Cheap Grace is the Mortal Enemy of the Church

Dietrich Bonhoeffer. Discipleship. Minneapolis, MN: Fortress Press, 2003.

Cheap grace is the mortal enemy of our church. Our struggle for today is for costly grace… Cheap grace means grace as bargain-basement goods, cut-rate forgiveness, cut-rate comfort, cut-rate sacrament; 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 costs.

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.

Costly grace is the hidden treasure in the field, for the sake of which people go and sell with joy everything they have. It is the costly pearl, for whose price the merchant sells all that he has; it is Christ’s sovereignty, for the sale of which you tear out an eye if it causes you to stumble. It is the call of Jesus Christ which causes a disciple to leave his nets and follow him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which has to be asked for, the door at which one has to knock.

It is costly, because it calls to discipleship; it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly, because it costs people their lives; it is grace because it thereby makes them live. It is costly, because it condemns sin; it is grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, grace is costly, because it was costly to God, because it costs God the life of God’s Son—”you were bought with a price”—and because nothing can be cheap to us which is costly to God. Above all, it is grace because the life of God’s Son was not too costly for God to give in order to make us live. God did, indeed, give him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.

Building a Discipleship Culture

More than a year ago we did our first post-Yolanda discipleship training here in Tacloban. There were only 15 of us but we were hopeful that the Lord will grow the seeds we were planting at that time.

This Saturday, we will have our fourth Victory Weekend with 25 participants. By the time this week is over, we would have baptized close to 100 people in less than two years, over 90% of them are locals. That is amazing. The first time I came here in early 2014, almost half of those who attended our services were foreigners. Every week we would pray for more locals to be plugged into the church. We conducted discipleship trainings, did One2One and formed victory groups even if it seemed like nothing was happening. Continue reading Building a Discipleship Culture

The Discipleship Step You Shouldn’t Miss

From the very start of discipleship, we must seek to build on the solid foundation of the Lord Jesus Christ. Without this crucial step, we are not building anything worthwhile at all. We can’t build people’s lives on church programs, events, and campaigns. We can’t build people’s faith on Christian activities and parachurch community services. The only sure ground upon which anything stands is in the person and work of Christ. Everything else is sinking sand.

This is the discipleship step we should not miss. If we miss this, we are actually not doing it right. We’re just doing weekly huddles and talk vaguely about the God of the Bible.

Save Yourself from this Leadership Frustration

The spiritual growth of a believer is a gentle, imperceptible process. You can’t see it nor feel it but it is happening right in front of you. There will be times when you will see some signs of growth but for the most part, the growing and the maturing happens invisibly.

Discipleship group leaders, be patient. It is impossible to produce an army of committed Christians in just a few weeks. No matter how much you cast vision, clarify goals, and communicate the status of your spiritual scoreboard, maturity still happens over a period of a lifetime. That’s how God designed spiritual growth. Save yourself from frustration by accepting the fact that maturity is not microwaveable. The sooner you understand that, the less frustrating it will be for you to lead people in discipleship.

That’s Why We Need Jesus

“As I commute from work everyday, I would slump on the bus, look outside the window and stare at nothing. I often ask myself, ‘Why is life so difficult?'”

It was not a cry of complaint; the guy didn’t look like he was in pain and he wasn’t trying to be melodramatic either. It was actually just a side comment about work and how everything is just difficult. We were talking about the book of Ecclesiastes and the dull repetition of everyday life.

His words stung. I looked away as I wiped the tear away from my eyes.

Continue reading That’s Why We Need Jesus

Kickstarting Our Discipleship Gears in Tacloban

We just did our first Making Disciples Training here in Victory Tacloban yesterday. Fifteen leaders and upcoming leaders came and we had a great time talking about the very thing that is so important in the heart of Jesus: discipleship. Why do we think this is important?

Well, for starters, when Jesus was about to go to heaven, the last words he uttered were his commission for his disciples to go and make disciples of all nations. It sometimes sounds trite to our modern ears because we hear that all the time but when you really think of it, the parting words of a person are usually the most important. Jesus told us to make disciples because it matters to him; and if it matters to him, it should matter to us too.

Continue reading Kickstarting Our Discipleship Gears in Tacloban

Leave Your Boyish Ways

Stirring words for boys and men by Owen Strachan:

The boy-man is selfish, young, immature, addicted to games, immune to responsibility, foul-mouthed, and weak. He’s overwhelmed by adulthood, so he chooses to stay in some sort of boyish fantasy. He doesn’t want to build big things, meaningful things, like a family, a six-decade marriage, a socially and personally profitable career, or a gospel-driven church or missions effort. He wants to make music, play games, follow sports, flirt with girls, loaf through life, bend the rules so he’s not accountable or inconvenienced in his selfishness, and ignore the need to help others.

I want to suggest that wherever you can as a young man or one involved in any way in training young men, you point them toward manhood, maturity, adulthood, responsibility, ambition, strategy, vision, focus. Yes, it can be fun to be boyish. But you know what’s far more satisfying? Becoming something. Becoming something greater than you are. Becoming a man. Building stuff… Continue reading Leave Your Boyish Ways

Don’t Wing It

Those who are called to speak the word of God, whether in public or in small groups, must learn to have quiet hours of contemplation. They must know how to be alone with God before they can go out to speak.

Those who can’t find the time to converse with God in private are not fit to speak about Him in public. For what would they say unless it is given to them by God? And how are they to receive from God if they don’t have the time to quietly wait before Him?

Continue reading Don’t Wing It

Downward Mobility

What does it mean to live as Jesus lived?

No one took Jesus’ life; He laid it down voluntarily. Did you notice the progression of events? Jesus has existed for eternity in heaven with God the Father, His equal. He chose to be born on earth in order to become a servant and to sacrifice Himself for the redemption of all mankind. Each step along the way took Him deeper into a sort of downward mobility that seems foreign to our way of life today. While we are constantly looking for how we can move up, get ahead, and break out in front of the pack, Jesus continued to surrender more of Himself until, ultimately, He gave up His own life…

[This] explains exactly what it means to live as Jesus lived. We are to decrease to ourselves on a daily basis in order that Jesus might increase in our lives. More of Jesus, less of me! We lose our lives in order to find His way.

David Putnam, BREAKING THE DISCIPLESHIP CODE

Confounded

Jesus exploded onto the gospel scene with these radical words: “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is near” (Matt. 4:17b). Repent? I can hear the Pharisees now: “What are we repenting of?” They were the most religious people in the history of organized religion. Not only did they abide by the Ten Commandments, they added 613 rules and regulations to ensure they obeyed every detail of the Law. Yet Jesus began his earthly ministry in this context- telling them to repent. Can you imagine their consternation? Can you envision their faces? We know from the gospels that they were appalled at this man who was telling them to repent of their religion for religion’s sake. He was about to show them a whole new way.

David Putnam, Breaking the Discipleship Code

Discipleship and Karate

On our way home from dinner yesterday night, Pastor Noel was talking about karate. Now the one thing I know about karate is that I don’t know anything about it. That’s the reason why I was so struck with the parallels he drew about karate and ministry.

In karate, the higher level you attain, the more gentle you are with the people around you and the more you treat everyone right. That’s because you don’t have to prove anything to anyone. You are secure with your karate skill level.

Whenever you see karate people who are loud, aggressive, and showy, you’ll know that they are new, untrained, and immature. They seem to feel the need to show off so people will recognize their skills.

The same thing with the ministry. The higher you go, the gentler you become. The more you do in the kingdom of God, the more it makes you a humble person. Mature people don’t have to prove themselves to anyone.