Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Grace is Costly...Don't Pervert It

“For certain people have crept in unnoticed who long ago were designated for this condemnation, ungodly people, who pervert the grace of our God into sensuality and deny our only Master and Lord, Jesus Christ.”

We can be so self-deceiving. “I’m dating this girl so that I can witness to her”. “I’m watching this movie so I can relate to my non-Christian friends”. “My boyfriend, who isn’t a Christian, will break up with me if I don’t have sex with him—and since I want to continue witnessing to him, I’m going to have sex with him.” “This show isn’t THAT bad, besides God’s grace will cover it anyways”. We make so many ridiculous excuses for sin. There is a growing movement in churches today to be “relevant”—which obviously means being “secular”. In order to be “relevant”, in order to “reach the world for Jesus” we have to become just like the world.

Dietrich Bonhoeffer was fighting this very thing in the 1930’s when he wrote The Cost of Discipleship. Bonhoeffer reflects well the heart behind this passage:

“Grace without price, grace without cost! The essence of grace, we
suppose, is that the account has been paid in advance; and, because it has been paid everything can be had for nothing. Since the cost was infinite, the possibilities of using and spending it are infinite. What would grace be if it were not cheap…cheap grace means the justification of the sin without the justification of the sinner.”[1]

Bonhoeffer, unlike many of us today, really understood what is required of a man in following the gospel. Bonhoeffer, would ultimately pay for the gospel with his life. He was hung in a Nazi concentration camp on April 9, 1945.[2] So Bonhoeffer lived what he proclaimed. “The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who has left all to follow Christ.”[3] What Bonhoeffer is saying is precisely the opposite of what these false teachers were saying. They lived by cheap grace. Bonhoeffer understood costly grace. That “little” sin that you are fond of nailed Jesus Christ to a Cross. He spilled his precious blood for your “not such a big deal” sins. Therefore, ALL sin is heinous. We must flee from sin and flee to Christ. But ultimately we must understand that Christ blood DOES cover our sin. We must listen to God’s Word in Galatians 5:13, “For you were called to freedom, brothers. Only do not use your freedom as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Don’t sin—serve!

Ask yourself today:

· Do I use the grace of Christ as a license to sin?
· Does sin break my heart? Do I hate my sin?
· Have I left all to follow Jesus?

I understand that there is a somewhat difficult part of this passage, “who long ago were designated for this condemnation”. It appears that Jude is saying that God has prepared people for destruction. This is, in an oversimplified way, of referring to the doctrine of double predestination. For more information about that difficult doctrine read these articles:

Double Predestination, by R.C. Sproul
The Double Predestination to Holiness and Sin, by W.G.T. Shedd

[1] Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship. p43
[2] Bonhoeffer was actually hung for being involved in a conspiracy to assassinate Adolf Hitler. Which if you know anything about Hitler and his view of church and the gospel then you know that Bonhoeffer’s hope was to preserve the gospel.
[3] Ibid, p51

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