Wednesday, February 11, 2009

Can Grace Be Cheap?

My dear brother in grace, Jeffery alerted me to a report at christianpost entitled "Biggest Church Taught to Resist 'Cheap Grace'". This report talks about an article that was written and published by Rev Kong Hee of City Harvest Church on his personal website.

I have reproduced the article entitled "Resisting 'Cheap Grace'" below:

Resisting “Cheap Grace”

And because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.
Matthew 24:12

In the end times, the greatest hindrance to the work of God among believers will not be the legalism of contemporary religious Pharisees. Jesus says that the one weapon Satan will unleash upon the Church in the last days is lawlessness. It is designed to kill the love and passion Christians have for God. In fact, the Antichrist is called the “lawless one” (2 Thess. 2:8-9).

The concept of lawlessness is encapsulated in a heretical belief system called antinomianism. The Oxford Dictionary defines antinomianism as “a belief that Christians are released by grace from obeying moral laws.” Antinomians outrightly renounce the Ten Commandments. They reject the process of continuing sanctification in a believer’s life.

One of the greatest heroes of faith of the 20th century was Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945). He was a German theologian, pastor, preacher, radio broadcaster and author. Bonhoeffer’s most famous work is The Cost of Discipleship, first published in 1939. This work is an exposition of The Sermon on the Mount and it calls for radical living if a Christian is to be an authentic disciple of Christ.

Bonhoeffer’s major concern was the concept of “cheap grace,” a phrase he coined. To him, this is grace that has become so watered down that it no longer resembles the grace of the New Testament. Cheap grace doesn’t transform a sinner but instead brings chaos and destruction to his
life. It is the justifi cation of the sinner without the fruit and works that should accompany the new

Bonhoeffer says of cheap grace: “It 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 arises when a sinner desires to be saved but doesn’t want to become a disciple.

Can you remember your fi rst conviction at the moment of your conversion? Can you recall your fi rst response to Christ? It was to see a change, wasn’t it? You longed to have righteousness, purity and holiness in your life. If you wanted to remain in sin, you would have remained as an unbeliever and stayed outside the bounds of God’s kingdom.

Resist antinomianism today. Warn those who are seduced by it. Don’t ever lose your first love for Jesus.

Several years ago, Rev Kong preached a sermon series on antinomianism (which I had downloaded from their church website and listened to) and the above article merely reiterated a few key points that he made in the sermon series.

I have recently written several posts discussing antinomianism based on an article by
P. G. Mathew, M.A., M.Div., Th.M, and I shall not repeat my comments here but I would like to discuss the term that Dietrich Bonhoeffer coined: "Cheap Grace".

The term "Cheap Grace" gives an implication of Grace that was paid for at a price below fair value. It is like those advertisements you see in the newspapers on Boxing Day - "Post-Christmas Sale! Up to 70% off!". Therein lies the flaw in logic of the term "Cheap Grace".

Firstly, "Cheap Grace" implies that we the receivers of Grace have to pay a price for it and those who are under "Cheap Grace" are paying an unacceptably low price (according to Bonhoeffer and supporters like Rev Kong).

Let me SHOUT it out loud and clear: GRACE IS FREE!!!

John 3:16 (NKJV)
For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

1 Corinthians 2:12 (NKJV)
We have not received the spirit of the world but the Spirit who is from God, that we may understand what God has freely given us.

Matthew 10:8 (NKJV)
Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received, freely give.

Ephesians 1:5-6 (NIV)
5he predestined us to be adopted as his sons through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will— 6to the praise of his glorious grace, which he has freely given us in the One he loves.

Romans 8:32 (NASB)
He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things?

We the believers have received from God the FREE gift of GRACE but this does not mean that Grace costs nothing, it just means that WE PAY NOTHING! God the Father paid for the free gift and it cost him His son, His only son, whom He loved!

Secondly, if you have to pay a price for Grace, there is no price in this world that you can pay that does not make Grace look cheap. You think too highly of yourself!

Let me give an analogy:
You go to an auction to bid for a Picasso painting that was put on the market. The price keeps going up and up until it finally hits US$104.1 million, the highest price ever for a Picasso painting. You bite your lip, and then decide to bite the bullet and raise your bid to US$105 million, a new record!

You bite your lip again, waiting and looking around anxiously to see if anyone else would outbid you ... after 5 minutes, there's only silence and the auctioneer finally brings the hammer down! Yes, you have won the bid, paying the highest ever price but wait ... you hear the auctioneer say something ... "Ladies and Gentlemen, I am sorry to announce that there is no successful bid for this Picasso painting as the highest bid so far is still below the reserve price set by the owner.

How can this be? US$105 million is a world record price! Well, this just shows that you have not valued the painting (Grace) as highly as the owner (God) does. When you think that you have to and can pay a price for Grace, you have greatly, grossly, manifestly under-estimated the value of Jesus!

What then do we do with this free grace that we have received?

Galatians 5:4-6, 16-26 (NLT)
4 For if you are trying to make yourselves right with God by keeping the law, you have been cut off from Christ! You have fallen away from God’s grace.

5 But we who live by the Spirit eagerly wait to receive by faith the righteousness God has promised to us. 6 For when we place our faith in Christ Jesus, there is no benefit in being circumcised or being uncircumcised. What is important is faith expressing itself in love.

16 So I say, let the Holy Spirit guide your lives. Then you won’t be doing what your sinful nature craves. 17 The sinful nature wants to do evil, which is just the opposite of what the Spirit wants. And the Spirit gives us desires that are the opposite of what the sinful nature desires. These two forces are constantly fighting each other, so you are not free to carry out your good intentions. 18 But when you are directed by the Spirit, you are not under obligation to the law of Moses.

19 When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, the results are very clear: sexual immorality, impurity, lustful pleasures, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, dissension, division, 21 envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other sins like these. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

22 But the Holy Spirit produces this kind of fruit in our lives: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, 23 gentleness, and self-control. There is no law against these things!

24 Those who belong to Christ Jesus have nailed the passions and desires of their sinful nature to his cross and crucified them there. 25 Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives. 26 Let us not become conceited, or provoke one another, or be jealous of one another.

In his book "What's So Amazing About Grace?", Philip Yancey said this:
"Grace means there is nothing I can do to make God love me more, and nothing I can do to make God love me less."

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound ...


Tan said...

Hi SW,
You still remember this :
God's Righteousness At Christ's Expense (GRACE)

Thank God that man (that include KH) is NOT God ....


Malcolm Loh said...

Frankly I am not surprised by what Rev Kong Hee is doing. Ishmael persecuted Isaac and we who are of the freewoman will face persecution from those who are of the bondwoman.

NewCre is also growing at a faster rate than CHC and I'm sure by the time OneNorth is up and running, it will have overtaken CHC. This is probably a desperate attempt on his part to prevent that.

But he (and others like him) are kicking against the goads. While some of his congregation will stay loyal, others may become curious about NewCre's preaching, go to the Rock to listen to what the "controversy" is all about and end up catching the grace message too. And so, he may unwittingly contribute to NewCre's increase in membership at the expense of his own church's :-D

Angie said...

Wow Amen brother! You made me see Gal 5:4-6, 16-26 in a new light :)

On His Grace I stand! :D

Jeffrey said...

Bro,you just totally wipe out this antinomian nonsense.

No antinomian can go scott free here.There are even laws here to put an antinomian behind bars.

Rom 3:31 Do we then nullify the law by this faith? Not at all !Rather, we uphold the law.

And it is not by focussing on the law that we uphold the law but by the righteousness of faith.

eekpil said...

It is sad to see the lack of understanding and cooperation between the biggest and most influential local churches in the land.

Imagine how glorious and how effective the Church would become if there were more understanding and cooperation among the local churches.

Let's believe our Heavenly Father for reconciliation and unity among the various local churches here and around the world - for the greatest glory of our Lord Jesus and for the greatest good of the Body of Christ.

John said...

On the other hand you could take the totality of what the New Testament says and try and put it together you see that it does all fit and you don't have awkward passages that you have to ignore.

Those who say that the moral law does not apply and who call those who insist on its commands "legalists" must answer why then is Paul the biggest legalist out (just read Eph chapters 4 to 6 for a start) and Jesus the second biggest (just read the Sermon on the Mount). And they must answer why Jesus said that those who do not follow Him are LAWLESS and why Paul calls the antichrist the MAN OF LAWLESSNESS.

The plain fact is that the only ant-law bits of the New Testament come from the fact that we are not under the Mosaic Covenant, even though its moral commands still apply. NOT one of the examples given in the anti-law passages is moral - they are all things like circumcision, religious day observance and food laws.

The reason that this view does NOT do away with grace is that God gives us all we need to live as He wants - holy and godly lives - and when we slip up, as well all do, the blood of Jesus is there for us. Love is mentioned often as summing up the Old Covenant moral laws. We ARE all called to love one another.

The fact is that LAW is not a dirty word in Scripture, except in relation to those who want to put you under the Old Covenant system. Righteousness is a gift from God, but that does not conflict with the fact that Paul and others in the New Testament call us to good works. Not works based on the Old Covenant system, but on faith working through things like love.