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The Journal

Cheap Grace vs. Free Grace

"Grace" is a term that gets thrown around a lot these days. There's grace for everything; grace for eating food that's "bad for you", grace for poor judgment calls, grace for falling into gossip, so on and so on. Yes, we absolutely should extend grace to others for their mistakes, and to ourselves for ours. However, without a foundation in the grace that can only come from the atoning work of Jesus Christ, any grace we claim for ourselves or others fails. It pales in comparison to the patience, humility, and love that comes from a heart that understands the grace of the Gospel.

So what is the grace of the Gospel?

We are saved by grace alone. This is a gift of God, not a work of man. We are saved by God, not because we've worked hard enough or have been "good enough" to deserve it, but because he has single-handedly saved us from death. (Ephesians 2:1-10) Now, sit on that for a second and think about the enormous freedom that is in this... If we don't have to work to merit God's favor, then we are free in the truest and most complete sense of the word. No longer are we bound to our works and our goodness -- we're bound to Christ's works and Christ's goodness.

This freedom is so highly and completely free from any sense of self-righteousness that some have used it as a license to sin. If we're free from the law, why not do whatever we want? In fact, the grace that Paul teaches in Romans 5 releases Christians from the obligation of the law so much that he finds it necessary to address this very point in the following chapter. In Romans 6:1-2, he explains that those who have died to sin can no longer live in it.

The cost of the grace of God in the finished work of Jesus Christ is far more than we could ever pay, or even attempt to repay. The grace extended to us in the Gospel is not, and never has been, cheap. There is a cost for our sin, and the payment due is death. And yet, by the grace of God, Jesus has paid that very price for everyone who believes in him. A doctrine of cheap grace that preaches a life of sin fails to recognize the cost of sin. We cannot, without trampling underfoot the Son of God, think of the grace of God as cheap.

The grace of God in the finished work of Jesus Christ is something altogether more wonderful, more magnificent, and more joyful than any substitute. It is a costly grace given freely to all who believe. It is the pearl of great price. It's the treasure buried in a field. (Matthew 13:44-46) When we finally have our eyes opened to the grace that God extends in the Gospel, we cannot remain where we are. We forsake our sin in repentance and confession, and we cling to the greatest gift ever given: The Grace of God in Jesus Christ.

Next time you find yourself thinking or saying, "There's grace for that," consider what you're saying. Is the grace you extend shallow and shaky, barely holding onto the sand of a man-made gospel of cheap grace? Or is the grace you extend to your brother or sister in Christ rooted firmly upon the solid rock of Jesus Christ alone?

Mother-In-Law Approved Pumpkin Pie

Greg and I had been married for about five years and it was the first time his family was coming to our house for Thanksgiving. In my head, this was my chance to show my mother-in-law what I could do in the kitchen. Have I mentioned that I'm a recovering perfectionist? ;) So, I did what any daughter-in-law would do and decided to make everything for our Thanksgiving meal (and I mean ev-er-y-thing) from scratch. Have I mentioned that cooking is not my spiritual gift? Yes, I had completely lost my mind.

The number one thing I worried about and fussed over was the pumpkin pie. Thanksgiving dinner isn't Thanksgiving dinner without pumpkin pie. I researched recipes, watched YouTube videos, and scoured Pinterest for days. Thankfully, I found a classic recipe that wasn't intimidating, but different enough to make a mark on this 100-percent-from-scratch-and-therefore-hopefully-impressive-to-my-mother-in-law Thanksgiving dinner.

That year, I learned three things: 1) A totally from-scratch Thanksgiving dinner isn't worth the hassle. #stovestopdressing4eva 2) My mother-in-law loves me no matter how many from-scratch dishes I make. 3) Most often, our holiday stress levels are heightened due to our own expectations of ourselves. If we aren't careful, those expectations can become "holiday idols" and we forget to enjoy the season for what it is.

I learned some valuable lessons that year. You know what else I learned? That pumpkin pie recipe was amazing. It ended up being the star of the show that Thanksgiving. Even five years later, this is my go-to pumpkin pie recipe and the fact that it's so easy just makes it that much better...

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
2 cups canned pumpkin, mashed
1 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup half-and-half
1/4 cup butter, melted
1 egg, plus 2 egg yolks, slightly beaten
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1 pre-made pie dough

  • Preheat the oven to 350°.
  • Prep the pre-made pie dough according to the package directions.
  • For the filling, in a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese with a hand mixer. Add the pumpkin and beat until combined. Add the sugar and salt, and beat until combined. Add the eggs mixed with the yolks, half-and-half and melted butter, and beat until combined. Lastly, add the vanilla, cinnamon and ginger and beat until incorporated.
  • Pour the filling into the warm prepared pie crust and bake for 50 minutes, or until the center is set. Place the pie on a wire rack and cool to room temperature.


Whether you use the pumpkin pie recipe or not, remember that we have a loving Savior whose plan is perfect. If your Thanksgiving plans include a completely made from scratch feast or a take out dinner from Cracker Barrel, it is exactly what God planned and He doesn’t make mistakes. "...his way is perfect; the word of the Lord proves true; he is a shield for all those who take refuge in him." Psalm 18:30

Playlist: Warm & Cozy House Music

We love music and we're always excited to discover new artists and songs. To share our love of music, every now and then we'll bring you a curated Spotify playlist that fits the season. For our very first playlist, it's all about cozy music for around the house - the perfect soundtrack for Fall! This eclectic playlist if full of acoustic rhythms from artist like Johnnyswim, Rend Collective, Jack Johnson, and All Sons & Daughters. Find the playlist here.