Cheap Grace in the Church

A friend recently shared a post on facebook about Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I must admit that I don’t know much about him or his work. He was a German pastor and theologian during World War II. He also worked as a spy and was a martyr. When asked how the people of Germany allowed Hitler to do what he did to persecute and kill so many as he seized absolute power in Germany, Dietrich’s reply was the teaching of cheap grace in churches in their country. He said, “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.”

What about us today in our churches? Do we teach ‘cheap grace’ in our congregations? What does it really mean to be a follower of the Father and the Son? Is there no cost communicated to those who would make a commitment to Christ? Is the easy evangelism of everything is okay and everyone doing anything they like is okay – with us? with God?

What does the Word say? Some of us don’t like it. We shy away from proclaiming the whole truth of the Word and Gospel. It is a bit embarrassing to say to those considering Christianity that God demands it all — our all. There is a saying that God can fix broken hearts, but we must give Him all the pieces. Many of us want to keep some of the pieces and things in our lives that we think we need or want. We don’t want to relinquish it all. It could be that we don’t think God can handle all our sin – all our problems – all our history. It could be that we don’t want to give up what we like and want that is contrary to God’s will. The pleasures of sin are real and can be really attractive and tempting. Some want to ride the fence on the border between God’s will and our way.

In Revelation 3:14-22 we read a message to one of the seven churches in Asia. It says, “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. ‘I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot! So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit (Some versions say vomit.) you out of my mouth. For you say, I am rich, I have prospered, and I need nothing, not realizing that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked. I counsel you to buy from me gold refined by fire, so that you may be rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself and the shame of your nakedness may not be seen, and salve to anoint your eyes, so that you may see. Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline, so be zealous and repent. Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me. The one who conquers, I will grant him to sit with me on my throne, as I also conquered and sat down with my Father on his throne. He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”

Is the church in America lukewarm? Do we relish in our riches, and blessings, and lifestyles? Are we so self-sufficient that we don’t really need a Savior? Do we realize that we are wretched, to be pitied, poor, blind, and naked? Are we arrogant and prideful like the story of the king in The Emperor’s New Clothes walking proudly about ignorant that we are naked and in spiritual poverty as a ‘Christian nation’ today? What are we teaching in our churches? What are we espousing in in our communities? What do we want our our children to know about Christ and a life in His service? Is it ‘cheap grace’ or is it the full Gospel of a God who gave His all to save a wretch like me? Grace is not cheap. It cost the Christ His life. As his disciples, it will cost the Christian as well.

Christian brothers and sisters let us not sit on the sidelines of life. Let us be salt as Jesus says in Matthew 5:13-16, “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.”

I hope you are salt for someone today. I hope your light shines the light of truth in a world of falsehoods for someone today. I hope we will be the people and do the things we need to do so that others will give glory to the Father in heaven. I hope you, like me, will think on these things…

©️ Robin House 01/30/2021