This week I heard someone ask – “what is grace?” Someone responded that Grace is mercy.
What is mercy? Mercy can be viewed as compassion or forgiveness. I receive mercy when I do not receive the punishment I deserve when I have done wrong. A judge can give me mercy. My wife does give me mercy.
While mercy is closely related, grace goes one step further. One definition of Grace is “the free and unmerited favor of God. Grace is receiving something I absolutely do not deserve and can not earn on my own.
Paul wrote in Romans 3: 22-24 that “the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ (is) for all who believe. For there is no distinction: for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus.”
So it is a little easier to see why Jude considered the proper perspective of grace to be one of such importance as he addressed “those who are called, beloved in God the Father and kept for Jesus Christ”, with the first of his two primary concerns -those who “pervert the grace of our God into sensuality.”
Jude says that certain men crept in unnoticed. Their false teaching was subtle. In the 1930’s Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined the phrase cheap grace.
“Cheap grace is not the kind of forgiveness of sin which frees us from the toils of sin. Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. 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, living and incarnate.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.”
The Cost of Discipleship
Today, take a few minutes and think about the Grace of God. How will you respond?