The High Price of Cheap Grace – By Peter Tsukahira (Dated 17 Dec 2021)
(This article was also sent to Rev Dr Ngoei Foong Nghian, General Secretary, NCCS office, and for the attention of the Executive Committee Members.)
Rev George Ong’s Opening Comments:
If you listen to Peter Tsukahira’s (who is no stranger to Pastors and older Christians) short exhortation on YouTube, you will discover that what he said about cheap grace, closely resembles the law and grace teachings of Joseph Prince.
Please click here https://youtu.be/dBcnU8LuDlE to listen to an 8-minute YouTube video clip of what Peter Tsukahira has to say:
Most of what Peter Tsukahira said are transcribed here:
“The old message of cheap grace is having a resurgence today, particularly among newer believers, who do not have the experience or have been acquainted with its sad history nor its downside and potential cost.
Cheap grace is a message that lowers the standards of God’s laws and cast scorn on the value of divine law as the way God governs His eternal kingdom.
Preachers have this message tell us that the Old Testament is all about law but the New Testament is about grace and the love of God, and we have to choose between the two. In forcing us towards this false choice, we are told that law means legalism, judgement and condemnation but grace is all about love and mercy.
This message of cheap grace says that Jesus pays the entire price for all your sins, once and for all, therefore you are forever freed from the requirements of God’s law by the free gift of grace.
What’s wrong with that? Didn’t Jesus die to give us His salvation as a free gift? Doesn’t the New Testament teach that we are justified, which means made righteous by God by faith in Him? Yes, that’s true.
But if we stop listening to God here without allowing Him to complete what He has to say, we’re in danger of coming to the wrong conclusions about His purpose in saving us by grace. It’s God’s moral requirements in His laws that define sin and convict us as sinners. Without God’s laws, there’s no need for grace at all.
If God has high standards, then we need great grace to be declared by Him as righteous. But if God has low standards, then His grace does not need to be that amazing or precious. Any message that overtly or subtlely by suggestion, reduces the requirements of God’s laws cheapens grace.
One fact about human nature is that we all love finding bargains, like the crowd swarming to a half-price sale at a shopping mall. A Pastor or teacher, who cheapens grace, will find at least, initially a lot of people are interested in attending his church. However, they may not be very interested in becoming disciples.
The Bible teaches that mercy triumphs over judgement. That’s true but mercy never replaces judgement. Mercy only has real value when you know you deserve judgement. We receive mercy as a free gift of God’s grace and we should appreciate it all the more because the Bible teaches that God always has and always will rule His kingdom by law.
What if there was a judge in a city who decided always and in every case to show mercy. Soon, every serial killer, rapist, child molester or professional gangster would be lining up outside that judge’s courtroom. No one would be punished. No one would be compelled to change and all would go free. Is that God’s kind of mercy or simply injustice?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer was a Christian Pastor in Germany during the 1930s when Nazism was rising to power. In his book, ‘The Cost of Discipleship’, he makes the point that grace must always be the exception to the rule. It’s the king Himself who grants mercy solely as he desires. God’s mercy is not meant to be applied to everyone as a doctrine but as a gift given personally and individually by the king Himself to those who are in His Son. When God gives mercy, he does not nullify or change His own laws. And so the one who receives mercy must afterwards seek to remain hidden in Christ. This process is called sanctification and it results in discipleship.
Bonhoeffer pointed out that justification by faith means that God justifies the sinner but not the sin. When we fall into sin and turn to God through faith in Jesus, we receive grace to be forgiven and we are justified. God says, “You are okay now go and sin no more. He never says ‘Your sins are okay now, don’t worry about it anymore.”
The laws of God’s kingdom define His reign as a sovereign ruler. These laws give Christians moral authority and spiritual guidance to be personally changed and then to transform the nations and the cultures of the world. When God’s kingdom is preached, sins embedded deep in culture like corruption, abortion, racial prejudice and other social dysfunctions will yield to the power of His lawful reign. People are not only saved but also transformed by the gospel of the kingdom.
When Bonhoeffer served as a Pastor in Germany, that country was called the cradle of the Reformation and it was thought to be among the most Christian countries in Europe. However, the preaching of cheap grace had Christianized Germany and not transformed it. Lutheran Germans believed they were saved but they lack the moral authority and the personal integrity to resist Nazism. The devastation that resulted was the hidden cost of cheap grace.
When Jesus died on the cross for your sins and mine, the requirements of God’s laws did not change. What did change was that for the first time those requirements in God’s laws were satisfied by the atoning sacrifice of His own Son. Jesus was the only human to ever fully keep the laws of God. In doing so, He opened the way for us that by faith in Him and by abiding in Him, for without Him we can do nothing, we can be declared righteous by God. All this is given to us as a free gift of grace and we’re now enabled by that same amazing grace to pick up our own crosses and follow His example.”
Rev George Ong’s Closing Comments:
The main takeaway of Peter Tsukahira’s short exhortation is that cheap grace is one that throws out and devalues the laws of God.
As Peter Tsukahira puts it:
“Any message that overtly or subtlely by suggestion, reduces the requirements of God’s laws cheapens grace.”
This aptly describes the false teachings of Joseph Prince which makes a false dichotomy between law and grace. It is not law or grace, the false choice that Joseph Prince demands believers to make. But it is law and grace, both of which are required, whether we are under the Old Covenant or the New.
We are saved by grace, not to repudiate the law, but to obey the law. A doctrine that teaches that we are saved by the law, is not Christianity but legalism. Conversely, a doctrine that teaches that just because we are saved by grace, the law is obsolete, is not Christianity either but Antinomianism – the religion of Joseph Prince that is leading the masses to their graves.
Finally, the cheap grace of Joseph Prince, which does away with the law, is a false gospel that cannot save, whereas the costly grace of Jesus, which is the true Gospel that saves, empowers believers to obey the law.