This morning I reported for jury duty. They pick people by drivers licenses now because people had stopped registering to vote so they wouldn't get called. I sat in the assembly room for two hours and—despite the risk of being assigned to a three-month grand jury—I was dismissed without having to sit on a jury.
Check out this commercial. It's been showing in Nashville recently. Is this a picture of the gospel? Some people might think, Well, yeah! The evidence proves that I'm a guilty sinner but God (the Judge) gives me grace—he doesn't give me what I deserve.
This is not a picture of the gospel.
1. God's grace is not cheap. God's grace is costly. Give up your life to follow Christ, but receive the only true life. Your sin is condemned, but you are justified. God's grace cost him his Son's life, and what is costly for God cannot be cheap for us.
2. God did not lower His standards. Christ satisfied His standards on the cross. A holy God did not lower the bar; I think it could not be lowered enough to match the depths of our depravity. Christ came as our perfect, spotless, sinless, innocent substitute. In the words of Shai Linne, "I still can't get this in my head: how the judge could leave the bench and go to prison instead."
3. God's grace justifies the sinner, not the sin. In the commerical, the defendant claimed, "Yeah, I'm innocent!" God doesn't give us grace because we have done nothing wrong. God gives us grace when we repent, admitting, "I am the worst sinner I know, and I deserve hell for it, but I treasure Christ as my advocate and my Savior."
"Cheap grace means the justification of sin without the justification of the sinner. Grace alone does everything, they say, and so everything can remain as it was before....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."
—Dietrich Bonhoeffer, The Cost of Discipleship