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Many years ago, Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined a term that has come to characterize much of evangelical Christianity — it’s the term “cheap grace.” Cheap grace is in reality a self-imparted grace, a pseudo-grace, and in the end the consequences of living by it are very, very costly.
Cheap grace is not at all a reference to God’s grace; it’s a contemptible counterfeit. It’s a grace that is “cheap” in value, not cost. It is a bargain-basement, damaged-goods, washed-out, moth-eaten, second-hand grace. It is a man-made grace reminiscent of the indulgences Rome was peddling in Martin Luther’s day. Cheap? The cost is actually far more than the buyer could possibly realize, though the “grace” is absolutely worthless.
Grace is a terribly misunderstood word. Defining it succinctly is notoriously difficult. Some of the most detailed theology textbooks do not offer any concise definition of the term. Someone has proposed an acronym: GRACE is God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense. That’s not a bad way to characterize grace, but it is not a sufficient theological definition.
One of the best-known definitions of grace is only three words: God’s unmerited favor. A. W. Tozer expanded on that: “Grace is the good pleasure of God that inclines him to bestow benefits on the undeserving.” Berkhof is more to the point: grace is “the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit.”
Grace is not merely unmerited favor; it is favor bestowed on sinners who deserve wrath. Showing kindness to a stranger is “unmerited favor”; doing good to one’s enemies is more the spirit of grace (Luke 6:27-36).
Grace is not a dormant or abstract quality, but a dynamic, active, working principle: “The grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation…and instructing us” (Titus 2:11-12). It is not some kind of ethereal blessing that lies idle until we appropriate it. Grace is God’s sovereign initiative to sinners (Ephesians 1:5-6).
Grace is not a one-time event in the Christian experience. We stand in grace (Romans 5:2). The entire Christian life is driven and empowered by grace: “It is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods” (Hebrews 13:9). Peter said we should “grow in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (2 Peter 3:18).
Thus we could properly define grace as the free and benevolent influence of a holy God operating sovereignly in the lives of undeserving sinners.
As Perry Noble puts it “Grace is a word we seem to overuse and underappreciate in today’s culture.
However, whenever we really look at the fact that Grace IS a reality, it is quite overwhelming (in a good way).
Grace is for the person who has messed up somewhere in life and believes the lie that, because of their failures, God can never do anything significant with them.
Grace is for the person who wrestles with trying to not find their identity in what they did on their worst day.
Grace is for the person who is tired of trying to keep all of the rules and regulations associated with religion.
Grace is for the person who really does believe God is mad at them.
Grace gives us the strength to forgive when we believe that forgiving someone else is an impossibility.
Grace gives us courage.
Grace gives us strength.
Grace allows us to keep going when we want to give up.
Grace shatters the shackles of sin that have dominated our lives for years.
Grace allows me to stop being a victim of what happened to me.
Grace gives us hope.
Grace is available to everyone”.
I know – it sounds too good to be true.
Thank you Jesus for GRACE