Cheap Grace

"For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith - and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God - not by works, so that no one can boast." Ephesians 2:8-9...."We poured out rivers of grace without end, but the call to rigorously follow Christ was seldom heard....What happened to Luther's warnings against a proclamation of the gospel which made people secure in their godless lives?....The word of cheap grace has ruined more Christians than any commandment about works....What has cost God much cannot be cheap for us." Dietrich Bonhoeffer

 
I've been greatly impacted in the last week or so by Bonhoeffer's writing concerning God's grace. It's my thought that nothing is more misunderstood and abused in the Church than His grace and our ideas about it. On the one hand are those who believe in His saving grace, but seem unable to receive His living grace, and so they live out a legalistic, works based faith. I have seen much of that in the Church, and I have lived that out in the early years of my walk with Him. On the other hand, the abuse of His grace comes in the thought that we are both saved and kept by His grace, and so we are completely free from any responsibility for a holy life. God has done everything, so we are free from having to do, no, to be, anything. Both of these are true killers of His grace, and to my thinking and experience, the latter is gaining the upper hand in His Church.
 
Several years ago, someone had sent one of my writing on to one of their friends. This person seemed to be an adherent to what many call "hyper grace." Those who embrace this view, in general, believe that any kind of expectation placed upon a believer to "bring forth fruit in keeping with their repentance," is a legalistic burden and a denial of His grace. Somehow that friends response to that writing got back to me. In his response, he underlined a number of things I'd written, but the only thing he seemed able to say about them was, "spare me." In other words, "I don't want to hear this. It conflicts with what I want to believe about grace." That viewpoint has a lot of company in the American Church today, and it's found from the pulpit to the pew.
 
I've walked the legalistic road. I've known what it is to be held captive, in bondage to a performance oriented faith. I know, and continue to learn more, of what it is to live in the freedom of His grace. But as I learn of and experience that freedom, I am more and more impacted by the great cost to Him of His extending His grace to me. Grace was extended from the cross of Christ. That grace still flows from that cross. A cross we are called to carry. That grace does not free us from that call. Indeed, when we really receive it, understand it, we can do nothing else but embrace it. As the old hymn goes, "Jesus paid it all, all to Him I owe." His grace calls us to total surrender to His life and Lordship. As Paul wrote, by His grace we become "free to be His bondslaves." This is a view, a call, that those who proclaim what Bonhoeffer called "cheap grace" don't espouse, and don't embrace. It's a road that leads to death, because it's a road that the flesh loves. It has no cross, and it has no cost. And in the end, it really has no Christ.
 
It's my prayer that in these days, God will raise up a new generation of preachers and teachers who will once again proclaim the call to walk His "highway of holiness" described by the prophet Isaiah. We've seen the fruit of what our flesh-friendly proclamations have wrought. We look very much like the world. We embrace the same values, and have many of the same views. We have made, as Luther and Bonhoeffer write, people "secure in their godless lives." What will be the cost, and what will be the account we must give to Him? Cheap grace is our "invention," not His. His grace cost Him His Son. It cost Him everything. It can never cost us nothing. To believe differently is perhaps the greatest sin against grace we can commit.

Blessings,
Pastor O
 
 
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