Tuesday, November 14, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 19-23

1. On page 193, “God will not ask us in that day whether we were good Protestants, but whether we have done his will.  We will be asked the same question as everybody else.  The Church is marked off from the world not by a special privilege, but by the gracious election and calling of God.”

- As it pertains to God’s will, what have we been elected and called to do on behalf of Jesus and his gospel?  Please be specific.

2. On page 195, “But Christ’s followers must ask by what ultimate criterion Jesus will accept or reject them.  Who will pass the test, and who will not?  The answer lies in the words of Jesus to the last of the rejected: ‘I have never known you.’ Here we are at last, here is the secret we have been waiting for since the Sermon on the Mount began.  Here is the crucial question – has Jesus known us or not?  There is nothing left for us to cling to, not even our confession or our obedience.  There is only his word: ‘I have known thee,’ which is his eternal word and call.  If we follow Christ, cling to his word, and let everything else go, it will see us through the day of judgement.  His word is his grace.”

-  How do you understand the “ultimate criterion” by which Jesus will accept or reject you?  What is your response to that?

3. On page 196, “Humanly speaking, we could understand and interpret the Sermon on the Mount in a thousand different ways.  Jesus knows only one possibility: simple surrender and obedience, not interpreting it or applying it, but doing and obeying it.  That is the only way to hear his word.  But again, he does not mean that it is to be discussed as an ideal, he really means us to get on with it.”

- What does “simple surrender & obedience” compel us to do?

4. On page 197, “There is only one other possibility, that of failing to do it.  It is impossible to want to do it and yet not do it.  To deal with the word of Jesus otherwise than by doing it is to give him the lie.  It is to deny the Sermon on the Mount and to say No to his word.  If we start asking questions, posing problems, and offering interpretations, we are not doing his word.  Once again, the shades of the rich young man and the lawyer of Luke 10 are raising their heads.”

- When are we most apt to respond is this fashion?  Why?

5. On page 203, There is now no time to lose: the work of harvest brooks no delay.  ‘But the laborers are few.’  Jesus is looking for help, for he cannot do the work alone.  Who will come forward to help him and work with him?  Only God knows, and he must give them to his Son.  No man dares presume to come forward and offer himself on his own initiative, not even the disciples themselves.  Their duty is to pray the Lord of the harvest to send forth laborers at the right moment, for the time is ripe.”

- Is this a model response for the Church today?

6. On page 205, “No power in the world could have united these men for a common task, save the call of Jesus.  But that call transcended all their previous divisions, and established a new and steadfast fellowship in Jesus.”

- Where have you witnessed this remarkable call of Jesus?
- What new fellowships emerged in response to that call?

7. On page 206, “In his very first word, Jesus lays down a limitation of their work, a circumstance which they must inevitably have found strange and difficult.  The choice of field for their labors does not depend on their own impulses or inclinations, but on where they are sent.  This makes it quite clear that it is not their own work they are doing, but God’s.”

- How do you discern where Jesus is sending you?

8. On page 211, “Vice and sin may be forgiven, according to the word of Jesus, but the man who rejects the word of salvation has thrown away his last chance.  To refuse to believe in the gospel is the worst sin imaginable, and if that happens the messengers can do nothing but leave the place.  They go because the Word cannot remain there.”

- How does this provide context and clarity for our work?

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