Vineyard Church | Weekly Update May 22, 2024

adam greenwell billings vineyard church dietrich bonhoeffer galatians weekly update May 22, 2024

Free grace, cheap grace and costly grace have been a part of the last few blogs and Sunday messages as we unpack Paul’s letter to the Galatian church. Last week’s blog leaned on pastor and author Dietrich Bonhoeffer’s contrast of free grace and cheap grace with this quote from The Cost of Discipleship: “Cheap Grace is preaching forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession… Cheap grace is without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Cheap grace, the grace that resists transformation through discipleship, and costly grace that tells people that they must behave in order to belong are fundamental misunderstandings and misapplications of the Gospel of Jesus. Being saved by Jesus means that our behavior changes but not because we change our behavior, because the grace of Jesus works it out of our lives.

A key piece to understanding free grace is understanding the difference between costly grace and the cost of free grace. The pain of torture and execution suffered by Jesus was the price paid for my sins. Grace is nothing without the cross, and for God, the cross was costly. Recognizing the cost of free grace also recognizes how much God loves us, and that is the catalyst that drives transformation.

This is a point that I was slow to grasp, not just what the cross means but how the cross serves as an example for me. Entering into this paradigm is another quote from another pastor and author: “At the heart of the cross is Christ’s stance of not letting the other remain an enemy and of creating space in Himself for the offender to come in.” Miroslav Volf, on page 127 of his work Exclusion and Embrace, gives a clear presentation of how costly free grace truly is.

Realizing that I am the “other” that Volf is talking about, Jesus did not want me to remain an enemy to his love through my sin, and he created a space in Himself for me, the offender, to enter. The depth of this realization is immeasurable, and it creates a mixed reaction in me.

First, to know this love is so awesome. I am fully aware that there is NOTHING I am capable of that would make up for the sins I have committed. On my own, under the law, I am utterly helpless and hopeless. Jesus giving me freely what I can not earn on my own becomes the only hope I can have. The love that is represented by the cross is mind-blowing. That is the positive, encouraging thought….

The hard part, the part I am still working out, is that what He did for me is the end state of my own transformation. I will be transformed in Him when my stance is Christ’s, that I would not let another remain an enemy and that I would create space for the offender to re-enter relationship with me.

To call this daunting is a prize understatement…until I remember how all of this started. Free grace, freely given…. When I realize that I am forgiven due to the cost of free grace, when the gravity of that love becomes real, when the presence of the Holy Spirit is felt in power and presence, I can take on the cost for another just as the cost was taken on for me. There is no love greater than paying the price for another. This is the gritty work of transformative love, and I am grateful that I am not in it alone.

Adam Greenwell
Pastor | Billings Vineyard Church

Stay connected with news and updates!

Join our mailing list to receive the latest news and updates from our team.
Don't worry, your information will not be shared.

We hate SPAM. We will never sell your information, for any reason.