May 22, 2017

7 Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quotes on Costly Discipleship

In the spring of 1945 a 30-something Lutheran pastor awaited execution in a Nazi concentration camp. Dietrich Bonhoeffer had spent two years imprisoned, yet he published letters on spiritual wisdom, delivered Sunday sermons and shared the Gospel with his prison mates and prison guards. That Bonhoeffer was focused on others’ redemption in the midst of his own challenges is a stirring reminder of the cost of discipleship.

On April 9, 1945 Bonhoeffer was hanged at Flossenbürg concentration camp for his involvement in a small Protestant resistance movement and conspiracy to defeat Hitler and his regime. Even so, Bonhoeffer’s legacy endures. Today he is considered one of the most esteemed Protestant theologians out of the twentieth century.

Sometimes the unexpected troubles in our own lives tempt us to ignore the spiritual and physical needs of others and maybe question, “Lord, are you there?” But we need only look at Bonhoeffer’s passion and sacrifice as a blunt reality check for what it means to follow Jesus Christ. It’s not easy and it’s costly.

One of Bonhoeffer’s most famous works, The Cost of Discipleship, is an enduring source of wisdom on the demands of Christian discipleship. Perhaps you feel outnumbered, discouraged, intimidated, or simply comfortable. Considering Bonhoeffer’s words lived out, here are seven quotes on costly discipleship. May they refocus your faith and inspire your discipleship:

1.) “Discipleship is not an offer that man makes to Christ.”

2.) “The cross is laid on every Christian. The first Christ-suffering which every man must experience is the call to abandon the attachments of this world. It is that dying of the old man which is the result of his encounter with Christ.”

3.) “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.”

4.) “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.”

5.) “Every moment and every situation challenges us to action and to obedience. We have literally no time to sit down and ask ourselves whether so-and-so is our neighbor or not. We must get into action and obey—we must behave like a neighbor to him.”

6.) “What are the disciples to do when they encounter opposition and cannot penetrate the hearts of men? They must admit that in no circumstances do they possess any rights or powers over others, and that they have no direct access to them. The only way to reach others is through him in whose hands they are themselves like all other men.”

7.) “When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”


11 Responses to 7 Dietrich Bonhoeffer Quotes on Costly Discipleship

  1. Andy Hughes says:

    Thank you Chelsen for being young and wise at the same time.

  2. Nancy Venuti says:

    His words should be taken to heart by all who have given their hearts AND lives to Christ.

  3. Arlene Samuels says:

    Bonhoeffer is my long time favorite theologian. An activist Christian leader who stood up for the Jewish people during WW II eventually giving his life to do the right thing.

  4. David Gerhard says:

    Refreshing to hear the gospel with out an agenda other than the cross. … come to Christ and die…. fall into the ground and produce a crop a hundred fold… yes come to Christ and die. May his will be done. Prepare the way for the Lord!

  5. Sheryl Fulkerson says:

    Such a different message than the modern American church one of “Come to Christ and be HAPPY.” God help us!

  6. Michael Peppers says:

    he reminds me of oswald chambers, keep to the point. Jesus: who He is and what He’s done. I/We owe Him everything

  7. Mittie says:

    Thank you for the excellent post

  8. David says:

    Thank you for this. very helpful and exactly what i was looking for.

  9. Thanks, it is very informative

  10. Luis says:

    This is truly useful, thanks.

  11. Jonas says:

    Thank you for the terrific article

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