Monday, 8 November 2010

Cheap grace?

I have heard it said by certain people that the scriptural doctrine of salvation by grace through faith is a doctrine of cheap grace - they could not be more wrong.

Those who trot out this line about cheap grace are those who believe that their penance, suffering and sacrifices are required in order to receive the grace of God and obtain salvation.  I want to say most emphatically, that is cheap grace. 

God is so holy we could never earn His grace, but only His judgment.  Any good we do is only what we are morally obliged to do all the time, we don't get a credit for it, (Romans 6 v 23).  The Bible teaches that the grace of God goes out to the guilty, not because of what they've done, but in spite of what they've done (Romans 3 v 24; 4 v 4-5, 16; 5 v 20; 11 v 6; Galatians 2 v 21; 5 v 4; Ephesians 2 v 4-9; 2Timothy 1 v 9; Titus 3 v  5-7). 

Some may say, "Well that means you can continue in sin then."  Well, if your understanding of the grace of God didn't lead to that question arising then your understanding of it is different from that of Paul, the apostle, because that is exactly the question he anticipated someone asking after he proclaimed justification by grace (Romans 6 v 1).  Paul says the reason a person doesn't continue in sin is not because they have to be good to get it or keep it, but because they have not only been freed from the penalty of sin, but also from the power of sin in their lives. 

Salvation by grace through faith is not cheap - it's the most costly thing in the universe, so costly we could never pay for it - only the sacrificial, substitutionary death of Christ could.  The only people who will come into the good of God's grace are those who are prepared to accept that they can do nothing to earn it, but Christ has done everything to provide it, and it is received as a free gift or it is not received at all.  It is an insult to God to offer Him payment for that which cost Him His Son.

This old story illustrates the point.