Excerpts from

Life Together

By Dietrich Bonhoeffer

See also

The Cost of Discipleship

Bonhoffer's Meditations on the Cross



"I have not shunned to declare to you the whole counsel of God.  Therefore take heed to yourselves and to all the flock, among which the Holy Spirit has made you overseers, to shepherd the church of God which He purchased with His own blood. " Acts 20:28

"Almost all of us have grown up with the idea that the Scripture reading is only a matter of hearing the Word of God for this particular day. That is why for many the Scripture reading consists only of a few, brief, selected verses which are to form the guiding thought of the dayÖ

"But there can be equally little doubt that brief verses cannot and should not take the place of reading the Scripture as a whole. The verse for the day is still not the Holy Scripture which will remain throughout all time until the Last Day. Holy Scripture is more than a watchword.  It is also more than 'light for today.' It is Godís revealed Word for all men, for all times. Holy Scripture does not consist of individual passages; it is a unit and is intended to be used as such.

"A Christian family fellowship should surely be able to read and listen to a chapter of the Old Testament and at least half of a chapter of the New Testament every morning and evening. When the practice is first tried, of course, most people will find even this modest measure too much and will offer resistance. It will be objected that it is impossible to take in and retain such an abundance of ideas and associations, that it even shows disrespect for Godís Word to read more than one can seriously assimilate. These objections will cause us quite readily to content ourselves again with reading only verses.

"In truth, however, there lurks in this attitude a grave error.  If it is really true that it is hard for us, as adult Christians, to comprehend even a chapter of the Old Testament in sequence, then this can only fill us with profound shame; what kind of testimony is that to our knowledge of the Scriptures and all our previous reading of them?

"If we were familiar with the substance of what we read we should be able to follow a chapter without difficulty, especially if we have an open Bible in our hands and participate in the reading.  But of course, we must admit that the Scriptures are still largely unknown to us.  Can the realization of our fault, our ignorance of the Word of God, have any other consequence than that we should earnestly and faithfully retrieve what has been neglected? And should not ministers be the very first to get to work at this point?

"How often we hear innumerable arguments 'from life' and 'from experience' put forward as the basis for most crucial decisions, but the argument of Scripture is missing. And this authority would perhaps point in exactly the opposite direction.  It is not surprising, of course, that the person who attempts to cast discredit upon their wisdom should be the one who himself does not seriously read, known, and study the Scriptures.  But one who will not learn to handle the Bible for himself is not an evangelical Christian."
(p.50-52, 55)

"Therefore prepare yourself and arise, and speak to them all that I command you.
Do not be dismayed before their faces, lest I dismay you before them....
They will fight against you, but they shall not prevail against you.
For I am with you,' says the Lord, 'to deliver you.'" Jeremiah 1:17-19

 Home   Index   Persecution  Eternity   What it means to be a Christian