by Seattle ALC
Liberty is priceless! This is true as it concerns liberty through law in our national life, and it is doubly true as it applies to our liberty through grace in the Kingdom of God. As we celebrate the two hundred twelfth anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence, let us remember the price that was paid to acquire this liberty, the price that has been paid to preserve it, and that there is a price to be paid for its continuance. The sacrifices made by pilgrim families have been repeated in many generations. Let us not take our national heritage for granted and through carelessness and indifference waste our blessings and the opportunities for service which they provide. We have reason anew to thank God for father’s brave who laid foundations strong.
To us, today, not only belongs this blessing of liberty, but the call and the duty to assist in preserving what we have inherited. Let us then remember that our responsibilities not only include a spirit of thankfulness to God and prayer for those who are in authority, (I Tim. 2: 1-3) but also the conscientious use of our liberty for the cause of truth and justice. Then we can sing with conviction and feeling: “OUR FATHERS’ GOD TO THEE, AUTHOR OF LIBERTY. TO THEE WE SING. LONG MAY OUR LAND BE BRIGHT WITH FREEDOM’S HOLY LIGHT. PROTECT US BY THY MIGHT. GREAT GOD, OUR KING.”
The spiritual liberty which we have through grace is also costly. Although our frequent reference to grace emphasizes that grace is free, we cannot separate God’s grace–the unmerited favor which He shows to us sinners–from the price which was paid to make this relationship possible. If we fail to make this connection, we are in danger of fostering an attitude in the church where grace becomes cheap. In his book entitled The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer writes:
“Cheap grace means grace as a doctrine, a principle, a system. It means forgiveness of sins proclaimed as a general truth; the love of God taught as the Christian conception of God intellectual assent to that idea is held to be of itself sufficient to secure remission of sins. The church which holds the correct doctrine of grace has, it is supposed, a part in that grace. In such a church, the world finds a cheap covering for its sins, no contrition is required, still less any real desire to be delivered from sin. Cheap grace therefore amounts to a denial of the living Word of God; in fact, a denial of the incarnation of the Word of God. Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field, for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods. It is the kingly rule of Christ, for whose sake a man will pluck out the eye which causes him to stumble, it is the call of Jesus Christ at which the disciple leaves his nets and follows him.
Such 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 cost God the life of His Son “ye were bought with a price” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us. Costly grace is the incarnation of God.
Costly grace confronts us as a gracious call to follow Jesus; it comes as a word of forgiveness to the broken spirit and the contrite heart. Grace is costly because it compels a man to submit to the yoke of Christ and follow Him; it is grace because Jesus says: “My yoke is easy and my burden is light.”
From the archives of the Late Pastor Alvin Holmgren July 1988.
Submitted by Pastor Stan
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