The Cost of Discipleship: Cheap Grace v. Costly Grace

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Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
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[size=-1]Bonhoeffer in the courtyard at Tengel Prison, 1944.[/size]

When Christ calls a man he bids him to come and die.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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Costly Grace by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjack's wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth, the love of God taught as the Christian "conception" of God. An intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The Church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, ipso facto a part in that grace. In such a Church the world finds a cheap covering for its 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, in fact, a denial of the Incarnation of the Word of God.

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. "All for sin could not atone." The world goes on in the same old way, and we are still sinners "even in the best life" as Luther said. Well, then let the Christian live like the rest of the world, let him model himself on the world's standards in every sphere of life, and not presumptuously aspire to live a different life under grace from his old life under sin. 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 sin 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 be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

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 costs 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 deliver Him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

Costly grace is the santuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which He speaks as it pleases Him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and My burden light."

[size=-1][Source: "Devotional Classics" edited by Richard J. Foster & James B. Smith; "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. ]

I like the German Lutheran Bonhoeffer even if our theology doesn't always line up. His books on Ethics, The Costs of Discipleship, and Creation, Fall and Temptation are particularly enlightening. His costly grace and cheap grace dichotomy is insightful.
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PuritanCovenanter

Moderator
Staff member
I believe most of modern day Christendom has a deficient understanding of Grace based upon some some old definitions and scripture. If we had a better understanding of God's grace no one could conclude anything to be cheap concerning it. It's cost of imparting it was paid by Christ.

In Titus Grace teaches us.
(Tit 2:11-12) For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;

In 2 Corintians it is used synomously with Christ's power working in us.

(2Co 12:8-9) For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.

The Greek word charis is translated grace. In the old Strongs greek dictionary there is a definition given which says, "especially the divine influence upon the heart, and it's reflection in the life."

The Puritans didn't believe grace meant just unmerited favor. God's grace is unmerited but it is much more than that. Charismata is the operation of God's Spirit working through man.

Grace is monergistic as it is also synergistic. It isn't both at the same time. Salvation by Grace is monergistic. Monergistic Grace is the Holy Spirit breathing life into our souls and quickening us into New Creatures in Christ. It is unmerited but it isn't just unmerited favor. That is where the semi Pelagians (Independent Baptists or Free Will advocates) greatly err. There definition of Grace is faulty. That is why their Grace is truly no grace at all.

Synergistic Grace is what Phi 2:12,13 is about.

(Phi 2:12-13) Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure.

Just my two cents on the topic.

[Edited on 9-25-2005 by puritancovenanter]
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Since when did grace cost US something?

Grace is free to those whom God gives it.

Grace cost Christ a whole bunch.
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
"œI have had a deep conviction for many years that practical holines and entire self-consecration to God are not sufficiently attended to by modern Christians in this country. Politics, or controversy, or party spirit, or worldliness have eaten out the heart of lively piety in too many of us. The subject of personal godliness has fallen sadly into the background. The standard of living has become painfully low in many quarters. The immense importance of "œadorning the doctirne of God our Saviour" (Titus 2:10), and making it lovely and beautiful by our daily habits and tempers, has been far too much overlooked."

J. C. Ryle
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Since when did grace cost US something?

Grace is free to those whom God gives it.

Grace cost Christ a whole bunch.

Bonhoeffer HARDLY disavows God's free and unmerited grace and he subsequently, he declares:
Let the Christian beware of rebelling against the free and boundless grace of God and desecrating it. Let him not attempt to erect a new religion of the letter by endeavoring to live a life of obedience to the commandments of Jesus Christ.
You have to read Bonhoeffer more carefully. Every believer has to pick up his cross... Grace is costly because it cost God the life of his son, and grace is grace because it gives a man the only true life.

Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of the cross. The cross is there, right from he beginning, he has only got to pick it up there is no need for him to go out and look for a cross for himself"¦ Every Christian has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God. Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
We cheapen grace by not striving for discipleship and we cheapen grace by treating grace as license and not liberty. We cheapen grace by negating the necessity of repentance to effectuate our faith. We affirm the costliness of grace by not demeaning it, but by patiently bearing our alloted Cross and enduring suffering which afflicts every believer in varying degrees. As 2 Timothy 2:3 says, "You therefore must endure hardship, as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." We have to take a step forward in faith and walk in obedience. This all comes back to making Christ Lord over our life.
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Suffering, then, is the badge of true discipleship. The disciple is not above his master. Following Christ means passio passiva, suffering because we have to suffer. That is why Luther reckonwed suffering among the marks of the true Church, and one of the memoranda drawn up in preparation for the Augsberg Confession similiarly defines the Church as the community of those "who are persecuted and martyred for the gospel's sake." If we refuse to take up our cross and submit to suffering and rejection at the hands of men, we forfeit our fellowship with Christ and have ceased to follow him. But if we lose our lives in his service and carry our cross, we shall find our lives again in the fellowship of the cross with Christ. The opposite of discipleship is to be ashamed of Christ and his cross and all offence which the cross brings in its train.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 

Arch2k

Puritan Board Graduate
Ryan,

My comments were directed more at the termonology used (i.e. cheap or costly grace). Taken at face value, it really is a contradiction. The content of what is said I agree with. Sorry if my comments were misleading. :handshake:
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
Originally posted by Jeff_Bartel
Ryan,

My comments were directed more at the termonology used (i.e. cheap or costly grace). Taken at face value, it really is a contradiction. The content of what is said I agree with. Sorry if my comments were misleading. :handshake:

No bother... it gave me the opportunity to expound upon his theology... Many take a cursory glance at his works, especially that costly grace and cheap grace dichotomy, and might think it is legalism, but digging into his theology proves that is not the case.
 

bond-servant

Puritan Board Sophomore
This is an excellent book. I read it early on in my "adult" walk. It was definately life changing for a young Christian...:book2:
 

Puritanhead

Puritan Board Professor
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The cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest. Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of the cross. The cross is there, right from beginning, he has only got to pick it up: there is no need for him to go out and look for a cross for himself, no need for him deliberately to run after suffering. Jesus says that every Christan has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God. Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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satz

Puritan Board Senior
Originally posted by Puritanhead
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The cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest. Only a man thus totally committed in discipleship can experience the meaning of the cross. The cross is there, right from beginning, he has only got to pick it up: there is no need for him to go out and look for a cross for himself, no need for him deliberately to run after suffering. Jesus says that every Christan has his own cross waiting for him, a cross destined and appointed by God. Each must endure his allotted share of suffering and rejection.
--Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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wow..what a powerful and challenging quote..

:candle:
 

Michael Butterfield

Puritan Board Freshman
"Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. "¦ Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate."
"”Dietrich Bonhoeffer
 
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