“Will is to grace as the horse is to the rider.” Augustine.
I have heard David Platt say that there is no sufficient human explanation of the Godhead; the Father, Son and Spirit are one, yet are three distinctively different persons. No matter how ingenious we might think the description is, it falls short. After venturing off into Bonhoeffer, maybe you feel like the same can be said of grace.
At the end of the day, how we live our lives shows whether we find grace to be costly or cheap. I suppose at times it can feel like it fluctuates between both. It’s a constant struggle with that “Me Monster” inside us. Is struggling with that monster the sign that we are seeking God’s will and seeking costly grace? Because if we aren’t struggling, then does that mean the Me Monster is in complete control and grace is a cheap sale item on EBay?
“For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith – and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God – not by works, so that no one can boast.” Ephesians 2: 8 & 9 (NIV).
Here is an example of how I see grace. I hope it makes sense, if not consider the source and continue to pray for me.
Pretend that when you come to faith in Christ you are forgiven of all of your past sins (which is something you don’t have to pretend, because it’s true) and you are given a credit card to cover the cost of your future sins (this is the pretend part). Now human nature or the Me Monster you had to die to so you could acknowledge that you were lost in your sin and accept Jesus as your Savior and Lord, will want to wear that card out. If you look at the typical spending habits of consumers, flinging the plastic around should be an Olympic sport. So every time you sin, you whip out the card and rock on.
But as a follower of Christ, you don’t want to have to use that card. You know you shouldn’t be cavalier in using it, but sometimes it’s just so hard not to give in to sin. So you reluctantly use it and seek not to use it again, especially for the same sin over and over again. But life is a struggle, we are on the mountain top one day and in the valley low another. It’s a constant battle of dying to the Me Monster, picking up that cross and seeking Christ. Day after day, battle after battle, card swipe after card swipe.
But there’s something peculiar about this card. No monthly bill. Eureka! We’ve struck gold! No monthly bill, no monthly payment and the temptations get more difficult and the card use so much easier. But you know that Christ calls us to seek to not use that card. Sure, He knows we will have to but it bothers us every time we do. And life goes on.
“Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need.” Hebrews 4:16(NIV).
Until the time comes for you to leave this place. The moment after you expire here, you are presented with a credit card bill that would make the entire Encyclopedia Britannica look like a comic book. You start looking through it and see charge after charge after charge. You can’t even remember some of them. You ask yourself, “Did I really do that?” “I don’t remember that?” and even “I didn’t think I had to use the card for that one, everybody else was doing the same thing.” But no matter what you think or say, the total charges are yours and the amount is astronomical. You have never seen so many numbers in a row in all your life.
You are covered in sweat. If you have a heart, it’s beating faster than you can comprehend. Just when you are at the point that you are going to either pass out or explode, you look at the bottom of that last page. It’s the place where the “Amount Due” is. And it’s $0.00. In red the words “Paid in Full by Jesus Christ” are written. For me, that’s how I see grace.
There are some things we need to consider. Did we only “get saved” to get the card so we could live and do however we wanted? Did we see the card as a “Get out of Hell Free” card? In that case, did we really ever have a card? What if the amount due was the same as the amount you rang up? I don’t think you’ll want to make that call to Customer Service.
If we were genuine in our profession of faith, how did we get to a point where using the card didn’t convict us in any way? Since there is no monthly bill, do we just keep living like we’re rocking in the free world? Or do we struggle, fight and persevere to not to use the card?
Cheap grace is using the card with no care or concern. Costly grace is daily seeking the Lord and His Will and seeking to not use the card.
“For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men.” Titus 2:11 (NIV).
While grace may come free to us. Grace comes with an incredible cost. The blood of Jesus was the price not only for our salvation but for the free gift of grace. Nothing is ever free, no matter what some may claim. Everything has a price. We may not have to pay it but somebody, somewhere did. And in the case of grace it cost Jesus everything. So use the card sparingly.
The book of Acts reminds us that Stephen was a man full of God’s grace and power. That very same grace and power would lead him to proclaim and defend the gospel and would be with him while he was being stoned. And he would see Jesus standing at the right hand of the Father. That is how valuable grace is.
Don’t treat grace like a free t-shirt, treat it like the most precious gift that you have ever experienced. Because it is.
Run to the cross!
Related Scriptures: Ephesians 4:7
Related Scriptures: Ephesians 4:7
Romans 6:14 & 11:6
2 Corinthians 12: 8 & 9