The Cost Of Discipleship


Sermon Outline By Terry Siverd

Cortland Church of Christ / July 2, 2017

I want to wrap up our week of camp with one more message on this year’s camp theme: “I Am Not Ashamed”.

This was the focus of our week-long studies at Camp 2:52 at the Rock.

  It drew from the words of Paul in his letter to the church at Rome (Rom.1:16) - -

For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation

to everyone who believes, to the Jew first and also to the Greek.

  The daily Bible classes taught by Michael & Carrie Donnell.

  Evening campfire devos taught by David Black, Logan Pitney, Steve Corp and Jeff Drummond.

  Likewise for our moviememory work Bible Bee … and new songs.

This was our first year at Blue Rock Christian Camp in Thompson.

Things went quite smoothly.  A little rain, but all in all the weather was quite nice.

The food was great as usual, thanks to Shelly, Randy, Phyllis, Margi and Sue Geiser.

There were many fun things:  great race … hiking … crafts … canoeing & peddle-boating … swimming … pizza party …

octoball (gaga ball) … capture the flag … crazy games … carnival with inflatables … survival-of-the-fittest … talent show …

volleyball … cornhole … inter-tribal olympics … yayrides at nite with glowsticks … horseback trail riding … etc.

The fellowship was wonderful - - Singing … Praying … Bible studies … Small Groups … Fire-side Devos …

Journaling … Late Nite … Bible Bee … Just sitting around and talking (visiting).

Quiz campers, counselors and cooks as to HIGHLIGHTS OF THE WEEK.

In retrospect, one of the highlights for me personally was being able to take Bodie to his first camp.

Sigfried had logged ten summer youth retreats and he had set the bar high for being well-behaved.

We purchased Bo for $50 on May 4th (National Prayer Day).

We had thought we’d wait until after camp to look for a new dog, but we saw an ad in a paper.

I ascertained by a phone call that the owner might be an Amish man.

I was ambivalent - - I wanted a dog but I didn’t want to meet a dog and not take him home.

Well, it was love at first sight.

I ask the Amish man why he wanted to sell him (any price was okay with him).

He scratched his beard and say, “well … when I let him out, he doesn’t want to come back.”

Rather than seeing that as a negative, I saw it as a CHALLENGE.

His name was Cody but we quickly changed it to Bodie (my dad’s family nickname).  For about six-months, Bodie had

lived inside a barn in a 4’ X 8’ cage with a little doghouse and lots of sawdust.  Obviously, he’d never been house-trained.

When camp drew closer, I began to question whether or not I’d be able to take him.

I had permission from the Blue Rock officials, but I wasn’t sure either he or I were up to the task.

Bodie was pretty raw and I didn’t know if two months would be enough time to train him.

But, I am happy to report that Bodie dog did quite well. 

Jeannie and I commuted to camp every day, once twice a day, and Bodie loved it.

Lily Donnell, who was “afraid” at the start of camp came to really like Bodie by the end of camp.

Although I must say that he seemed quite content to stay at home on Saturday morning.

I thank you for putting up with my dog stories.

Most of us who attended camp are a bit weary.  I am also a little sore from an injury.

(Tell of the big bruise I incurred from a groin pull during a boating mishap).  


This morning I want to introduce you to a young man who lived in days gone by.

His name was Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

I first encountered his life story when I was a student at Harding University, back in the 1970s.

His book, The Cost Of Discipleship, is quite profound.

In the weeks ahead, I want to share some thoughts from another brief book, Life Together.

I have recently begun to read Eric Metaxas’ biography of Bonhoeffer.  I am anticipating a terrific read.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was born on February 4, 1906.

He died at the young age of 39, on April 9, 1945.

He was born in a family of seven children in East Germany.

His father was a noted physician, the first to occupy a chair of psychiatry in Germany.

He was a very athletic boy.  He was also a gifted student.

At the age of sixteen, he was sure that he wanted to study theology.

At the age of 21, he presented his doctoral thesis followed by his dissertation on the topic “Act And Being”.

This seed of thought (Act & Being) was planted early in his life by his father.

He would later refer to it as “an INSISTENT REALISM - - a turning way from the phraseological to the real”.

For Bonhoeffer, Christianity could never be merely intellectual theory.

It could not be doctrine divorced from life.  It was not some kind of mystical emotionalism.

Christianity had to be responsible, obedient action - -

the discipleship of Christ in every situation of concrete everyday life, personal and public.

What is vitally important to understand about Bonhoeffer is the troubled world in which he came to maturity.

These were the days when Hitler’s Third Reich turned Germany and the world upside down with their Nazi facism.

Bonhoeffer’s “insistent realism” meant that HE COULD NOT BE QUIET IN THE FACE OF EVIL.

This Jesus-taught mindset (he was not ashamed of the gospel) was that which eventually cost him his life.

Six years before his death, he wrote:  “when Christ calls a man, he bids him come and die.”

These words echo the words of our Lord and Savior recorded in Lk.9:23 - -

If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

While this was not one of our memory verses at camp last week, it was the centerpiece of our thinking.

This is the only verse I will use today.

If we grasp the true meaning of this verse, it will shape and sharpen a lifetime of discipleship with Jesus.

If anyone wishes to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.

In the years that followed his university studies and graduation,

Bonhoeffer lectured in various academic settings and preached in several different locations.

In 1933 he delivered a lecture that was broadcast over Berlin radio.  In that lecture he flayed the German public for its hankering after a “leader” who would later become a “misleader”.   The broadcast was cut off before he had finished.

After Hitler had come to full power, he was offered a position as the preacher for two German congregations in London.

A short while later he returned to Pomerania, a region located on the south side of the Baltic Sea straddling

Germany and Poland, where he taught in a clandestine (illegal) seminary that specialized in training young preachers.

In 1935 he labored preaching the gospel in Zingst and Finkewalde.  During this period he wrote The Cost Of Discipleship.

Soon he was forbidden to write or publish and the “underground” seminary was closed by Gestapo.

He learned of the plans of some to try to overthrow Hilter.

He realized that this was a critical juncture (for him and the world) and he threw off his tendencies towards pacifism.

He resolved that to withdraw from those who were participating in the political and military

resistance would be irresponsible cowardice and a “flight from reality”.

While he did not insist that every believer had to act as he did, he concluded that from where he was standing,

He could see no possibility of retreat into any sinless, righteous, pious refuge.

In other words, he could not remain silent in the face of the evils being perpetuated by Hitler and his regime.

In 1939 he traveled to the United States.

His friends and fellow Christians urged him to remain where he would be SAFE.

He refused and boarded one of the last ships to return to Germany.

He moved about the country, preaching and speaking to unlawful assemblies, while living and writing his “Ethics”.

One day in April, 1943,the blow fell.

Bonhoeffer, his sister and brother-in-law were arrested and incarcerated by the Nazis.

The prison guards befriended him and secretly escorted him to the cells of despairing prisoners to minister to them.

They also preserved his papers, writings, and poems and permitted couriers to send notes to family and friends.

That summer he was transferred from one prison to another - - Berlin, Buchenwald, Schonberg and finally Flossenburg.

In Flossenburg all contact with the outside world were severed.  His last weeks were spent with

men and  women from many nationalities: Russians, Englishmen, Frenchmen, Italians and Germans.

One of the men, an English officer, wrote of him:

Bonhoeffer always seemed to me to spread an atmosphere of happiness and joy…

He was one of the very few persons I have ever met for whom God was real and always near…

On Sunday, April 8, 1945, (he) conducted a service of worship and spoke to us in a way that went to the

heart of all of us…He had hardly ended his last prayer when the door opened and two civilians entered.

They said, ‘Prisoner Bonhoeffer, come with us.’  That had only one meaning for all the prisoners - - the gallows.

We said good-bye to him.  He took me aside: ‘This is the end, but for me it is the beginning of life.’

The next day he was hanged in Flossenburg.

The official trumped-up charge for which Bonhoeffer was executed was:  “plotting to assassinate Hitler”.

The text of Bonhoeffer’s last sermon was taken Isa.53:5b - - by His stripes we are healed.

 (The above has been extracted from the introduction of Life Together, pgs.7-13.)

Only God knows all of the good of “the act and being” of Dietrich Bonhoeffer.

Yet he stands as a bright beacon for all Christians who long to live lives that are not ashamed of the gospel of Christ.

Few of us will ever stand in places similar to Bonhoeffer’s circumstances.

But God requires of us all that we take a stand for the gospel of Christ in saying and doing what is right and godly.

The call of Christ still rings loud and clear:  we must deny self, take up our cross daily and follow Jesus.

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