In The Cost of Discipleship, Dietrich Bonhoeffer penned the words, "Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate" (1959:47). Cheap grace means living as though God ignores or condones our sins. But forgiveness means that sin is real, and must be dealt with. We cannot ignore it, because God does not ignore it. The denial of sin is not grace: it is a lie. Cheap grace means living without the demand of obedience upon us.
And where there is no call for obedience, then all things are tolerated. "Do your own thing" becomes the motto. And so nothing can be labeled as "sinful." No act is clearly right or wrong. Thus, there is no need of forgiveness. But because John insists that God calls us to obey the com mands that have been given, he also reminds us that when we fall short of keeping them, there is forgiveness in Christ. And, to come at it from the other angle, where there is forgiveness available, it follows that cer tain actions—whether thoughts, words or deeds—can be dealt with only when one confesses and is forgiven. In short, the call to confession and the offer of forgiveness go hand in hand with the call to obedience. Cheap grace is grace without obedience, and the Elder knows no such grace. It is not the grace given to us in Jesus Christ.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your free trial.
Starting your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus is easy. You’re already logged in with your Bible Gateway account. The next step is to enter your payment information. Your credit card won’t be charged until the trial period is over. You can cancel anytime during the trial period.
Click the button below to continue.
Step 1 - Create an account or log in to start your subscription.
You’ve already claimed your free trial of Bible Gateway Plus. To subscribe at our regular subscription rate of $3.99/month, click the button below.
Now that you've created a Bible Gateway account, upgrade to Bible Gateway Plus, the ultimate online Bible reading & study experience! For just a few dollars each month, Bible Gateway Plus gives you:
• A complete digital Bible study library integrated with your Bible Gateway account, with no expensive software to install.
• Access to 40+ study & reference books including the NIV Study Bible, the Zondervan Illustrated Bible Backgrounds Commentary, and the MacArthur Study Bible.
• An ad-free Bible Gateway experience.
• A risk-free, 30-day trial—you can cancel any time.