Monday, July 15, 2013

Costly Grace and Cheap Grace

One Year Bible
Old Testament passage for Monday, July 15, 3013:  I Chronicles 19:1-21:30
Then King David said to Ornan, “No, but I will surely buy it for the full price, for I will not take what is yours for the Lord, nor offer burnt offerings with that which costs me nothing.”  I Chronicles 21:24 (NKJV)

Grace is one of the most misunderstood concepts in the Bible and in our world.  Entire segments of Christianity have warred with each other because of the distorted caricatures surrounding the grace of

David found himself in a place of repentance and forgiveness.  He had been broken under the judgment of God because of his sin.  As a response to God's gracious offer of new life, David sought to build an altar on the threshing floor of Ornan.  The land was offered to David as a gift, but the king refused to accept saying that he could not give back to God something that cost him nothing.

There are those who do not understand why David did this.  After all, was David trying to buy God's favor?  How could any of us ever add value to what God has already done.  We often tell people that Jesus paid it all (and HE DID!), therefore all we need do is accept. 

The key element here is for us to understand the two sides of this wonderful thing called GRACE.  Grace is the free gift of God that can never be earned.  It is never merited.  We truly can only receive it.

But, once we have received the grace of God, it will then demand our entire lives.  We can not purchase grace, but it will demand our everything. 

Perhaps the best summary of cheap grace and costly grace comes to us from the pen of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the great German martyr who stood against Hitler during those dark days of World War II.  He writes in The Cost of Discipleship:

“Cheap grace means grace sold on the market like cheapjacks' wares. The sacraments, the forgiveness of sin, and the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the Church's inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings with generous hands, without asking questions or fixing limits. Grace without price; grace without cost! The essence of grace, we suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid, everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap?...

Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble; it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

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: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. 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. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Grace is like a love relationship.  It is freely given, but it costs everything.  God deserves our best.  He does not demand it so that we purchase His favor.  We give it freely because He is worthy.  The cost that we pay is insignificant in comparison to the matchless value of WHO HE IS!

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