And not only this, but we also exult in our tribulations, knowing that tribulation brings about perseverance; and perseverance, proven character; and proven character, hope; and hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out within our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us. For while we were still helpless, at the right time Christ died for the ungodly. (Rom 5:3-6)

Let not those who hope in you be put to shame through me, O Lord GOD of hosts; let not those who seek you be brought to dishonor through me, O God of Israel. (Psalm 69:6)

Thursday, November 13, 2008

Cheap Grace

Sometime Back I wrote our folks about Cheap Grace from Bonhoeffer's perspective. By rereading this I believe it brings deeper reflection and meditation to the Lord's Supper. It goes beyond that. It brings us to see how much we do need a Savior.

Bonhoeffer said “That is what we mean by cheap grace, the grace which amounts to the justification of sin without the justification of the repentant sinner who departs from sin and whom sin departs.” “Cheap grace is the grace we bestow upon ourselves. 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.”

I feel I must go on, he also said, “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 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.” “Above all it is costly because it cost God the life of His Son: “Ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheep 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.”

Sunday Preperations

As I prepare for Sunday, and the Lords Supper my thoughts run that this should not be taken for granted. But what can be done to make the most out of communion? Too often this act of worship has become cheap grace, as Bonhoeffer would say. It is my desire that every one of my flock leave the service having worshiped and been renewed in a passion for God. Only God can do this in us, but we must be mindful to remove hindrances to the Spirit. So again, how can we go about our week being prepared for the sacrament.

Here are some rough notes I have at present. Enjoy.
There is one body and one Spirit--just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call-- one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. But grace was given to each one of us according to the measure of Christ's gift. (Ephesians 4:4-7)

Last week I introduced the ideas of Indicative and imperative moods o the text.

Indicative is indicating what has been done it is a past tense work, such as grace.

Imperative is a work to be done, such as law

Both of these are relevant. Keeping the law as a Christian is part of our desire to keep close to God and give proper weight to the grace we have been shown. We are grateful for the law as it reveals our sin that we might repent and seek God. But we must not confuse grace and law. Law says obey these rules. Grace says Christ is the fulfillment of the law. When you listen to a sermon or read a book, you will find those that list “imperatives to happiness” and "solutions for a better life" will tend to be law centered as well as man centered. This is what Paul rallied against when the Jews were demanding that the Gentiles be circumcised in order to be saved. However, what sets us free is the grace in what Christ has done, this is indicative as we can ascribe them as being cross and Christ centered. Law will wear you out, grace will fill your cup.

So as we take the Lords Supper today we must see that law works in us to open our remembrance to our need for God and what was to happen to us, and then mount up with grace in adoration of what now will be.

God has created the church to have a nature of self denial in which unity is a notable character. This is based on what Christ has done.

Scripture attests that man is selfish. It also attests that when we become a Christian there is an intrinsic change of nature within us. This change moves us from selfishness to self denial, taking up a cross and following Christ. The one of the greatest evidences of the church is its unity and love for others.

Notice not division, no lack

One Body

One Spirit

One Hope

One Lord

One Faith

One Baptism

One God

One Father

Of all

Over all

Through all

In all

To each grace given

according to the measure (worthy?)

Christ’s gift. The Cross