Sunday, February 10, 2013

A call to service and Costly Grace

The great pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who gave his life in a Nazi concentration camp, preached bravely against the notion of "cheap grace," saying that "When Christ calls a man, he bids him to come and die."

Bonhoeffer defines Cheap Grace in his work, "The Cost of Discipleship" thusly: 

"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…. Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has."
In truth, Grace is indeed a gift from God, but it requires not only the recognition that it IS a gift, but also obedience to the Giver, if we accept it from Him.

Shockingly, Bonhoeffer was one of very few in the past century to speak this truth.

Jesus, God's chosen spokesman and Prophet, sent by Him to proclaim a Good and Beneficial Message ("Gospel") made this perfectly clear in his ministry, but we fail to heed his message.

We instead choose an easy path, a path that simply adores and praises his name while continuing to seek greater wealth and prosperity, when his entire ministry was dedicated to calling people to come and die.

While surely we must metaphorically "die" to our sins, Jesus said we must lose our lives (sometimes literally) in order to be saved. And Jesus calls us to deny and sacrifice ourselves, not fill ourselves with pride or focus on self-gratification.

When Jesus tells us to do this DAILY, and to pick up our crosses, and take on the yoke of his teachings (Luke 9:23) he is asking us to serve others, to do good and Righteous Works, and prepare to sacrifice our entire fortunes, if necessary, for his sake.

We must question why modern American Christendom preach EXACTLY THE OPPOSITE of this, because the idea that we need not give anything in return for our salvation is a myth.

Jesus said we are REQUIRED to forgive others if we expect God to forgive our shortcomings (sins.) (Matt. 6:14-15)

Jesus said we were not to simply CALL him Master, and that he would not be impressed by this, but only those who obeyed his words would be saved. (Matt. 7:21) Obedience is a WORK, assisted by God’s Spirit.

Jesus said we must seek God’s perfection and be morally perfect. (Matt. 5:48) and to seek after righteousness (Matt. 6:33.) And he made it clear that our discipleship will be measured by God by our obedience and righteous acts, done in humility and in obedience to Jesus, God’s Anointed One. (Matt. 16:27)

Jesus warned that his Followers would be hated, persecuted and even killed. This is far from the promise of ease, wealth and prosperity that today's Christendom claims he preached. (Matt. 5:11-12; John 15:18, 15:20)

And Jesus said, "Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me." (Matt. 10:38) This is not merely “belief,” which is only the starting-point of Faith.

Jesus calls not for mere adoration or love or spiritual ecstasy in the midst of spouting a "Sinner's Prayer" that is supposedly "enough" to get us a ticket into heaven. This is a commitment, a call to make Good Works a Sacrament and an offering to God in return for his Grace and gifts.

Jesus thought we were up for a challenging faith like this. We must believe he was right.

Selected Scripture:

“Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and not do what I tell you?” Luke 6:46

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” Luke 9:23

“Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.” Matt. 11:29

“And calling the crowd to him with his disciples, he said to them, ‘If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake and the gospel’s will save it. For what does it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his soul?’” Mark 8:34-36

“Whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me.”  Matt. 10:38

“And Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How difficult it will be for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God!” Mark 10:23

“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.” (Matt. 6:33)

"Blessed are you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account. Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” Matt. 5:11-12

“Then the righteous will answer him, saying, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you drink? And when did we see you a stranger and welcome you, or naked and clothe you? And when did we see you sick or in prison and visit you?’ And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me.’” Matt. 25:37-40

“For the Son of man shall come in the glory of his Father with his angels; and then he shall reward every man according to his works.” Matt. 16:27

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