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 Cheap Grace ?

Cheap Grace

Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes in "The Cost of Discipleship, ................

"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 gladly go and sell all he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule 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 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."

When my oldest son was 2 years old, he was scolded by a full kettle of boiling water. He was burned over 60% of his body with 3rd degree burns. He survived the critical first few days. Every day they would bandage him, and every day the bandages from the previous day had to be removed. If his burns got infected, he would die.

A nurse would take Christopher, with my help, to a prepared bath. The bath was full of salt water. I literally had to hold him down as he screamed,his eyes burning into mine with confusion, not understanding the process, only knowing that his father was part of this cruel torture. I would have given my life to have taken his place. I would have given my life to spare him the agony, but, I was powerless. I know all you parents out there can identify with those feelings.

Our heavenly Father, watched His Son being mocked, being spat on, tortured and ridiculed and finally nailed to the cross. He listened to His Son cry out from the depths of His being "My God, My God, why have thou forsaken me." Oh the Fathers agony as He turned His head. How many know that our heavenly Father could have stopped it at any time? He was not powerless. What could have driven Him to allow this to unfold? John 3:16 "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only Son, that whosoever shall believe in Him, will not perish...................."

This love of the Father for the lost is beyond what our earthly minds can even come close to grasping. What we can take from it this, the grace that flows to and from Calvary is no cheap grace. We will not be judged on how good or bad we are, but what we did with the sacrifice of Calvary.

Yes, Salvation is a finished and complete work, we can neither add to it, nor take anything from it, it was purchased for us at a terrible cost, but, to accept it fully and walk in the newness of life, it will cost us everything. For the sake of the kingly rule of Christ are we ready to sell everything we have for this treasure in the field? Will we pluck out our eye or cut of the hand that offends? To walk in the Spirit, are we ready to pick up our cross? Are we ready to die daily?

 2008/10/23 18:51

Joined: 2008/7/13
Posts: 44

 Re: Cheap Grace ?

Grace is cheap....... It's free!....... How much cheaper can it get?...... It's not even your faith that your saved by, it's his. God has dealt a measure of faith to every man. ;-)

 2008/10/23 20:43Profile


Seems like a flippant reply, maybe I am wrong.....Frank

 2008/10/23 22:37

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 2732


How much cheaper can it get?

Bonhoeffer's 'cheap grace' was not fundamentally disagreeing with the essential reformed theological doctrine of justification by faith alone. Instead, he was lamenting from a social perspective, that the 20th century German religious (Lutheran?) establishment had become an insular bouguise layer of society more concerned with maintaining high culture then with caring for suffering humanity. He seemed to attack "Grace" because he felt the Christians of modernity were obsessed with emphasizing their freedom from "works" to the point that they were becoming dead. He basically said that the Church was feeding on the carcass of Lutherans reformed theology, rather then feeding on the living word of God. (My paraphrase.)

This lament over 'cheap grace' was the background he used to proceed with explaining that even though salvation is paid for, following Christ is costly. Much of the book is actually an exposition of the sermon on the mount.

For me the most meaningful of Bonhoeffer ideas in The Cost of Discipleship was his understanding on the difference between the Law and the Gospel. Without Christ a man is chained to the law. Christ breaks that chain, but not so we can become amoral free agents. Instead, having been freed from the law we are now grafted into Christ himself. Using this picture, he explains that the requirements and responsibilities upon a disciple freed from the law are higher then those who are still bound under the law.

Like many thngs Bonhoeffer said, the phrase "cheap grace' can be enigmatic. I personally find The Cost of Discipleship" to be his most "Christian" book. By the time "Letter from Prison" was written, he expressed many curious ideas, (some dubious, some penetrating and perhaps brilliant) ---sincere ideas yet at times cryptic, and subject to ideological and philosophical interpretation, as to be of little nourishment to a simple hearted and literal minded disciple.

Just what did he mean, for example, by "Before God and with God we live without God"?


Mike Compton

 2008/10/23 22:39Profile


Good observations brother. I believe what Bonhoeffer was looking at in the "Cost of Discipleship," was the result of the reformation. Here is some quotes to back up the point.

"Yet the outcome of the Reformation was the victory, not of Luther's perception of grace in all its purity and costliness, but of the vigilant religious instinct of man for the place where grace is to be obtained at the cheapest price. All that was needed was a subtle and almost imperceptable change of emphasis, and the damage was done."

"But he spoke(Luther) as one who knew that at the very moment of his crisis he was called to leave all that he had and follow Jesus. The recognition of grace was his final, radical breach with his besetting sin, but it was never the justification of that sin. By laying hold of God's forgiveness, he made the final radical renunciation of a self-willed life, but an answer which has been arrived at by God, not by man. But then his followers changed the "answer," into the data for a calculation of their own. That was the root of the trouble. If grace is God's answer, the gift of Christian life, then we cannot for a moment dispense with following Christ. But if grace is the data for my Christian life, it means I set out to live the Christian in the world with all my sins justified beforehand. I can go and sin as much as I like and rely on this grace to forgive me, for after all the world is justified in principal by grace. I can therefore cling to my bourgeois secular existence(modern middle class life?) and remain as I was before, but with the added assurance that the grace of God will cover me. It is under the influence of this kind of "grace" that the world has been made "Christian," but at the cost of secularizing the Christian religion as never before."

Bonhoeffer is saying that one can give mental assent to a series of questions , a nod of yes I agree, and by the nodding and agreeing one is saved. Tozer also refutes this notion. If one gives a mere mental assent to a series of abstract truths, that one is not saved.

"I need no longer try to follow Christ, for cheap grace, the bitterest foe of discipleship, which true discipleship must loathe and detest, has freed me from that. Grace,as the data for our calculations means grace at the cheapest price, but grace as the answer to the sum means costly grace. It is terrifying to realize what use can be made of genuine evangelical doctrine. In both cases we have the identical formula-"Justification by faith alone." Yet the misuse of the formula leads to the complete destruction of its very essence."

This is something of what Paul Washer was talking about last night. It is terrifying to realize what use can be made of genuine evangelical doctrine. We are living in a devastated generation that is reaping the whirlwing of the misuse of genuine evangelical doctrine. Here is an example of one truth, two different paths.......

"At the end of a life spent in the pursuit of knowledge Faust has to confess...."I now do see that we can know nothing." That is the answer to a sum, it is the outcome of a long experience. But Kierkegaad observed, it is quite a different thing when a freshman comes up to the university and uses the same sentiment to justify his indolence. As the answer to a sum it is perfectly true, but as the initial data it is a piece of self-deception. For acquired knowledge cannot be divorced from the existence in which it is acquired. The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ. Such a man knows that the call to discipleship is a gift of grace and that the call is inseparable from the grace. But those who try to use this grace as a dispenstaion from following Christ are simply deceiving themselves."

My post was simply to point out the enormous cost of Calvary. And that the grace that flows to and from there came at a terrible cost to the Godhead..........Frank

 2008/10/23 23:17

Joined: 2008/7/13
Posts: 44



appolus wrote:
Seems like a flippant reply, maybe I am wrong.....Frank

Hey, I see your from Kansas. I was actually born in Manhattan, Kansas. My whole family is from there. My dad was stationed at Fort Riley when he was in the army for a few years. I grew up part of my life in that area. The bird hunting is great in Kansas.

No....not a flippant reply. That's my opinion. It took me a long time to learn that. I was always trying to earn something I already had. Settle something already settled. Steal something that was a gift.

I might even say I was sincere in my persuit, but then I would be lying to myself.
Looking into the perfect law of liberty is the only law that's required. The law......... is liberty. That is the work required. Once you move outside that youve become an adulterer. Youve become an harlot. By grace are we saved, by faith do we live, by faith do we walk. In him we live and move. Step outide him and it's all law. Thorns everywhere you turn. The conscience becomes defiled. We begin to accuse, and excuse one another, compare ourselves with each other, we become judges and ministers of righteousness, as satans ministers are themselves. We begin to tear down, instead of build up. We discourage instead of encourage. I wonder why Noah never had a convert? Doesnt the bible say he was a preacher of righteousness? We begin to tell each other to touch not, taste not, handle not, instead of how to walk with God or how to be Gods friend. The bible says Abraham was friend of god. Jesus says hes a friend that sticks closer than a brother. Thats pretty close. He said hed never leave us or forsake us. Thats a promise. David said even if he made his bed in hell God would be there.
Why are we always worried about God showing up? Is'nt he inside of us? He goes where we go. Does'nt he? We think we have to summon him, or pray just right or he will not talk to us. We think because we looked at a naked woman, or man in a curious moment on the computer, or have a beer, or smoke a ciggarette, or say a curse word, or cheat on a test, that weve failed him and we have to confess and say our penance to restore our relationship that we never lost. It was grace that kept me safe thus far and it will be grace that leads me home, and I have news for you friend, it will be grace that leads you home as well, despite yourself. One last thing.....I think the verse is in Acts...where paul tells Peter to not drink blood, or eat meat sacrificed to idols, and to stay away from fornication....and if you do this you do well. He never said this pleased just kept them out of trouble. it's the same thing with us. We need to avoid certain things to keep us out of trouble, but this has nothing to do with our relationship with God. I think I've rambled...... maybe I did'nt make much since.

No............not flippant.

 2008/10/23 23:55Profile


Well my fellow Kansan
(I am actually from Greenock in Scotland, moved to Overland Park) You seemed to have went from the sublime to the ridiculous :)

I think that you may, and correct me if I am wrong, have justification mixed up with sanctification. It is saving grace we are talking about. Bonhoffer , and I would agree, is simply saying that it requires one's life to come to Christ.(those who save their life will lose it, those who lose their life for my sake will gain eternal life)

The post I wrote has nothing to do with the Law and how we live our lives after we are saved. That would be a whole other post simply to deal with the issues that you raised. Yet, ironicly enough, you have presented yourself as the same kind of example as I quoted in my reply to Compton. You write

"We think because we looked at a naked woman, or man in a curious moment on the computer, or have a beer, or smoke a ciggarette, or say a curse word, or cheat on a test, that weve failed him and we have to confess and say our penance to restore our relationship that we never lost. It was grace that kept me safe thus far and it will be grace that leads me home, and I have news for you friend, it will be grace that leads you home as well, despite yourself."

Dont you know brother that the Scriptures tell us to avoid "even the appearence of evil." If you are saying, and I hope that you are not, that since you will never be able to live a completely sin-free life, that we should not even bother, then that is the same "indolence," that Bonhoeffer quotes. If you can do all the things that you mentioned and it not bother your concience, then can I suggest that your concience may be seared? Perhaps you are not saying that though, maybe you can claify? David himself said, thinking about Bathsheba "Create in me a clean heart oh Lord and renew a right Spirit within me. Cast me not away from your presence oh Lord, take not thy Holy Spirit from me...restore unto me, the joy of my salvation." And also

Psa 24:3 Who shall go up into the hill of Jehovah? Or who shall stand in His holy place?
Psa 24:4 He who has clean hands and a pure heart; who has not lifted up his soul to vanity, and has not sworn deceitfully.
Psa 24:5 He shall receive the blessing from Jehovah, and righteousness from the God of his salvation.
Psa 24:6 This is the generation of those who seek Him, who seek Your face, O God of Jacob. Selah.

Test yourself brother, see if you are in the faith. Beware when you stand, lest you fall. If anyone has made a confession of faith, if anyone has been genuinely regenerated, they shall be a new creature in Christ, behold all things are new. Anyone who truly knows the Lord, knows that to sin is an agony, because it seperates us from the "presence," of the Lord. We would never do anything that would hurt our Lord, we want to do that which pleases Him. We hunger and thirst after His presence, as the deer panteth for the waterbrooks so my soul longeth after thee..............Frank

PS... And we write these things to you so that your joy may be full.
1Jn 1:5 And this is the message which we have heard from Him and declare to you, that God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.
1Jn 1:6 If we say that we have fellowship with Him and walk in darkness, we lie and do not practice the truth.
1Jn 1:7 But if we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.
1Jn 1:8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
1Jn 1:9 If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
1Jn 1:10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make Him a liar, and His Word is not in us.

 2008/10/24 0:30

Joined: 2008/7/13
Posts: 44


Maybe I am rediculous. Just my opinion.

 2008/10/24 8:11Profile

Joined: 2005/2/24
Posts: 3304


Well this is "my opinion" and all I will say on this. There is no such thing as Greasy Grace or Cheap Grace, unless someone is devaluing the blood shed for us.


 2008/10/24 8:32Profile


All I would say in reply Stromboli does your opinion stack up with Scripture. ?.....Frank

 2008/10/24 8:48

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