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Costly Grace

Cost of Discipleship  •  Sermon  •  Submitted
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What is Grace? What is the difference between cheap grace and costly grace?

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In our christian experience there is always a danger of falling into one ditch or the other.
On the one side of the road, there is the ditch of legalism. In this error humans place extra burdens upon others that God’s word has not directed.
On the one side of the road, there is the ditch of legalism. In this error humans place extra burdens upon others that God’s word has not directed.
On the to other side of the road, there lies the error or licentiousness. The teaches that God loves us and forgives us and we should not worry at all about human behavior.
If you take a select portion of verses, quoted out of context you can prove both ideas from the word of God. But if you take the entire scriptures you will see that neither stand up to the light of truth.
This is the first sermon in a series about the cost of discipleship. What does it mean to be a follower of Jesus?
What we find in the scriptures is that being a follower of Jesus is both hard work and an easy and light blessing.
Let’s look at a few verses:
Matthew 11:28–30 ESV
Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light.”
According to this passage, what should the Christian journey be like?
It should be
it is for those
who are tired of working
This is true.
Now, lets hold this in contention with another Bible verse.
Matthew 10:34–39 ESV
“Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace, but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, and a daughter against her mother, and a daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law. And a person’s enemies will be those of his own household. Whoever loves father or mother more than me is not worthy of me, and whoever loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And whoever does not take his cross and follow me is not worthy of me. Whoever finds his life will lose it, and whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.
What does this teach us about the life of discipleship?
not peaceful
creates conflict
whoever does not
have this journey
is not a true follower.
At first glance, these two passages seem completely contradictory.
On the one hand, the life a Christian is easy and light. On the other hand, the Christian journey is devoid of peace!
Which one is it!!!
It becomes even more confusing when we Christian leaders want to emphasize one particular aspect of the Christian journey and they quote only one type of verses.
Our church is quickly polarizing into different groups.
There are people who call themselves progressives or liberals in their theology. They might even call themselves post-moderns.
On many topics they are actually right. The danger is overemphasis of certain particular points on the one side and the under-emphasis of points on the other side.
Then we have the conservative/ historical Adventists who are making a similar mistake at the other end.
Liberals are at risk of preaching cheap grace.
Conservatives are at risk of preaching legalism.
Neither is right.
There is something called the ellipses of truth.
Consider with me a few different shapes.


The circles have one focus. The outer perimeter is equal distance from the focus.
The circles


An Ellipse has two foci.
It is like a circle but with two center points.
They are not at odds with each other.
It is like a circle but with two center points.


Take for example a headlight.
By moving a headlight into the focus of the parabola it becomes much brighter.
The light becomes focused more at a central location.

Light of Jesus

Jesus is the light. And he needs to be magnified in our life.
Often times, in theological matters, the light of true is more like a ellipse than a circle.
There are two great foci, that a first seem contradictory to each other, but actually blend perfectly when you understand the whole truth.

The Ellipse of Truth

Both ideas about following Christ are true.
Following Christ is liberating. It sets us free from all manmade dogmas.
It releases us from the oppression of legalism that humanity has brought upon us.
On the other hand, that does not mean that the Christian journey is always peaches and roses.
When we choose to follow God, it will cut across our own selfishness and the selfishness of those around us. Following Christ will naturally create conflict at times.
Though the truth liberates us from legalism it does not lead us to licentiousness. True liberty is found obedience.
James 1:25 ESV
But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.
Obedience is not legalism:
1 John 5:3 ESV
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.
We are all called to follow Jesus today.
What does it mean to be a disciple of Jesus?
What does that mean for you and me practically today?

Cheap Grace vs. Costly Grace

The one area where see great confusion in the church is upon the topic of Grace.
There is a book called the Cost of Discipleship with this sermon series is loosely based upon. It was written by Dietrich Bonhoeffer. I encourage you to pick it up and read it because it will go into far more detail than I will be able to in this sermon series.
He talks about this difference between cheap grace and costly grace.
What is cheap grace?

Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner.

Cheap grace is the mentality that God will forgive me so I don’t need to have contrition for sin or even a desire to be delivered from it.
Cheap grace teaches a half truth. More than likely, it was a reactionary idea to another false teach of a half truth from the other side.
Some have taught a type of legalism, in which, you practically earn your salvation.
To combat this theology somebody comes to emphasize, correctly so, the idea that grace is a free gift.
At times, this has lead to an overemphasis to the point that grace has become cheap grace.
At times people quote
Isaiah 64:6 ESV
We have all become like one who is unclean, and all our righteous deeds are like a polluted garment. We all fade like a leaf, and our iniquities, like the wind, take us away.
They say, our unrighteousness if never good enough. Stop trying to earn your salvation.
This is true!, Our righteousness is never going to be good enough to save ourselves.
But then people go further, by saying, just stop trying to be like God.
This, I believe is erroneous.
It tends to give the impression that we can ever be righteous.
This is what the Bible teaches:
2 Peter 1:3–4 ESV
His divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of him who called us to his own glory and excellence, by which he has granted to us his precious and very great promises, so that through them you may become partakers of the divine nature, having escaped from the corruption that is in the world because of sinful desire.
We will be righteous and perfect in this life. We will not do it in our righteousness.
It will only be accomplished through faith in the righteousness of Christ.
But we should never say, we are never going to be perfect. This tends to teach error because the Bible repeatedly tells us that we will overcome; that perfection is not just possible but expected in this life.
Again the bible teaches:
Ephesians 2:8–9 ESV
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Grace is free! And the righteousness of God can never be attained through the merit of our unrighteous character.
But God also calls us to renounce the world to be his followers!
Luke 14:33 ESV
So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple.
On the one hand, grace is free.
But let’s read a little parable together:
Matthew 13:44 ESV
“The kingdom of heaven is like treasure hidden in a field, which a man found and covered up. Then in his joy he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.
What did the man do to have the the treasure?
sold everything he owned.
Was he buying the treasure?
Did he purchase grace?
I thought it was a free gift!
Matthew 13:45–46 ESV
“Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant in search of fine pearls, who, on finding one pearl of great value, went and sold all that he had and bought it.
What is being taught here?
You cannot purchase the free gift of God.
But there is a repose demanded from the one who will have the gift.
Furthermore, it is a response of complete renunciation of self and the world!
The only man who has the right to say that he is justified by grace alone is the man who sold everything to follow Christ.
This is true discipleship. This is true grace.
The gift of grace, and the call to give up the world are inseparable.

The Cost of Grace

Grace is not cheap!
What is the cost of grace?
How do you decide what something is worth?
The cost is: what somebody will pay!
What was paid for grace?
John 3:16 ESV
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
What was paid for our grace?
Is there anything more expensive?
The law could not be abrogated!
Now, God offers this free grace to all who would receive it.
How do you receive it?
Does it really work like we have been told?
Do we just say, I want it once and we are saved?
What about verse like this:
Matthew 7:13–14 ESV
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few.
and this:
Matthew 7:21–23 ESV
“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

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.

Cheap grace teaches, you get forgiveness and you don’t really change - and that is okay.

Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner. Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son: "ye were bought at a price," and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon his Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.”

Costly grace teaches, love the sinner but hate the sin.
Costly grace teaches, love the sinner but hate the sin.
Many people don’t like this saying. They say it is cliche.
It is not cliche.
It is a great timeless truth.
even if people don’t like to hear it.

Two Extremes in History

We have seen both extremes in the church of the past.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 45). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.
There were a the heresies of absolution, crusades, false penance, and indulgences.
Then, there was the monastic order, in which, people seemed to earn their salvation by their piety in fasting, refusing worldliness of working, beating themselves, studying and praying for countless hours, etc.
The truth of salvation is not in either camp.
Now, we have our modern day rendition of the same confusion.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (pp. 44-45). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (p. 45). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.
Bonhoeffer, Dietrich. The Cost of Discipleship (pp. 44-45). Touchstone. Kindle Edition.
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