Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-45), a German pastor, theologian and writer, defined cheap grace as the acceptance of the general idea of grace. One assents to the notion of grace, that God loves them, but this belief does not manifest itself in a changed life. The follower of cheap grace continues to live by the standards of the unbelieving world; those values stand in first place and have the last word, not Jesus.
Bonhoeffer puts it this way,
“Cheap grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession. … Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”
Cheap grace is a kind of good news that we bestow on ourselves. It is an example of a different gospel, that is really no gospel at all.
Paul was perplexed by the Galatian believers. They had deserted the true gospel and were turning to different gospel (Gal 1:6-7 NIV). A distorted version of the good news which required adherents to be loyal to the Mosaic Law.
But Jesus atoning work ushered in a new age. Believers are no longer required to live under the OT Law, instead they are to live in the grace of Christ. God’s grace changes us. We are rescued from the power of sin, we are made new, becoming more like Christ through the direction and correction of the Spirit. Today’s cheap grace does not deliver that. It is a different gospel that is no gospel at all.
Join us as we work our way through Galatians over the next weeks. Make sure that cheap grace has not displaced the true gospel in your life.