I have been reading some remarks from Dietrich Bonhoeffer about “cheap grace” and “costly grace”. Any seminarian or pastor is familiar with Bonhoeffer and his use these terms, but the idea of God’s grace, which is the love and mercy given to us by God because God desires us to have it, not because of anything we have done to earn it, is something that many of us do take for granted. “Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance; it’s baptism without church discipline; It is grace without discipleship; grace without the cross; grace without Jesus Christ. Costly grace is that grace delivered by Jesus on the cross when He paid for our sins in full”. Saint Paul said that, “You were bought at a price; do not become slaves of human beings”.
I believe as a Christian that my faith in God’s grace and mercy brought about my salvation, but my obedience to Him is the evidence of my salvation. If I have truly come to God by faith, my obedience to Him proves it, but if I am disobedient to Him, it is a sure sign that something is terribly missing—-i.e that I have claimed “cheap grace”. That’s not to say, of course, that no man that follows Jesus would ever be disobedient to Him—none of us are there yet, and neither was Paul or Peter. But it does mean that the Holy Spirit is grieved within me when I act in disobedience… and He convicts me of how unbefitting it is. I can be sure of my salvation not because of how “good” I feel as much as I can about how “bad” I feel when I know I have discounted His work on the cross. Another indication that I have experienced “costly grace” is my acknowledgement that no one makes me disobey Him once I was redeemed; it’s a conscious choice I am making and I have no one to blame but myself.
And so, although I have my faults and, although I do not always represent Jesus Christ as perfectly as I could and should, I am nonetheless aware that I know Him and I am a part of the redeemed. What grieves me are the people that claim faith in Him, but have a total disregard for obeying Him, and if pressed on the matter will inevitably blame others for their disobedience or dismiss their disobedience as being of no consequence relative to the sins and disobedience of the really bad guys.
Of course that line of thinking is not what a true child of God would exhibit. If I have come to Him by faith, I realize that God’s grace cost Him the life of His only son and that my acceptance of that grace requires my confession and repentance; It is obvious that I have become a new creature when my only human reference, in terms of relative comparison, is Jesus Himself—not some half-hearted church goer.
Am I living obedient to what I know is right? Are we, as a church members and a part of His body, giving evidence that we have received and are living testimonies of God’s grace to us or have we become slaves to our passions, our habits, our desires to lift ourselves up?
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