|The Steadfast Love of the Lord, Post #4 Bonhoef Execution |
“Great salvation he brings to his king and shows steadfast love to his anointed,
to David and his offspring forever. Psalm 18:50
With great joy, the Bonhoeffer family celebrated the birthday of their dear husband-father-grandfather, Dr. Karl Bonhoeffer. (p. 431). It was the last day of March, 1943, and also the very last time that the family met as family for such a grand celebration of life in the presence of God – Dietrich playing the piano, Rudiger Schliecher on the violin, several in the choir, Paula reading scripture, all of them in prayer.
Pause with me for a moment at this point. I believe that the “steadfast love of God” mentioned in our Psalm 18:50 text, is on open display in this Bonhoeffer family celebration. I see God Himself right in the midst of this occasion. God is there celebrating with them. They are not breaking bread and drinking wine but they are communing with their God, and God is lifting them into heaven as they revel in their communion with Him. This grand event preceded and prepared them for a much darker chapter in their lives.
Notice how I have been using this Biblical phrase: “the steadfast love of the Lord.” I believe it is a most powerful description of God at work among us. By His “steadfast love” he works for us and in us. I further believe that His “steadfast love” comes to its fullest and most powerful expression in the DEATH AND RESURRECTION of our Savior, our dear Lord Jesus Christ. And I still need to add a further thought to this wonderful reality. I need to add that God is using His “steadfast love” through the DEATH AND RESURRECTION of Jesus to ACTIVATE US, enable us, empower us, move in us so that we become what we were at creation – the very IMAGE OF GOD.
Five days after the Bonhoeffer celebration of God’s “steadfast love” on April 5, the Gestapo called in the Bonheffer home and arrested Dietrich. The Gestapo took him to Tegel prison. Here he spent most of his next two years, the rest of his life. The Gestapo had discovered Dietrich’s role in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolph Hitler. He had been drawn into this plot by his growing conviction that it was his responsibility before God to take such drastic action against this wicked mad-man.
It is important for us to see the value Dietrich put on his part in the conspiracy. In a January 23, 1944 letter from prison to his fiancé, Maria Wedemeyer, Dietrich remarks, “As I look back on your past, I am so convinced that what has happened hitherto has been right, that I feel that what is happening right now is right too. To renounce a full life and its real joys in order to avoid pain is neither Christian nor human. (p. 463).” These are compelling words from this man. He had to do what he had done in order to be either Christian or human. His celebration of his Father’s birthday was a witness to this kind of faith in God, a faith that was carrying him through his prison experience.
Cost of Discipleship was a 1937 book which Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave us. In this classic work, Bonhoeffer deals effectively with the distinction he makes between “cheap” and “costly” grace. He states, “cheap grace 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.”
He continues, “Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus, it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. It is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was caught up in the grand spirit which the Apostle Paul expresses when he writes in Romans 12:1-2, “I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.”
After his conversion on the road to Damascus, Paul had spent his life discovering the beauty and power of the grand truth revealed here in Romans 12. We must be praying that God will do that with each of us. We are discovering the wonders of the DEATH AND RESURRECTION of Jesus Christ as it applies to us when we willingly “take up His cross and follow Him.” It is right here that God reveals to us “His steadfast Love” as He did to King David and is doing with all of King David’s children like you and me.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer gave confident testimony to the very end. Perhaps this is best stated by the Flossenberg doctor who watched Bonhoeffer climb that ladder. Dr. H. Fischer-Husstrung said, “I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of the execution he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In the almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God. (p. 532)”
Once again I must say, “Thank you, Eric Metaxas, for giving us a glimpse of God at work in His servant, Dietrich Bohoeffer.” You helped us believe with Dietrich, “For me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:21.
— Pastor Paul AlexanderFOLLOW US AT CLAY2GLORY.COMCopyright © 2019 All rights reserved.
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