Contracts often include language like “valuable consideration.” It identifies the price, or the cost (not necessarily in monetary terms) that is required for the exchange of goods. The amount of consideration provided is dependent upon the item changing hands. To complete the contract, both parties must agree that the compensation offered will result in full payment for whatever is received.
Today, in 2 Samuel 24, David receives something incredibly valuable from God. Forgiveness. In return, God asks for consideration. He sends his servant Gad to ask David for the payment. In this case, David’s payment takes the form of a burnt offering. Gad instructs him to, “Go up, raise an altar to the Lord on the threshing floor of Araunah the Jebusite.” Araunah the farmer, attempts to give David the parts for the altar, the wood, even the oxen from his own stock. But, David knew better. He knew that any offering without personal cost, would not be an offering at all. It is, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer puts it, “cheap grace.” Without payment, David knows that his agreement with God would be null and void.
So, how is it that we receive forgiveness without a costly sacrifice? the answer is that we don’t. Thankfully, the full price was paid, for us, in advance. According to Hebrews 10:14, Jesus is our “single offering” and “he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified.” What does that mean? It means that our agreement with God is paid in full. There is no more consideration due. It is worth pausing here. Think about how valuable Jesus’ consideration was. He effectively paid for all sins, for every person for all time. It is promised in 1 John 2:1-2. It says, “if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. He is the propitiation for our sins, and not for ours only but also for the sins of the whole world.”
If the valuable consideration for our sin has already been given, then the only thing remaining is our agreement. How does that work? Romans 10:9-10 says that “if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved.”