Sunday, March 24, 2013

What Mormons Believe About Grace

The first time I was asked about grace vs. works, I was 17 years old and in high school. I was working at a restaurant as a hostess and one of the hosts asked me if I believed I was saved by grace. I didn't really have an answer that I felt was adequate at the time. He may have been wanting to debate. I'm not sure.

Recently, I've been asked that question again.

Because I am Mormon, or a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, I often hear of many misconceptions from my own friends, or in the media, or about anywhere else you can imagine. Pertaining to the subject of grace, the popular belief is that Mormons don't really believe that we are "saved" by grace, or that we don't really believe that Jesus died for our sins, and that we must "earn" our way into Heaven through our works.

This simply is NOT true!!

We FULLY believe that Jesus died for our sins and that the debt for ALL has been paid in full, by our Savior and Redeemer Jesus Christ. In return, Jesus wants us to love him and he wants us to change! The only way to change is to work on becoming a better person. The end result is that yes, we are saved through His Atonement--100% by the Savior alone, not by anything we have done ourselves. But, ultimately, we will have to want it. We will have to want to be in His presence. We will want to be comfortable with Him in Heaven. If we are running around sinning and not trying to repent, trying to change, trying to draw closer to Him through our acts, words and deeds, then I fully doubt we will be comfortable or even want to be there.

Brad Wilcox* said:
"Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice--not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate  perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment, He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfection and help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements."
To further illustrate and explain this point, Bruce C. Hafen has said:
"The great Mediator asks for our repentance not because we must 'repay' him in exchange for his paying our debt to justice, but because repentance initiates a developmental process that  with the Savior's help, leads us along the path to a saintly character." (The Broken Heart)
As Wilcox also states that we are not trying to earn our way into heaven, we are "learning" heaven. "We are preparing for it. We are practicing for it." 

You have been saved by grace, we all have! But have you been changed by grace? If you have and are being changed by grace, chances are that you will want to be in heaven with our Savior. Wilcox also suggests that it won't be the unrepentant people begging Jesus so they can stay, but the opposite--they will not want to be there. Conversely, it will be Christ, asking, pleading for us to stay with Him--to use His Atonement not just to be cleansed of sin, but to change so we will want to stay.

He wants each of us so badly, that he paid the demands of justice, paid the debt in full so we may return if we choose. Our part is simply to do what He asks of us so we will actually desire to return to Him. He loves us. He loves you. He is not just pulling for you, He is walking the journey with you.

So, what do Mormons believe about grace? We believe we are saved by grace, but that Jesus requires that we try to be like Him, keep His commandments and live as true Christians so we will be ready when the time comes and desire to live with Him again. He has saved us through His Atonement, but we also need to be changed by His Atonement.

*Note: You can watch Brad Wilcox's full speech here or read a condensed version here.

© Wendy 2013

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