Costly Grace

Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our Church. We are fighting today for costly grace.

The Cost of Discipleship by Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of my all time favourite books.

Bonhoeffer was a Lutheran pastor in the first half of the twentieth century and was one of many German theologians who stood against the Nazi state, and particularly the way the Church was an instrumental part of that terrible system. He was executed in 1945 for being involved in a plot to assassinate Hitler.

His hard hitting opening remarks are like a prophetic voice for the contemporary Church:

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without Church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate. (The Cost of Discipleship p. 6)

In the Church of his day, the practice was to declare people right with God, to justify their sins without seeing the sinner changed in any way whatsoever. So the state waged it’s wars with the Church’s blessing and the politicians played their games with people lives, knowing they were right with God and the man on the street is content to know that he shouldn’t be any different from the world because grace has covered him!

Today’s Church is quite different, you see. We don’t even require baptism. It’s as easy as a simple prayer.

I’ve attended plenty of Church services where a preacher will stand at the front and declare the forgiveness of sins re: John 3:16. Sometimes they will then invite people to respond. This usually means receiving prayer or repeating prayer line-by-line with the guy at the front. And then those who respond walk away. And their lives are no different.

For years I was in that place. I would make the sincere promises and pray heartfelt prayers and ask for the Holy Spirit to change my life. Walking away I’d be no different. So I began to go up more frequently and pray harder. Maybe I wasn’t being sincere enough? I was assured of the forgiveness of my sins whilst still living in them. Looking back, I can see why that wasn’t the way. I don’t see Jesus doing that.

When Jesus is given a sinner to deal with, he saves her life and gives her the charge to ‘sin no more’. His forgiving words are accompanied by a call. That’s not the only time the forgiveness and call are received together. The famous ‘woman at the well’ receives grace and then sets to work telling others. Even the traitor, Peter, is restored to Jesus with the call to obey, to be his follower. Forgiveness, for Jesus, is tied with real-world transformation.

It is this which Bonhoeffer picks up on. For the grace of God is not just linked with the call to be a disciple: Grace is discipleship.

In many ways, that’s what the preacher at the front was proclaiming – even without realising it. Their view of grace might be a commitment prayer.  A soul signed on the dotted line. But Jesus didn’t do that. The grace he offered was a call to follow. Forgiveness as more than a comforted spirit – a redeemed life. Mercy which becomes viral.

No, we pour out our cheap grace over any who will hear. Worse still, we discourage people from following Jesus because it’s all been accomplished by God anyway. Why walk in ‘legalism’ when all God wants to do is ‘free’ us. This cheap grace suffocates the Christian:

The only effect such a word could have on us [is] to bar our way to progress, and to seduce us to the mediocre level of the world, quenching the joy of discipleship by telling us that we were spending our strength and disciplining ourselves in vain (p. 13)

I see this all the time in my own life and in the lives of others. The attitude that it’s ok to go out drinking because God has forgiven them, or that it’s not a big deal if they sleep with someone they’re not married to, that Jesus didn’t really mean it is harder for a rich person to enter the kingdom of heaven than for a camel to go through the eye of a needle. Cheap grace pours water all over the flickering wick of the soul ignighted by the Holy Spirit.

It’s so tempting, too. Grace for nothing? Forgiveness if I pray this prayer? And I can keep my stash of porn, because that wasn’t part of the deal. And my marriage doesn’t have to change – grace is free! In fact, I can look just like the rest of the world but because I have been forgiven by Jesus I get to go to heaven.

The smoking flax was mercilessly extinguished.

We are members of a Church which extinguishes the flame of passion which drives the believer to follow Jesus. You see it in the leadership structures when sin goes unchecked and everybody knows that the worship leader smokes weed, but nothing changes. Everyone knows that the Pastor has grown cold and distant from his family but there is no repentance. Each week he declares everyone in the room forgiven!

Cheap grace. Forgiveness for free.

What ought the congregation do, but assume that it’s ok to be that way?

I know I have. I’ve been there – to think I was fine living in sin because, apparently, as long as I believed in Jesus I was safe. That’s not what I saw when I took a look at Jesus. He walked the hardest path and called me to follow.

Let us put to death this cheap grace, this cancer in the Church and let us beckon the world to follow. Let us no longer announce forgiveness without condition, for it is clear that discipleship is the condition. All the while let us know that our discipleship is a gift of grace, and so is the forgiveness received through it.

Happy are they who know that discipleship means life which springs from grace, and that grace simply means discipleship. (p. 14)

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14 Comments

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  1. Absolutely agree – the trouble is people can’t “do” discipleship because they are so wrapped up and worried about whether they are Ok with God or not. Now that’s cheap grace – not accepting and walking in what God has already done for us – and thinking and worrying that we still have to do something for ourselves.

    If we have understood the grace message then we must (like Romans) ask – shall we sin that grace may abound. If hearing about Grace doesn’t make us immediately think that – then we haven’t heard the true gospel message. I will continue to announce forgiveness without condition because that is what I have received. No conditions were placed on me – I just believed and received – faith and grace were free utterly free gifts – now I am a disciple – I want to learn because I understand how much he Loves me. – I can’t get enough of God – I can’t get enough of his word – I can’t get enough of telling others about him – I can’t get enough of worshipping him – I am overwhelmed and in awe each and every day of God’s grace to me – I have joy in every situation – I am totally confident – not in my own ability but in Christs’ ability – I am free – free from the law – I am enjoying the royal law of liberty where all things are lawful for me but not all things are expedient but with God’s Holy Spirit living in me and guiding me and guarding me I am able to ascertain which things are not – and if I get it wrong – as I do frequently – God still loves me. Praise him for his amazing free gift of Grace – the receipt of which drives me to be the best disciple I can be – not because I have to – not because it’s a requirement – but because I love him so much. And yes I stuff up frequently – but he’s not angry with me because I am his child.

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  2. ‘the trouble is people can’t “do” discipleship because they are so wrapped up and worried about whether they are Ok with God or not.’

    Maybe that’s a false dichotomy. Discipleship is how we get right with God. God’s grace is Jesus’ call for us to follow him. We can’t receive grace if we will not follow. This costly grace is the treasure that we would gladly give everything for.

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  3. I really really don’t understand this point of view – I haven’t read this in the bible. Discipleship isn’t “how we get right with God” Surely the whole point of Grace is that we can’t get right with God – all we can do is accept his free gift. You weren’t a disciple when you gave your life to Christ – quite the opposite – you were a sinner. You didn’t get yourself right with God – you accepted his free gift of grace. Now you have accepted it – why do you think you have to “get right with God” all of a sudden. You are already “right with God” – God has made you “right with God” – nothing you do is going to get you more right with God than you already are – what would make you think this is what discipleship is? Do you really believe that once you accept God’s free gift of grace you have to strive to retain it? Why put yourself under all this stress when the Bible tells you you don’t have to?

    Discipleship is about learning about what you already have – not striving to get it – and learning how to use what God has given you to make others aware of the kingdom.

    Where in the bible does it say that God’s grace is Jesus’ call for us to follow him – I believe that Titus 2 v 11 tells us that the grace of God has appeared to all men – the cross happened before you were even born. Your sins were forgiven before you even committed them (and all your future sins have already been forgiven – non of your sins are a surprise to God – he has already taken them into consideration). God’s grace is a free gift available to all – the ONLY thing we are called to do to receive that free gift is confess Jesus is Lord and believe he was raised from the dead. And because God knows that even this is too difficult for us – he even gives us the gift of faith so that we can receive the gift of grace. Following is something that comes purely and simply out of our believe and a grateful heart. Yes grace is free but it certainly wasn’t cheap – Jesus gave everything for us – and he asks nothing of us except we believe. Nothing has changed – that was all you were asked to do when you came to him – it’s all you are still asked to do. Just believe – just believe what the bible says you are and just believe what the bible says you have the power to do.

    Romans 7 tells us that the Christian life isn’t just difficult – it’s impossible to do in our own strength – praise the Lord for Romans 8 which tells us that we are victorious and can rely on his power to do everything.

    Surrender isn’t struggling with the flesh to try and get it in line with God’s word. Surrender is just admitting that we never can and never will achieve anything in our own strength to get right with God – just accept his free give and choose to operate in his strength.

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  4. When Jesus called the Twelve, what did he say to them? Was it not ‘Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ (Matthew 4:19). I’m not sure Jesus took the time to pray the sinners prayer with them, or explain a systematic theology of the incarnation of God or the atonement.

    I would suggest that the call to follow *is* grace. As Bonhoeffer puts it ‘It is costly because it calls us to follow. It is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus’. It was in the following that the disciples were transformed and changed and used for good. The call to follow, which is issued to all people through the pages of Scripture, is the grace of God. This costly grace is the transforming power of God which becomes a real presence in the life of the believer. If it is mere intellectual assent – accepting a series of propositions it is neither grace nor is it Jesus. Indeed. If one was to believe that Jesus was raised from the dead, that makes his costly call to follow the very call of God, and all the more reason to obey!

    Jesus asks everything of us. Especially us in the west. Of course our everything is not enough, but I understand that special grace to be best discovered at the very end of or sacrifice. As though we’re pouring out our lives before Him, and when we have reached the end and realise that wasn’t enough, then we can embrace the grace of God. I’m not sure merely understanding that fact is the right way to approach it so much as experiencing it for ourselves.

    You ask ‘Why put yourself under all this stress when the Bible tells you you don’t have to?’. I say it is the means by which God imparts his grace to his beloved. The Christian life is impossible in our own strength. That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t try. It means we should try – expecting the Saviour to carry us when our flesh grows weak.

    There was a time when I believed all Jesus wanted of me was to believe a series of facts about him. But that’s not the Jesus I met in the pages of the Bible. The Jesus of the Bible calls all people to walk with him along the road of discipleship, to walk in grace and truth and love and mercy. Discipleship is not the attempt to repay our debt to God. It is the understanding that our debt has been paid so that we could become disciples.

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  5. I don’t understand what your point is. Have you now agreed that discipleship ISN’T how we get right with God? (seems to be what your last sentence is saying).

    Yes Jesus called unsaved unrighteous unjustified unredeemed people and told them he would make them fishers of men. He called – they followed – that’s all they were required to do. He got cross when they didn’t demonstrate faith (total reliance on him) and tried to say and do things in their own strength. I don’t ever see him getting cross because they weren’t stressing out enough – rather he got cross when they were stressing out. How does this support your point of view?

    I don’t understand your point “it is the means by which God imparts his grace to his beloved?” What – our stressing out? If this is biblically correct please show me where. I do often give you the challenge to back up your point of view from scripture and you always seem reluctant to do so?

    Jesus only asks everything of us because he knows we can never achieve anything in our own strength – that’s why he had to do it all for us in the first place. Growing in discipleship isn’t retraining our flesh to get it right but realising more and more that we can never get it right in our flesh and just need to depend on Jesus constantly for everything. Until we surrender completely our self righteous thoughts that tell us we can eventually do it in our own strength – we block the power of God being able to work in us and through us.

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  6. Discipleship is the means by which God imparts his forgiving grace to us. Walking that costly road is how we experience and encounter forgiveness and reconciliation with God. For me, it is cheap grace if forgiveness of sin is wrought by mere belief in the resurrected Jesus. Even the demons believe that (James 2:19).

    Discipleship, according to Bonhoeffer, is not how we get right with God. Discipleship IS us being right with God. Note the difference. If we are disciples, we are right with God. That means believing and obeying him, walking closely with Jesus.

    What I see in Jesus is that call to follow. That is a call of repentance and faith and trust and obedience. Again, he called his disciples to follow. In following, they were reconciled to God and were put to work loving their neighbours. Please don’t hear what I’m not saying. Discipleship is not about us doing stuff. It is about us walking with Jesus and doing life with him.

    Please refer to the paragraph in my blog post:

    When Jesus is given a sinner to deal with, he saves her life and gives her the charge to ‘sin no more’. His forgiving words are accompanied by a call. That’s not the only time the forgiveness and call are received together. The famous ‘woman at the well’ receives grace and then sets to work telling others. Even the traitor, Peter, is restored to Jesus with the call to obey, to be his follower. Forgiveness, for Jesus, is tied with real-world transformation.

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  7. Well then me and Paul the apostle will have to disagree with you and Bonhoeffer – Romans 10 verse 9 says ALL I have to do is confess with my mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in my heart that God raised him from the dead. Now what does believe mean is interesting and am glad you mention james because we see from him that believing means actively acting out what we say we believe in. No good saying I believe in the resurrected Jesus and the power he gives me if I am not willing to use and demonstrate this power in my every day life.

    You still aren’t showing me in the bible where you get that discipleship is the means by which God imparts his forgiving grace. I believe the bible tells us in Ephesians 2 verses 5 to 10 that Grace came to us while we were yet sinners – we appropriate it solely by faith and not by works and that faith itself is a gift from God so we can’t even strive to get that or boast in it.

    Again – the quote from Bonhoeffer – show me where in the Bible it says this? I believe Ephesians 2 would beg to differ. No – obeying and walking closely with Jesus comes out of a loving attitude because we are so grateful and so in love with him. Discipleship isn’t us being “right with God” because none of us get discipleship right 24 7 and yet God still loves us thankfully. God made us right with him on the cross – the way we appropriate this gift of grace is through faith. We never can and never will get right with God through discipleship or anything else that requires anything of us. We were made right with God by God through Jesus and that when we were still sinners – we didn’t have a choice in the matter. This isn’t saying that therefore the whole world are saved – because for a gift to be of any use to anyone it has to be accepted – belief is how we accept it according to the bible.

    No – forgiveness comes purely throught Jesus, by Jesus, once for all at the cross and by the cross and through the cross. There is no other way to achieve forgiveness – it has already been done for you. Have a check through Romans and look at the difference between sin used as a verb and sin used as a noun – we have a sin nature (noun) Jesus died to eradicate that sin nature (noun) when we are born again that sin nature IS eradicated (noun). yes we continue to sin (verb) and that is what jesus commanded people to stop doing – but once we have become a new creation our sin nature is gone and we aren’t condemned. Discipleship is retraining ourselves to walk in the spirit not in the flesh (Romans again!)

    Your reference to James 2 v 19 a) is incorrect – it does not say that the demons believe in the resurrected Jesus – it says the demons believe there is one God. James’ teaching on Faith without Works – what he is saying is there is no point saying you believe and not acting it out – if you say you believe then your actions should confirm it – like saying you have faith that a plane can fly and actually getting on the plane – (ie: proving your belief) rather than saying you have faith that a plane can fly but not actually being willing to trust it and get in it. Look at John 6 v 29 to understand what James is saying.

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  8. I was referring to James to highlight the notion of faith as mere agreement with an idea. I think that’s where James was going with that statement, anyway.

    Romans 10:9: if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved.

    This is the most extraordinary confession of the Christian church. See, if God raised Jesus from the dead it validates everything he said and did. Thus every command and direction of Jesus gains the weight of the authority of God himself. We could say this confession is the point of origin for our faith. The resurrected Jesus is the Jesus who meets us. When we confess him, we are affirming his full identity. We are also affirming his lordship over our lives.

    When I see Jesus calling people in the pages of Scripture – the same call we receive – I see, for example: “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19). Additionally in Mark 1:17 and Luke 5:10. John’s account differs, but we see the same idea of call in John 1:43. Interesting to reflect on the link between confession and calling in the last part of John 1. Jesus’ identity is to be received along with his call. The call to discipleship is grace: Without grace none would be called! Thus Jesus invites sinners to be his disciples and thus brings them into a right relationship with God.

    I didn’t say getting discipleship right made us right with God. I said being a disciple made us right with God. If we are disciples, we accept everything Jesus said and did and seek to have his presence in our lives. This includes the forgiveness of sins wrought by the cross. This approach makes discipleship indispensable to our saving faith, not just an optional extra. Thus discipleship is our daily reality of being right before God.

    As I have said earlier: Discipleship is grace. I am certainly not saying discipleship is something we earn in our own effort. Quite the opposite, in fact. Jesus called sinners to follow him. In following they were justified before God.

    I cannot accept an imaginary gospel where forgiveness of sin is a mere idea. Unless the Gospel is real, it isn’t good news to anyone. Discipleship is the life lived with Jesus, walking in his forgiving love and generous grace.

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  9. Ok so if you believe and agree that as a disciple you accept everything Jesus said and did then you have to accept that he said his presence will always be in our lives – once we become a Christian we don’t have to “seek” him. We have already invited him in by confessing and believing – he has moved in and has no intention of leaving.

    If he has moved in then this must lead us to ask what difference it makes that Jesus lives on the inside of us?

    I still disagree with your definition of grace – we weren’t justified in following – we were justified before we followed – that’s what Grace did on the cross. Whilst we were yet sinners ………. what we do when we choose to follow is appropriate that justification.

    Discipleship cannot be grace – grace is all of God and nothing of us – God is not a disciple of ours – therefore discipleship cannot be grace. In grace we can become disciples but this is not the same at all. Grace is still grace regardless of whether we choose to become disciples – therefore Grace must exist outside of discipleship?

    Again you haven’t actually answered my points raised regarding what Ephesians and Romans means –

    What do you mean by an imaginary gospel? the forgiveness of my sin is far from a mere idea – I don’t get what you are saying? Are you saying I am wrong to believe that my sins past present and future are dealt with already? My gospel is so real that I walk in it every day of my life and I experience love joy peace patience and all the blessing my amazing father has given to me – do you?

    You say you believe that discipleship is the life lived with Jesus walking in his forgiving love and generous grace and yet your writings are always about your problems as opposed to God’s magnificance? How does this equate to what you are saying here?

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  10. Discipleship is grace, precisely for the reason you stated: ‘grace is all of God and nothing of us’. I would argue that the grace of God is encountered within discipleship. Otherwise it is cheap grace, grace we bestow upon ourselves to justify sins without justifying the sinner. The grace we encounter in discipleship is a real change in our lives, a change wrought by the power of God in us.

    Whilst it is certainly true Jesus is always with us (Matthew 28), he still gives the command to follow. He describes kingdom of God as the treasure to be found, the coin to be reclaimed. Certainly the spirituality of the people of God indicates this notion of ‘seeking’ is part of our heritage, yet all the while maintaining the notion that God is near to us.

    the day of my trouble I seek the Lord;
    in the night my hand is stretched out without wearying
    (Psalm 77:2)

    I have set the LORD always before me;
    because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
    Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
    my flesh also dwells secure.
    (Psalm 16:8-9)

    In my own spirituality I ‘seek’ God in Christ, yet knowing he is paradoxically already there.

    I believe that I did address the idea presented in Ephesians 2. We become disciples of Jesus and this is the work of God’s grace. The notion of discipleship as grace does not conflict with the idea that God saved us by grace, because we are disciples of Jesus by grace!

    I don’t see how the idea of discipleship as grace conflicts with the notion that our sinful nature is put to death. Discipleship is the means by which that nature dies. You are certainly right, discipleship is the life lived walking in the Spirit. I would also seek to affirm that the walk of discipleship is led by God, he works in us to cause us to walk more and more by the Spirit. Thus discipleship is not our work, it is God’s.

    When I said imaginary gospel I refer to forgiveness of sins as a mere idea. The tangible gospel, gained through costly discipleship is the obedient walk with Jesus which causes us to live differently. Yes, God in Christ has dealt with all our sin. The means by which they are dealt with is discipleship. It’s all well and good feeling joyous and glad and peaceful because we imagine God has forgiven our sins. It’s quite the warm fuzzy. But over in the real world I don’t think that gospel stands. The forgiveness of sins is associated with the transformed life in the Scriptures. Just because we ‘feel’ more joy or peace does not mean the Gospel is real. It is real when we live lives of mercy and justice and change and beauty and all the things of Jesus.

    I write about stuff that’s on my heart because that’s what I see the writers of Scripture doing. In fact I’m reading through Job as we speak and am astonished by the amazing grace shown him by God.

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  11. You quote “a real change in our lives” – but your writings continue to talk about your old nature – so I fail to connect with the change you apparently see in your life? I KNOW you are changed because I know you are a new creation because you have accepted Jesus as your Lord and Saviour. What saddens me is that you don’t seem to appreciate that you are a new creation and choose instead to continue trying to better yourself?

    Yes Jesus talks about the treasure to be found – but correct me if I am wrong – in his parables isn’t the treasure actually FOUND by the people who look – they aren’t still LOOKING for it. I have FOUND my treasure – I AM in the kingdom – I don’t still have to SEARCH for it. I searched for it thanks to the Holy Spirit – I found him thanks again to the HOly Spirit – I now HAVE my treasure – I HAVE Jesus.

    Your writings in this matter have felt like a “sermon on theology” not writings from your heart.
    “In my own spirituality I seek God yet knowing he is paradoxically already there” “I would seek to affirm that the walk if discipleship is led by God….. ” who talks like that? When you are talking about your doubts and depression you seem to talk from your heart – when you talk about your salvation you talk as if you have swallowed a theology dictionary? Can’t understand why you don’t talk about your salvation in the same heartfelt terms?

    I am sorry you are wrong Ian – discipleship isn’t the means by which our sin nature dies – our sin nature was killed and dealt with on the cross by Jesus – Romans and Hebrews make this abundantly clear. You cannot susbstantiate anything you have said through the Word of God. This is the musings of man. (And if Bonhoeffer then the musings of a man who had murder on his mind).

    Over in my real world that Gospel stands firm and allows me to experience true peace and joy in the face of any situation. Your perception of warm fuzzy for me is actual reality and sees me through any tribulation without me disolving into doubt and depression because I know who I am in Christ. Maybe you might like to try it sometime. I don’t need to “imagine” God has forgiven my sins – his WORD tells me he has – God is not a liar – that’s good enough for me.

    The Gospel being real doesn’t surely depend on our actions does it? Surely surely the Gospel is real regardless of our actions – the Gospel was real before you were born Ian – nothing you do affects the Gospel?

    Do you really see the writers of the new testament writing about all their personal problems and doubts? Would you like to point me to that particular epistle I must have missed it. I see the writers of the new testament trying to help Christians who haven’t understood what they’ve got – get what they’ve got – which is all I am trying to do for you.

    And actually – why isn’t the most important “stuff” on your heart the stuff of praise and worship and glory and magnification of God rather than your depression?

    Obviously nothing I say is of interest to you on this subject and you seem happy in your woeful and doubting and depressive state so I will leave this discussion for now. You will excuse me if I continue to maintain (as you call it) my warm fuzzy – which has never led me into the doubting and depression you seem to experience on a regular basis.

    Harsh words I know Ian but how can anyone help you if you choose not to be helped.

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  12. In my writing I am to be vulnerable before God, and to allow anyone who would like to see the ‘inner workings’ of my faith – lest anyone think I had a lid on ‘faith’. Yes, I am changed. And I am being changed. And one day, I shall be changed in the new heaven and earth.

    I cherish the journey. The life lived with Jesus.

    Additionally, I think it’s a little ridiculous to deny my Christian walk on the grounds of my writing style. I do actually talk like that, it’s an issue my friends often poke fun at! I just find pain easier to articulate with words – it unlocks a certain level of creativity within myself. You probably won’t hear me talk about how much I ‘love’ Jesus, in that sense, because I find that language really uncomfortable and awkward, what with Jesus being a man and all. Jesus ‘aint my boyfriend!

    Yes, our sin nature dies with Jesus. Discipleship is the reality of that death. Discipleship – as Jesus calls it, shouldering our crosses – is the crucifixion of Jesus made tangible in our lives.

    I’m not sure why you think I don’t believe God has forgiven my sins.

    And, frankly I’m a pretty rubbish Christian, at the end of the day, which would be why the glory of God is often not my first thought. But I’m a disciple of Jesus all the same. A pretty rubbish one, but a disciple none the less.

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  13. Beverly, I think it would be better for you to stop following Ian’s blog. I fear it is causing you to become angry and conceited…

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  14. thank you for your concern Nathan. Duly noted.
    Ian why do you call yourself a pretty rubbish Christian? I haven’t said anything about you being a rubbish Christain – I believe you are a wonderful Christian with some confusing and unhelpful wrong teaching – blocking you from appreciating understanding who you are in Christ and how God sees you – leaving you feeling you always have to try harder. Here are some statements (based on ROmans 8) you might find challenging but understanding them to be biblically sound may help you to escape your currend mind set.

    Don’t try to live for God – let God live through you.
    Don’t try and “love your neighbour” because the bible tells you too – say to God I know I can’t love my neighbour in my own flesh – but I know I have your supernatural power – please flow through me
    When you see things you do wrong – don’t say – I must change myself – just turn to God
    THe christian life isn’t a changed life – it’s an exchanged life – we must exchange our reliance on ourselves to reliance on God
    When you were a sinner you had a sin nature – you could do good – but it didn’t change your nature – you still had a sin nature. When you became born again your sin nature was removed and you gained a brand new nature through the HOly SPirit – now you are still capable of sinning but it doesn’t change your new nature – you are still perfect in your spirit.
    You don”t have to just survive. THe Christian life is meant to be supernatural or else it is superficial – if we are not walking in supernatural ability we must be walking according to the flesh (not IN the flesh just according to the flesh – when we are born again we are no longer IN the flesh but IN the spirit – therefore we cannot walk IN the flesh but we can still choose to walk according to the flesh. If we are born again we are IN the spirit but we still have to choose to walk according to the spirit as according to the flesh – that is what we achieve by the renewing of our mind.
    Focus on what Christ has done for us rather than thinking about what we have got to do for Christ.
    We can’t push darkness out by striving – all we can do is shine the light (Jesus) and the darkness naturally disappears – the more light we allow to sink into our minds – the more the darkness will just disappear without us having to try (impossibly) to shoo it out.
    Don’t try and “polish” the flesh – don’t trying to improve ourselves – just art thinking about and concentrating on and claiming the new identity we have in Christ.

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