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Bible study: Precious grace

The German theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote about “cheap grace.” By cheap grace, he meant that too many preach forgiveness without repentance and grace without the cross. In other words, people want the benefits that Jesus offers without the “cost” of following him. Hence, it becomes cheap grace.

We know that grace, God’s undeserved love, is precious. And when something is precious, we want to protect it, cherish it, and treat it with great care.

Read Romans 6:1-4.

Here the apostle Paul addresses some who were tempted to mishandle God’s grace.

What misconceptions about Christianity do people who think that we can sin all we want because we are forgiven have?
Paul suggests that people will justify sinning by the free grace of forgiveness in Jesus. They want to “go on sinning” so that they may even increase the number of sins forgiven “so that grace may increase.”

That is a misconception that persists in our world today. It may sound a bit different at times, but some think, “If I’m forgiven, it doesn’t matter what I do.”

The power that raised Jesus from the dead is the same power at work in Baptism. What does that power achieve in Baptism?
Baptism gives us new life. We no longer want to sin, but instead we want to live in gratitude that our sins are dead and buried with Christ. Just as Jesus rose from the dead, leaving sin behind, so we, in the forgiveness given us in Baptism, want to leave sin behind and live as disciples of Jesus. We are set free from sin (v. 7), and we live our lives for God (v. 10).

Using grace

In Ecuador, there is a New Year’s tradition called los años viejos or “the old years.” People burn large stuffed dummies outside of their homes at midnight to symbolize getting rid of the bad of the past year and looking to the new year in hope. It is a great picture of the Christian life as we continually cast off our old Adam in repentance.

This month, we celebrate Thanksgiving, a time when we remember God’s blessings to us throughout the year. But the apostle Paul said, “Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead” (Philippians 3:13). In other words, there is grace in remembering but also in forgetting!

Read Romans 6:5-10.

Remember three people who have shown grace to you this year and thank God for them.

Forget three things from this past year and thank God he “remembers your sins no more” (Isaiah 43:25).

Living grace

Sometimes opposites attract. Consider the north and south poles of a magnet. Put the two north ends together, and they repel one another. Put the north and south ends together, and there is a strong attraction.

Scientifically, sometimes opposites attract. However, theologically, opposites do not attract. They repel. For example, evil and good, life and death, light and dark, holy God and sinful mankind, sin and grace.

Read Romans 6:11-14.

Verse 11 says, “Count yourselves dead to sin, but alive to God in Christ Jesus.” Explain this passage in your own words.
I am free. I am free of sin because of the forgiveness Jesus has achieved for me. I am free then to serve him, and I am no longer a slave of sin and its perversion and destruction.

Verse 14 says, “For sin shall no longer be your master, because you are not under the law, but under grace.” When the apostle Paul speaks of slavery, he is speaking of surrendering one’s will to a master. In your station in life, how might you live out verses 13,14 and “offer every part of yourself to him as an instrument of righteousness”?

Author: David Scharf
Volume 108, Number 11
Issue: November 2021

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David Scharf

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