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No hidden fees

When it comes to God’s gracious gift of eternal life, there are no hidden fees.

When you live two miles beyond the end of the earth in Houghton, Michigan, you expect to pay more to rent a car. So it was a pleasant surprise when I reserved a car online, and the daily rate was $42.00. For five days that came to $210.00, tax exempt. Not half bad, I thought.

A world full of hidden fees

But when I picked up the car, the charge to my credit card was more than that. Why?

First, there was a “car facility charge $3.00/day.” What, pray tell, is that?

Then there was a “concession recoupment fee 10 Pct,” which came to $21.58. Say what? Was my rental supposed to include a large coke for $6.29, a buttered popcorn for $8.10, and a pack of Haribo Gold Bears for $7.19? I didn’t find any of those concessions, but maybe they were squished under one of the seats.

In addition there was a “veh lic cost recov fee $1.15/day.” Were they worried that I’d swipe the license plate?

Hidden fees aren’t just the norm in the car rental industry. Buy a new car and you may be ambushed by a conveyance charge, pre-delivery inspection fee, or a vehicle procurement fee. Order online, and the shipping and handling might cost more than the product itself.

God’s fee-free gift of eternal life

Hidden fees are everywhere, aren’t they? Not quite. There will be no conveyance charge when our Lord takes us home to heaven. Nor will God levy a recovery fee for snatching us from the fires of hell. Rather, by inspiration, the apostle Paul has furnished us with our Lord’s binding guarantee: “It is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast” (Ephesians 2:8,9). No hidden fees!

And yet, do we fret? “That sounds too good to be true! There must be something I must do to earn God’s love. That’s a basic principle for the way life always works.”

Others have been crushed by the same sinful cynicism. In the first century, that included the Judaizers who dogged every step of the apostle Paul. Although these false teachers were willing to grant that Jesus was the promised Messiah, they gutted Christ’s gospel by insisting on keeping “basic principles”—Old Testament Mosaic laws like circumcision; dietary laws; and special days, months, seasons, and years—to get into heaven (Galatians 4:3,9).

What “basic principles” or “pre-heaven inspection fee” will you and I be tempted to invent for getting into heaven? “I need to pray harder . . . help others more . . . trust more . . . give more!”

But when it comes to God’s gracious gift of eternal life, there are no hidden fees. Not one! That’s a guarantee our Father makes repeatedly in his Word, perhaps nowhere more vividly than through his gospel writer, Isaiah: “Hey, all of you who are thirsty, come to the water, even if you have no money! Come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without cost. Why do you spend money on something that is not bread? Why do you waste your labor on something that does not satisfy? Listen carefully to me. . . . Turn your ear toward me, and come to me. Listen, so that you may continue to live” (Isaiah 55:1-3).

The Scripture references used in this article are from the Evangelical Heritage Version.

Author: Glenn Schwanke
Volume 109, Number 02
Issue: February 2022

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