Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Grace Q & A: Cheap Grace?

17 For the law was given through Moses, but grace and truth came through Jesus Christ. John 1:17 NKJV

For this reason we must pay much closer attention to what we have heard, so that we do not drift away from it. Hebrews 2:1 NASB

  We've begun a study getting back to the basics of the Good News of God's Grace. So far we've seen what Grace actually is. In our last study, we saw the truth that under Grace there is no more condemnation for the child of God.

 Today, I sense the leading to address a rather controversial aspect of the Grace of God. There is a concept being used heavily by many churches and ministries. This idea that the Radical Grace of God, this "Hyper-Grace" is really a substitute "cheap Grace". That it's not the real Grace of God. Is this right? Are we proclaiming a knock-off, cheap Grace?

To answer, we must define this terminology. What is cheap Grace? I can look through the Scriptures and can't find the phrase "cheap grace." So where does it originate? Not to disparage a fellow brother in Christ, who was in a sense martyred for taking a public stance against evil, but this phrase was coined by man, not God, a man, a German theologian. 

 This theologian wrote a book on something he called costly grace. He wanted to express that there is a cost to becoming a believer in Christ. If one wasn't paying any price, then is that conversion to Christ sincere? 

 Is this debate new? No, this is the same issue we have today with Lordship Salvation and Free Grace. What's at the heart of the debate? Would you as a Christian, a believer in Christ, a child of God, like to see more commitment from your leaders? Fellow believers? How about in your own life?

Costly Grace, Cheap Grace, or Free Grace?

 Sure, we can all agree as Christians, we desire to honor the Finished Work. Look, the Radical Grace of God isn't a humanistic philosophy that follows the sole commandment "do whatever thou wilt, regardless if it hurts you or harms others." As much as that is true, sometimes I do what I want and sadly I don't care if it harms others or mars my witness at that moment. 

 Now I am not talking about felony criminal activity, obviously. I'm speaking about that jerk in traffic, he deserved me getting angry and yelling at him and throwing all kinds of hand gestures. That slow cashier, it's her fault I am losing my patience, didn't they know I'm in a hurry? The person with me may stumble because I choose to enjoy a drink in public? Hey, I work hard, I deserve a break

 See the real world situations I am speaking of? We all have the flesh to contend with, that is that wrong thinking we acquire from living in a fallen world. So how do we address that? Tradition has got a solution. It's costly Grace. It's Lordship Salvation. 

 The German theologian defined this "cheap grace" as a forgiveness without repentance, that is without a complete turning from all sin. It's a grace we give ourselves, as an excuse to pursue sin or stay in sin. It's coming to Christ without commitment. Is this, in fact, cheap grace?

Not Cheap Grace but Cheap Law

 When researching this lesson, I came across a wonderfully written article based on another good theologian refuting this idea of cheap grace. They coined the phrase cheap Law and it exploded in my spirit. This is the solution to cheap grace accusations.

 Tradition wants to eliminate the wrong choices, the wrong thinking which produces wrong actions by supplanting God's free Radical Grace with a more works centered Gospel approach. They mean well, but in exalting performance and commitment, all they have done is cheapened Law to a place where man can keep it and practice it and diluted the Grace of God.

 When we supplement effort and personal performance with God's Grace we have cheapened Law. The Law is an impossible standard not designed for us to keep perfectly but to stir up sin and thus reveal to us our glaring shortcomings which then leads us to Christ, the Savior. 

 I want you to see the definition of supplement;
Supplementsomething that completes or enhances something else when added to it. 

 Now armed with this understanding, tell me what can complete or enhance the Grace of God? Does our promise to do better enhance His Grace? Does our obeying perfectly every statute or command we can possibly find complete His Grace in our life? Let's see Paul's definition of "costly grace" and "cheap grace."

And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. Romans 11:6 NKJV

see this same passage in another translation
And since it is through God’s kindness, then it is not by their good works. For in that case, God’s grace would not be what it really is—free and undeserved. Romans 11:6 NLT

Cheap Grace?

 Paul so masterfully defined Grace and perfectly contrasts works and Grace in Romans 11.  If we believe, no matter our motive, that we can supplement Grace with anything Grace no longer becomes Grace, it instantly transforms into works. What is cheap Grace?

 Grace isn't cheapened when we declare it's free and completely unmerited. Grace is cheapened when we dilute it down to a place where man can enhance or complete it by their works, their commitment, their performance or ability to remain steadfast and faithful. If Grace is anything but unearned, undeserved, unmerited favor and received freely, it is not Grace but works. 

 Grace is cheapened when we shorten its power to totally forgive. When we say Christians are only forgiven up to the point of conversion and from that point, onward, forgiveness is achieved only by personal repentance and confession of sin we are cheapening Grace. Grace forgives us once for all time. We are forever forgiven, past present and future. 

 Grace is cheapened when we declare it can't completely save us. When one proclaims Christians can lose or forfeit their salvation they are proclaiming potential life, not eternal life. They are treating Christianity as a probationary period until we finally persevere until the last day. This cheapens His Grace. Once we are saved, we are eternally saved. 

 In summation, accept no substitute. Only His Grace alone will satisfy. His Grace will lead us to bring forth fruit. His Grace will correct our times of disobedient behavior. After I "flesh out" it isn't long before I hear, "you're better than that." "That's not who you are." "I have so much better for you." 

 Supplements of performance, promises to do better, to be more committed only cheapen Grace and actually dilutes it from leading and guiding us. Why? Because Father God is upset or turned away from us? No, its because we are saying we can complete or perfect what He is doing in our strength and our efforts.

 In Him, we are accepted. We are loved unconditionally. We have a bright future, and He has great plans for our life. Don't accept tradition's lie that we are promoting a cheap grace when we speak of the Finished Work. Remember they are in reality promoting cheap Law and are deceived into thinking our labor completes what's already be Finished and completed by Christ Jesus, the person of Grace. 

1 comment:

Rick said...

Wow! You keep getting it sooo right! Keep it up brother! And I'll keep browsing your posts.