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Per Fidem Intrepidus means "Fearless Through Faith". My courage isn't my own, it comes from the Holy Spirit, it's my faith in God and my personal savior Christ Jesus that calms my fears and allows me to move forward in this fallen world. Personally I'm afraid of a lot of stuff, but having the faith that Jesus adopted me as his little, sin filled, brother keeps me going.

Thursday, October 8, 2015

The Price of Costly Grace

Costly grace is the sanctuary of God; it has to be protected from the world, and not thrown to the dogs. It is therefore the living word, the Word of God, which He speaks as it pleases Him. Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him; it is grace because Jesus says: "My yoke is easy and My burden light." - "The Cost of Discipleship" by Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was an outspoken critic of the unbiblical legalism, formalism, and the Nazi subjugation of the church named after Martin Luther in 1930's -1940's Germany. This put him directly in the cross-hairs of both the Nazi/Lutheran church and the German government. With war clouds looming on the horizon Bonhoeffer's friends convinced him to leave Germany, and he did make it to America. However he almost immediately returned to Germany saying “I shall have no right to participate in the reconstruction of Christian life in Germany after the war if I do not share the trials of this time with my people."

Bonhoeffer's life is an example of Costly Grace. He railed against the church of Cheap Grace, the church that turned it's back on Christ's teachings to make peace with Adolph Hitler. Bonhoffer along with his twin sister and her husband was arrested by the Gestapo on April 5th, 1943 for helping Jews escape to Switzerland. In 1944 his friends made an attempt to liberate him from Flossenb├╝rg concentration camp and smuggle him out of the country but Dietrich decided to remain in prison so not to endanger others and to continue his ministry there. He was executed by hanging at Flossenb├╝rg concentration camp on April 9, 1945 shortly before its liberation. 
18 “If the world hates you, know that it has hated Me before it hated you. 19 If you were of the world, the world would love its own; but because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, because of this the world hates you. 20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A slave is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you; if they kept My word, they will keep yours also. 21 But all these things they will do to you for My name’s sake, because they do not know the One who sent Me. (John 15:18-21)
Here is the true price of Costly Grace, which is following Jesus as Jesus calls us to do. We are set apart from this world, called out by Christ. you can see it in John 15:19, and in Romans 12:2, and again in 1 Corinthians 2:12. This means leaving so much behind: friends, family members, jobs... because if we are following Christ as He called us to do, we are going to be hated by the world.

As recorded in Luke 9:23 Jesus tells his disciples to take up his cross daily and follow him. I find this interesting because it was said well before Jesus was crucified. We take this verse as a matter of fact because we know the outcome of Jesus' ministry on earth, but at this point He was the only person on earth that knew He was going to be crucified. His audience at the time, unlike his audience today, knew exactly what He meant. 

Crucifixion was the worst punishment the Roman Empire had, and they reserved it for the worst criminals. Thanks to Hollywood we have a slightly skewed image of how crucifixion was handled. Hollywood has the pain and agony right in many of their films, but people weren't executed 'way up high on a towering cross which in the movies adds an air of majesty to the procedure. These dying wretches were crucified, tortured, and slowly died in agony on a shorter cross, right at eye level where they could be taunted and spit upon by the jeering crowd. They were also stripped naked which was a huge measure of humiliation, especially in the ancient Middle East.

Many people say things like "This is a cross I have to bear" when they're talking about something happening in their life. These things can be anything from dry skin to a rebellious child. This shows a profound misunderstanding of what it means to bear a cross. Jesus disciples knew - to take up your cross is a death sentence. It means pain and torture and humiliation and agonizing death. And Jesus asked his disciples to do it every.single.day. Just because crucifixion is almost unheard of in this era it doesn't mean that taking up your cross is meant to be any less agonizing.

Think of it: your Lord has asked you to follow him, to spread the good news of His forgiveness and salvation, the news of repentance and casting away this sin filled world for the glory to come. He did this knowing that you're going to be laughed at, insulted, taunted, and hated. He knows that your friends will desert you, your family will turn their backs on you, and you will be considered a target of hate and derision by society as a whole. You may even be attacked, injured, imprisoned, and killed. He knows this. Do you?

This the price of Costly Grace.

Jesus never promised a rose garden, nowhere in the bible does it say "You're going to have it easy". Nowhere in God's word does it say that God is going to fill your wallet with cash, fill your garage with German luxury cars, and fill your back yard with unicorns. He has called us to abandon those dreams and follow Him. He's asking you to live every day surviving new temptations, to understand what sin really is and to suffer the guilt and agony of realizing the pain our sin causes our loved ones and Him
23 And He was saying to them all, “If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me. 24 For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake, he is the one who will save it. 25 For what is a man profited if he gains the whole world, and loses or forfeits himself? 26 For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when He comes in His glory, and the glory of the Father and of the holy angels. (Luke 9:22-26)
Taking up the cross means to share the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest. Our master has called to us and we must answer, and if we don't then how can He be our master? The death sentence of the cross is not a tragedy. In Matthew 7:15-16 our Lord told us that we will know false teachers by their fruits, the same applies for His faithful servants and suffering for Him is the fruit of an exclusive allegiance to Jesus Christ. When it comes, it is not an accident, but a necessity, it is the fruit of being blessed with Costly Grace.

Temptation is going to be a big part of the suffering that Jesus promised, but much of the suffering is going to be rejection. Humans don't like rejection, we're social beings we like to "belong". We don't like it when friends and family turn their backs on us and Jesus quite bluntly promised this would happen to us. In Matthew 10:34-39 Jesus plainly states that He didn't come her to bring peace but to cause division and anger, even in the family. He also made it clear that if you deny Jesus to make a family member happy you're not worthy: he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.

The silly, fluffy, man-made gospel of Cheap Grace was invented merely to ensnare the seeker, entertain the weak, and drive a wedge between the Shepard and the sheep. Cheap Grace denies discipleship and promises a plethora of worldly rewards. Cheap Grace denies sin and hell and damnation and pain and abandoning ones family, friends and even oneself. Cheap Grace denies the fact that serving Christ Jesus is serving, and it's not easy, and it was never promised to be easy.
If our Christianity has ceased to be serious about discipleship, if we have watered down the gospel into emotional uplift which makes no costly demands and which fails to distinguish between natural and Christian existence, then we cannot help regarding the cross as an ordinary everyday calamity… We have then forgotten that the cross means rejection and shame as well as suffering.
The Psalmist was lamenting that he was despised and rejected of men, and that is an essential quality of the suffering of the cross. But this notion has ceased to be intelligible to a Christianity which can no longer see any difference between an ordinary human life and life committed to Christ. The cross means sharing the suffering of Christ to the last and to the fullest. - Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship
The price of Costly Grace is high, but then so is the reward.
If anyone serves Me, he must follow Me; and where I am, there My servant will be also; if anyone serves Me, the Father will honor him. (John 12:26)
Imagine - you, a humble servant being honored by God Almighty - how could there possibly be a reward on this world that could equal that?

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