Cheap Grace Or Free Grace?

Q. I am disturbed by a pastor who is always attacking those who teach OSAS and salvation by Grace alone. I am sure you have met many like him in your days of ministry. He keeps on referring to this as cheap grace and of course as expected, he rubbishes this. What do you say about this thing he calls cheap Grace? Is it okay to refer to what we believe this way?

A. In my opinion “cheap grace” is a derogatory phrase. People who use it contend that some ongoing contribution of good works is required to achieve or maintain our salvation. They say people who believe that salvation is attained by the grace of God through faith alone have devalued the gospel and are taking the Lord’s death on our behalf as a license to sin without consequences. Hence the term “cheap grace.”

What they’re really saying is they don’t believe Jesus did everything required to save us, but only began the work of our salvation and now it’s up to us to complete it by behaving in a certain way. According to them, the failure to do so will result in the loss of our salvation. (Sadly, some of them have made themselves the judge as to whether not our behavior meets the standard.)

They say this in spite of the fact the the Bible does say we’re saved by grace through faith alone (Ephesians 2:8-9). It says we were included in Christ from the moment we believed and God has put His mark of ownership on us and His Spirit in our hearts as a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance (2 Cor. 1:21-22, Ephesians 1:13-14). It says a righteousness from God has been imputed to us because of our belief in what Jesus did for us at the cross. It says there is no difference in people for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, but we are justified freely by His grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus (Romans 3:21-24). This last verse tells us that the appropriate name for what we believe is “free grace” not “cheap grace.”

No truly born again Christian believes he or she has been granted a license to sin. On the contrary, we believe we owe an enormous debt of gratitude to the Lord who saved us, and understand that trying to behave in a manner pleasing to Him is how we express that gratitude. But we also understand that no amount of “good works” can make us righteous. That’s why we need a Savior.

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