The Francis Asbury Society

FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 01/20

Posted on | January 20, 2016 | Comments Off on FACE TO FACE: Intimate Moments with God 01/20

Scripture reading: Romans 6:1–14

Grace Is Free But Not Cheap

For by grace you have been saved through faith. (Ephesians 2:8)

A deadly virus has invaded the church in America. It is more dangerous than immorality, heresy, and even apostasy because it is so much harder to detect and so much more resistant to treatment. I’m talking about an understanding of the Gospel that perverts God’s grace into per- mission to sin, leading us to think that Christ died to leave us in our sins rather than save us from them! Those infected by this virus will reason:

Hey, God loves me and Jesus died for me so I’m under grace, not law. This means I can live as I please. Oh, I know it’s important to grow in grace and all that, but God accepts me just as I am so I don’t really need to change. I’m not worried about those habitual sins in my life; God has already forgiven me for sins past, present and future. That’s his job! Besides, now that I’m saved I can never be lost. Praise the Lord.

The result of such a perverted understanding of grace is a nation of people who call themselves Christians, yet whose lives are no different than the heathen around them. It will be seen in churches that are full of people who claim to be followers of Christ yet neither follow Christ nor imitate his character. Freedom has been perverted into license, and grace has been cheapened so that people begin to believe the Gospel gives them freedom to do what they want, rather than power to do what they ought! Paul spoke strongly to the Galatians, warning them of the danger of misunderstanding grace: You, my brothers, were called to be free. But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature (Galatians 5:13). Similarly Peter exhorted his readers to live as free men, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil (I Peter 2:16).

In the 1930s, Dietrich Bonhoeffer realized that the Lutheran Church of Germany had embraced a doctrine of “cheap grace” that was tolerating the evils of Hitler’s Nazi policies and literally destroying the church. In his classic book The Cost of Discipleship, he wrote:

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before. . . . 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 . . .

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. . . . Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son . . . Above all it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. . . . The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.

 

The law was given that grace might be sought,

grace was given that the law might be fulfilled. —Augustine

 

point to ponder How is “cheap grace” more dangerous to a nation than heresy?

prayer focus For the spiritual strength of the pastor(s) in your church, to preach boldly on “costly grace.”

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