Cheap Grace

By Not Known

The term “cheap grace” may be traced back to a book written by the German theologian, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, entitled The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer defined cheap grace as “the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, and communion without confession.” The emphasis is on the benefits of Christianity without the costs involved; hence, the adjective ‘cheap’ to describe it.

It is the idea that we can have Jesus as Saviour, but not necessarily as Lord. There is no necessity to obey the commands of Jesus, and to live a life of holiness. However,  we need to distinguish the call to salvation from the call to sanctification (or discipleship). Jesus told a crowd of listeners that salvation and obedience go hand in hand: “Why do you call me ‘Lord, Lord,’and not do what I tell you?” (Luke 6:46).
Cheap grace seeks to hide the costs of discipleship from people. Salvation by grace alone through faith, is so much more than merely praying the sinner’s prayer or by reciting the weekly profession of faith. It is not enough to be mere churchgoers, or to contribute to church tithings regularly.

We are saved by a living and active faith (James 2:14-26), a faith that manifests itself in repentance, obedience and love of God and our neighbours. Salvation is not a transaction nor a glimpse of transcendence. It is a transformation seen in the way we live our new life (2 Corinthians 5:17). When was the last time you have made a commitment to God? Are you willing to obey a specific calling today, rather than to avoid the issue by keeping yourself busy in other activities?

Let us meditate on the grace that was given to us, for there is nothing “cheap” about the grace that Jesus paid in full for us. May we live a life reflecting the grace of Jesus Christ. May we truly be identified as Christians (“little Christs”) by others.

Michele Tang