Friday, November 16, 2012

Costly Grace

"Most of us live in a rather mindless environment.  Life is too fast, and our contact with other persons too impersonal for much serious reflection.  Even in church we are more often encouraged to join this committee, back that project, or serve on this church board than we are counseled to examine our relationship with God and Jesus Christ.  As long as we are performing for the church, few will question whether our profession of faith is genuine or spurious.  How many sermons suggest that members of a church may not actually be saved, although they are members?  How many teachers of the Word stress that a personal, self-denying, costly, and persistent following of Christ is necessary if a person is to be acknowledged by Jesus at the final day?  
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German churchman of the Nazi era who eventually suffered martyrdom for his opposition to Hitler's policies, called this erroneous theology "cheap grace".  He said, "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." 
The contrast is "costly" grace.  "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...Such grace is costly because  it call us to follow, and it is grace because is call us to follow Jesus Christ."  My pastor teaches costly grace.
In Matthew 8:18-22  Jesus is approached by a teacher of the law who wants to follow Him wherever He goes.  Jesus responds a bit differently than some pastors.  Jesus replies to him to not be so quick to promise, he wants no one to come with false apprehensions.  "Foxes have holes and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay His head."  Instead of a resounding YES, Come on!  Jesus matter-of-factly states, You will have to give up some of your comforts!  Unlike us, Jesus rejects emotional enthusiasm of joining The Army.  There is a cost involved, know it upfront!  Jesus determines what following him will involve, it must be on His terms.
Then another disciple said to Him, "Lord, let me first go and bury my father.  But Jesus said to him, Follow Me, and let the dead bury their own dead."  Sounds a bit harsh at first.  This man has a father who is ill, not dead.  If he had been dead he would not have been with the crowd, he would have been back home.  Loyalty to Christ must come first, it is a radical commitment to claim Christ as your Lord and Savior.
This helps me when I think about my own family and friends that I have witnessed their confession of Christ but yet see them walking with the world.  They needed a pastor to say this will cost you something too.  It cost Christ everything!  True conversion implies radical transformation.
I am really enjoying this expositional commentary by Boice.  The longer I am a Christian the more questions and thoughts I have as I get to know Jesus.  Boice is user friendly and unpacks the stories of Christ in a teachable way.

Coram Deo,

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