t earned by our obedience, but our obedience is earned by His grace. Martin Luther says, “Sin boldly, but believe and rejoice in Christ more boldly still”. At first I thought Luther was crazy, “sin boldly”? No way! But what he is talking about isn’t indulging in sin, it’s being bold enough to own up to our own sin and realizing that this side of heaven we will always be sinful humans and this should cause us to delight in and fall on Christ even more. Bonhoeffer isn’t after a change in doctrine, he is encouraging a change in the way we worship with our lives. He says, “We confess that although our Church is orthodox as far as her doctrine of grace is concerned, we are no longer members of a Church which follows its Lord.” Bonhoeffer suggest that our country has become a “Christian” nation by the influence of cheap grace, but at the cost of secularizing Christianity. Basically, putting forward the attractive hand of unconditional grace without putting forward the costly hand of following Jesus unconditionally, which gives us the impression that we can go about our lives the same way we did before Jesus entered our lives because His grace will dismiss all the sin we have. Bonhoeffer says it well when he says that Jesus justifies sinners, not sins. We didn’t earn His unconditional grace, He earned our unconditional obedience.

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