Wednesday, December 20, 2017
The Cost of Discipleship, by Dietrich Bonhoeffer
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?