Bonhoeffer (7): Repentance Protects Grace

Dietrich Bonhoeffer:

“The Gospel is protected by the preaching of repentance which calls sin sin and declares the sinner guilty.  The key to loose is protected by the key to bind.  The preaching of grace can only be protected by the preaching of repentance” (Metaxas, 293).

In my journey of trying to understand what gospel-centeredness looks like in various contexts, I found this quote very helpful.  Grace must lead to repentance, not just acceptance of the status quo.  If grace doesn’t lead to repentance, its probably “cheap grace.”  Cheap grace, as he put it in The Cost of Discipleship, is “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline.  Communion without confession.  Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”  Bonhoeffer’s criticism of cheap grace reminds me that the gospel gives us not only the hope of forgiveness but also the power of change.  Grace doesn’t come to us and say, “you’re fine just the way you are.”  Rather, it says: “you’re totally forgiven and a new creation – now take up your cross and follow me.”  I find that liberating.  I don’t want grace that leaves me in my sin with mere forgiveness, amazing as that forgiveness is.  I want grace that changes me and calls me into new life, into new surrender.

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