I saw an article in LDS Living that caught my eye yesterday with the title Why Do Mormons Struggle So Much with Grace? Now, I must confess there was a part of my that wanted to jump up, raise my hand and say “I know, I know. Pick me, pick me!!” after reading it.
The short answer is because they don’t understand it, nor have they been taught the biblical view of God’s grace. The idea of being saved by grace after nothing I did was a foreign concept to me as a new creation in Jesus Christ. I thought to myself, there has to be something I must to earn my place in God’s presence.
Now for the longer answer, the reason I had a hard time accepting this wonderful gift of grace is because I was taught God’s grace came with expectations. In the Book of Mormon, 2 Nephi 25:23, was one of the verses I heard quoted many times while in the Church.
“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.”(emphasis mine)
What must they ‘do’? The third Article of Faith clarifies (somewhat), it reads:
“We believe that through the Atonement of Christ, all mankind may be saved, by obedience to the laws and ordinances of the Gospel.”
These are the things I was taught as a Mormon. Works and grace went hand in hand, and I couldn’t have one without the other. Especially when talking about where I would spend eternity. If I wanted to be with my family, and receive exaltation I had to do my part and work for it.
I’ve noticed a shift lately in Mormonism where it seems they are wording things differently in their General Conference talks to give the impression to the unknowing individual that Mormonism shares the same biblical view of grace and salvation that Christians do.
Recently, they’ve been focusing their talks on Jesus at lot more, and less on doing your best to merit, and earn your way to exaltation. Don’t be deceived by this. Mormonism hasn’t changed its doctrine on these things. It’s the same as it’s always been.
One example of this is a talk Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a few years ago, where he said “It is the blood of Jesus Christ that saves us.”
To Mr. Uchtdorf I’d say, “okay, you say the blood of Jesus saves you, but saves you from what?”
At the end of the day it always comes back to works; works for the dead, and works for themselves. The shed blood of Jesus will never be enough (according to their doctrines) to allow them be in the presence of God when they die.
In case Mormons have forgotten, an article in the March 2005 Ensign, states their Church’s view on grace, i.e. salvation, very plainly.
“We receive God’s grace because of the Atonement. We can’t raise ourselves from the dead, so the Resurrection is an example of His grace. We can’t purify ourselves from sin, so the Lord’s forgiveness is another example of grace. But before He will forgive us, we must repent—that’s our part, our works
Besides repentance, our works also include receiving ordinances, keeping covenants, and serving others. While these works are necessary for salvation, they aren’t sufficient. They are not enough because we can’t live perfect lives, but we can do our best to live righteously. By doing so, we invite the Lord’s grace into our lives and qualify for the gift of salvation. (emphasis mine)
So, what does grace really mean to the Christian? Well, the grace of God is the good news of the gospel of Jesus Christ. It’s what allows us to not have to pay the price of sin, what makes us part of God’s family, and permits us to dwell in His presence for eternity.
To understand grace better we need to think about where we’d be without it. Psalm 51:5 says “Behold, I was shapen in iniquity; and in sin did my mother conceive me.” (Now Mormons would have a problem with this because they don’t believe in ‘original sin’, however scripture proves them wrong)
Scripture also goes on to prove them wrong by stating:
“As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” (Romans 3:10)
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin.” (Romans 3:20)
Scriptures tells us that through the grace of Jesus Christ-
“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9)
Victory over sin
“But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)
A gift from God
“But unto every one of us is given grace according to the measure of the gift of Christ. (Ephesians 4:7)”
We are redeemed
“In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;”(Ephesians 1:7)
We are called the Children of God
“The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.”(Romans 8:16-17)
I pray Mormons will learn what grace truly is, and think about what it would mean for them be saved by grace after nothing they’ve done to earn it.