January 19: “Have We Taken What Is Free and Made it Cheap?”

Today’s Bible Reading:

Genesis 39:1-41:16
Matthew 12:46-13:23
Psalm 17:1-15
Proverbs 3:33-35

Today’s Bible Verse(s):

Matthew 13:18 (NLT): “Now listen to the explanation of the parable about the farmer planting seeds:”

Reflections on Today’s Bible Verse(s):

In 1937, Dietrich Bonhoeffer published his classic work titled “The Cost of Discipleship.” In his book, he sought to explain his understanding of what it means to truly follow Jesus. It was primarily an exposition of Matthew 5-7.

I will never forget the opening chapter, simply titled “Costly Grace.” In it, he distinguishes between costly grace and cheap grace. Essentially, costly grace is what we receive from Jesus that motivates us to obey Him, submit to Him, and enjoy Him. Cheap grace is the supposed ability to get saved without any life change whatsoever.

Quoting from Bonhoeffer: “Cheap grace means the justification of the sin without the justification of the sinner.” Stated another way: “Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.”

Friend, if you are the recipient of saving grace, costly grace, it will change you. You will be born again (John 3:7). You will be a new creation (2 Corinthians 5:17). And as such, you will be becoming more like Jesus (Philippians 2:12-13).

That is what we see in the Parable of the Sower (Matthew 13:1-9, 18-23). Understanding that the Gospel is the seed, the soil is a person’s heart, and the sower is the one who shares the Gospel, we observe that different hearts respond differently to the Gospel.

The seed sown on the path represents a hardened heart (Matthew 13:4, 19). Some people care nothing for the Lord. The Gospel cannot penetrate their heart and save them because their heart hasn’t been prepared to receive the Word. They remain unmoved and unsaved by their momentary experience with the Gospel.

The seed sown on the rocky soil represents a whimsical heart (Matthew 13:5-6, 20-21). Some people hear the Gospel and appear to embrace it. But they eventually begin to experience suffering because of their superficial decision to follow Jesus. So they abandon any association with Him. Their abandonment testified that their initial embrace of the Gospel was superficial and did not actually save them (1 John 2:19). While they were initially moved by the Gospel, they remain unsaved.

The seed sown among thorns represents a preoccupied, worldly heart (Matthew 13:7, 22). Some people hear the Gospel and appear to embrace it. But, they only embrace it as a supplement. They may see the merits of adopting the Gospel, but their mind is focused on the here-and-now. If they were honest, they would say that they find much more fulfillment in the entertainment and pleasures and wealth that life has to offer. Eventually, the Gospel becomes irrelevant and undesirable to them. While they were initially moved by the Gospel, they remain unsaved.

Finally, the seed sown on the good ground represents a heart that is genuinely saved (Matthew 13:8, 23). How do we know that genuine salvation took place? It produced the fruit of a real believer. Slowly but surely, the believer demonstrated that Jesus had taken up ownership of their life. Not every believer produced the same amount of evidence that they were a Jesus-follower, but all true believers produced something.

So, what type of soil are you? The first soil represented someone resistant to grace. The second two types of soil superficially embraced grace but made it cheap. Only the fourth received costly grace that initiated a life of demonstrating that Jesus had taken up ownership.

Grace is free, my friend. You don’t have to do a thing to receive Christ’s forgiveness and be brought into a relationship with the Trinity. But just don’t make free grace into cheap cheap. Don’t trivialize it by presuming upon it. Embrace Gospel grace and then let it affect every area of your life as Jesus claims ownership and you follow in active obedience to Him.

Photo by Jonathan Borba on Pexels.com

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I have an incredible wife that God gave to me on May 10, 1997. Since then, the Lord has blessed us with three wonderful boys. I am also the pastor of the First Baptist Church of Polk City, Florida.

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