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Changed By Glory

"And we all… beholding the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from one degree of glory to another." II Cor. 3:18

Month

May 2015

Why I Hate the Term “Cheap Grace”

If you are like me and grew up around people who were frustrated, or perhaps even incensed, with the lack of authenticity and holiness in mainstream evangelicalism you may have heard the term “cheap grace” thrown around as a descriptor of the problem at the root of this apostasy.

 

I was among these people. Probably with more spit flying than was necessary I used to decry the “cheap grace” being proclaimed from so many pulpits. But as I consider this terminology now “older” and “wiser” I have come to hate the term “cheap grace”.

 

The reason being that whether intentional or not, preaching against “cheap grace” can turn quickly into preaching against grace all together. Grace, by its very definition, is free (Eph 2:8) People begin to shy away from talk of grace because of fear of cheapening grace, when in reality grace becomes cheap when it is no longer in demand. It is no longer precious. When they fail to see that grace is the A-Z of the Christian life (Gal. 3:3).

 

It is often said that “grace is not a license to sin”. This idea is backed up by Scripture (Jude 1:4). However, what is missed is the proper corrective. The answer is not to speak less of grace, but to speak of it more, to speak of its power. Many preachers who bewail “cheap grace” are like the chap in Matthew 25 who hid his talents, because for fear of abuse they bury grace. The “cheap grace” and “license to sin” accusations are leveled against people who misunderstand the entire nature of grace usually by people who also misunderstand the nature of grace from a different angle. Just as Paul labored to teach in the face of critics, I declare that preaching “grace, grace, grace” does not make grace cheap (Rom. 6)

 

Grace gets abused, both through neglect on one side and misrepresentation on the other, because the nature of salvation itself is misunderstood. The New Covenant in which we experience that grace is misunderstood. The bottom line is that if you are in the New Covenant it is by grace, and if you stay there it is by grace. But it is in that Covenant that you receive a new heart (new affections), the law of God is imprinted inside of you, and the fear of God is irrevocably placed within you so that you will not depart from the Lord (Jer. 31:33, 32:40).

 

The problem is not preaching grace, but the understanding of what that grace has secured for us. If grace means unmerited favor, then we must ask in what way have we received favor? It is that we who deserved judgment by God’s free choice through Christ’s work have been forgiven, are being changed into the image of Christ, and will be glorified (Rom 8:29-30, 9:15).It is not simply that we have grace from something but we have grace for something.

 

I hate the term “cheap grace” because preaching grace is not the problem. Understanding what we have by grace is what is misunderstood. This is why some people preach grace and it leads to godless living and license. This is why some people fail to preach grace leading to legalism. People fail to realize that being saved is an A-Z result of a covenant that is by grace. We are born again by grace, we are converted by grace, we are justified by grace, we are sanctified by grace, we are glorified by grace.


Grace is not the problem. Putting a limit on what that grace achieves is. But make no mistake! From start to finish, from now to eternity, it is grace, grace, grace – priceless grace – full and free.

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“She Wonders” A Mother’s Day Poem

For my wife and the mother of my children, Katie

 

Tired – she rises once again;

Will the children give her grief?

Why another sleepless night?

Why so naughty? Why so obstinate to rest?

She wonders.

 

 

Weary – another day; another night

Watching. Feeding. Kissing. Rebuking.

Temper flares, conviction seizes

Where is my patience? Where is my grace?

She wonders

 

 

Tender – she sees a smiling face;

The children all adore her

They see in her – safety, supply

And a love that will not die

In their memory am I cranky or kind?

She wonders

 

 

Failure – she weeps again

Harsh words quickly spoken

She gathers them in her arms

She kisses their naughty heads

What example am I leaving them?

She wonders

 

 

Repentant – she turns again

Just as she did the day before

She prays in silence

Words of love, she offers

What words can a sinner speak?

She wonders

 

 

Hopeful – she sees her Savior

Dying on the accursed tree

It was for her failure he was abandoned

Faced his Father’s harsh displeasure

What greater message can I share but this?

My only hope for frailty seen?

She wonders

 

 

Forgiven – she knows she is

Trust in her substitute

Peace washes over, no condemnation

She looks at her children

Sinners they are, just like she

What legacy will I leave?

She wonders

 

 

Hopeful – new affection rises

Love for God, love for child

In love she tells of His love

Of pardon full and free

Is there any better news than this?

She wonders – aloud

 

 

Loving – she repeats once again

Yesterday, last week, last year!

The same good news, fresh and clear

She tells them God is holy

She tells them all have sinned

She tells them Jesus died and rose

Do they understand?

She wonders – aloud

 

 

Transformed – before their grubby faces

They see a love, though they know not the words

Mommy has found something precious

That overcomes her scorn

They hear her talk of sin and love, grace free

Forgotten is her angry face

In the light of mercy displayed

She knows not what their minds contain

Nor what their hearts perceive, but…

She wonders

 

 

Growing – slow and sure as they

The days and years go by

The grace that saves, grows and shows

A living hope inside

Patience, so elusive, slightly swells it bounds

Do they see the Spirit’s work?

She wonders

 

 

Prayerful – she lives each day

Knowing her example to them

Is more of grace than exemplary

Will seeds sown, in failure’s midst

Sprout within their souls?

She wonders

 

 

Steadfast – she considers her salvation

How it was by God’s own power

Not by her wise volition

She knows the same is for her children –

True. It drives her again to her knees

When will they say like mommy,

Praise God, Christ died for me?

She wonders

 

 

Resting – she sees another day

Failure and victory therein

But still the Gospel is the same

The Sovereign Lord he reigns

Why would I ever doubt him?

She wonders

 

 

Joyful – at first mixed with pain

She sees the signs of cursed fall

Each day, selfish, angry, envious

Her children show it all

Wait! Glorious moment!

Why these tears my child?

She wonders

 

 

Amazement – at effectual calling

Her child to her replies

I have sinned and deserve God’s judgment

I know I ought to die

But so many times you told me

Of your hope that never fades

This is now my hope of glory

My mercy for today

How can I praise him enough?

She wonders

 

 

Contemplative – years have passed

God worked through my failure

To save my children’s souls

Because His word never fails

It does for whatever it goes

What else has God been doing?

Through the pain and mundane?

She wonders

 

 

 

 

 

 

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