I had another interesting conversation with a Muslim friend this week. When we were discussing different beliefs, she said she heard Christians she knew in college say, “I’ve been saved from all my sins so I can live however I want.”
This wasn’t the first time I’d heard this idea from a Muslim friend. I suppose there are some legitimate reasons for their belief that Christians have “cheap grace”. They will explain that Christians just have to believe in Jesus and that’s it. Why would they think this way? Is it true?
1. Reasons based on their culture and religion
a. Culture: In many Muslims’ shame/honor culture, grace (the gift of salvation) never fits. They believe one must be responsible for one’s own actions and must please his or her family. In this mindset, they ask, “How could Jesus die for someone else?” They don’t understand.
Isaiah 53:6, “We all went astray like sheep; we all have turned to our own way; and the Lord has punished Him for the iniquity of us all.”
b. Compare: As captives to a works-based religion, they believe they can work hard enough to earn salvation, or Heaven. Again, they don’t understand grace. If they compare the requirements between religions, they have a difficult standard and think Christianity is too easy (cheap grace).
Eph. 2:8-9 “ For you are saved by grace through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.”
2. Reasons based on the Christian culture
a. Communication: They, as my friend did, hear “Christians” make statements about grace without a changed heart. (I placed ‘Christians’ in parenthesis as a question to their authenticity). Are they true believers? Or are they are “Christians” that treat the name of Jesus as a ticket to heaven, not as the holy God who demands complete surrender?
What does the Bible say about this type of “Christian”? Can someone confess to be a follower of Jesus and continue to live as an unbeliever? According to Rom. 6:1-2, “What should we say then? Should we continue in sin so that grace may multiply? Absolutely not! How can we who died to sin still live in it?” No!
b. Confusion: On the other hand, they may think (as one Muslim friend did) that Christians also perform good works to earn Heaven. They see Christians doing many good things and assume, they too, must acquire Heaven as a reward for their actions. They don’t understand that the works in a Christian are a result of a changed heart. Christians don’t perform works to earn Heaven, but as evidence to a relationship with Jesus.
Eph. 2:10, “For we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared ahead of time so that we should walk in them.”
Matt. 5:16, “In the same way, let your light shine before men, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father in heaven.”
How will they know the truth?
Only if followers of Jesus Love the Truth — Embrace Grace. Know God’s gift of Jesus through His Word, The Bible. Yes, you must only believe in Jesus to receive his gift of forgiveness. However, it doesn’t stop there.
Only if followers of Jesus Live the Truth — Endure. Follow to the end. Obey His Word. Live accountable lives. Remember Romans 14:10b-12, “For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘As I live, says the Lord, every knee shall bow to ME, And every tongue shall give praise to God.’ So then each one of us will give an account of himself to God.”
Only if followers of Jesus Speak the Truth — Engage others in conversation. If we don’t speak the truth, others may never know the truth.
My response to my friend: I felt as if I were Paul writing the sixth chapter of Romans (see above). I opened my Bible and passionately shared the truth in love. I shared how we receive Jesus by grace and the role of good works in a believer’s life (scriptures already mentioned). She said she learned something new about my beliefs.
What would you share with someone who believes Christians have “cheap grace”?