Have you noticed how many in our world today want to do away with responsibility? Why should we be required to do this or that, or earn something that should be our right? This way of thinking has long been in the church as well, and it’s even more dangerous when we are talking about eternal matters.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer commented on how the concept of grace was being misused by the church of his day, thus threatening the work of the Gospel.
There is a saying which goes: “Mercy is not receiving what we deserve, while grace is receiving what we don’t deserve.” We deserve death, for no one can stand in the presence of Holy God with even one stain of sin. Without realizing it, our sin has done the earning for us. His mercy commutes the judgment we deserve.
That mercy can only be known when a requirement has been met.
Peter told the crowd in Jerusalem:
Repent, then, and turn to God, so that your sins may be wiped out, that times of refreshing may come from the Lord.Acts 3:19 (NIV)
The act of mercy comes when we confess the nature of our crimes and repent. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we receive the grace to live free from the power of sin and death. That grace is hardly deserved, is it?
Though it’s not deserved, he still bestows it on us; yet not without the act of repentance. If we claim to have no sin, Christ cannot do his work of atonement and cover us with his mercy. In this case, grace would be meaningless. As Bonhoeffer says, the preaching of repentance protects the preaching of grace. You can’t have one without the other.
We hear the word “cheap grace” thrown around a lot. This should be an anathema to all who know the cost Christ paid on our behalf. There was nothing cheap about it. We don’t get grace for nothing. While he offers it freely, a repentant heart must seek it. Why would Christ show mercy on one who refuses to admit they need saving?
As you thank him for his precious grace today, pray for those around you who have hardened their hearts toward all Christ offers. Ask God to work in the circumstances of their lives to draw them to a point of repentance that they too may know His…
Grace and Peace