There’s a lot of talk about grace, false grace, cheap grace, cheap law, etc going on right now in the church. I believe that the theology of grace will be one of the things that separates true believers from those who “have a form of godliness but deny its power”.
The Bible says that the gate to eternal life (salvation) is very narrow and the way is hard (Matthew 7:14). Yet Jesus says His yoke is light (Matthew 11:30). So how do these two paradoxical truths work together?
The hard path to eternal life is the path of grace. Jesus promises that many who walk down this path will veer off to the left or the right. There are two different extremes we can veer off into instead of remaining on the straight path of true grace.
If we veer off to the left, we walk the path of moralism, legalism, and/or cheap law. This is the belief (subconscious or not) that by our works, we are able to earn our salvation. I love the term “cheap law”. It speaks well of this view: the belief that God would accept anything else or less than the perfect sacrifice of Jesus. The whole point of Romans and Galatians is Paul laying out the argument that our righteousness comes by believing that Jesus purchased righteousness for us.
If we veer off to the right, we walk the path of liberalism and cheap grace. This is the belief that, since our righteousness comes from God, we are not required to live lives pleasing and holy to the Lord; that there are no moral law or commandments for believers anymore. Dietrich Bonhoeffer famously said:
“Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline. Communion without confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ.”
Or, even more clearly, it is to hear the gospel 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.” The main defect of such a proclamation is that it contains no demand for discipleship.
The truth is that the path of grace is the highway of holiness. Be careful of any teaching that tells you to do certain things to earn/keep your salvation. Also be careful of any teaching that does not move us to live holier lives. I know I’m on the path of grace when I am moved to holiness, not by my self-righteous ambition, but my the stirring of the Holy Spirit and by my heart’s response to the cross.
What is required of us?
To let Him help us say yes to Him forever.
Don’t listen to any teaching that would strip the “help us” (veering left) or “say yes” (veering right) out of this statement. The path is hard and narrow, but thanks to the Godhead, it is easy, so keep on the straight path.
(For more information about how salvation, sanctification, and grace work together, click here.)