Many times, as I speak with Mormon friends, or acquaintances, we get on the topic of grace. I will freely admit that in most cases, it is me who brings the topic up. While there are so many areas that we could discuss, I find that this area is one of the, if not the most important topic to discuss.
As we get on this subject, and I ask them what they think about the grace of Christ, I am told over and over, "We do believe in grace. But we believe it is only after all that we can do." Maybe you yourself are LDS, and have said this, or believe this.
This is taught in Mormon Doctrine. In 2nd Nephi 25:23, it says: "23 For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." Many times, church presidents themselves have said the same.
This statement says clearly, that while Mormons state that the church does believe in grace, that salvation through grace only happens, after all the member has done. But, is this truly grace? Consider exactly what this statement is saying to us. Mormons become saved, by grace, after they do all that they can. The grace in and of itself is simply, not enough to save the Mormon. The grace is contingent upon the Mormon doing all they can do.
As a wise person told me once, there really are only 2 religions in the world. When you get right down to it, there are really only 2. The first religion is works based. It is based completely on man doing something to work to earn his salvation, or eternity. To be as perfect as possible. This is man's attempt to reach a Holy God. Man says, "if i can do this, and this, and this, I can show God how much I deserve his salvation. Or how hard I have labored to earn his love and eternal life."
The second religion is based solely on the absolute complete dependence upon grace, and the 100% total saving power of Jesus Christ. Here, we see a much different picture from above. This relationship says, "Lord I know I am worthy of nothing on my own. I deserve nothing. I can do nothing on my own, or in my own power. I am a sinner. I have broken all of your commandments, for your word tells us if we break 1, we are guilty of breaking them all. Without your grace, I am lost. I can find salvation only in you."
This raises an obvious question for me, and I am sure for many Mormons. If salvation is by grace, only after all that you can do, what exactly is, "all that we can do?" Is there a certain number of works that need to be completed? Is it temple work? Going on a mission? Participation in church events? Callings? As I sin daily, do these sins set me back? Is it 1 good work to erase 1 sin? Is there even any way of knowing that I have done, "all that I can do?"
A saying that I have heard frequently is, "Do your best, and Jesus does the rest." But this statement truly begs the question, what on earth did any of us do, or could any of us do, that is more than, or even equal to the crucifixion of Christ? The Bible tells us in the book of Romans, chapter 5 verse 8, "But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us."
What this verse tells us is this, God is literally perfect. His nature. His love. His wisdom. Anything other than this would be contrary to His very nature. In His perfect love, God did not wait for man to choose to love him. He, being the almighty God, knew that man is sinful from birth. While man was dead in his sin, God sent His only Son to die for all. The entire purpose of God sending His Son is because the only sacrifice that could save man, would be His only Son.
If God sent His son to die, while we were sinners, what did we do to earn this? And what could you do to add to this? Grace, by the very definition of the word is not something that can be earned, or worked for. Grace was given to us by God. He loves us so much, that He does not give us what we truly deserve. His grace was shown upon the cross.
When we say that we are saved by grace, only after all we can do, we are really saying a few different things. We are saying that the Bible is wrong in Ephesians 2:8-9 when it says, "8For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
9Not of works, lest any man should boast."We also are saying that the sacrifice of the one and only perfect son of God was not enough. We need to do work on our end, do all we can do, and then, and only then, will He make up the rest.
Please do not misunderstand this point. To many people hear this and then say, "Oh, your one of those! You think you just say a little prayer, then you can go live anyway you want!"
True Christianity, understood by the holy Bible makes clear, perfectly clear, that this is absolutely false.
When you understand that you are saved by grace, the last thing you want is to take advantage of that grace! Romans 6:1 expounds on this thought by telling us this, "What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? 2 God forbid!" Your desire is to show your love, and your gratitude. You want to glorify, and honor God with all of your being. But there is clear distinction, all of the works that we do get us no where. In the book of Isaiah, chapter 64 verse 6 it says, "But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousnesses are as filthy rags; and we all do fade as a leaf; and our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away.
If even our best works are as a filthy garment to a Holy God, imagine what our sin must be like.
I urge you to please, study in the Bible the topics of grace. Contemplate and ask yourself, "As a Mormon, am I doing all that I can do? Have I done enough?"
I ask these questions with my heart literally pleading for you to begin searching these questions out.