Here’s a question…how can grace be cheap?
In case you haven’t noticed, there’s a radical grace revolution going on in the body of Christ today, so we shouldn’t be surprised to see a backlash of accusations of “cheap grace” coming from the firmly entrenched.
And that’s not to say there aren’t real excesses or even downright error being taught. Nothing new there.
Nonetheless, as Robert Farrar Capon would put it, we may very well be living in an hour when God is giving His Bride a fresh, perhaps deeper, drink of pure undiluted 200-proof grace from His heavenly distillery.
And I understand the reason why people say these kinds of things. What they’re getting at is that grace doesn’t give us an excuse to live ungodly lives.
But my admittedly iconoclastic contention here is that this is a contradiction in terms. You cannot properly have “grace” and “cheap” exist in the same sentence. I will show you why.
What muddies the proverbial waters is that when we define grace as “unmerited favor,” it can be construed by the less faithful as God excusing our behavior.
And while there’s an element of truth to it being unmerited from our perspective, God doesn’t seem to define grace this way from His perspective. And whenever we don’t define something the way God defines it, we end up saying irrelevant, confusing, even absurd things about it.
As Graham Cooke has pointed out, “if grace is only unmerited favor then Jesus never had any.”
We can easily see this would be true by plugging in the popular evangelical notion of grace with a couple of passages about Jesus…
“And the Child grew and became strong in spirit, filled with wisdom; and the [unmerited favor] of God was upon Him.” (Luke 2:40)
“And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of [unmerited favor] of God and truth.” (John 1:14)
To this, I say, “huh?”
Can you say, absurd.
It’s God’s mercy and love that favors us unmeritoriously.
But grace is quite another thing.
Grace is not a “go to Heaven” hall pass!
Let me say it this way. We’re not given grace like some “go to heaven” hall pass, and then go on living our powerless human lives, except now we call ourselves “Christians.”
I believe that the Bible defines grace as God’s power freely given to us to live His life in this world…
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men, 12 teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:11-12 NKJV)
“of which I became a minister according to the gift of the grace of God given to me by the effective working of His power.” (Eph.3:7 NKJV)
So, when we use the term “cheap grace” we’re actually saying “cheap power of God to live a godly life?”
And how can something that teaches us to live godly be cheap?
Grace IS the power of God’s life in you!
But when we see grace as the gift of God’s power to live His life, all the above passages make sense. Jesus came in the power of God and truth. Peter tells us to grow in the power of God to live in the divine life (2 Pet.1:2-3; 3:18). Get it?
In fact, grace is not about our behavior–about sinning or not sinning–it’s about the power of a NEW CREATION (2 Cor.5:17-21; Gal.6:15).
As Paul said in Romans 6:2, dead people don’t sin. Our old life is gone; our new life is Christ’s life (2 Cor.5:17; Gal.2:20; Col.3:3). This is the grace that God believes in.
Grace is God’s divine power living in us to live His life.
Jesus came in that grace and truth. He came in the full power and authority of His Father (Jn.12:49). Jesus embodied His Father’s life (Jn.14:7,9). And He sent you and I the same way (Jn.20:21). And He purchased it for us by His own Blood (Acts 20:28).
And that can never be cheap.