All reformed preachers love to preach the free grace of the Biblical gospel. We love declaring that salvation is accomplished solely based on the eternal love and undeserved favor of God.
Occasionally, the message of God’s grace begins to sounds similar to mainstream American optimism, in which all people receive a second chance from “the Man upstairs.”
What is the difference?
Biblical grace is purchased grace. It is costly grace. It is free for the sinner, completely free, utterly free. Yet it is infinitely costly. The favor of God, grace, toward sinners, was paid for by the atoning blood of Christ. God could not, would not, fulfill his eternal plans for grace toward us without the definite plan of payment for our sins at the cross of Christ.
If our preaching of grace begins to sound like a moralistic payment plan–“be righteous and God will give you an eternal bonus”–we’ve denied the freedom of grace.
If our preaching of grace begins to sound like American second chance optimism–“God will forgive you freely… (and leave out…”because Christ died on the cross for sinners”)–we have muted the eternal chorus declaring the worthiness of the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb that was slain.
We all love to hear that something is free for us. We’re often uncomfortable when the price of that freeness is highlighted before our eyes. The more costly, the more uncomfortable. But the price of grace is the cross of Christ and the cross of Christ is detailed in the worship of heaven.
Therefore, for his glory, we must preach grace in sight of the cross.