Cheap Grace

“Cheap Grace is the mortal enemy of our church.
Our struggle today is for costly grace.”

Dietrich Bonhoeffer

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(a Cloudless Sulphur butterfly visits the petunias / Julie Cook / 2016)

We, both you and I, have become accustomed to the acquiring of more for less.
We want it all and we want it quick, fast, easy…
And we want it especially…cheap.

Isn’t that how we as consumers have been programmed?
Cheap is good…get something for nothing, that’s the aim…
Coupons,
groupons,
sales,
markdowns,
incentives,
price cuts,
rebates,
cash back…
Any gimmick offered by the marketers to the naive public and we think that it is us who are the savvy ones,
the slick ones with the upper hand…because we got it…cheap.

Yet what is it when we say that Grace is cheap?
That “unmerited favor” freely offered and freely given to us by God…

It means that it is simply the justification of sin but not of the sinner.
“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without repentance; it is baptism
without the discipline of community; it is the Lord’s Supper without confession of sin;
it is absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living incarnate Jesus Christ.

(Bonhoeffer / Discipleship / Volume 4 pp 44)

Our society, our modern day Christian culture, has allowed for the Grace offered by Jesus from the Cross to become quick, easy and sadly cheap.
If you disagree, just look a bit more closely as to what is offered to the faithful by this modern day faith.

The reality is that the way of the Cross is not easy, nor is it quick.
It is hard, painful and arduous…qualities that are not readily embraced.

So to make these difficult aspects more palatable, we have been offered something else.
Something easier to swallow.
Something more fun, quick and painless.
Something less.
Something cheap…

And sadly, we’ve bought into it hook, line and sinker…

So then, whoever eats the bread or drinks the cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of sinning against the body and blood of the Lord. 28 Everyone ought to examine themselves before they eat of the bread and drink from the cup. 29 For those who eat and drink without discerning the body of Christ eat and drink judgment on themselves.
I Corinthians 11:27-29

What is Grace

I have had to experience so much stupidity, so many vices, so much error, so much nausea, disillusionment and sorrow, just in order to become a child again and begin anew. I had to experience despair, I had to sink to the greatest mental depths, to thoughts of suicide, in order to experience grace.”
― Hermann Hesse

“Extraordinary afflictions are not always the punishment of extraordinary sins, but sometimes the trial of extraordinary graces.”
― Matthew Henry

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(a tiny bloom of a strawberry to be / Julie Cook / 2105)

Do you know Grace?
Have you seen it out and about?
During your comings and your goings?
Have you ever been properly or formerly introduced?

I truly much doubt so. . .
As Grace is often quiet and demure.
It prefers to go rather unnoticed until it is called upon. . .
More shy than bold.
It is not garish or loud.
Nor is it bold or showy.

What exactly is Grace you ask. . .

Grace is the second chance when all other chances had been used up.
Grace is the peace in the midst of the fierce raging storm.
Grace is acceptance when the world screams rejection.
Grace is forgiveness when the act has been intolerable.
Grace is hope when none had been previously offered.
Grace is mercy when judgement should be called for.
Grace is life when one actually deserves death. . .

It should be noted that Grace is not cheap.
For it cannot be bought nor sold
It can not be bartered over or traded.
It cannot be taken or stolen. . .
For it is actually free, to both you and me.

Yet this free Grace was once actually rather costly
For that which is free today to both you and me, once cost God a great deal.

Think of this question. . .
Would you ever hand over your child,
Your only child, to be brutally tortured and murdered before your very eyes. . .
Just to be able to offer someone else their freedom?
I would think not.
Yet that is exactly what happened.

A price paid for the healing power of Grace.
A tremendous price that cost God so very much,
Yet it was a price He willingly paid out of a tremendous love for both you and me. . .
and it is because of that very Grace that I am here, writing to you. . .


“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.”
― Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship