Mini Book Review: The Cost of Discipleship


Grace is free, but not cheap.

I am currently reading “The Cost of Discipleship” by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.  It is captivating, God honouring, challenging, scriptural… This is my second time reading it in the past 4 years.  It is very easy to read as it is written for the layman, yet it is very hard to read because in it he shows what the cost of our christian discipleship really is.

Bonhoeffer, was a Lutheran minister living in Nazi Germany, who actively took a stand against Hitler.  He was martyred because of the stance he took.  His discipleship cost him his life, but on that day he surely heard “well done my good and faithful servant…” He truly practiced what he preached.

In this book Bonhoeffer shows us that the life of a true Christian disciple is not the life of ease and cheap grace that is so prevalent in the church today.  Rather, Bonhoeffer shows us that true  Christian discipleship  is one that seems foreign when compared with today’s view of the Christian. There is very little splendour, very little “me” but a lot of personal responsibility and humility. Opposed to the culture of today Bonhoeffer shows us that there is little individualism in the Church, rather there should be a great deal of corporate identity in Christ.  When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.  Do we really understand the cost of Discipleship?

This is a book that every Christain should read.

Here is an excerpt.

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 cheapjacks’ 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….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…. 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 is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of 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.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man’ will gladly go and self 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 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 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.

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