Tag Archive: Jesus Christ


amazing grace. how sweet the sound. especially when we have a clear picture of what we are talking about…

a friend of mine posted a picture on the book of faces of a Bonhoeffer quote about grace that i really thought was great. because it was a picture i was unable to just grab the text and so i asked Uncle Google for the quote and came up with a whole treasureload of Bonhoeffer quotes of which a number were related to grace and figured they pretty much speak for themselves. but there is some powerful and true stuff here. the main initial point i was looking for was related to when we make grace cheap: 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.

 

give these quotes some time and mindspace, cos there is some great stuff here:

“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.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost Of Discipleship

 

“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.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“Luther had said that grace alone can save; his followers took up his doctrine and repeated it word for word. But they left out its invariable corollary, the obligation to discipleship…The justification of the sinner in the world degenerated into the justification of sin and the world. Costly grace was turned into cheap grace without discipleship.” 

― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“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. 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 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 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 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.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

“grace at a low cost, is in the last resort simply a new law, which brings neither help nor freedom.” 
― Dietrich BonhoefferThe Cost of Discipleship

 

 

 

 

bondlaserbits“Do you expect me to talk?” [asks Sean Connery’s James Bond to the villain Goldfinger in the movie of the same name, as he lies strapped to an operating table with a gold laser beam heading menacingly towards his privates]

“No, Mister Bond, I expect you to die.”

A classic Bond moment, and a similar statement is being made in today’s Mark passage.

Except this time, it is no Bond villain, but our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ who is calling us to do the same.

Can this be?

Join me as I take a look at Mark 8.27-38

[For the next passage in Mark on Figuring out the Trance, click here]

forgives

i don’t feel very strong right now.

i feel wronged. badly done by. hurt. betrayed. disappointed.

and yet again and again it comes back to me that the call is on me to forgive.

pride. ego. self-righteousness. my idea of “justice”. all these things rally against me, trying to convince me that i am in the right [maybe i am] and that the other should approach me [maybe they should] and seek peace and restoration. and maybe in the ideal world that is what should happen.

but i come from a far greater than ideal world. i come from a kingdom. and in this kingdom it often appears as if everything is upside down. and yet when you tilt your head, change your perspective, and open your eyes to really see how the upsidedowness really takes shape, it is quickly obvious to see how this new way is so much better. this new way is right. this kingdom brings life.

it doesn’t demand love, it earns it. it showers it indiscriminantly on whoever is in arms reach. and those beyond. it seeks out people to Love who may not be the likeliest of candidates or people who i might feel are all that deserving.

am i? am i deserving.
if ‘forgiveness is the attribute of the strong’ then i don’t feel so strong right now.
i feel tired from having walked that road before. so many times.
always the one to seek peace, to chase with repentance, to humble myself [that’s probably not true, but it’s certainly what i like to think]

forgive those who deserve it? easy. i can do that. i have. again and again.
but those who don’t? sure, but can i at least make them feel bad? can i at least see them ask for it or at the very least even seek it?
because often they don’t. often it has to be me who has to set out on that same journey again [my shoes feel worn down, and in the absence of shoes, my feet]

i think of my buddy Dunc. how is he still my friend? i honestly sometimes don’t know. oh i get why we are friends and what we share in common and how we can laugh and enjoy life to the full together. i get how we can be friends. and are.

but i have given that boy some crap. man, he has experienced some of the depths of my bad moods and hockey-related tantrums and unfairness accusations and passive aggressive looks [that if they could kill i’d have been put away for life]. and yet he has still stayed around. and loved me. and been so incredibly generous to me and Val just again and again and again.

and so thankx Dunc. maybe in you i will discover some hope for myself.

and in Jesus! cos He sticks with me. and i know i’ve let Him down again and again.
and yet He keeps welcoming me back. and He keeps being incredibly generous. and He keeps putting amazing opportunities in front of me

and more importantly, when i don’t seem to possess enough of this particular attribute of the strong
and when i arrive once more at a place where i feel wronged. badly done by. hurt. betrayed. disappointed.
He refuses to let me stay there. He refuses to let me wallow.
or wait [fruitlessly perhaps] for the other person to set out on my path.

the nudge comes. the Spirit speaks. the call is made.
you put this right. you Love. you forgive. and I will give you everything you need to be able to do it.
seventy times seven – My kingdom on earth as it is in heaven.

[to all those friends and family of mine who have never given up on me – despite quite possibly having cause – i thank you so much – it means the world to me – despite how completely wrong i can get it from time to time, i really do try.]

and let Him loose in my life…

was end of grade 10 or 11 [or standard 8/9 as we used to call it in the days when we had to trudge 50 miles barefoot in the snow just to get a glass bottle of milk!] when that happened, but let me back track.

i was five years old when i asked Jesus into my heart – looking back now i may have not understood the metaphor – at least i’m hoping not, cos i’m not sure at 38 that i get it now – but i am convinced that i knew enough about what i was doing for it to matter – my parents had taught me well about the love of God and how that was demonstrated through Jesus and more importantly lived that out in loving ‘the least of these’ who constantly seemed to be in and around or near our lives… and so it doesn’t really matter that the terminology may have been a bit off, what happened was important – i believed in God and i did something [asked Jesus into my heart] to demonstrate that belief.

when i was nearing the end of school though i had some youth leaders pray for me to be filled with the Spirit – again, terminology a lot of people may not be happy with or fully get, and again i don’t think it matters… what changed pretty dramatically in me at that time was that i moved from believing in Jesus to following Jesus – instead of just my heart, i invited Jesus to be a part of every part of my life… and my life changed.

i have never looked back. it has gotten bumpier for sure and there were many moments of struggle and wrestling with doubt and confusion and there was a near death moment which coincided with a crisis of faith ‘well do i really believe this stuff or not?’ moment [Malawi, 2000 – nothing like a near death moment to help you figure out the answer to the do you believe this or not? question, by the way] and there have been times of experiencing the Presence of God and seeing Him work in powerful ways and other less fun times of feeling so far away from God and wondering if He really cares cos it doesn’t feel like it so much right now… and yet through it all i have continued because i know that i know [deep, deep inside of me the Truth lives and is real and burning and nothing will put it out]

following is way different to believing
while Jesus was locked in my heart, i was safe to live life as i wanted to, pretty much
but He is not content with that – He wants everything and i needed to give it to Him
and that is a decision i have not regretted no matter how hard it has been at times

i just think it might be helpful for anyone still using the ‘invite Jesus into your heart’ language to consider moving to a more Biblical ‘invitation to follow Jesus’ especially where children are concerned. i think it might be a lot easier to understand. and a lot harder to be unaware that you’re not living it.

the beep beep machine revisited

i haven’t shared this one for a while so i thort i’d repost it cos it really helps explain the concept really well for me:

So i often hear the question ‘how good do i need to be to get to heaven’ or else the question can be phrased in a different way – ‘how is it that you (followers of Jesus) say that if a serial killer repents and becomes a follower of Christ on his deathbed that he will go to heaven, but that my gran who has never hurt anyone in her life and in fact has been a really good person, but is not a follower of Jesus, is doomed to hell and eternal destruction?’ That doesn’t seem fair…

Well an analogy i heard or made up (can’t remember actually cos have used it so much last few years, think God gave it to me actually) is the one of the beep beep machine which for me explains it well in terms of how the Bible (which i see as the Word of God to man) sees it.

Two Scenes:

In the first you are fast asleep in bed, your alarm goes off and you wake up and get dressed in your suit of armour, put in all thirty eight of your piercings (ears, eyes, nose, throat etc), grab R200 in R5 and R2 and R1 coins, your eleven bunches of keys (house, car, locker, post box etc) and your friend arrives in a van and somehow manages to get you outside and into it. She drives you to the airport and pushes you into a trolley and gets you all the way to the beep beep machine (could never remember what it was called, think it’s metal detector but prefer beep beep machine) and you stumble through it – What happens? BEEP BEEP (or maybe the machine explodes)

In the second scene, you are fast asleep in bed, your alarm goes off and you wake up and put on your satin dressing gown and your fluffy bunny slippers, you remove all of your piercings, leave your money on the desk and with just your air ticket you climb into your friend’s car and she drives you to the airport and you walk to the beep beep machine and walk through. [only thing i forgot to tell you is that when you were 3 you had a tragic tricycling accident and you had to have a 1cm by 1cm metal pin inserted into your left pinkie] What happens? BEEP BEEP

You see the Beep Beep machine is built to recognise the presence of metal – and it doesn’t matter if you have 100kg or 1cm of metal – the machine goes off.

Now for me as i understand the Bible, that is the story of Jesus. One day each of us will stand before God on judgement day (not the Terminator one) and He will examine us to see if we have sin in our lives (anything we do that goes against God and who He is, or anything we fail to do that He would have wanted us to do like look after the sick and poor and needy for example – the least of these) – and whether there is 100kg of sin or 1cm of sin, the Bible says it is enough to keep us out of heaven. So the question is not ‘how much good are you?’ – the question is ‘has your sin been dealt with?’

What happens in the airport scenario for you to walk through the beep beep machine without it going off? You take your metal and you give it to the guard and he puts it in the plastic container, in short he deals with your metal for you so that you can go through without problem.

And that’s Jesus. Through Him dying on the cross for our sins, He was a replacement sacrifice (reminiscent of the Old Testament and Jewish culture) – He dealt with our sin and the penalty for sin (death) so that we would not have to and so that we can walk straight through into heaven/eternity with God/paradise – when God looks at us He doesn’t see our sin (if we have confessed and repented and accepted the free gift of Jesus carrying it for us) but the sacrifice and the blood of His Son which made access to Him possible.

So not how good do i need to be to make it, but has my sin been dealt with?
Mine has – how about yours?

John 3.16 “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son so that whoever believes in Him will not die but have everlasting life.”

there is a verse from revelations which has been running thru my head – it’s the one where john has the vision of the messages given to the seven churches and is found in rev 3.1-3 and says, “i know your deeds; you have a reputation of being alive, but you are dead. wake up! strengthen what remains and is about to die, for i have not found your deeds complete in the sight of my God. remember, therefore, what you have received and heard; obey it, and repent. but if you do not wake up, i will come like a thief, and you will not know at what time i will come to you.’

and just been thinking lots about the difference between head and maybe even heart christianity and actual real life flesh and blood Christ following and how much of that disparity exists in my life as well – in terms of my head and heart i am absolutely 100% passionate about God and kingdom growth and world transformation, absolutely…

but how much am i actually living this thing? loving God, loving people? like really? actually? in 3D?

i know there’s bits of it, for sure, but i’m pretty sure there’s not nearly enuff, and if i’m absolutely honest, i am terrified that i am not even coming close to really living it out – one of the things which excites me about next year’s doing something different (and still waiting on God to see what that is) cos i don’t think it can continue…

and right now that seems to be the difference between me and guys like shane claiborne and keith green and so on – in heart and passion and mind i would imagine we are d.n.a. twins (or triplets?) but they lived it out – out on the streets – in peoples faces

and even huger than that is the difference between me and Jesus. and that is really not cool for someone who claims to be an ardent Christ follower as i do – Christ loving (absolutely) Christ believing (no doubt) Christ awe-ing (full on)

but Christ following? hm.

there must be more than this… in my life.

this is not good enuff.

the beautiful val told me of a testimony that was shared the other night at the lausanne congress where the girl sharing it quickly left the stage after speaking and disappeared behind the curtain but the crowd of 4000 plus people stood and applauded and cheered and continued for ten minutes and so they brought her back on to stage while people continued to respond to her powerful testimony – i was hoping to be able to watch the video footage to share in the testimony but i think for safety reasons it was not recorded but i came upon my friend michael oh’s account of it – what excited me was that a ten minute standing ovation occured not for some big name speaker (that people across cape town have been buying tickets to hear speak – various big names at different places outside of the congress) but that it was for the powerful work of God in and thru this girl’s life – God is the only one worth that much attention…

you can read a summarised version of her story here

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