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StephenMcC | Forum Activity | Posted: Tue, Nov 17 2015 11:02 AM

The Writings of Justin MartyrAbout 15 Shepherd's Notes Titles are one sale, mostly Bible books but a few Church History related.

https://vyrso.com/products/search?q=%22shepherd%27s+notes%22&start=&sort=savings&pageSize=60

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StephenMcC | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 11:10 AM

Here is an extract from Bonhoeffer's the Cost of Discipleship (without the formatting).

SECTION I: GRACE AND DISCIPLESHIP

"When Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die" (ch. 4).

SECTION-AT-A-GLANCE

Chapter 1: Costly Grace

Chapter 2: The Call to Discipleship

Chapter 3: Single-Minded Obedience

Chapter 4: Discipleship and the Cross

Chapter 5: Discipleship and the Individual

CHAPTER 1: COSTLY GRACE

Bonhoeffer opened this text with a powerful statement regarding what he identified as cheap grace. It is a chief enemy of the church. Cheap grace is "grace without price; grace without cost!" Many believe that the essence of grace is that the account has been paid in full in advance and therefore everything can be had for nothing. In the first chapter, a definition is outlined by painting a picture of the contrast between cheap and costly grace.

Cheap Grace

"Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church."

1. "Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine,...a system."

This portrait of grace holds that an intellectual assent to an idea is sufficient to provide remission of sins. Grace is a cheap covering for sins; no repentance is necessary.

2. "Cheap grace means justification of sin without the justification of the sinner."

Cheap grace is the idea that "grace" did it all for me so I do not need to change my lifestyle. The believer who accepts the idea of "cheap grace" thinks he can continue to live like the rest of the world. Instead of following Christ in a radical way, the Christian lost in cheap grace thinks he can simply enjoy the consolations of his grace.

3. Cheap grace is:

• preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance.

• baptism without church discipline.

• communion without confession.

• absolution without personal confession.

• grace without discipleship.

• grace without the cross.

• grace without Jesus.

 How would you define the contrast between cheap and costly grace?

 We are not freed from the toils of sin by "cheap grace." This "cheap grace" rather than having been given by God, is the grace we give ourselves.

In contrast, real grace, "costly grace" challenges us "as a gracious call" to follow Christ Jesus.

The next part of this chapter takes the reader through a brief lesson in church history from the perspective of the understanding of grace. Bonhoeffer began with Peter's experience of grace. Peter received the call, "Follow me," two different times—at the beginning of his relationship with Jesus and at the end of his earthly relationship with Jesus. Between those two calls lay his life of discipleship. This life of discipleship included Peter's confession of Jesus as the Christ, another special visitation of God's grace. Grace and discipleship are inseparable in Peter's life because he "had received the grace which costs."

Christianity spread, becoming more popular and more secular; and as this happened, the realization that grace was costly gradually faded. "The world was Christianized, and grace became its common property." The monastic movement was perhaps the only place where the older, accurate vision of grace was maintained. Here men still left all for the sake of the call. In living the monastic life, people were a kind of "living protest" against both the secularization of the faith and cheap grace. However, monasticism, seen as an individual achievement, also came to be seen as lying outside the realm of what should be expected of a typical believer. This limited the applications of the commands of Jesus to a group of specialists and developed a layering of standards for obedience. Because of this, Bonhoeffer saw a paradoxical result in monasticism: While its mission was to preserve the realization of the costliness of grace, it gave instead final justification for the secularization of the church.

With the Reformation came a restoration of the gospel of pure, costly grace. In the Scriptures, God showed Luther that following Christ was not the achievement or merit of a select group. Rather it was commanded by God for all believers without distinction. Luther's return to the world from the cloistered life was a great blow to the world—perhaps the greatest blow since the days of early Christianity. The renunciation Luther made when going from the world to the cloister "was child's play" when compared to going back to the world. It was like a "frontal assault" to realize that the "only way to follow Jesus was by living in the world." What had been the achievement of a few was once again seen as a duty laid on every believer.

Some have misunderstood Luther's proclamation of grace alone for salvation, Bonhoeffer pointed out, taking it to mean that grace became a justification for disobeying the commands of Jesus. On the contrary, when Luther spoke of grace, he also always spoke of the reality that it cost him his own life; in receiving grace, he became subject to absolute obedience of Christ. Luther said that grace alone can save; but those words were always spoken in correlation with the obligation of discipleship, of obedience to Jesus.

The first chapter concludes with a review of the "costs" of cheap grace. He pointed to cheap grace as the cause for the problems of the organized church. Making grace available to all at too low a cost weakened the church. Bonhoeffer thought that the institutional church gave the Bible and the sacraments wholesale. He felt that the whole nation had been baptized, confirmed, and absolved without condition. Care for humanity caused Christians to give the holy to the scornful and unbelieving. Unending streams of grace were given, but Christ's narrow way was hardly ever heard.

 

Pure Grace

"Grace interpreted as a principle...grace at a low cost, is in its last resort simply a new law, which brings neither help nor freedom. Grace as a living word,…as our comfort in tribulation and as a summons to discipleship, costly grace is the only pure grace, which really forgives sin and gives freedom to the sinner" (ch. 1).

Cheap grace also had an adverse impact on people's lives. Grace was intended to open the way to Christ, but cheap grace only closed it. In a like manner, grace was intended to call one to follow Jesus, but instead cheap grace only hardened individuals in their disobedience. Cheap grace simply barred the progress of believers, seducing them to believe that the mediocre level of living consistent with the world was life at its best. This cheap grace actually weakened and deceived men when they thought they were strong. In reality, they had lost the ability to live obedient lives as disciples.

COMMENTARY

The Cost of Discipleship begins with a section entitled "Grace and Discipleship." This section serves as one of several images painted throughout the book that depict the nature and character of discipleship. In later sections including "The Sermon on the Mount" and "The Messengers," Bonhoeffer added color and depth to the portrait he began in this initial section.

The first section, "Grace and Discipleship," begins with a chapter entitled "Costly Grace." In this chapter Bonhoeffer laid out his definition of grace through presentation of the contrast between what he termed, "cheap" and "costly" grace. As seen in the summary, cheap grace is grace without discipleship, communion without confession, baptism without church discipline, preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance. In addition, it is characterized by belief without obedience, hearing without doing, and intellectual assent without life commitment. Those who live a life of cheap grace "hold on" rather than "let go." A sense of casual acknowledgment results in an involvement that allows submission to the yoke of Christ to be held at arm's length. This understanding of cheap grace is vivified as it is compared to costly grace.

Costly grace is the grace of Christian discipleship. It is costly because it calls us to follow. It is costly because it costs our very lives. It is costly because it condemns sin. It is grace because when we are called to follow, the call is to follow Jesus. It is grace because although it costs our life, it is also the source of the only true and complete life. And it is grace because, although it condemns the sin, it justifies the sinner.

In the brief church history Bonhoeffer included in this chapter, he presented a succinct and clear understanding of the development in understanding of grace. He used Peter to depict the pure form of grace, grace that was costly and intended for all believers. Through the discussion of monasticism, he showed how this attempt by the church to protect itself from secularization ended up actually broadening the gap. The costly grace understood and experienced by the monks came to be seen, not as a model for all believers, but rather as an individual achievement required only by the spiritually elite. Finally, he argued that Luther and the Reformation had an accurate grasp of costly grace, but they were often misunderstood. In fact, the Reformation battle cry, "Not by works but by grace and through faith alone," became a justification for doing no works at all. And this led to a cheapening of grace.

In the final pages of chapter 1, Bonhoeffer lamented the manner by which cheap grace had resulted in the demise of the organized church as well as the spiritual lives of individuals. Cheap grace has served as an inoculation or more accurately, a vaccination. We have gotten just enough of Jesus to prevent us from catching the real thing. As a result we begin to feel secure even in the midst of godless living. We become unaware of our disobedience, and cheap grace provides us with a deceptive sense of strength. After all, we were told, our salvation has already been accomplished by the grace of God. The church and individuals will only recover the joy of discipleship when its cost is fully paid.

In this chapter, Bonhoeffer spoke of the "costs" of cheap grace for the church and for the individual. Do you see these same costs being paid today? In what way(s)?

Chapter 1 closes by stating the direction of the remainder of the text. Subsequent chapters will be pursued first with the confession that we are no longer standing in the path of true discipleship. Therefore, we must try to get back a true understanding of the mutual relation between grace and discipleship.

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JT (alabama24) | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 11:29 AM

StephenMcC:
About 15 Shepherd's Notes Titles are one sale

Thanks for pointing this out. I picked them up. I believe it is actually 28 @.99, and a couple more at $2.99 

EDIT: I should have also said that it appears to be ALL of the OT volumes. 

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StephenMcC | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 11:38 AM

alabama24:
actually 28 @.99, and a couple more at $2.99 

Correct. don't know where I got 15!

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Kenute P. Curry | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 17 2015 9:27 PM

Just got all 28 of these. They look very useful for teaching, especially in small groups.

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Steve Robinson | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 24 2015 5:36 PM

alabama24:
EDIT: I should have also said that it appears to be ALL of the OT volumes. 

Looks like the New Testament volumes are also now on sale for $0.99 each.

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NB.Mick | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 24 2015 5:41 PM

Steve Robinson:

Looks like the New Testament volumes are also now on sale for $0.99 each.

Thanks for telling! 

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Bruce Dunning | Forum Activity | Replied: Tue, Nov 24 2015 6:28 PM

Thanks for pointing these out. I just picked up the set.

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