In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonheoffer observed that “Cheep grace differs from genuine grace in that is the grace that we bestow on ourselves.”
Take away the seriousness of sin, and you lose the greatness of the gospel. How do you know that you are saved from the wrath of God to come? Well, if it’s simply because God is loving, lets bygones be bygones, knows that boys will be boys and like Santa Claus ends up giving all the kids presents at Christmas, then grace is cheap. It doesn’t cost anything. It doesn’t cost us anything; it doesn’t cost God anything. There is certainly no reason to give His only-begotten Son as a sacrifice for sin. No wrath? No propitiation. No debt? No redemption. No condemnation? No justification. No death? No life.
But our salvation did cost God everything, the most precious treasure, His Son. From the beloved of His eternal joy, the Father turned His face in wrath, even though He himself had done nothing to deserve it. Grace is free, but it isn’t cheap. God has paid the heaviest price.
And because we have been purchased with Christ’s blood, we are no longer our own. We are called to a new way of life. The name for this realm is the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God. We get in by grace and stay in by grace, but the kingdom that we are in involves constant struggle, agonising decisions and daily discipline. There is a lot of joy, but there’s also a lot of loss and there’s a lot of hard work.
It’s not the era anymore of driving God’s enemies out of a temporal land and establishing a geo-political theocracy somewhere. Jesus made this clear in the Sermon on the Mount and in His rebuke of James and John for wanting to call fire down from Heaven on a Samaritan village that refused the Gospel. Now is the hour of grace, of going into the highways and byways to gather guests for the Sabbath feast, to proclaim the forgiveness of sins and freedom from bondage.
Mike Horton, The Parables of Jesus Part 5: The Cost of Discipleship, 7 November 2010, The White Horse Inn.