Cheap grace

Reading: 1 Corthinians 15

20 But Christ has indeed been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. 21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead comes also through a man. 22 For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. 23 But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. 24 Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. 25 For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. 26 The last enemy to be destroyed is death. 27 For he ‘has put everything under his feet’.[c] Now when it says that ‘everything’ has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. 28 When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.

Cheap grace is the grace we bestow on ourselves. Cheap grace is the preaching of 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.

Costly grace is the gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock. Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ.  It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life.  It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.  Above all, it is costly because it cost God the life of his Son.

The cost of discipleship

Easter, with the joy of the coming of spring, with all the happiness with which the sun warms our hearts, has become for each of us since childhood a festival dear to our hearts, a festival filled with warm memories from which we do not want to part. Who among us would want to lose even a single spring from our lives?

But to say that our entire life depends on Easter, that our existence would be threatened if there were no Easter—who among us would want or even could bear such a thing? But Paul did indeed say it. And because he reflected a bit more thoroughly on this question than we tend to do, we may assume that such a statement does indeed harbour a certain meaning about which one might perhaps reflect further. "If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile."

Sermon in Barcelona for Easter Sunday, 8 April 1928