The Cost of Discipleship

One of Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s best known books is “The Cost of Discipleship.”

In the book, Bonhoeffer attacked the “cheap grace” that was marketed in Protestant (especially Lutheran) churches.

It involved an unlimited offer of forgiveness, which served as a cover for ethical laziness and Christian worldliness.

Had Bonhoeffer been present to hear Jesus in the first century, he would have shouted “Amen” to the words of Jesus in the final verses of Luke 14.

Count the Cost

A large crowd of people had assembled to hear Jesus speak. Jesus used three illustrations to help them consider the cost of being one of his followers.

Luke 14.28-30 “For which of you, intending to build a tower, does not first sit down and estimate the cost, to see whether he has enough to complete it?

“Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it will begin to ridicule him,

“Saying, ‘This fellow began to build and was not able to finish.’”

In the Parable of the Sower, Jesus described how people often begin well, but finish poorly.

Luke 8.14As for what fell among the thorns, these are the ones who hear; but as they go on their way, they are choked by the cares and riches and pleasures of life, and their fruit does not mature.

Within the crowd of people who listened to Jesus, there were some who listened, agreed with his message, but failed to loyally follow him to the end.

Like the seed among the thorns, the cares, riches, and pleasures of life became more important to them than following Jesus’ attitudes and actions.

Bonhoeffer was right in the 1930’s and 1940’s about the state of discipleship in Europe.

The church allowed the world’s system to snuff out the message of Jesus, resulting in Europe becoming “the graveyard of the church,” according to a leading Christian pastor.

American Christianity in 2021 needs to listen to Jesus and count the cost. We have a good foundation, but appear to be imitating our European friends in the 30’s and 40’s.

Repentance is the Answer

Jesus accentuated his warning with another illustration.

Luke 14.31-32 “Or what king, going out to wage war against another king, will not sit down first and consider whether he is able with ten thousand to oppose the one who comes against him with twenty thousand?

“If he cannot, then, while the other is still far away, he sends a delegation and asks for the terms of peace.

“So therefore, none of you can become my disciple if you do not give up all your possessions.”

Rudy Ross has an excellent take on these verses in today’s YouTube video. He explains how everyone needs to work, but that Jesus must receive first priority in our lives.

We know that a person with no possessions can be as self-centered as someone who has an abundance of material things. The issue is priority.

None of us will ever be victorious in a confrontation with God.

The man who said, “God and I have a deal; he likes to forgive and I like to sin,” will not fare well in the presence of God.

Bonhoeffer’s “cheap grace” describes the attitude of this man. Repentance is needed.

In the words of Jesus to the church of Ephesus, we need to “Remember then from what you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first” (Revelation 2.5).

Listen and Obey

Jesus ended his words to each of the churches in Revelation with an admonition to listen.

To the church of Ephesus he said, “Let anyone who has an ear listen to what the Spirit is saying to the churches” (Revelation 2.7).

This is similar to what Jesus said to the crowd who listened to him on the road to Jerusalem.

Luke 14.34-35“Salt is good; but if salt has lost its taste, how can its saltiness be restored?

“It is fit neither for the soil nor for the manure pile; they throw it away. Let anyone with ears to hear listen!”

The Bible never separates hearing from obedience. To hear the words of God implies obedience will follow.

How can we be seasoning-salt and preserving-salt in a world that need our influence?

— We can know and do God’s will.

— We can listen to Jesus’ guidance and follow it.

YouTube Video

Rudy Ross has some excellent insights in today’s YouTube video. It can be found on the Bob Spradling YouTube channel.

Please email your prayer request to or private message me on Facebook. The Maywood prayer team will pray for you.

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