Cheap Grace and Godly Fear
‘In You there is forgiveness, so You are to be feared’ (Psalm 130:4).
‘The purpose of Lent…is to create a healthy hatred of evil, a heartfelt contrition for sin, and a passionately felt need for grace.’ Edna Hong
Anyone for whom ‘the grace of God has appeared’ (Titus 2:11) is seized at once by his darkness and the Light of love that surrounds and dispels it. In gratitude we cling, like the sinful woman in Luke 7 who suffered a Pharisaic fool just to worship at the feet of Jesus.
Holy love demagnetizes our demons and draws us into devotion. We cleave to the Divine, dread life without Him, and fear the sin that could still separate us from Him and our better selves.
Grace reveals sin’s crater so that mercy might flood and fill us like a lake, pure, of unfathomable depth. Maybe that’s why the Gospels feature repentant sexual sinners as trophies of grace. In the turbulent, often troubled waters of our passions, ‘those forgiven of much love Him much’ (Lk. 7:47).
Sadly, Christians are inclined these days to extend a banner of fake ‘grace’ to cover perceived damage done to sexual sinners. Jessica Chastain just won an Oscar (you probably didn’t notice after the Will Smith follies) for channeling Tammy Faye Baker, an eighties Christian TV host known in her later years for championing ‘gay’ men. In her acceptance speech, Chastain rambled on the danger of rainbow suicidality and legislation threatening ‘LGBTQ+’ everything. Neither Jessica nor her muse Tammy touched the distress at core of persons broken by sexual confusion. Celebrity gloss can’t stifle the cry for mercy. Persons instinctively plead for release from sexual disorder, not the embrace of it.
Wolves cloaked in grace sank Exodus International (the network of ministries like DSM that championed Jesus’ answer to the cry of same-sex strugglers). Alan Chambers, Exodus’ last president, and his pastor Clark Whitten welcomed a wave of ‘hyper-grace’ that lulled Exodus into sweet passivity; in their paradigm, Jesus does all (personal responsibility may be ‘legalism’) and unites all who claim ‘faith’ into a ‘once saved always saved’ fantasy land.
Buoyed by cheap grace, Alan began dialoging with persons (ex-ex-gays?!?) who claimed to have been abused by Exodus’ call to repentance. He went on national TV and repented of the call to repentance. He cozied up to a group of practicing ‘gay’ Christians on the basis that ‘gay’ behavior and identification need not have eternal consequences. He declared publicly that no-one really changed. Alan thinks he shut down Exodus in 2012. I think God did. He spit Alan and company out for forfeiting the real grace that could be theirs (Jonah 2:8).
‘How much more severely do you think a man deserves to be punished who has trampled the Son of God underfoot, who has treated as an unholy thing the blood of the covenant that sanctified him, who has insulted the Spirit of grace’ (Heb. 10:29)?
Real grace commands repentance. The servant is not greater than his master. He who lives under the Cross dies a public death to his old self then gratefully follows the Lamb wherever He goes. The Cross alone leads to life. Grace assumes its true form in the Crucified, and in disciples who carry their crosses within His shelter.
‘There are many Christians who kneel before the Cross of Jesus, and yet reject every struggle in their lives. They believe they love the Cross but actually they hate that cross in their own lives. And so they hate the Cross of Jesus as well, and in truth try by any means possible to escape it.’ Dietrich Bonhoeffer