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Wednesday: Not Too Hard for You — 12 Comments

  1. Because 'life' can get busy, stressful or otherwise distracting, it is good to pause and remind ourselves of the 'big picture' basics of reality from time-to-time - to take a 'reality-check' as per Deuteronomy 30:1. There appear to be 2 core necessities/realities to enable a person to partake of true life:

    1) Abiding in a trust-based loving connection with God who is the Source of the breath of life, and
    2) Living in harmony with ('obedience to') the 'mechanisms' (cause-and-effect principles/laws) that God sustains life through.

    Unfortunately, due to the events of Genesis 3:1-6, each of us is born 'somewhat alive' but nevertheless on a pathway to 'perishing' unless something changes (Romans 5:12-14; Psalm 51:5,10). This is because we are born with a terminal heart condition passed down to us from our first parents - a heart predisposed to self-seeking. This wasn't God's doing - it was Satan's exploitation and manipulation of free will.

    God knows this isn't fair - being born with a condition you were not responsible for causing. Therefore, God compassionately, graciously and mercifully sets about to provide us with everything necessary to help us change from heading to 'perishing' to instead heading to abundant life (John 10:10). But God cannot change us for us - we have to be willing to undertake that change with His help (eg, Romans 8:13).

    Thus we need to choose to actively engage in the change process with Him (Matthew 16:24) - and we express that choice in how we respond to every aspect of our daily life. Do we respond to a situation from a self-seeking orientation or from an other-benefiting (Agape love) one?

    It is God's desire that absolutely every person be given every possible chance to choose and embrace salvation instead of perishing - and He hopes that every single person would take up that offer (Ezekiel 33:11; 2 Peter 3:9). Consequently, God will do everything possible to attract, encourage, empower, equip and assist us to choose the path away from self-seeking to other-benefiting that leads to true life - but He won't force or coerce us.

    Will you be mindful of this reality as you go about your day today?

    PS: If we are aware of the above reality, we can see that there actually is no such thing as 'cheap grace' - it is a myth.

    • "we can see that there actually is no such thing as 'cheap grace' - it is a myth"

      Dietrich Bonhoeffer disagrees with you. So do I in light the Bonhoeffers's explanation below.

      Cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without church discipline, Communion without confession, absolution without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the Cross, grace without Jesus Christ, living and incarnate.

      We used to say you can't slip into heaven on a banna peel.(cheap grace) Now costly grace is the opposite of above, a necessity.

      Grace is costly.
      Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field; for the sake of it a man will gladly go and sell all that he has. It is the pearl of great price to buy which the merchant will sell all his goods…

      Costly grace is the Gospel which must be sought again and again, the gift which must be asked for, the door at which a man must knock.

      Such grace is costly because it calls us to follow, and it is grace because it calls us to follow Jesus Christ. It is costly because it costs a man his life, and it is grace because it gives a man the only true life. It is costly because it condemns sin, and grace because it justifies the sinner.

      Above all, it is costly because it costs God the life of His Son: “ye were bought at a price,” and what has cost God much cannot be cheap for us. Above all, it is grace because God did not reckon His Son too dear a price to pay for our life, but delivered Him up for us. Costly grace is the Incarnation of God.

      • Hi John

        I actually agree with what you are saying and what you have quoted from Bonhoeffer.

        While 'cheap grace' is something that is presented and believed by some, its substance is not actually reality - that's why I say it is 'myth'.

    • I agree that there is no such thing as "cheap grace." Nevertheless, much that is taught as God's grace is "cheap grace" - grace that costs us nothing.

      God's grace is costly:
      It cost the life of the Son of God.
      And it is costly for us: We must die to receive it. (cf Gal 2:20)

      The quotation from Dietrich Bonhoeffer, that John Herscher shared, says it well.

    • I agree with the statement "there actually is no such thing as 'cheap grace'". I appreciated the comments by John and Inge - challenging an easy acceptance of the statement.

      I admire the life of Bonhoeffer. Yet his comments on grace being the pearl of great price, the treasure hidden in a field, etc. do cause me to re-evaluate what we are talking about. My understanding is that Christ alone is what is worth giving everything to obtain. I think it possible that when grace as referred to as the gospel, the gift we search for, what calls us to follow, etc. we may run the risk of turning our eyes from Jesus, the author and finisher of saving faith, through grace.

      I can see that, unlike a fake Rolex watch, which may actually keep acceptably accurate time for a long season, what has been called "cheap grace" is no grace at all, as true grace is the result of Divinity working in and for humanity. What the accuser offers in its place is just as transitory as the pleasures of sin. It brings none of the blessings of God's kingdom such as righteousness, peace and joy (Rom. 14:17). Instead, it may bring a brief euphoria, as with a false positive pregnancy home test result. It leaves us stuck in the semi-life of the flesh, an empty and useless way of living. How can the same word even be applied to such a life, when the real LIFE from God is dynamite power, divine love, and freedom to do all the good things that God created us to do (2Tim. 1:7; Eph. 2:10)

      • Yes, the expression of 'cheap grace' is thrown out there as an abstract entity. A better decription of the person that expects to slide into heaven on a banana peel, which Dietrich Bonhoeffer described as "forgiveness without repentance." Expecting to be saved without turning to God, without seeking God with heart and soul...is:

        There are some who seem to be always seeking for the heavenly pearl. But they do not make an entire surrender of their wrong habits. They do not die to self that Christ may live in them. Therefore they do not find the precious pearl. They have not overcome unholy ambition and their love for worldly attractions. They do not take up the cross and follow Christ in the path of self-denial and sacrifice. Almost Christians, yet not fully Christians, they seem near the kingdom of heaven, but they cannot enter there. Almost but not wholly saved, means to be not almost but wholly lost. Christ's Object Lessons, p. 118

        The pearl is Christ. Matthew 13:45,46.

        Whatever you call Dietrich's description and Ellen's description, of those do not seek God with all there heart, soul and body, these are not a myth. The Lord pointed out and warned about the folly of turning away from God, or snubbing your nose to God. These are not a myth. Deuteronomy 4:26.

        There is hope though. You are seeking God. Christ is seeking a lost humanity. He sees in us the possibilities of redemption. Knowing this and knowing that we cannot earn salvation, but we are to seek for it with as much interest and perseverance as though we would abandon in the world for salvation, we have this hope. Hold onto it. 1Timothy 6:12.

  2. Change of Heart.

    We have been discussing "obedience", however I believe it really means a change of heart. Can we change our heart or do we need the LORD to do it for us if we surrender our will to Him?

    Deut 30:6 ISV  Then the LORD your God will circumcise both your hearts and those of your descendants so that you can love him with your heart and with your soul and therefore live.
    Exo 31:13 ISV  "You are to speak to the people of Israel: 'You are to surely observe my Sabbaths because it's a sign between me and you from generation to generation, so you may know that I am the LORD who sanctifies you.
    Lev 22:32 MKJV  And you shall not profane My holy name. But I will be holy among the sons of Israel. I am the LORD who is sanctifying you.

    All true obedience comes from the heart. It was heart work with Christ. And if we consent, He will so identify Himself with our thoughts and aims, so blend our hearts and minds into conformity to His will, that when obeying Him we shall be but carrying out our own impulses. DoA 668
    Desire of Ages p 668.3

    Gal 2:20 MKJV  I have been crucified with Christ, and I live; yet no longer I, but Christ lives in me. And that life I now live in the flesh, I live by faith toward the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself on my behalf.

  3. Awareness is the first step toward making a choice. God made Israel 'aware' of His Way - His commandments and Statutes, encouraging them to "turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul" - Deut.30:10. They have been made aware, now it was up to them to respond to what they heard and incline/lean into it with their whole being to do that which God says is good unto life.

    Is it not wonderful that God's Word can be cradled in our hearts? It is meant to become our heart's deepest desire, springing forth in actions of loving obedience and living His Truth which He has placed into the heart - living His Will! We can understand/experience that which He tells us to be good; all we need to do is do it
    Yes, the Faith of Christ, His Good News, is constantly in the mouth and heart of the true believer. He lives it, speaks of it, and shares it with all he comes in contact with; it is his/her way of Life - Rom.10:9-10.

    Man has not changed, but spiritual awareness has increased with time; we benefit from those who walked by faith before Faith reached us in our lifetime. Faith has not changed, the Word and Will of God has not changed. What has changed in our lifetime? Is it our individual awareness urging us to get serious, that we only have one lifetime given to us to make the right choice?
    Which choice is our heart inclined to? Are we diligently focusing our walk by faith to reflect the Way of Light and Life? Ellen White says: "All His biddings are enablings"; what do we have to fear when we walk our life by faith in the Word of God?

  4. The author says in Wednesday’s lesson: “ The Lord doesn’t offer anyone cheap grace”. He implies that it must be earned or paid for by “loving God back”, by being obedient to the Lord’s commands. Grace is usually dealt out in mercy. It’s not earned or even deserved. The object of grace cannot earn it, neither does one have the ability or capacity to pay for it.
    God is particular in dealing out His grace: “…I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will show compassion on whom I will show compassion.” Ex 33:19

  5. Good morning …l just want to appreciate these comments and fruitful discussions, l am a sabbath school teacher and l really gain from these critical thinking displayed here. May the lord bless you and a your family for these helpful discussions

    • Hi Ruby

      Perhaps I can speak for others too and say 'we' are so glad you see what is going on here as critical thinking and fruitful discussions rather than 'criticism thinking'. Because that is what we are individually and collectively aiming to do - grow in our understanding of God and Truth (Jeremiah 9:23,24). Feel free to join the conversations with your thoughts too...


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