Cheap grace has infected the American church. We chirp and chirp about the grace of God but forget that Jesus, our Savior, called His people to a life of dying.
Here’s German pastor and martyr Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s definition of cheap grace from his book The Cost of Discipleship:
“…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.”
In other words, Bonhoeffer is stating that if we have a conception of grace that is “cheap,” Jesus saves us and it doesn’t matter what we do or how we live. It does not matter whether we produce fruit. Cheap grace says, “Let us sin that grace may abound.”
So, what is costly grace as opposed to cheap grace? Bonhoeffer wrote, costly grace is…
“…the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price which to buy, 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.
“Such grace is costly because it call us to follow, and it is grace because it call us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it cost 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.”
The grace of God obligates us to live not as we want, but to live for God. We are not to live with Jesus on the fringes of our lives, but to live with Jesus as the center. We are not to live with Jesus as an afterthought, but with Jesus as every thought. So, we put to death the deeds of the body by the power of the Holy Spirit to the praise of Jesus’ grace (Rom. 8:13).
In a nutshell, we are to love Jesus. How are we to love Him? By praising His grace? That can’t hurt if you aren’t thinking of cheap grace. But here’s what Jesus said:
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments” (John 14:15).