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Showing posts with label Cheap Grace. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Cheap Grace. Show all posts

Tuesday, November 7, 2023

Tell Me What I Don’t Have to Do! – Walking the Thin Line Between Heaven and Hell - Purity 1192


Tell Me What I Don’t Have to Do! – Walking the Thin Line Between Heaven and Hell - Purity 1192

Purity 1192 11/07/2023 Purity 1192 Podcast

Purity 1192 on YouTube:



Good morning,

Today’s photo of the love of my life, TammyLyn Clark, looking into the distance while traversing the rocky creek bed that comes down from the Lye Brook Falls Trail comes to us from yours truly as I captured this near the end of our 5-mile trek in and out of one of  Green Mountain National Forest’’ more popular destinations.  The creek bed was impressive and if you are no fan of mountain hikes, there’s good news, this scene was about 5 minutes down from the parking lot. So technically, you could say that you went to the Lye Brook Falls TRAIL, snap some photos of the mountain stream, and even stage yourself along some of the rock outcroppings at the early stages of the trail near the creek, and really look like you had “been there and done that”. 

Of course, those of us who had actually hiked the 2.3-mile trail and had seen the actual falls for ourselves would know that you “missed something” and some of us may call you out for not being a “true Lye Brook Falls hiker”.  But in our age of selfies and, if it’s possible, increased self-interest, there are those who would vehemently argue how they didn’t have to actually hike all the way up to the falls to say they had “an experience” of the falls. I bet you even know people like that – the ones who will argue points and not waver from their position, even when they are shown to be wrong, as long as they have some fact or version of “their truth” to back it up.

Well, it’s Tuesday, and election day, and because I belong to a labor union that chose to bargain to have this day off, I get to declare today as a “holiday” because I have the day off.  Now I understand that the vast majority of people out there don’t have it off and instead of going around today telling everyone to enjoy “the holiday”, I’ll stay content and just enjoy the fact that I get to experience it and possibly encourage others to “join the union” if they want to experience the benefit of having election day off.  But it is a labor union, and unlike the gospel of grace, you do have to work and continue to work to enjoy the benefits of union membership, and then one day enjoy the benefits of retirement.  

When it comes to our Christian faith, there are many who want to claim the benefits of “retirement” – eternal life in God’s kingdom – but who seem content in doing as little as possible as a “supposed member” of God’s family and can seem virtually the same as their unsaved neighbors.  While these “nominal” Christians are quick with a confession of faith there is little or no evidence of the fruits of the Spirits or the good works and spiritual disciplines of Christian discipleship.   Bonhoeffer called such “believers” to be consumers of “cheap grace” – those who believe in salvation by association and who expressed through their lukewarm faith or red-hot lives of sinful passions that discipleship and repentance of sin were difficult and unnecessary.  In spiritual matters, they would claim their liberty and rather than being considered what they could do for God’s kingdom, they were more interested in what THEY DIDN’T have to do for their golden ticket to heaven.  

If I seem harsh, please realize that I’m very familiar with this type of “little faith of the ultra-grace variety” – because that was ME!!!!

As a Catholic, as an Episcopalian, and yes even as a “Born Again” Pentecostal Bible Believing Christian, I have had what you can call apprehension if not full blown resistance to the things of God and as a skeptic I feared going off “the deep end” of religious extremism and often would stand on – well let’s see – my infant baptism, my confirmations (one as a Catholic in my youth, and one “surprise” confirmation as an Episcopalian as an adult (we’re doing what?), or my sinner’s prayers – as the proof of my faith, the minimal qualifications for salvation, and “ALL I HAD TO DO” to be a Christian.  

While I understand that all of us want to be sure we are “right with God” – that mentality of “checking theological boxes” to be assured of our salvation both forgets something and indicates something.  That mentality forgets God, and what He has to say about you and your relationship with Him.  That mentality indicates you don’t know the word of God and you may not have a relationship with Him.  

We can have assurance of salvation. An examination of God’s word and our confession of faith in Jesus Christ should be enough to tell you, in your heart and mind, whether or not you actually put your faith in Jesus as LORD and Savior. 

If you have doubts and question your hesitancy to believe and follow, I recommend Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s advice to believe and to obey that he goes to great lengths to encourage in “Discipleship”. If you doubt, just obey, and it will confirm your belief and faith in Christ. I believe in God’s word, so I am going to obey it. I will do God’s will for my life.  As Bonhoeffer writes:  

Those who do the will of God are called and forgiven by grace; they obey and follow. [1]

And that’s the proper order, we are not forgiven by grace because we “obey and follow” – we are forgiven by grace and made alive in Christ through faith in Him, SO we obey and follow. 

And if we believe and obey, we won’t be asking – What  DO I DON’T have to do to be a Christian – or What can I NOT Do and still be a Christian.  

That’s possibly a long list:  Technically, I suppose – it’s possible that you could choose to:

·       not be baptized.

·       not give tithes or offerings to the church.

·       Not go to church.

·       Not pray.

·       Not sing worship songs.

·       Not read the Bible.

·       Not evangelize.

While those things are not required for salvation, we are saved by faith in Christ alone, they are good indicators (although not proofs) of a relationship with God.   I myself, because of my sinful past and sinful bondages after becoming a Christian – didn’t feel able, willing, or worthy of doing many things on that list.  In my spiritual infancy, I thought it was best to not draw attention to myself in case God wanted to change His mind – which proved I didn’t know His word which tells us that nothing can separate us from His love. 

But God calls us to follow and live with Him forever and hiding from Him and the church and Christian discipleship practices isn’t the way to have a relationship with God.  While we can know the facts of the gospel, our assurance and growth as a Christian come from seeking the Lord and spending time in His presence – through His word and in His church. 

So don’t ask what you DON’T Have to do to be a Christian, instead ask the Lord how you can know Him more and obey His will for your life. 

We don’t want to walk that thin line between heaven and hell and not be sure of our place in God’s kingdom. We want to take progressive steps of faith that will draw us closer to the Lord and assure us that we are free indeed and secure in His love and kingdom forever.

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For those who want more evidence for Christianity than my simple encouragements provide, I offer apologist, Frank Turek’s website, https://crossexamined.org/ .

Today’s Bible verse comes to us from “The Quick Scripture Reference for Counseling” By John G. Kruis.

( While Bible verses on various topics of Counseling can be found with a quick Google search, we encourage you to purchase this resource to support the late author’s work. (https://www.amazon.com/Quick-Scripture-Reference-Counseling-Kruis-ebook/dp/B00CIUJZT2?ref_=ast_author_dp )

This morning’s meditation verses come from the section on Children.

Psalm 8:2 (ESV)
2  Out of the mouth of babies and infants, you have established strength because of your foes, to still the enemy and the avenger.

Today’s verse falls under the third point of our counseling reference guide resource’s section on Children.

 3. God delights in the praise and worship of children.

Today’s verses are admittedly somewhat mysterious to me, but I think that the Psalmist, because this is a hymn of praise, is stating that even children can declare the glory of the Lord in the awe and wonder they express when experiencing God’s creation. Luckily the context of the psalm draws this out as most of Psalm 8 is about God’s creation. 

The foes of God would say there is no God, I guess – hello atheists and Satan – but the heavens declare the is a Creator God – the fact and design of creation scream it – and any rational person should be stilled by it.    

And as for our resource author’s point – God does delight in the praise and worship of all His children, young and old. He sent Christ so we can have peace with Him and Revelation indicates that those who enter into His kingdom by faith in Jesus will praise and worship him forever and ever.

So Praise Him!

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we are sharing from A. W. Pink’s – The Arthur Pink Anthology  - a collection of A.W. Pink’s tracts brought together in one book and dispersed here on the blog for your encouragement.

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage you all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available online for free as a PDF at many sites, but printed copies of collections of A.W. Pink’s books are available for purchase wherever Christian books are sold. 

The Arthur Pink Anthology – 2

Another Gospel – Part 5 of 5

A yet more specious form of Satan’s gospel is to move preachers to present the atoning sacrifice of Christ and then tell their hearers that all God requires from them is to “believe” in His Son. Thereby thousands of impenitent souls are deluded into thinking they have been saved. But Christ said, “Except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish” (Luke 13:3). To “repent” is to hate sin, to sorrow over it, to turn from it. It is the result of the Spirits making the heart contrite before God. None except a broken heart can savingly believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.

Again, thousands are deceived into supposing that they have “accepted Christ” as their “personal Saviour,” who have not first received Him as their LORD. The Son of God did not come here to save His people in their sin, but “from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). To be saved from sins, is to be saved from ignoring and despising the authority of God, it is to abandon the course of self-will and self-pleasing, it is to “forsake our way” (Isa. 55:7). It is to surrender to God’s authority, to yield to His dominion, to give ourselves over to be ruled by Him. The one who has never taken Christ’s “yoke” upon him, who is not truly and diligently seeking to please Him in all the details of life, and yet supposes that he is “resting on the Finished Work of Christ” is deluded by the Devil.

In the seventh chapter of Matthew there are two scriptures which give us approximate results of Christ’s Gospel and Satan’s counterfeit. First, in verses 13–14, “Enter ye in at the strait gate: for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leadeth to destruction, and many there be which go in thereat. Because strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it.” Second; in verses 22–23, “Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied [preached] in Thy name? and in Thy name cast out demons, and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you; depart from Me, ye that work iniquity.” Yes, my reader, it is possible to work in the name of Christ, and even to preach in his name, and though the world knows us, the Church knows us, yet to be unknown to the Lord! How necessary is it then to find out where we really are; to examine ourselves and see whether we be in the faith; to measure ourselves by the Word of God and see if we are being deceived by our subtle Enemy; to find out whether we are building our house upon the sand, or whether it is erected on the Rock which is Jesus Christ. May the Holy Spirit search our hearts, break our wills, slay our enmity against God, work in us a deep and true repentance, and direct our gaze to the Lamb of God which taketh away the sin of the world.[2]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 YouTube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Discipleship, ed. Martin Kuske et al., trans. Barbara Green and Reinhard Krauss, vol. 4, Dietrich Bonhoeffer Works (Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003), 179.

[2] Arthur Walkington Pink, The Arthur Pink Anthology (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2005).

Tuesday, March 14, 2023

To Lose the Knowledge of Costly Grace– Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 18– Purity 990


 

To Lose the Knowledge of Costly Grace– Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 18– Purity 990 

Purity 990 03/14/2023 Purity 990 Podcast

Purity 990 on YouTube: 


YouTube likes to turn things sideways.........


Good morning,

Today’s photo of a mostly green grass field and tree line underneath a blue cumulus clouded springtime sky comes to us from yours as I decided to dial it back last night, (yup due to the threat of snow I am preparing this message AT NIGHT!) and look into my iPhone’s  photo archive to see what I could use for the photo of the day and set free from its digital prison. I found this simple spring time scene that I captured somewhere near Schenectady NY presumably while I was working back on May 8th of 2019, and in light of the possibility of a large volume of snow falling today, decided to use it to help us to “think spring” even if we may have difficulty seeing it this morning.    

Well, its Tuesday today and regardless of the snow, I look forward to hosting men’s Freedom in Christ course that I facilitate on Zoom later this evening because we are past the half way point of the course and some of the participants have already handed in their paperwork to give their consent to be lead through the Steps to Freedom in Christ, with the first appointments happening next week. So it is officially “freedom season” and I can’t wait to see what the Lord will do in these men’s lives as they seek to resolve their personal and spiritual conflicts through repentance and prayer with The Steps. I have seen the Lord use this process to set people free from issues that have kept them stuck in negative thoughts and behavior patterns for most of their lives so I know that when we humbly ask the Lord for help, He is good and faithful to give it.   

So let these repentant men be an inspiration to us and let’s follow their example as we continue into the season of repentance and prayer known as Lent as we continue with our current series as we walk into Day 18 of the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

As a reminder, and as we will say each day of this journey, we take this path to mark the season of Lent and to draw closer to God in anticipation for the celebration of Easter, knowing that if we take this journey of repentance seriously, we will not only see the days and seasons change, the Lord will use it to change us too. 

You can sign up to get this devotional yourself by going to the Biblegateway link on the blog ((https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/40-Day-Journey-Dietrich-Bonhoeffer/today)) . 

Day 18

Bonhoeffer writes:

“The word of cheap grace has ruined more Christians than any commandment about works…

For integrity’s sake someone has to speak up for those among us who confess that cheap grace has made them give up following Christ, and that ceasing to follow Christ has made them lose the knowledge of costly grace.

Because we cannot deny that we no longer stand in true discipleship to Christ, while being members of a true-believing church with a pure doctrine of grace, but are no longer members of a church which follows Christ, we therefore have to try to understand grace and discipleship again in correct relationship to each other.”

Biblical Wisdom

What then are we to say? Should we continue to sin in order that grace may abound? By no means! How can we who died to sin go on living in it? Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead to the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life. Romans 6:1-4

Questions to Ponder

  • What do you think Bonhoeffer meant by saying: “The word of cheap grace has ruined more Christians than any commandment about works”?

M.T. Clark: I think that Bonhoeffer meant that cheap grace caused Christians to either stay bound in habitual sin without repentance or to decided to not pursue personal purity and holiness. Cheap grace ruins Christians by convincing them to be something less than the disciples of Jesus that the Lord calls us to be.

  • Why might cheap grace cause someone to give up following Christ?

M.T. Clark: Cheap grace could cause someone to stop following Christ in two ways.  1, Cheap grace as a general forgiveness of sin could convince some that following Christ is not necessary.  They need to do nothing because of grace after all so they extended that idea to include being one of Christ’s disciples.   2. Cheap grace could cause some to pursue the flesh into continuous sin leading them to doubt their conversion and the authenticity of their faith causing them to make the decision not to follow Christ rather than to misrepresent Him as a someone who looks nothing like Him.  

  • What is the correct relationship between grace and discipleship?

M.T. Clark: The correct relationship between grace and discipleship is that grace would cause one to walk out a disciple’s life. That amazing grace is to cause us to love God and to seek to obey Him by living as a disciple out of our love for Him.

Psalm Fragment

Restore us, O Lord God of hosts;
   let your face shine, that we may be saved. 
Psalm 80:19

Journal Reflections

  • Has the church’s proclamation and practice of cheap grace ever led you to consider not following Christ anymore? If so, write about the experience.

M.T. Clark: No, it did cause me to live a licentious life of sin for a time though, but the Holy Spirit convicted me and caused me to repent and now live as much as I can as a disciple of Jesus Christ.   I was very ignorant and very much a slave to sin when I got saved and I made the costly grace that Christ paid for cheap by running wild in sin for a time.

  • Do you know anyone who has given up following Christ because of cheap grace? If so, did anyone speak up for her or him?

M.T. Clark: Yes, some new believers who prescribe to cheap grace can be easily offended when they hear that they are to be repentant and be like Jesus. The idea that one must do anything more than “just believe” is abhorrent to those “sinners saved by cheap grace.” When they give up “following Christ,” it never ends well.  

Intercessions

Pray for the church, and for all Christians, that they may not succumb to the lure of cheap grace.

M.T. Clark: 

Lord, we pray for the church and for all Chrstians that they would recognize and reject cheap grace in any form that it takes and to be shown the truth of your costly grace and to make the daily decision to follow and worship You in Spirit and truth.  

In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

Prayer for Today

Lord Jesus Christ, I would follow you, no matter what the cost; lead me in the way of true discipleship.

M.T. Clark: In Jesus Name, I pray, Amen.

(40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.)

***As we are being provided with Bible verses from the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we will are taking a break from sharing a verse of the day from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”. We plan on resuming that normal installment of the blog following Easter.*** 

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

By  ARTHUR W. PINK

CHAPTER NINE

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND PRAYER continues

 

Turn to 2 Cor. 12. The apostle Paul had been accorded an unheard-of privilege. He had been transported into Paradise. His ears had listened to and his eyes had gazed upon that which no other mortal had heard or seen this side of death. The wondrous revelation was more than the apostle could endure. He was in danger of becoming “puffed up” by his extraordinary experience. Therefore, a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan, was sent to buffet him lest he be exalted above measure. And the apostle spreads his need before the Lord; he thrice beseeches Him that this thorn in the flesh should be removed. Was his prayer answered? Assuredly, though not in the manner he had desired. The “thorn” was not removed but grace was given to bear it. The burden was not lifted but strength was vouchsafed to carry it.

Does someone object that it is our privilege to do more than spread our need before God? Are we reminded that God has, as it were, given us a blank cheque and invited us to fill it in? It is said that the promises of God are all-inclusive, and that we may ask God for what we will? If so, we must call attention to the fact that it is necessary to compare scripture with scripture if we are to learn the full mind of God on any subject, and that as this is done we discover God has qualified the promises given to praying souls by saying “If ye ask anything according to His will He heareth us” (1 John 5:14). Real prayer is communion with God so that there will be common thoughts between His mind and ours. What is needed is for Him to fill our hearts with His thoughts and then His desires will become our desires flowing back to Him. Here then is the meeting-place between God’s sovereignty and Christian prayer: If we ask anything according to His will He heareth us, and if we do not so ask He does not hear us; as saith the apostle James, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts” or desires (4:3).

But did not the Lord Jesus tell His disciples, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in My name, He will give it you” (John 16:23)? He did; but this promise does not give praying souls carte blanche. These words of our Lord are in perfect accord with those of the apostle John: “If we ask anything according to His will He heareth us.” What is it to ask “in the name of Christ”? Surely it is very much more than a prayer formula, the mere concluding of our supplications with the words “in the name of Christ.” To apply to God for anything in the name of Christ, it must needs be in keeping with what Christ is! To ask God in the name of Christ is as though Christ Himself were the suppliant. We can only ask God for what Christ would ask. To ask in the name of Christ is therefore to set aside our own wills, accepting God’s!

Let us now amplify our definition of prayer. What is prayer? Prayer is not so much an act as it is an attitude—an attitude of dependency, dependency upon God. Prayer is a confession of creature weakness, yea, of helplessness. Prayer is the acknowledgment of our need and the spreading of it before God. We do not say that this is all there is in prayer, it is not: but it is the essential, the primary element in prayer. We freely admit that we are quite unable to give a complete definition of prayer within the compass of a brief sentence, or in any number of words. Prayer is both an attitude and an act, a human act, and yet there is the Divine element in it too, and it is this which makes an exhaustive analysis impossible as well as impious to attempt. But admitting this, we do insist again that prayer is fundamentally an attitude of dependency upon God. Therefore, prayer is the very opposite of dictating to God. Because prayer is an attitude of dependency, the one who really prays is submissive, submissive to the Divine will; and submission to the Divine will means that we are content for the Lord to supply our need according to the dictates of His own sovereign pleasure. And hence it is that we say every prayer that is offered to God in this spirit is sure of meeting with an answer or response from Him.

Here then is the reply to our opening question, and the scriptural solution to the seeming difficulty. Prayer is not the requesting of God to alter His purpose or for Him to form a new one. Prayer is the taking of an attitude of dependency upon God, the spreading of our need before Him, the asking for those things which are in accordance with His will, and therefore there is nothing whatever inconsistent between Divine sovereignty and Christian prayer.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

Join our “Victory over the Darkness”, “The Bondage Breaker”, "Freedom in Christ" series of Discipleship Classes via the mt4christ247 podcast!

at https://mt4christ247.podbean.com, You can also find it on Apple podcasts

(https://podcasts.apple.com/us/podcast/the-mt4christ247s-podcast/id1551615154). The mt4christ247 podcast is also available on Google Podcasts, Amazon Podcasts, Spotify, iHeartradio, and Audible.com. 

These teachings are also available on the MT4Christ247 You Tube Channel: https://www.youtube.com/@MT4Christ247

Email me at mt4christ247@gmail.com to receive the class materials, share your progress, and to be encouraged.

My wife, TammyLyn, also offers Christian encouragement via her Ask Seek Knock blog (https://tammylynask.blogspot.com/ ),  her Facebook Group: Ask, Seek, Knock (https://www.facebook.com/groups/529047851449098 ) and her podcast Ask, Seek, and Knock on Podbean (https://feed.podbean.com/tammalyn78/feed.xml)

“The views, opinions, and commentary of this publication are those of the author, M.T. Clark, only, and do not purport to reflect the opinions or views of any of the photographers, artists, ministries, or other authors of the other works that may be included in this publication, and do not necessarily reflect the views or positions of any entities the author may represent.”

Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 185–187.

Monday, March 13, 2023

Cheap Grace – Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 17– Purity 989


 Cheap Grace – Lent with Bonhoeffer Day 17– Purity 989      

Purity 989 03/13/2023 Purity 989 Podcast

Purity 989 on YouTube: 



Good morning,

Today’s photo of a sunset that seems to have set the world on fire comes to us from Dave Baun Photography as Dave captured this scene back on February 20th at the Brighton Jetty, in Adelaide South Australia, testifying, that other than a little cropping, this photo was how it was coming out of the camera and that although he “could wish for sunsets like this every night” he knows that “it would make moments like this seem ordinary… which it was not,”   Dave’s comments point to the necessary contrasts of the common and the extraordinary to help us appreciate when we are “blessed” by something special and how the good times are that much better because of the times of suffering we have known.  

Speaking of suffering, its Monday again and its back to the grind of another work week and the forecast for the next few days is threatening to delay our spring time dreams from coming true as the weather maps I saw yesterday indicate we can expect anywhere from 8-14 inches of snow between now and Wednesday in my neck of the woods! So I will fondly remember the relatively good, but not great, weather we had over the weekend and the rest and relaxation I was able to enjoy despite losing an hour to “springing ahead”.  

But don’t let my “Monday wake up call” get you down because I am not feeling down because I remember harsher winters than this one and harder times and seasons in my life than the one I find myself in currently. So even though it looks like a little snow may fall and its back to work, that’s okay with me brother, because God is still in charge and the peace and joy He has given me is not affected by the changes of clocks, calendars or weather reports.   

God has done extraordinary work in my life and the light and love He has poured into me promises to be with me forever more. So let’s rejoice because God is good and when we put our faith in Christ, He will be with us and for us no matter what challenges the workday or the weather may bring.  

So, let’s keep walking and talking to God and draw close to Him even though it’s Monday and inclement weather may be headed our way,  as we continue with our current series as we walk into Day 17 of the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

As a reminder, and as we will say each day of this journey, we take this path to mark the season of Lent and to draw closer to God in anticipation for the celebration of Easter, knowing that if we take this journey of repentance seriously, we will not only see the days and seasons change, the Lord will use it to change us too. 

You can sign up to get this devotional yourself by going to the Biblegateway link on the blog ((https://www.biblegateway.com/devotionals/40-Day-Journey-Dietrich-Bonhoeffer/today)) . 

Day 17

Bonhoeffer writes:

“Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle today is for costly grace.

Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgive­ness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacraments; grace as the church’s inexhaustible pantry, from which it is doled out by careless hands without hesitation or limit. It is grace without a price, without cost…

Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, as principle, as system. It means forgiveness of sins as a general truth; it means God’s love as merely a Christian idea of God. Those who affirm it have already had their sins forgiven. The church that teaches this doctrine of grace thereby conveys such grace upon itself. The world finds in this church a cheap cover-up for its sins, for which it shows no remorse and from which it has even less desire to be free. Cheap grace is, thus, denial of God’s living Word, denial of the incarnation of the word of God.

Cheap grace means justification of sin but not of the sinner. Because grace alone does everything, everything can stay in its old ways. “Our action is in vain.” The world remains world and we remain sinners “even in the best of lives.” Thus, the Christian should live the same way the world does. In all things the Christian should go along with the world and not venture…to live a different life under grace from that under sin…

Cheap grace is that which we bestow on ourselves.

Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin; it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.”

Biblical Wisdom

What then? Should we sin because we are not under law but under grace? By no means! Do you not know that if you present yourselves to anyone as obedient slaves, you are slaves of the one whom you obey, either of sin, which leads to death, or of obedience, which leads to righteousness? But thanks be to God that you, having once been slaves of sin, have become obedient from the heart to the form of teaching to which you were entrusted, and that you, having been set free from sin, have become slaves of righteousness. Romans 6:15-18

Questions to Ponder

  • Why is it that the church so often proclaims and dispenses “cheap grace”?

M.T. Clark: In Bonhoeffer’s day, cheap grace was an ear mark of cultural Christianity, the vast majority of the populace in western civilizations were members of Christian denominations and grace was dispensed as a matter of course of church tradition more than of a personal decision to surrender to the Lordship of Christ. “Everybody’s Christian here… we are all forgiven and saved so there is no call to discipleship, just a call to keep going to the institution that reminds us of what Jesus did that covers all we do.” 

Today, because of the damaged history of cultural Christianity, cheap grace is used to assure any and all of their acceptance with God and to welcome them into the kingdom with no conviction that they need to repent. Churches want to survive or thrive, and cheap grace is a way to pack the seats and keep the multicolored lights on. 

  • What happens to the “saltiness” of disciples in a church that “conveys such [cheap] grace upon itself”?

M.T. Clark: The “saltiness” of a church than conveys grace upon itself is diluted and turned to sugar as Christianity is reduced to a system of general “nonjudgmental” acceptance, forgiveness of continual sin,  and sweet sentimentality as the emphasis on purity and holiness is sacrificed on the altar of ignorance and compromise.  

  • What does it mean to say that cheap grace is “grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ”?

M.T. Clark: The living incarnate Jesus Christ calls us to follow Him in holiness and to go and make disciples, teaching others all that He taught, to conform us to His image.   Cheap grace tells us to come as we are and to stay as we are. They take the forgiveness of Christ and abuse it through continually sin and cheapen it as they deny a need for discipleship or the transformation to the new life that Christ intended for us to live.

Psalm Fragment

Create in me a clean heart, O God,
   and put a new and right spirit within me.
Do not cast me away from your presence,
   and do not take your holy spirit from me.
Restore to me the joy of your salvation,
   and sustain in me a willing spirit. 
Psalm 51:10-12

Journal Reflections

  • In your journal make a list of all the characteristics of cheap grace that Bonhoeffer identifies.

M.T. Clark:  Bonhoeffer indicates that cheap grace is:

·       Conveyed on oneself.

·       A Systematized general principle

·       Without repentance

·       Without discipleship

·       Without an intimate relationship with the Lord

  • Do you find any of these characteristics in your own life or in the life of your community of faith? If so, reflect on them in your journal.

M.T. Clark:  I believe that if we are honest there are “consumers” of cheap grace at every church or “community of faith” as the knowledge, conviction, and maturity of “believers” varies widely among the members of the body of Christ. There are many in all churches that are just “spectators” as the whole of their relationship with the Lord consists of bored and bothered attendance at weekly worship services. And then there is the “sinner saved by grace” crowd who either condemn themselves and don’t repent, or those who continue in sin unphased as they believe the lie that grace has given them the liberty to sin all the more.   And then there are the “superstitious” attendees, who worship the Lord with awe and reverence and the rituals that they feel will appease an angry God, but who shift gears to secular life when they pass through and over the threshold of the church building.   So yeah, God’s grace will prove to be amazing but we should all fear the possibility of some of the “church” being told that Christ never knew them.    

Intercessions

Think of the proclamation and practice of your community of faith and pray that they would be free of cheap grace.

M.T.

Lord God,

I pray for my church and for the whole of Christendom in that they would be convicted by the Holy Spirit to worship you in Spirit and in Truth by having a heart to seek your presence and your wisdom that is found in the word of God. I pray for You to call us all to repentance and to discipleship and to walk in the ways and to do the good works that you would have us do. Let cheap grace be abandoned for a knowledge and love of the costly grace that Christ paid for, with His life on the cross.  

In Jesus’s Name. Amen.

Prayer for Today

Lord, you love me with an everlasting love. Deliver me from cheap grace that I may respond to your love with my whole life.

M.T. Clark: In Jesus Name, I pray, Amen.

 

(40-Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, Copyright © 2007 Augsburg Books, imprint of Augsburg Fortress.)

***As we are being provided with Bible verses from the 40 Day Journey with Dietrich Bonhoeffer, we will are taking a break from sharing a verse of the day from “The NLT Bible Promise Book for Men”. We plan on resuming that normal installment of the blog following Easter.*** 

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As always, I invite all to go to mt4christ.org where I always share insights from prominent Christian theologians and counselors to assist my brothers and sisters in Christ with their walk.

Today we continue sharing from A.W. Pink’s “The Sovereignty of God.”

As always, I share this information for educational purposes and encourage all to purchase A.W. Pink’s books for your own private study and to support his work.  This resource is available on many websites for less than $20.00.

THE SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD

By  ARTHUR W. PINK

CHAPTER NINE

GOD’S SOVEREIGNTY AND PRAYER continues

 

Finally, it should be said that God’s will is immutable, and cannot be altered by our cryings. When the mind of God is not toward a people to do them good, it cannot be turned to them by the most fervent and importunate prayer of those who have the greatest interest in Him: “Then said the Lord unto me, Though Moses and Samuel stood before Me, yet My mind could not be toward this people: cast them out of My sight, and let them go forth” (Jer. 15:1). The prayers of Moses to enter the promised land is a parallel case.

Our views respecting prayer need to be revised and brought into harmony with the teaching of Scripture on the subject. The prevailing idea seems to be that I come to God and ask Him for something that I want, and that I expect Him to give me that which I have asked. But this is a most dishonoring and degrading conception. The popular belief reduces God to a servant, our servant: doing our bidding, performing our pleasure, granting our desires. No; prayer is a coming to God, telling Him my need, committing my way unto the Lord, and leaving Him to deal with it as seemeth Him best. This makes my will subject to His, instead of, as in the former case, seeking to bring His will into subjection to mine. No prayer is pleasing to God unless the spirit actuating it is “not my will, but thine be done.” “When God bestows blessings on a praying people, it is not for the sake of their prayers, as if He was inclined and turned by them; but it is for His own sake, and of His own sovereign will and pleasure. Should it be said, to what purpose then is prayer? it is answered, This is the way and means God has appointed for the communication of the blessing of His goodness to His people. For though He has purposed, provided, and promised them, yet He will be sought unto, to give them, and it is a duty and privilege to ask. When they are blessed with a spirit of prayer it forebodes well, and looks as if God intended to bestow the good things asked, which should be asked always with submission to the will of God, saying, Not my will but Thine be done” (John Gill).

The distinction just noted above is of great practical importance for our peace of heart. Perhaps the one thing that exercises Christians as much as anything else is that of unanswered prayers. They have asked God for something: so far as they are able to judge they have asked in faith believing they would receive that for which they had supplicated the Lord: and they have asked earnestly and repeatedly, but the answer has not come. The result is that, in many cases, faith in the efficacy of prayer becomes weakened, until hope gives way to despair and the closet is altogether neglected. Is it not so?

Now will it surprise our readers when we say that every real prayer of faith that has ever been offered to God has been answered? Yet we unhesitatingly affirm it. But in saying this we must refer back to our definition of prayer. Let us repeat it. Prayer is a coming to God, telling Him my need (or the need of others), committing my way unto the Lord, and then leaving Him to deal with the case as seemeth Him best. This leaves God to answer the prayer in whatever way He sees fit, and often, His answer may be the very opposite of what would be most acceptable to the flesh; yet, if we have really LEFT our need in His hands it will be His answer, nevertheless. Let us look at two examples.

In John II we read of the sickness of Lazarus. The Lord “loved” him, but He was absent from Bethany. The sisters sent a messenger unto the Lord acquainting Him of their brother’s condition. And note particularly how their appeal was worded—“Lord, behold, he whom Thou lovest is sick.” That was all. They did not ask Him to heal Lazarus. They did not request Him to hasten at once to Bethany. They simply spread their need before Him, committed the case into His hands, and left Him to act as He deemed best! And what was our Lord’s reply? Did He respond to their appeal and answer their mute request? Certainly He did, though not, perhaps, in the way they had hoped. He answered by abiding “two days still in the same place where He was” (John 11:6), and allowing Lazarus to die! But in this instance that was not all. Later, He journeyed to Bethany and raised Lazarus from the dead. Our purpose in referring here to this case is to illustrate the proper attitude for the believer to take before God in the hour of need. The next example will emphasize rather, God’s method of responding to His needy child.[1]

---------------------------more tomorrow------------------------

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Encouragement for the Path of Christian Discipleship



[1] Arthur W. Pink, The Sovereignty of God (Swengel, PA: Bible Truth Depot, 1949), 183–185.