Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Grace and the Sons of Mosiah

2 Ne. 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.

Critics of the LDS church mistakenly interpret this scripture to mean that LDS believe that we can save ourselves, or that we meet God half-way, or that we can contribute one iota to our own salvation. That is not what this means, and this mistaken understanding of this scripture is a result of ignoring the scriptural context of the verse.

Matt. 1:21 And she shall bring forth a son, and thou shalt call his name JESUS: for he shall save his people from their sins.
Matt. 7:21 Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.

LDS believe that we are saved 100% by grace. Any good work or ordinance that is performed is not done by the believer. Man can do no good work of himself, but it is done by the power of the Holy Ghost working in the believer. Christ's atonement just doesn't overcome the consequences of sin in the next life, but it has the power to change us "in this world" that our love can be made perfect. This is the process of sanctification. And even though the work of the Spirit may not fully perfect us in this life, we are assured that after all we can do, or all that we allow God to work through us, then is Christ's grace sufficient for us. For Christ will save is from our sins and not in our sins.

I was reading in the Book of Mormon with my son last night and I really felt the power the the grace of Christ's atonement reading about the mission of Ammon and the sons of Mosiah to the Lamanites. Ammon and the sons of Helaman talk about preaching the Gospel of Christ and they glory not in themselves, but they praise God and boast of their God who made them instruments (Alma 26:3) in his hands and allowed to witness His power in changing the hearts of their brethren.

Alma 26:11 But Ammon said unto him: I do not boast in my own strength, nor in my own wisdom; but behold, my joy is full, yea, my heart is brim with joy, and I will rejoice in my God. Yea, I know that I am nothing; as to my strength I am weak; therefore I will not boast of myself, but I will boast of my God, for in his strength I can do all things; yea, behold, many mighty miracles we have wrought in this land, for which we will praise his name forever.

Ammon and his brethren comment on the mercy of God which was extended to them despite their unworthiness. They went about trying to destroy the chruch or God, but God in His mercy sent an angel to reclaim them in stead of destroying them like they deserved. But they received that spirit and Christ, and the Holy Ghost was able to sactify them, empower them to repentance, and do many mighty miracles through them by the power of Christ's atonement.

Alma 26:17 Who could have supposed that our God would have been so merciful as to have snatched us from our awful, sinful, and polluted state? 18 Behold, we went forth even in wrath, with mighty threatenings to destroy his church. 19 Oh then, why did he not consign us to an awful destruction, yea, why did he not let the sword of his justice fall upon us, and doom us to eternal despair? 20 Oh, my soul, almost as it were, fleeth at the thought. Behold, he did not exercise his justice upon us, but in his great mercy hath brought us over that everlasting gulf of death and misery, even to the salvation of our souls. 21 And now behold, my brethren, what natural man is there that knoweth these things? I say unto you, there is none that knoweth these things, save it be the penitent. 22 Yea, he that repenteth and exerciseth faith, and bringeth forth good works, and prayeth continually without ceasing—unto such it is given to know the mysteries of God;

According to these beautiful verses, it is clear that grace saves us 100%. And were it not for the grace alone of Christ, Ammon and his brethren would have been lost forever. So, as the Book of Mormon illustrates, the LDS church has the correct focus on faith in Christ, which empowers us to become new creatures, and empowers us to repentance, ordinances, and sanctification. And although we may not depart this Earth fully perfected in every way, we are promised that after all we have allowed God to do in us, never having rejected the workings of the Holy Ghost; Christ's grace will be sufficient; for Christ saves us from our sins and not in our sins.

1 comment:

Clean Cut said...

I recently participated on an evangelical blog trying to clarify this very thing--Latter-day Saints indeed believe in salvation by grace. That verse (2nd Nephi 25:23) was the exact verse the "critic" used. It prompted several posts on my own blog about the whole thing. It's always interesting to come across others who are sharing similar thoughts. Thanks!