An Examination of the High Cost of Grace
In 1937, on the threshold of Nazi Germany’s war on the world, Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote what turned out to be one of the most influential books of the century, The Cost of Discipleship. In it, he challenged the flabby faith and compromises of German Christians, famously writing, “When Christ calls a man he bids him come and die.”
Now, seventy-three years after the book was first published, Jon Walker has written Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship. Although Bonhoeffer’s book still has a loyal readership, it has not been adequately viewed through the eyes of the twenty-first century. Walker brings to a new generation the timeless message of Bonhoeffer against the background of today’s political upheaval and societal change and what it means to those who claim to follow Christ’s teachings, challenging contemporary teachings and lifestyles.
Grace is a foundational doctrine for Christians, yet it is one of the most misunderstood. Bonhoeffer watched as many used the doctrine of grace as an excuse to do whatever they wanted, and in response, he wrote his classic work on what it truly means to follow Jesus. We cheapen grace, he declared, when we use it to compromise our behavior or to lower the standards of God’s Word. In a modern retelling of this Christian classic, Walker explains what Bonhoeffer meant when he taught that grace is free but will cost us everything.
“Bonhoeffer called for a return to ‘costly grace,’ to a recognition that God’s grace comes at the cost of Christ’s passion. Grace is free, but it demands a disciple’s whole life, not just partial obedience to the commands of Christ. Bonhoeffer’s message resonates with our time of instability and insecurity,” Walker explains. “We’re tempted to compromise in order to keep things as they have been, but the cost of discipleship requires that our loyalty be only to Christ and Christ alone. Where our behavior is at odds with our belief, God requires we be ruthless in letting go of the things that entangle us and keep us from becoming just like Jesus.”
Costly Grace is a clear call to discipleship, reminding us what it means to be a disciple of Jesus, and makes the doctrine of grace understandable and practical. Following Bonhoeffer’s example, Walker has anchored this book around an expository study of Matthew 5–7, including the Beatitudes and the Sermon on the Mount. As such, Costly Grace is an excellent resource for small group curriculum or congregation-wide study.
Also set to release in October is the Costly Grace 90-Day Devotional. The companion devotional is dedicated to bringing home to the heart of every Christian the vital call that Bonhoeffer made in his book and that Walker now makes in his. What decisions do we need to act on to walk the road Jesus shows us? Who is it we are called to love and forgive? And why is it imperative that the Beatitudes become our way of life? These are just some of the challenges that Walker helps us tackle in his valuable guide.
Jon Walker has worked closely with Rick Warren for many years, first as a writer/editor at Pastors.com, later as vice president of communications at Purpose Driven Ministries, and then as a pastor at Saddleback Church. He’s also served as editor-in-chief of LifeWay’s HomeLife magazine and is founding editor of Rick Warren’s Ministry Toolbox. His articles have appeared in publications and web sites around the world. He is also the author of Growing with Purpose. Jon currently lives in Hendersonville, Tennessee.
You can learn more about his ministry at www.gracecreates.com.
Costly Grace: A Contemporary View of Bonhoeffer’s The Cost of Discipleship
ISBN 978-0-89112-676-8/224 pages/softcover/$15.99
Costly Grace 90-Day Devotional
ISBN 978-0-89112-677-5/224 pages/softcover/$13.99
Leafwood Publishers, October 2010
For review copy and interview information, contact:
Audra Jennings - 800-927-0517 x104