Cheap Grace

“Cheap grace is the deadly enemy of our church. We are fighting today for costly grace.” So said Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German preacher in the late 1930’s.
“Cheap grace means grace sold in the market … the consolations of religion are thrown away at cut prices. Grace is represented as the church’s inexhaustible treasury, from which she showers blessings … Grace without price, grace without cost. Because … everything has been paid, everything can be had for nothing” (The Cost of Discipleship, page 45).
“Cheap grace.” This is an oxymoron, a contradiction in terms, although sometimes we treat it as if the phrase was redundant. We are so presumptuous about the blood of Christ and his suffering on the cross. We glibly accept it, then make statements like, “It doesn’t matter what God’s word says, God’s grace will forgive us!”
Understand this: grace forgives human frailties; it does not forgive open rebellion.
A concept of cheap grace does three harmful things to the Christian. First, it encourages a loose attitude towards God’s holy commands. Second, it diminishes the enormity of Christ’s death on the cross, and third, it weakens our desire to become Christ’s disciples, committed and determined to never turn back from serving God.
The gift of grace was free, but the payment for our sin was historically high, by “the precious blood of Christ” (1 Peter 1:19). The value of a gift lies not in the cost to the receiver, but to the redeemer!
“Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means!” (Romans 6:1).
By the way, Bonhoeffer knew what he was talking about when he spoke of sacrifice and discipleship. He was put in a Nazi concentration camp for refusing to toe the party line, and was executed in 1945. Grace is not cheap, and neither is discipleship.

Grace is not cheap, and neither is discipleship.

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Stan Mitchell

Stan has preached since 1976, in Zimbabwe, California, Texas and Tennessee. He serves as preacher for the Red Walnut Church of Christ in Bath Springs, TN. He is currently Professor of Bible at Freed-Hardeman University. He is married to the former Marjorie McCarthy, and has one daughter, Tracy Watts. He is the author of four books: The Wise Get Wiser, the Foolish More Foolish: The Book of Proverbs, Give the Winds a Mighty Voice: Our Worship in Song, and Equipping the Saints for Ministry. He has recently published another book, "Will Our Faith Have Children: Developing Leadership in the Church for the Next Generation.

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One thought on “Cheap Grace

  1. Thanks, Stan for the article. So many teach cheap grace today that it is spreading like wildfire. Sadly, it is the currency in the consumer driven religions of our day.

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