Home > Grace, Mormonism, Words > Words I did not understand – Grace

Words I did not understand – Grace

Before I was a Christian, and when I started to study the Bible, There were a lot of common words, ideas or themes that I did not understand.  That may actually be putting it lightly.  They were so foreign to me that I could not even begin to grasp the concepts behind them.  I now recognize that part of the reason for this is that I was taught from birth that they were either false doctrine or the meaning of them was twisted to denote something very different…often the exact opposite of what the Bible teaches.

One of the first words I struggled with was “Grace”.  I recall going up to a pastor of a church I was visiting and asking him to explain “Grace”.  An impossible task for a 3 minute conversation.  He mentioned the standard idea of “unmerited favor” and what you would expect to hear but I could not, for the life of me, wrap my mind around it.

I grew up in a works based religion where everything must be earned.  I had been reared in a church that taught me that only one thing was free or a guarantee and that was that I would be resurrected.  That was it…according to the LDS teachings I grew up with Christ’s sacrifice and resurrection broke the bonds of death and because of that everyone would be resurrected.  Anything past that though required a lot of work on my part.

To give you a glimpse into that doctrine here are a few of the verses from the Book of Mormon most commonly used to display this idea.

2 Nephi 25:23 – 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.

The majority of this verse sounds great and is very much in-line with Biblical teaching but when you add the context of the last five words to it, everything changed.  Grace becomes an afterthought, something that only takes affect when we have left everything we could possible give on the table.  It limits and diminishes the power and scope of God’s grace.

Moroni 10: 32 – Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.

This verse, which is actually one of the very last things said in the Book of Mormon, takes it one step further.  Here we see a very clear “if/than statement” that naturally signifies a conditional reward.  “IF” we deny ourselves of ALL ungodliness…”THAN” God’s grace is sufficient for us.  Without one…the other is not possible.  While the first passage in 2 Nephi tells us to basically work harder and do more…this one actually tells us to literally become perfect.  If we have cleared ourselves of “all ungodliness” than we have become perfect.  If we have become perfect by our own actions and works, than we have no more need for a Savior nor His grace.  Now, most LDS would say that it is impossible to actually become perfect but that God wants us to be as perfect as possible and then Christ will make up the difference.  It would appear that these two verses actually contradict each other and they do but that is the doctrine of Mormonism and I have learned over the past two years that it stands in direct contradiction to Biblical Christianity.

What does the Bible say about Grace and salvation by Grace?

Romans 11:6 – And if by grace, then it is no longer by works; if it were, grace would no longer be grace.

1 Cor 15:10 – But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace to me was not without effect.  No, I worked harder than all of them – yet not I, but the grace of God that was with me.

I like this declaration by Paul because it underlines the fact that God’s grace is something that can impact our lives every day as a source of strength an empowerment, not just something that fills in the gap at the end of our life.

Galatians 2:20-21 – I have been crucified with Christ and I no longer live, but Christ lives in me. The life I live in the body, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me.  I do not set aside the grace of God, for if righteousness could be gained through the law, Christ died for nothing!

Galatians 5:4 – You who are trying to be justified by law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace.

And perhaps the most well know passage about grace:

Ephesians 2:4-5,8-9 – But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions—it is by grace you have been saved.  For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.

Growing up, grace was not a word mentioned very often but when it was, the context was always something earned, a reward for a job well done.

This is now the context in which I view grace…a gift of God.  A gift not to be earned, but received.  A gift I cannot do without NOW.  Grace is the sustaining force in my life that provides me the strength and ability to live each day.  It is my confession of fault and “unworthiness” and subsequent dependency on Jesus that qualifies me for His grace…not my self proclaimed righteousness or good works.  It is by grace that I have been saved and I’m proud of it!

Categories: Grace, Mormonism, Words
  1. muzacmercer
    August 14, 2010 at 3:59 pm

    Hey, I recently wrote a song about the prodigal son and God’s grace. Hope it speaks to your heart. Thanks for listening!

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