The grace of God is manifested by His great love, mercy, and kindness to His children. From the Creation, to the Atonement, resurrection, and on to eternal life, His grace is evident. It is the grace of God that makes up for all our weaknesses and fulfills the law of justice and mercy—and this is after all we can do (see 2 Nephi 25:23). We become justified and sanctified through His grace (see Doctrine and Covenants 20:30-32). Thus we become indebted to our Heavenly Father and our Savior for all things. Their grace is sufficient for all those who love Them and keep Their commandments.
THE SCRIPTURES TEACH US
• 1 Corinthians 15:10 — But by the grace of God I am what I am: and his grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.
- Let us never forget that without the grace of God we are nothing. The Lord expects of us to labor abundantly in the cause of Christ in gratitude to the Lord.
• Ephesians 2:8-10—8 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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.
- This often-used scripture is sometimes used to indicate that we need not do good works to be exalted, but verse 10 makes it abundantly clear that we were created and expected to do good and not merely rely on the goodness of our Savior Jesus Christ.
• 2 Nephi 10:24 — Wherefore, my beloved brethren, reconcile yourselves to the will of God, and not to the will of the devil and the flesh; and remember, after ye are reconciled unto God, that it is only in and through the grace of God that ye are saved.
- When we reconcile ourselves to Christ, we accept Him, we submit ourselves to His will and we are in total harmony with His commandments, doing all in our power to be obedient and Christ-like—then through the grace of God are we saved.
• 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.
- We are to do all that we can in order to qualify for the eternal blessings of the grace of God and thus return to the presence of our Heavenly Father.
• D&C 20:30-34—30 And we know that justification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true; And we know also, that sanctification through the grace of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ is just and true, to all those who love and serve God with all their mights, minds, and strength. But there is a possibility that man may fall from grace and depart from the living God; Therefore let the church take heed and pray always, lest they fall into temptation; Yea, and even let those who are sanctified take heed also.
- We are justified and sanctified through the grace of God; however, if we do not continue in good works we can lose the blessings of the grace of God. It behooves us to continue on the straight and narrow course, thus qualifying for the blessings of the grace of God.
MODERN PROPHETS SPEAK
Some friends of other faiths like to quote the following words of Paul: “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). That man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation, is false doctrine. One passage in the Book of Mormon, written perhaps with the same intent as Paul’s statement above--to stress and induce appreciation for the gracious gift of salvation offered on condition of obedience--is particularly enlightening: “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.” (2 Nephi 25:23; italics added.). . . .
And the Lord further emphasized the fact: “And no unclean thing can enter into his kingdom; therefore nothing entereth into his rest save it be those who have washed their garments in my blood, because of their faith, and the repentance of all their sins, and their faithfulness unto the end.” (3 Nephi 27:19.). . . .
However good a person’s works, he could not be saved had Jesus not died for his and everyone else’s sins. And however powerful the saving grace of Christ, it brings exaltation to no man who does not comply with the works of the gospel.
Of course we need to understand terms. If by the word salvation is meant the mere salvation or redemption from the grave, the “grace of God” is sufficient. But if the term salvation means returning to the presence of God with eternal progression, eternal increase, and eventual godhood, for this one certainly must have the “grace of God,” as it is generally defined, plus personal purity, overcoming of evil, and the good “works” made so important in the exhortations of the Savior and his prophets and apostles.
- (Spencer W. Kimball, The Teachings of Spencer W. Kimball, edited by Edward L. Kimball [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1982], 71.)
As a Church, we are in accord with Nephi, who said, “it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). Grace consists of God’s gift to His children wherein He gave His Only Begotten Son that whosoever would believe in Him and comply with His laws and ordinances would have everlasting life.
By grace, the Savior accomplished His atoning sacrifice so that all mankind will attain immortality. By His grace, and by our faith in His atonement and repentance of our sins, we receive the strength to do the works necessary that we otherwise could not do by our own power. By His grace we receive an endowment of blessing and spiritual strength that may eventually lead us to eternal life if we endure to the end. By His grace we become more like His divine personality. Yes, it is “by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
What is meant by “after all we can do”? “After all we can do” includes extending our best effort. “After all we can do” includes living His commandments. “After all we can do” includes loving our fellowmen and praying for those who regard us as their adversary. “After all we can do” means clothing the naked, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick and giving “succor [to] those who stand in need of [our] succor” (Mosiah 4:15)--remembering that what we do unto one of the least of God’s children, we do unto Him (see Matthew 25:34-40; Doctrine and Covenants 42:38). “After all we can do” means leading chaste, clean, pure lives, being scrupulously honest in all our dealings and treating others the way we would want to be treated. (“After All We Can Do,” Christmas Devotional, Salt Lake City, Utah, 9 December 1982.)
- (Ezra Taft Benson, The Teachings of Ezra Taft Benson [Salt Lake City: Bookcraft, 1988], 353 - 354.)
IDEAS FOR DAILY LIVING
Here are seven ideas to help us understand the doctrine of grace and to apply it to our lives:
1. Gratitude — The doctrine of the grace of God is founded upon His goodness toward, and love of, His children. When we come to realize this truth, we will be filled with gratitude. Gratitude is the catalyst for obedience, change, and growth. Gratitude is an essential quality in those seeking the reconciling grace of God (see 1 Corinthians1:4).
2. Love begets love — When we feel the love of our Heavenly Father, we want to reciprocate. We want to show our love by keeping the commandments (see John 14:15; 21:15-17).
3. Atonement — The love and grace of Heavenly Father (see John 3:16) and our Savior Jesus Christ (see 2 Nephi 26:24) were the motivating forces empowering the atoning sacrifice of our Savior Jesus Christ. The trailing blessings continually bless us in all facets of our lives: He takes upon Himself our pains, sicknesses, and infirmities, and succors us continually (see Alma 7:11-12).
4. Diligence and hard work — The Lord gives us everything; therefore, it is because of His grace that we have our temporal and spiritual blessings here upon the earth. However, the law of the harvest is part of the magnificent plan: we are to prepare the earth (which is the Lord’s), we are to plant the seeds (which were created by the Lord as a gift to us), we are to nurture the seeds (water and the nutrients are the Lord’s), and we are to recognize that the vitality within the seeds (from the Lord) is empowered by the sun (which power is from the Lord). We can therefore look forward to the seeds bringing forth their fruit. The same law of the harvest applies to humankind and our spiritual growth: we plant the seeds of the word of God then through faith, diligence, and patience (see Alma 32:40-43); we receive the blessings of the fruit because of His grace and mercy towards us; and we literally cultivate our spiritual blessings through obedience and valor according to our Heavenly Father’s plan. Thus it is true that we prosper and bear fruit by grace after all we can do (see 2 Nephi 25:23).
5. Recognize our weaknesses — When we recognize our weaknesses, we are able to become humble. We are then strengthened through the grace of God (see Ether 12:27).
6. Understand the doctrine of the Fall of Adam — We are in a fallen state, which caused separation both spiritually and temporally from God. Only through the grace of God can these separations be bridged, provided we repent (see Mosiah 4:5-11).
7. Repentance — The process of repentance requires that we seek the grace of God in order to be forgiven (see Helaman 12:24).
ILLUSTRATIONS FOR OUR TIME
“Without Grace We are Nothing”
Elder Boyd K. Packer had presided over the reorganization of our Stake, and now it was time for the new leadership to be installed during a special session. The brother whom the Lord had called to be Patriarch took his place on the designated chair and the Apostle laid his hands on his head and began the ordination and setting apart with the words, “Brother [mentioning his name], you are nothing. . . .” This last word received considerable emphasis, followed by a long pause—which gave everyone present the motivation for deep soul-searching. Then Elder Packer continued: “. . . without the Lord.” It was a profoundly powerful teaching moment about leadership. No matter what our callings in the Church from time to time, we are truly “nothing without the Lord.” It is the Lord, through His Spirit, who energizes our service. It is the Lord who kindles our desire, hope, and love—all essential for meaningful service. It is the Lord who activates within us the gifts and talents we draw upon in order to contribute effectively our modest donation to the building up of His Kingdom. It is the Lord, through His Spirit, who sustains us, empowers us, guides us, and teaches us the correct way to proceed. It is the Lord, through His grace, who brings us the blessings of redemption and reconciliation with the Father, “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23).
The Atonement of Jesus Christ transforms our nothingness to a potentiality of spiritual grandeur based on hope, faith, and obedience. This process depends on the merits, mercy, and grace of the Savior. As we shall see, there is only one verse in Holy Writ that contains all three of these key words of redemption, and it occurs in the Book of Mormon in the remarkable discourse of Lehi in which he instructs his son Jacob about the dynamic process of the Atonement. Lehi reminds Jacob: “And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever” (2 Nephi 2:5). The Apostle Paul was to say something very similar some four centuries later: “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).
To say that no flesh is justified by the law is to confirm that no individual can ascend to a state of reconciliation with God on the basis of obedience alone, for no individual in the world, save the Savior Himself, has ever lived the law to perfection, or ever will do so. Thus there remains always a deficit in the nature and works of man that can be bridged only through an infinite sacrifice and Atonement based on grace. The key to closing the spiritual gap in the progress of mankind is summarized by Lehi in the extraordinary verse alluded to earlier: “Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise. Wherefore, he is the firstfruits unto God, inasmuch as he shall make intercession for all the children of men; and they that believe in him shall be saved” (2 Nephi 2:8-9).
It is the intercession of the Holy Messiah that lifts mankind from a state of nothingness to a state of redeeming hope in Christ, after all they can do. It is through grace that the balance is made up. “Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth” (2 Nephi 2:6). (Richard J. Allen)
- This article was adapted from What We Need to Know and Do, by Ed J. Pinegar and Richard J. Allen.