‘‘There’s nothing I can do to make God love me more; there’s nothing I can do to make God love me less.’’
These words, taken from a modern hymn, help us understand God’s grace.
That is, it’s not up to my performance (ie. good works) to gain or secure God’s love — which is truly good news because, spiritually speaking, we perform well below par.
But there is a real danger that we fling God’s grace back in his face.
Too often we say to ourselves, ‘ah, don’t worry, God will forgive me for this sin’; or ‘relax, God is merciful, he won’t judge me for this act of disobedience’.
That’s cheap grace.
We cheapen grace when, despite all God has done for us in Jesus’ death, we go on living our lives our way, without regard for God and his ways.
We are happy to have Jesus as our Saviour but not as our Lord.
The famous German pastor, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who was executed by Hitler in WWII, said, ‘‘cheap grace is to hear the life of Christ preached as follows: ‘Of course you have sinned, but now everything is forgiven, so you can stay as you are and enjoy the consolations of forgiveness’.”
But if you really understand God’s grace you won’t want to ‘stay as you are’. Cheap grace emphasises the benefits of Christianity without the costs involved, namely, a desire to change and live God’s way.
The apostle Paul says to the Christian, “for by grace you have been saved through faith” (Eph 2:8). Nothing we do or don’t do gains or secures our salvation. Just God’s grace.
But that is not the end. Paul goes on to say, ‘‘we are (God’s) workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works ...’’ (Eph 2:10).
Our good works help us avoid cheap grace – showing instead our gratitude for what God has done for us by doing good, by living in obedience to him.
~ Contributed by Pastor Chris Taylor of Deniliquin Baptist Church, on behalf of the Combined Churches of Deniliquin.