Monday, January 27, 2014

Free Grace or Come and Die

The message of free grace is becoming more and more widespread in the church these days. It is a message that resonates with many who feel beat down by legalistic messages they have heard in churches. There are many proponents of free grace, such as Steve Brown, author of Scandalous Freedom and Three Free Sins, and Tullian Tchividjian, author of  Glorious Ruin and One Way Love. At the same time, there is a push back from those who believe the idea of free grace cheapens the gospel and produces folks who just feel free to sin all they want. These people would refer to Bonhoeffer's writing that Jesus calls us to "come and die," and against "cheap grace."

I believe that the message of the free grace of God to sinners and the calling to die are not incompatible. In fact they are parts of the same message. Jesus tells us that we cannot follow him if we don't take up our cross and die to ourself. Scripture also tells us that the finished work of  Christ on the cross frees us from the law of "do and live." We are not under condemnation if we are in Christ and we have been made brand new. In Romans 6, Paul anticipates the arguments of those that say teaching grace leads to lawlessness and of those who say that grace allows us to sin more and more. In the first two verses, Paul asks if we should sin more in order for more grace to be given and then answers his question with, "No way! We've died to sin! How can we live in it?" In the rest of that chapter Paul goes on to tell us that we are to count ourselves as dead to sin and no longer under it's control.

In Galatians, Paul says that he has been crucified with Christ, but that he lives because it is now Christ living in him. When grace captures us, we die to our self and begin to live in Christ. Unfortunately, because we still live in a broken world and sin is still present in us to varying degrees, we have to continually take up our cross daily. That taking up our cross is not striving to make ourselves acceptable to God by keeping the law. It has to do with giving up our interests because of what God has done for us.

One way of looking at it is to look at our relationship to God and our relationship to others. The grace that God freely gives us is what makes us his beloved children. There is nothing we can do to earn it or lose it. In response to this grace and because Christ lives in us, we then do those things which show that same love and grace to others. We love because God first loved us. We die to ourselves by putting others first. Jesus said that the greatest love is to lay down our lives for others. We only do that through the grace of God in our hearts.

So, God offers us his free grace which will make us right with him and his beloved children. That grace causes us to give up ourselves, to die, in order that we may show that same grace to others. In the words of the song, grace calls us to "come and die, and find that I might truly live."

I pray that you are resting in that grace.

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