Thursday, March 20, 2014

Costly Grace or Free Grace?

 After reading a paragraph i find to be borderline heretical from a book that has been otherwise wonderful, i am left with a writhing discomfort, grumbling and angry.
The specific quote is, "Paul understood that preaching truly free grace could lead a person to think they can live in sin. That's how amazing and how free God's grace is. We haven't truly preached grace in all its freeness until people say, 'Soooooo, does this means I can keep living in sin?'"
 I understand the idea here; he's not saying that we should live in sin, but he is presenting a false sense of grace if people do think it was without cost. I'm not into the free grace message. In fact, it makes me nauseous to think of grace being free. Indeed, it is something without monetary cost; the poor in Spirit are those who are called blessed and will be filled. To follow Christ wherever He goes is to be without home or pillow or even food for the next day. It's something that apparently favors the poor and, therefore, might seem "free." But it's the farthest thing from free, and i can't sit and hear the message of a costless grace without verbal objection or at least a sorely clenched jaw.
Psalm 4 says, "Be angry, and do not sin; ponder in your own hearts on your beds, and be silent. Selah
Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord."
 Realize the importance of the progression here. First, be angry. Second, do not sin. This is an anger that stirs up for the sake of something being righted, such as a misrepresentation of grace. Following that anger is contemplation and a great searching-after, such that keeps us up at night, perhaps tossing and turning, perhaps exchanging our comfort of sleep for night-long prayer sessions. After this, we are to be silent; to listen; God will speak, and we must listen or else we act in rash haste that leads to destruction. Then offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord.

 Grace comes without monetary price, but it is actually the costliest thing in the universe.
 Giving up things for God has proven to be greatly beneficial for me. Albums, hobbies, movies, shows, what-have-ye. Giving these things up does not grant me any kind of righteousness, for righteousness comes from Christ alone. It does, however, clear out room in my self, which allows Christ to have more room within me.
 This is why we are dead to the law; we are no longer "bound" by the law, which means it's no longer a burden or a chain or an enslavement. It is now a joy. When i do something that i know Christ would want me to do, i become enthused because i know i'm making Him smile. It fires me up to do something else, something bigger, something better. It stirs up the desire to please Him even more. The more distractions and earthly joys i am rid of, the more joyous i am to let them go. This is how we're not bound by it; because it is now a joy.

 And that is not the cost of grace, that's me getting sidetracked. Let's look at that last verse once more; "Offer right sacrifices, and put your trust in the Lord."
 Offer right sacrifices; sacrifices holy and acceptable, or pleasing, to the Lord. And the sacrifice God wants us to make is of ourselves. He wants us. This is why included in the Word of God is a verse that says, "I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship"

 To present ourselves wholly to God as a sacrifice, just as Jesus was sacrificed for us. That's the cost of grace right there; Jesus was sacrificed for us. Our grace did not come cheap, and it did not come free. It came at the price of, "Christ Jesus, who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross."
 If you tell me that grace is free, we're going to have issues. If it didn't cost you the life of the One who loves you without condition, your greatest treasure, then you need to pull yourself off the throne of your heart and take a stroll to your own personal Golgotha and weep at the foot of His cross for a while. If we haven't preached a message of grace that makes someone say, "Sooooo, i loathe myself for what i've done,"* we're not preaching the true cost of the cross of Christ. This is often overlooked, but one of the greatest things that leads us to repentance is guilt. Worldly sorrow leads to death, godly sorrow to repentance. If we mourn like the world we will die like the world, but if we have sorrow like Christ's (note the accounts and causes of His weeping) we will be led to repentance.
 Grace is costly. It cost us Christ, the Word of God. It costs us ourselves as we present ourselves as living sacrifices. It is not free, and to see it as a "get out of Hell free" card is an abuse. It is not merely a means of being saved ourselves, but a means of salvation to the whole world for the glory of God. After all (as stated in a prior post), to break down "Redemption," which is the chief aspect of grace in our lives, in etymological terms, means to be "bought back." The very term implies a great cost.

"Then you will remember your evil ways, and your deeds that were not good, and you will loathe yourselves for your iniquities and your abominations." (Ezekiel 36:31)

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