Unbelievers and Roman Catholics typically point out that the reformed Christian belief that we are saved, not by our good deeds, but solely through the free grace of God simply motivates believers to sin because we assume we are forgiven for whatever sin we commit. They say that people need rules. “If you just preach this ‘free grace,’ people will just use it as a license to sin.” This opinion is sometimes referred to as “cheap grace.”
Roman Catholics believe that our salvation is attained through the performance of good deeds plus God’s grace. Christians of the Reformation believe in a different mathematical formula. Instead of believing that Salvation = Grace plus Works, we know that the Bible tells us that our salvation is only through God’s grace and our good deeds are the result of our salvation, not the cause. Our formula then looks like this: Salvation (by Grace) = Works. This means we have been liberated by God through His grace from our selfish mind-set to perform good works; we are motivated to love others, care for them, and build them up because we want to imitate Christ, our Savior who died in our place. Through His word, the Holy Bible, God has given us the correct understanding of the connection between our good deeds and His grace.
As in most matters of understanding our doctrine, St. Paul says it best in Romans 6:1-4: “What shall we say then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer? Or don’t you know that all of us who were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? We were therefore buried with him through baptism into death in order that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life.”
Our grace is not cheap. Jesus paid the ultimate price to enable our Creator to extend His grace to us to effect our salvation.