Wednesday, December 20, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 31-32

1. On pages 273-4, Bonhoeffer writes, “Hence, the ultimate purpose of God, which is to establish a holy community, is at last fulfilled in the Body of Christ.  God dwells in it with the Holy Spirit.  How does all this come to pass?  How does God create a community of saints out of sinful men and women?  The answer is that God justifies himself by appearing as his own advocate in defense of his own righteousness.  And it is in the cross of Christ that this supreme miracle happens.”

- Yes, we are wading into deep theological waters here.  How would you describe this miracle of redemption through the cross?

2. On pages 276-7, “The proclamation of the death of Christ for us is the preaching of justification.  The means whereby we are incorporated into the Body of Christ, that is, into his death and resurrection is baptism.  Just as Christ died once and for all, so we are baptized and justified once and for all.  Both events are in the strictest sense unrepeatable.  Only repeatable is the recollection of the event that happened for our sake once and for all, and it needs to be repeated daily.”

-  Explain how Jesus’s death & resurrection are directly linked to God’s gracious act of baptism on our behalf.  What do they share?

3. On page 279, “Sanctification means that the Christians have been judged already, and that they are being preserved until the coming of Christ and are ever advancing towards it.  All this has a threefold significance for the community of the saints.  First, their sanctification will be maintained by their being clearly separated from the world.  Secondly, it will be maintained thorough their walking in a way which is worthy of the holiness of God.  Thirdly, their sanctification will be hidden, and they must wait for the day of Jesus Christ.  Sanctification is therefore possible only within the visible Church.”

- How do you experience sanctification through acts of separation from the world, walking worthy, and waiting for Jesus’ return?

4. On page 287, “The community of the saints is not an ‘ideal’ community consisting of perfect and sinless men and women, where there is no need of further repentance.  No, it is a community which proves that it is worthy of the gospel of forgiveness by constantly and sincerely proclaiming God’s forgiveness (which has nothing to do with self-forgiveness).  It is a community of men and women who have genuinely encountered the precious grace of God, and who walk worthily of the gospel by not casting that grace recklessly away.”

- How has being a part of this grace community shaped your understanding and claiming of God’s forgiveness.

5. On page 296, “We cling in faith to Christ and his works alone.  For we have the promise that those who are in Christ Jesus will be enabled to do good works, which will testify for them in the day of judgement. They will be preserved and sanctified until the last day. All we can do is to believe in God’s Word, rely on his promise, and walk in the good works which he has prepared for us.”

- “Believe, rely, walk”… these are the good works that carry us forward in faith.  How do they define your “life journey” today?

6. On pages 302-3, “If we are confirmed to his image in his Incarnation and crucifixion, we shall also share the glory of his resurrection.  We shall be drawn into his image, and identified with his form, and become a reflection of him.  That reflection of his glory will shine forth in us even in this life, even as we share his agony and bear his cross.  Our life will then be a progress from knowledge to knowledge, from glory to glory, to an ever-closer conformity with the image of the son of God.”

- As you look at your life in its entirety, where has Christ’s reflection in you shone most brightly?
- Where are you experiencing “progress” toward conformity with Christ?

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer

Chapter 30

1. On page 249, “The body of the exalted Lord is also a visible body in the shape of the Church.  How is this body made visible? In the first place, through the preaching of the word.”

- What effect has preaching had on your life, both in the present and in the past?  Give examples, please.

2. On page 250, “Furthermore, when this Word comes, the Holy Spirit comes, showing to Christian, both individually and corporately, the gifts of the incarnate Christ to man.  He produces faith in his hearers, that they may discern in the preaching the entry of Jesus Christ.  He opens their eyes to see Christ coming into their midst in the power of his Body to tell us that he has received us and will receive us again to-day.”

-  How is the Holy Trinity at work here?  
- What is the specific role of each part of the Trinity?

3. On page 251, “But preaching is not the only means whereby the Church takes visible form.  That is also done by the sacraments of baptism and the Lord’s Supper, both of which flow from the true humanity of our Lord Jesus Christ.  The Body of Christ becomes visible to the world in the congregation gathered round the Word and Sacrament.”

- How would you describe the role and value of each sacrament?

4. On page 254, “It is instructive to note that the fellowship is mentioned between Word & Sacrament.  This no accident, for fellowship always springs from the Word and finds its goal and completion in the Lord’s Supper.  The whole common life of the Christian fellowship oscillates between Word & Sacrament; it begins and ends in worship.  It looks forward in expectation to the final banquet in the kingdom of God.”

- How do you experience the truth of this fellowship in worship?
- How is this different from other fellowship events?

5. On page 258, “The member of the Body of Christ has been delivered from the world and called out of it.  He must give the world a visible proof of his calling, not only by sharing in the Church’s worship and discipline, but also through the new fellowship of brotherly living.”

- How might you describe the “visible proof of your calling?”
- How is that identity in Christ manifested in fellowship?

6. On page 264, “Let the Christian remain in the world…to engage in frontal assault on it, and let him live the life of his secular calling in order to show himself as a stranger in this world all the more.  But that is only possible if we are visible members of the Church.  The antithesis between the world and the Church must be borne out in the world.  That was the purpose of the incarnation.  That is why Christ died among his enemies.  That is the reason and the only reason why the slave must remain a slave and the Christian remain subject to the powers that be.”

- Where is this dual citizenship most realized in your life?

7. On page 267, “Such is the life of the Church in the world.  Christians live like other men; they get married, they mourn and rejoice, they buy their requirements and use the world for the purpose of day-to-day existence.  But they have everything through Christ alone, in him and for his sake.  Thus, they are not bound by it.  They have everything as though they had it not.  They do not set their heart on their possessions, but are inwardly free.  That is why they are able to make use of the world without withdrawing from it altogether.”

- How does this freedom inform & affect your daily choices?