When Christ Calls a Man, He Bids Him Come and Die

…It may be a death like that of the first disciples who had to leave home and work to follow him, or it may be a death like Luther’s, who had to leave the monastery and go out into the world. But it is the same death every time—death in Jesus Christ, the death of the old man and his call. Jesus’ summons to the rich young man was calling him to die, because only the man who is dead to his won will can follow Christ. In fact every command of Jesus is a call to die, with all our affections and lusts. But we do not want to die, and therefore Jesus Christ and his call are necessarily our death as well as our life. The call to discipleship, the baptism in the name of Jesus Christ means both death and life.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship, p. 44

Dietrich Bonhoeffer is one of the most intriguing figures of the 20th century. This Lutheran minister turned conspirator in the plot to assassinate Hitler is fascinating. His vision of discipleship is captivating, and while I wouldn’t necessarily agree with all of his views theologically, there’s much that can be learned from him and his call to “costly discipleship.”

“When Christ calls a man, He bids him come and die,” wrote Bonhoeffer. In these 11 words, he manages to encapsulate the New Testament’s teaching on what it means to follow Christ.

“If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me,” said Jesus in Luke 9:23. It’s a call to the death of self, to the putting aside of our own desires and plans in order to follow Him.

I read Eric Metaxas’ book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy several months ago, and Metaxas’ portrait of Bonhoeffer is one I’m still chewing on. It’s one I want you to enjoy as well—by giving one of you a free copy. Details after the book trailer:

Here’s how you can enter using one of or more of the following options:

  1. Leave a comment and tell me why you want a copy of the book
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  3. Subscribe via email or RSS

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  • http://tr.im/delgado Jason D.

    I’d like to win because I like books and like to read :)

  • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

    Great reason :)

  • http://cleverphrasehere.blogspot.com Amber

    I’d like to give it as a gift to someone.

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  • http://twitter.com/cajunman4life Aaron Graves

    I would love to receive this book, I’ve always wanted to read it!

  • Ryan

    I’d love to win. I’m fascinated by Bonhoeffer and I’ve heard wonderful things about this book.

  • Stephen

    I’d like to win b/c I’m intrerested in the topic of Christian involvement with politics/state.

  • http://devotionislove.wordpress.com Mike Winters

    I’d love to receive this book because God has really been teaching me the importance of “risky” discipleship and the thought of laying down ANYTHING should he call me to do so. Reading into the martyrs, and those who obey even unto death and severe circumstances is an encouragement and a challenge to me, and I wish to show that sort of obedience to others, through faith.

  • Aaron

    I really enjoyed your review of this biography and I look forward to reading it.

  • http://blog.hillsbiblechurch.org/ Don

    I first learned of Bonhoeffer from my father when I was in my teens. He used to read me passages from a Bonhoeffer’s book. (Not sure which ones.)

    I would love to win this book on Bonhoeffer.

    BTW – placed an order yesterday with Amazon for 5 copies of “Servanthood as Worship”.

  • Mike

    Recently stumbled across your site…now a subscriber. Love to win a copy of the book.

  • Phil

    Aaron–I read a few pages of the book at B&N earlier this week and couldn’t put it down even after several text “dings” from my wife. Rather than shell out the 30 bucks, I decided to ask for it for Christmas, but now I can win it on your website and get an EXTRA present!

  • Jonathan Holliday

    I read the first 20 pages of this book and its amazing. Bonhoeffer is a man of the faith who we can all learn from and I can’t wait to read the rest of the book.

  • http://twitter.com/#!/nate_downey nate downey

    I’d like to learn more about Bonhoeffer’s life

  • http://seekingpastor.wordpress.com seekingpastor

    Sadly, I don’t know much about this man who seems to have touched many through his words and writings. I would like to learn more.

  • http://kevinfiske.wordpress.com Kevin Fiske

    I was greatly intrigued by Bonhoeffer’s quotes listed in Piper’s “This Momentary Marriage.” I would love to read more about the man behind the quotes! Thanks for the giveaway!!

  • http://www.pilgrimstent.org/ Corey Sosebee

    You can’t have enough Bonhoffer (pastor, martyr, prophet, spy). His raw insight and writing are great. Would love to learn more about his life! Thanks.

  • Darryl Smith

    I would like to win a copy of the book because I believe God wants me to read it! I had never heard of this man until last week and his name kept popping up. I was witnessing to a man at work and was prompted to grab a little booklet out of my locker at work entitled “What does it take to follow Jesus” (RBC Ministries) so I could read something to him – that booklet sat on my bookshelf for years and then I took it to work where it sat in my locker for well over a year. When I opened the booklet, there was a quote from from Dietrich Bonhoeffer that said “Only he who believes is obedient; only he who is obedient believes.” I told the man I was witnessing to how this man’s name kept popping up and how I wanted to read this book. He was impressed that the quote was in the booklet!

  • Rob Holliday

    Would love to get a copy of this biography. Bonhoeffer’s theology is challenging because it’s not theoretical, it’s what he lived. It’s all to easy to criticize his positions, but he was faced with a true dilemma that he didn’t reach easily. As an LCMS Lutheran, I love reading and learning about the modern (relative term here) application of our common faith and denominational particulars. Thanks for the offer! Btw, no relation to Jonathan above (didn’t know if any household rules apply! 😉 ).

  • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

    Thanks everyone for entering—the winner has been randomly selected and notified via email.

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  • Anonymous

    Hi Aaron,
    I am interested in Bonhoeffer and his insight to the Christian life. Bonhoeffer gets to the crux of the matter of Christian life by discipleship, the cross, and death. I also attend a Harvest in Illinois, but I never hear this kind of Christianity taught. I’m sure each Harvest is unique, but I can’t find discipleship taught as Jesus did even in James MacDonald’s Harvest website. I see and hear the term discipleship but never the terms that Jesus commanded. I applaud your promoting of Bonhoeffer and just thought you might give your thoughts on my comments.

    • http://www.bloggingtheologically.com Aaron Armstrong

      Hey Mike, glad you appreciated the quote. I’m surprised you don’t hear that kind of emphasis at the Harvest you’re a part of; our senior pastor has very much put a strong emphasis on the costliness of being a disciple, particularly in recent months.

      Anyway, I’m glad you shared your thoughts. Take care!

      • shama246

         Hi Aaron,

        What I meant specifically were the terms Jesus set forth as I am not hearing this spoken of at my local Harvest:

        The following statement from
        Jesus indicates his ways and commands are not too “hard”, but are most gentle
        for the obedient ones yet we are called to take His “yoke”.


        (Mat. 11:29-30) “Take my
        yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you
        will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”

        Jesus taught that to make
        disciples requires that we teach everything that he commanded.


        (Mat. 28:28-30) And Jesus
        came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to
        me. Go therefore and make disciples of
        all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy
        Spirit,   teaching them to observe all that I
        have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of
        the age.”

        (Italics/red letters are for my emphasis.)




        The following are the “all that I have commanded you” what I would call
        the terms of discipleship or the commands of Jesus to anyone desiring to follow


        1- Loving Jesus more
        than self or others. Mat. 10:37 He who loves father or mother more than
        Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not
        worthy of Me.

        Luke 14:26 If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father
        and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life
        also, he cannot be My disciple.


        2- Denial of self.
        Mat. 16:24 Then Jesus said to His disciples, “If anyone desires
        to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.


        3-Taking up your cross.
        Mark 8:34-38 When He had called the people to Himself,
        with His disciples also, He said to them, “Whoever desires to come after Me, let
        him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.  For whoever
        desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake
        and the gospel’s will save it.  For what will it profit a man if he gains
        the whole world, and loses his own soul?  Or what will a man give in
        exchange for his soul?  For whoever is ashamed of Me and My words in this
        adulterous and sinful generation, of him the Son of Man also will be ashamed
        when He comes in the glory of His Father with the holy angels.”


        Luke 9:23-26  Then He said to them all, “If anyone
        desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily,
        and follow Me.  For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but
        whoever loses his life for My sake will save it. For what profit is it to a man
        if he gains the whole world, and is himself destroyed or lost? For whoever is
        ashamed of Me and My words, of him the Son

        of Man will be ashamed when
        He comes in His own glory, and in His Father’s, and of the holy


        4-Love for all who
        belong to Christ. John 12:35 By this all men will know that you are my
        disciples, if you love one another.


        5-Abiding in His Word.
        John 8:31 Then Jesus said to those Jews who believed Him, “If you abide
        in My word, you are My disciples indeed.”


        6-Forsaking all to
        follow Him. Luke 14:33 So likewise, whoever of you does not forsake all
        that he has cannot be My disciple.


        The gospel we are called to
        walk worthy of and contend for, once delivered to faithful men, is lived out in
        taking up our cross and denying ourselves. The invitation is to come and die.
        Everything else is better understood in this light. Romans, the Gospel of God, is
        more easily understood as we obediently bear our cross. Paul asks in chapter
        6:2-11, (NKJV) “Or do you not know that as many of us as were baptized
        into Christ Jesus were baptized into His death? Therefore we were buried with
        Him through baptism into death, that just as Christ was raised from the dead by
        the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.
        For if we have been united together in the likeness of His death, certainly we
        also shall be in the likeness of His resurrection,  knowing
        this, that our old man was crucified with Him, that the body of sin
        might be done away with, that we should no longer be slaves of sin.  For
        he who has died has been freed from sin.  Now if we died with Christ, we
        believe that we shall also live with Him, knowing that Christ, having been
        raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no longer has dominion over Him.
         For the death that He died, He died to sin once for all; but the
        life that He lives, He lives to God. Likewise you also, reckon yourselves
        to be dead indeed to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”


        Death is understood from our
        experience of taking up our cross. If the Christian experience/life starts with
        blood washing away our sin and placing us in right standing before God, then
        the cross is for our deliverance from sin. 1 Cor. 1: 17-18, “For Christ did not
        send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel, not with wisdom of words, lest
        the cross of Christ should be made of no effect. For the message of the cross
        is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is
        the power of God.”

        Many Christians struggle
        with sin, sinning and asking forgiveness, over and over never really overcoming
        the practice of sin. Yes, I realize we still sin and need to ask for
        forgiveness, but the cross delivers us from its bondage and we are set free
        from its slavery through death. Paul’s letter to the Galatians chpt.2:20 now
        becomes the cry of my heart, ‘I have been crucified with Christ; it is no
        longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live
        in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself
        for me.” And Gal. 6:14 “But God forbid that I should boast except in the cross
        of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world has been crucified to
        me, and I to the world.”

        Finally in regards to
        discipleship, I reference 1John 2:3-6, “Now by this we know that we know Him,
        if we keep His commandments.  He who says, “I know Him,” and does not keep
        His commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.  But whoever
        keeps His word, truly the love of God is perfected in him. By this we know that
        we are in Him. He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk
        just as He walked.”

        In Christ-respectfully,