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Is Salvation a Bargain or a Gift?

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Have you ever heard the term “cheap grace”? What about “free grace”? Do you know the difference?

Here’s an illustration.

What’s the difference between someone giving you a beautiful house as a gift and selling it to you for a dollar?

On the surface, there isn’t much difference—only a dollar! And a dollar isn’t very much. I’d be thrilled to get a house for a dollar.

But if you think about it more deeply, on the one hand, you have a free gift; on the other hand, you have an incredible bargain. Are those the same?

Not at all.

A gift is an expression of love. Someone has thought of you and wants to bless you with something good.

But a great bargain can signify deception, stupidity, or shrewd business practices. Businesses use loss leaders—i.e., items sold below cost—to get you into the store and committed to buying other things. Such as time-share companies luring you in with the promise of a “free holiday” only to get you to sign up for costly agreements.

So, what is salvation like—is it a gift or an incredible bargain?

When God gives salvation, it is entirely by grace. He gives you righteousness, redemption, reconciliation, and forgiveness for free. That is, you receive it through faith apart from your works.

But sometimes—often—churches mix grace and law. They make salvation depend upon works—if only a little. It’s like when a business offers you something for “free,” but you still need to pay the taxes or shipping or sign up for a monthly subscription to qualify. Suddenly, the “free gift” turns out to be quite costly!

When you add works to salvation, the gift evaporates. Salvation is either by works or by grace, but never by a mixture of both. They are mutually exclusive. As Paul said,

Now if by grace, then it is not by works; otherwise grace ceases to be grace (Rom 11:6).

Thought for the day: Salvation for a bargain is still a rip-off when Jesus gives it away for free.


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