Cheap Grace or Costly Grace?

One of the most beautiful verses in all the Bible is found in Psalms 85:10. “Mercy ( Grace ) and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.”

Let us start by analyzing the word truth. God declares in His Word that truth is the righteousness of God’s law. “Thy righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Thy law is truth.” Psalms 119:142. Righteousness and truth are two of the attributes of our eternal God. We know from reading the Scriptures that God is holy and the law is holy. See Romans 7:12. In Psalms 19:7 we find that the law is as perfect as God. He is also just, and Romans 7:12 says that the law is just. In the Bible we find that God is pure just as “the commandment of the Lord is pure.” Psalms 19:8. We read that God is forever and we find that the ten commandments are forever, for we read in Psalms 111:8, that the commandments are sure, “they stand fast for ever and ever.”

It is no wonder that in Signs of the Times, January 9, 1879, we read: “God . . . exalted them equal to Himself.” “The ten holy precepts spoken by Christ upon Sinai’s mount were the revelation of the character of God.” Bible Commentary, vol. 1, 1105. So the law is the righteousness of God Himself.

Now let us examine the other attributes mentioned: mercy and truth. We find in Scripture that there is no clearer discernment of mercy than in what Jesus did on Calvary. Peter was so impressed with this that he wrote, “For Christ also hath once suffered for sins, the just for the unjust, that He might bring us to God.” 1 Peter 3:18. “Ye were not redeemed with corruptible things . . . but with the precious blood of Christ.” 1 Peter 1:18, 19.

I think it is very beautiful how Ellen White put it all together in Bible Echo, March 15, 1893. “At the cross, mercy and truth met together; righteousness and peace kissed each other. As the sinner looks upon the Savior dying on Calvary, this great sacrifice, and realizes that the Sufferer is divine, he asks why this great sacrifice was made; and the cross points to the holy law of God, which has been transgressed. The death of Christ is an unanswerable argument to the immutability and righteousness of the law.”

The law could not save, it only points out our defects and leads us to Christ, who becomes our substitute. Jesus meets the need of the sinner. “He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities: the chastisement of our peace was upon Him; and with His stripes we are healed.” Isaiah 53:5.

The law and grace had to be separate attributes in order to meet together at the cross. They met together, they kissed each other, revealing that they are inseparably joined together in wedlock.

“Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ ” God’s Amazing Grace, 74. So the love of God, His grace, does not do away with the divine law. If God was only love, there would be no need for the atonement. There are conditions that come with the costly Gift. Justice demands holiness, and mercy opens the gates of eternal life to the obedient. “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

This costly grace is being undermined today by a new theology called cheap grace. It’s invading every Protestant church in the world, including the Seventh-day Adventist church. The people are being taught that they are under grace, so they do not have to be a believer in obedience.

“God’s love has been expressed in His justice no less than in His mercy. Justice is the foundation of His throne, the fruit of His love. It had been Satan’s purpose to divorce mercy from truth and justice. He sought to prove that the righteousness of God’s law is an enemy to peace. But Christ shows that in God’s plan they are indissolubly joined together; the one cannot exist without the other. ‘Mercy and truth are met together; righteousness and peace have kissed each other.’ By His life and His death, Christ proved that God’s justice did not destroy His mercy, but that sin could be forgiven, and that the law is righteous, and can be perfectly obeyed.” The Desire of Ages, 762.

Satan is coming with a new belief which is very disarming in its approach. If he can just get the ministers to preach only half the truth, he can fill the church. Such preaching ignores or minimizes sanctification, the High Priest ministry of Christ in the heavenly sanctuary and the justice of God in demanding absolute obedience.

The book, Beyond Belief, by Jack Sequeira, which is being promoted by the General Conference, comes along and very quietly implants within your mind deadly errors. I have never read a book from our presses like this before.

In this article we will examine nine teachings of cheap grace theology that are in this book.

1. Cheap grace teaches that sanctification is not a requirement for heaven.

“We often describe the first aspect of salvation—the objective gospel—as the imputed righteousness of Christ. This is what qualifies the believer for heaven, both now and in the judgment. We describe the second aspect of salvation—the subjective gospel—as the imparted righteousness of Christ. This is what gives evidence of the reality of the imputed righteousness of Christ in the life. It does not contribute in the slightest way to our qualification for heaven; it witnesses or demonstrates what is already true of us in Christ. Imparted righteousness does not qualify us for heaven.” Beyond Belief, 32.

You notice he uses some terms you will never find in the Bible: the subjective and the objective gospel. That is foreign to the Bible. “We describe the second aspect as the imparted righteousness,” so he is talking about the imparted righteousness of Christ, and he says “it does not contribute in the slightest way to our qualification for heaven.” Ibid. He is taking away our very fitness for heaven in this kind of teaching.

“The righteousness by which we are justified is imputed; the righteousness by which we are sanctified is imparted. The first is our title to heaven, the second is our fitness for heaven.” Messages to Young People, 35.

As you read on, you will find that this kind of attack is really against obedience, for in Selected Messages, vol. 1, 367, it says that “righteousness is obedience.” He is telling us, “You don’t have to obey, it has no significance to God, it has nothing to do in qualifying you for heaven.”

2. Cheap grace teaches that all babies are born guilty of Adam’s sin, therefore Jesus was born with the unfallen nature of Adam.

“‘By one man, sin entered into the world, and death by sin and so death passed upon all men for all have sinned’ . . . Did Paul mean that all die because ‘all have sinned’ personally as did Adam? Or did he mean that all die because ‘all have sinned’ in Adam? . . . It simply isn’t true that everyone dies because they have personally sinned as Adam did . . . ‘All have sinned’ most naturally refers to a single past historical event (Adam’s sin) and not to the continuing personal sins of his descendants over the centuries.” Beyond Belief, 52, 53.

That is the Catholic doctrine of the original sin. I do not worship a God that condemns me for something that I had nothing to do with. The Bible says: “The soul that sinneth, it shall die. The son shall not bear the iniquity of the father.” Ezekiel 18:20. That is the kind of God that I like!

One of the foundation principles of cheap grace is the Catholic doctrine of original sin. It teaches that when Christ came, He did not come to this earth as you and I, He came in the unfallen nature of Adam, and that is why He could overcome. Cheap grace teaches that Jesus is not our example, because He overcame differently from you and I.

On page 54 of Beyond Belief, Mr. Sequeira contradicts what he says here, and on page 146 he says just the opposite again. What is he doing? He is using a form of N.L.P. He has implanted within you an error and then later on he says, No, I did not say that at all! But he implanted it in your mind.

3. Cheap grace does away with obedience to God’s law as essential to salvation.

“If a person does not believe that full and complete salvation has already been obtained in Jesus Christ, if a person believes that salvation ultimately depends to some decree on his or her behavior, then the faith such a person is able to generate will naturally be polluted with self-concern.” Beyond Belief, 91.

What is behavior? Behavior is obedience or disobedience. Obedience is the condition to which eternal life is granted. “Christ did not lessen the claims of the law. In unmistakable language He presents obedience to it as the condition of eternal life—the same condition that was required of Adam before his fall. The Lord expects no less of the soul now than He expected of man in Paradise, perfect obedience, unblemished righteousness.” Christ’s Object Lessons, 391.

4. Cheap grace teaches that we may obtain advance forgiveness (this is the Catholic doctrine of indulgences).

“Justification is the work of a moment although it remains effective in all our believing lives . . . It’s true that one important truth about justification is the forgiveness of our past sins but justification involves far more than that. The righteousness of Christ includes the fact that He endured the just penalty of the law on behalf of our sins, past, present, future. But in a positive sense Christ also kept the whole law on our behalf. All this becomes ours the moment we become justified by faith. Justification means all of Christ’s righteousness that He provided for us so that nothing more is required of us to qualify for heaven.” Beyond Belief, 103.

Here he tells us that God has already forgiven us of all future sins. If this was true, we could go to the priest and pay him money to excuse our sin in advance, and then we could go out and steal or commit any other type of sin.

5. Cheap grace teaches that it is legalism to believe or to teach obedience.

“The devil has deceived many Christians into believing that justification by faith does not fully qualify them for heaven. That something more is necessary, that they must keep the law and do good works. As a result, many sincere Christians are trapped in a subtle form of legalism.” Beyond Belief, 104. If that is legalism, then God was the greatest legalist that ever existed, for He gave the law. And Jesus Christ believed in legalism for He kept the law and He taught others to be obedient. He said, “If you love Me, keep my commandments.”

“As a result, many sincere Christians are trapped in a subtle form of legalism. Living in fear and insecurity. Every time we fall or sin we become unjustified. This is another common misunderstanding about justification. It is a monstrous teaching that has no support from the Word of God. God does not reject us every time we make a mistake or fall into sin.” Ibid.

If I only believe, I can go ahead and steal, I can commit adultery with my neighbor’s wife, I can do anything and God does not reject me!

God still loves the sinner and He wants him to be saved, so He pleads with him, but this does not mean that He does not reject the sinner. When David took Bathsheba and committed adultery and then killed the husband, was he rejected of God? Yes, he was! It was not until the Lord, because of His love, sent the prophet in and told him, “You are the man!” When David saw his sin, he fell on his knees and pleaded with God for forgiveness. But during that time he was lost.

“In order for man to retain his justification, there must be continual obedience, through active, living faith that works by love and purifies the soul.” Selected Messages, vol. 1, 366.

6. Cheap grace teaches that salvation was completed on the cross.

Therefore, there is no need for Jesus to intercede in the heavenly sanctuary nor is there need for an investigative judgment and the blotting out of our sins.

“The sanctuary of the old covenant was divided into three parts—the courtyard, the Holy Place, and the Most Holy Place. Likewise, the believer who represents God’s temple on earth is divided into three parts spiritually—spirit, soul and body.” Beyond Belief, 139.

Now where did he ever concoct such an idea? There is an heavenly sanctuary and Jesus Christ is in the heavenly sanctuary. Let me read it, “For Christ is not entered into the holy places made with hands, which are the figures of the true; but into heaven itself, now to appear in the presence of God for us.” Hebrews 9:24. What is He doing up there? He is presenting us to the Father as though we had never sinned—He is blotting out our sins. This is the investigative judgment. This is all done away with, if you believe that everything was completed at the cross.

7. Cheap grace teaches that we are no longer under the law but under grace.

Careful now! If you are not under God’s authority, whose authority are you under? “According to Paul, it is impossible for someone who truly understands salvation by grace, and who appreciates Christ’s cross, to go on condoning sin. Righteousness is by faith and if the faith is there, the righteousness is sure to be there as well and there is no sin in righteousness . . . but that sin no longer has authority to condemn or to control a believer because such a person is no longer under the law’s control but under grace.” Beyond Belief, 163, 164. Finally, he is throwing the law out the window.

“Since a believer is no longer under the law’s authority, sin can no longer bring the believer under the law’s condemnation of eternal death. The believer is delivered from the power of sin . . . there is a world of difference between sinning under the law and sinning under grace.” Ibid., 164, 165.

“You see, in this sense, the law and Christ differ radically.” Ibid. Oh, no they do not! The very character of my Lord is His law. Cheap grace divorces the righteousness from grace.

8. Cheap grace teaches that we can sin without punishment.

“Stumbling under grace, falling into sin, does not deprive us of justification. Neither does it bring condemnation.” Beyond Belief, 166. There is nothing in the Bible or Spirit of Prophecy that teaches this. It is Calvinism!

He talks about the law as a standard. May I remind you that standards change, but God’s law does not. “How should we Christians view the law? Is it still binding on us? The answer is emphatically No; the law is not binding on us as a means of salvation. But the answer is a most definite yes if you are speaking of the law as a standard for Christian living.” Ibid., 173.

The law is a means of salvation, for “the law of the Lord is perfect, converting the soul.” Psalms 19:7. It shows us our guilt, it shows us our need, and so it guides us to One who can help us.

9. Cheap Grace teaches that Sabbath-keeping is nothing but a work as a requirement of salvation.

“When we make Sabbath-keeping a requirement of salvation. . .” Beyond Belief, 183. What does the Bible say? “Blessed are they that do His commandments, that they may have right to the tree of life, and may enter in through the gates into the city.” Revelation 22:14.

If you believe that Sabbath-keeping is legalistic and that God does not require it for salvation, then in the coming days of persecution you will find it very easy to worship on Sunday.

It says on page 185 of Beyond Belief that there are “two opposing methods of salvation.” I totally agree with this, for there is the truth and there is a counterfeit. One leads you to heaven, the other leads you to hell. Never forget the words of Christ, “If ye love Me, keep My commandments.” That is why Ellen White wrote these words in Selected Messages, vol. 1, 367, “Righteousness is obedience to the law.” No one will go to heaven without righteousness.

Cheap grace destroys the beautiful relationship between mercy and truth. Do not let anybody try to break that relationship in your life.

Beyond Belief is a book that will prepare you to receive the mark of the beast if you believe it. Now is the time for us to take hold of the Bible and study it, for it is our only guide. Let us hold fast to these truths. Let us be faithful to God that we may be ready to meet Him when He comes.

The End