In days of hardships, particularly when one is being persecuted for his/her faith, those who become Christians count the cost of discipleship carefully before taking up the cross of Christ. In good times, prosperous times, the cost of discipleship does not seem so high, and people take the name of Jesus without undergoing any transformation of life and lifestyle that true and real regeneration by grace implies.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the German churchman of the Nazi era who eventually suffered martyrdom for his opposition to Hitler’s policies, called this erroneous theology, “cheap grace”. Bonhoeffer said cheap grace is the preaching of forgiveness without requiring repentance, baptism without discipline of community. It is the Lord’s Supper without
confession of sin. It is the absolution of our sin without personal confession. Cheap grace is grace without discipleship, grace without the cross, grace without the living, incarnate Jesus Christ.
Costly grace is the treasure hidden in the field for the sake of which people go and sell with joy everything they have. It is the costly pearl of great price by which the merchant will sell all his goods to receive it. 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 causes us to follow, and it is grace because it causes us to follow Jesus Christ. These words, “follow me”, are a statement to all would-be Christians that discipleship means following Jesus in a personal and generally costly way.