It seems there is no end to opinions and controversies about grace. Large sections of Christendom have always attempted to define what it is, what it does (if anything), why it is received, and who receives it and why. Lets look briefly at two aspects of "grace".
First, a simple definition: grace spiritually speaking, refers to someone who receives completely unmerited, undeserved, and unearned favor from God. From this point on, many things concerning grace (the grace of God) get at best murky, and at worst completely incomprehensible.
Out of all this, one thing seems self evident. However we define grace, it is believed to be completely free. There are no preconditions for anyone to receive the grace of God. From this has evolved the term "free grace". If pressed, those who love to use the term will agree to a qualification of the term.
Strictly speaking, and in order to be completely honest, there is no such thing as "free grace". Do we think that Christ believes it is free? Would we think that the Father feels that it is free? Then why could anyone - especially professing Christians - possibly use the expression "free grace'?
If this is realized thus far, there is one way that some will still be able to use the term, and assert that grace is still free. This is accomplished by simply redirecting to the objects of the extension of grace. Some can admit that God would not consider grace to be free from His position, but - it is free for us.
But is this really so?
This gets back to a personal application. The truth is, grace is never "free", even for those who received it. To receive the grace of God, we agree to a covenant obligation, in which we agree with God that we are sinners who need His grace. We accept the terms of the agreement which are, in their concise form, first, repentance toward God, and then faith toward Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). Those are conditions. Grace is not a hand out from God. The old gospel song "Just As I Am" is true. We can come to Jesus Christ no other way but just as we are at first, but immediately upon coming to Christ, we are (or should be) presented with the above conditions - repentance of our sins, and faith toward Christ.
John the Baptist came before Jesus, preaching the "baptism of repentance", calling upon all to show forth conduct that would qualify as repentance (Matthew 3:1-2). Then Jesus came upon the scene, preaching that all must repent for the kingdom of God is at hand (Mark 1:15 ). John came first, then Jesus, not the reverse. He began His ministry by calling upon all to repent, and believe the gospel. Grace is extended after the price is paid by us. That price is our repentance. It is costly. Actually, it cost us our life - the old life that we had been living.
We are left with only one conclusion. It is by grace that we are saved (Ephesians 2:5-8). But that grace is not free - to God, or to me and you. It cost God too much to be called "free". And if we are truly His, we have also realized that it really is not "free" to us either. This the reason we are admonished to "count the cost". We should never have a cavalier attitude toward out salvation. We should have counted the cost of building before we started. Perhaps this is the reason there are so many who name the name of Christ, and feel little or no need to submit and surrender to living the life that God requires. They did not hear, or were not told about the cost.
God counted up the cost to save us. He concluded that we were worth it. Grace cost the Father His only Son. It cost Jesus the agony of the cross. It costs us our old life. And also thank Him for granting (grace?) us repentance, and faith in His Son. In reality, God did it all. Even our repentance is a gift of grace from Him.
When we really think about it, nothing is really free is it?
Not even grace...
"Whoever does not persevere and carry his own cross and come after (follow) Me cannot be My disciple. For which of you, wishing to build a farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it? Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him, Saying, This man began to build and was not able (worth enough) to finish." - Luke 14:27-30 (AB)
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