Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Grace vs. Works


Anon commented as follows to my Bubble Kids post:


Loved this post. I have been following your blog for some time and have been praying for you and your family a lot. Can you answer a question for me? You said in your post in regard to getting to raise Camille again..."In the end she will be mine to raise 'if I live worthy'." Can you explain that to me? I am curious because I know that you are LDS and that I do not know exactly how yours and my faiths differ. I believe that by accepting Christ and knowing He died for my sins, I will be in Heaven one day. That part has been earned FOR me, not BY me. So I just wondered what you meant. Again, I am purely curious...in no way is this a confrontational question! Again, I loved this post. God Bless you and your family! Still praying for you all.

Thank you so much for the prayers Anon. I really do feel and appreciate all the prayers of support from so many of varied faiths all over the world. I can feel of their power in my life. I know it is through them and the power of the Atonement of Christ that my spirit and my heart have healed so much in the last two years. 

I appreciate your question and will try to answer. First I must explain though, that just as your question was asked in curiosity, my answer is given to inform only. I am not trying to convince anyone with this post that I am right. Of course I believe that. But I do not feel it my duty to convince any one of that. If anyone wants to know what is right and true, they ought to be asking God about that. He is the one who really convinces us (or converts us) to any truth. I know he answers my prayers in HIs own time and I have felt His Spirit teach me many truths. I know He loves all of us as His children. And so I believe He will answer any who honestly and earnestly seek to know what is True.

Okay now on to your question. It seems your question comes down to the wanting to understand how LDS people view the doctrine of Grace. Please correct me in a comment if I am wrong on that. We do in fact believe that we are indeed saved by Grace. But we believe that we must be found worthy of that Grace based upon our obedience  to the laws and ordinances of the gospel of Jesus Christ. 

Many years ago one of our prophets named David O. McKay gave an example to illustrate this. He told the story of a group of boys learning to swim. He told how one of the boys fell into a deep hole in the stream and would have drown but for a quick thinking friend who extended a branch to the boy. The boy took hold of the branch and was pulled by the friend to safety.

This example illustrates the relationship between grace and works. Christ has paid for our sins. He did the work. He extended the branch. But we believe that to take sufficient HOLD of the branch we must do more than just profess an acceptance of the offer. We must take firm grasp on it and hold true to it against the current as we are pulled to safety.

It is a misunderstanding to think Mormons believe we can earn our way to heaven through righteous living. We know that it is only in and through our Savior Jesus Christ that we are saved. But we are saved by Him after all we can do. As I noted in my Bubble post, we do all we can and rely on him to make us "perfect even as our Father in Heaven."

We do not believe we can profess acceptance of the Savior and then continue sinning thinking that the Savior will save us no matter how we live. It is like the parable of the 10 virgins. Only 5 had oil enough in their lamps when the Bridegroom came. We fill our lamps with oil through our Christ like acts. Even though all 10 knew of the Bridgegroom and wanted to go to his wedding, only 5 were let in. These were they whose actions afforded them enough oil.

Really we are trying to follow the Savior as closely as we can in our attempt to become like Him. We believe that in the great day of judgement He will know each of our hearts (if they are broken and contrite and repentant) and all our works (whether we tried our best to follow him and keep his commandments) and He will judge whether we have truly accepted the gift of the atonement that he has offered us.

If you would like a more in depth understanding of this principle, there is a great article HERE that goes over the teachings of Paul in the New Testament and how we understand Paul's teachings to support this doctrine. It isn't long. Just a page or two and totally worth the read if you are wanting more detail and scriptural citations.

11 comments:

PECK said...

well put. :)

Chelsa said...

good post :)

Puhlman said...

I read your blog yesterday and saw the question. So my husband and I opened the scriptures to find the answers. I believe you can always find answers there. In the bible in James chapter 2 in verses 14-21 it helps to understand about grace and works. Actually the whole chapter is wonderful.

I am so thankful for a loving Heavenly Father that has so much understanding of our weaknesses. I am so thankful to also know that we have to work hard. Everything in life takes hard work.

And I totally believe that the ONLY way we will make it back to live with our Heavenly Father and our Savior Jesus Christ is through what the Savior did for us. But I know that it will also be after all we can do.

I want to say that you always have an amazing way of answering questions and being so sweet and understanding to those around you.

I read your blog because of your faith. I read your blog because of your strength and dedication. You have been tested with losing your sweet daughter. I cannot even imagine. Yet you prove to me daily that we can't give up. Your love for the Savior really shines. I admire you. There are not very many people that I don't know...yet really admire.

I found you through Mandy R.

Here at home said...

Beautiful post, Stephanie. Thank you.

a.k.a. Jack said...

I would also add an additional thought. Like you said, we believe accepting Christ is more than just professing to do so: It is accepting Him as our Savior and exemplar. We accept Him as our Savior, because we recognize that without Him and his atonement, we would be unable to receive salvation. And, if we truly do accept him, and recognize the truth of His teachings (or except Him as our exemplar), we accept his teachings. Thus, if we truly accept Him, we will naturally live by the principles and teachings he has provided for us. I don't know if I worded that very clearly, but I guess the gist is that living according to Christ's teachings is a natural consequence of truly coming to accept Him. Does that make sense?

Anonymous said...

Stephanie,

Thank you SO much for replying on this. I really appreciated your quick answer and I love how you put it. In all, I do not see that we view salvation any differently really. I attend a Bible church, non-denominational, and although we teach that it is purely by faith in Christ and His grace alone that one is saved, we too hold to the many biblical truths that we are then to live in a Christlike manner. Not to EARN a greater "level" of salvation, but to show that by taking Christ as our Savior we now profess to achieve a Christlike way of life to show our faith is real and to BE CHRIST to others in our daily living. We honor Him by living the way He told us in the Scriptures to live....which is just as He did. Never would we think that we could just keep on sinning and be okay. We will still be in Heaven with Him, but that doesn't keep us from being judged by God according to our works. We are still indeed going to be judged on how we lived, but the SALVATION ALONE does not depend on those things we have done. I think in essence we are saying the same thing in our faiths, just in different ways. I didn't mean to go all out with this, but I am SO grateful to you for being open and willing to answer my question. I love your blog and will continue to read and to pray for you. :)

Sharon said...

Great post. Thanks!

chanel said...

this was wonderful. i haven't heard that story from President McKay, it makes so much sense. you do have a phenomenal way of expressing your beliefs and it helps me. thank you- as always.

Cheryl said...

I am a member of the same church as Stephanie and wanted to comment as well. We do believe that salvation is a free gift given by our Savior. All will be resurrected without any works on their part and live again. But we also believe that to live with God and live as an eternal family unit we must be obedient to the laws and commandments given by God. None of us can be saved without Him because all are imperfect and sinful. We must lay our imperfections at His feet and He will perfect us!

Anonymous said...

Anonymous, you are right...the LDS faith professes that ALL will be saved. Even people who sin, etc. Everyone will be resurrected and live again no matter what they do in this life.

We do however, believe in different levels of "heaven" so thats where works come in. A murderer would not go to the same "heaven" as a prophet, but both will live again because of the atonement.

We also believe that we are able to atone, grow and learn, and progress in the hereafter, so no one will be stuck in one level or another.

I'm not sure if it will be actual physical "levels" or places, or if it will be a state of mind or consciousness, etc. Some believe that those who haven't repented of sin will just be so preoccupied by their sin and pain that they will not be able to look up and see "the light", they will not recognize it and be able to progress.

There are a lot of areas that are up to individual interpretation. But basically, by works, we mean being and living Christ-like. I think a lot of religions get too caught up in this "difference" when its really just semantics.

Anonymous said...

Interesting conversation. I love your blog. Your sweet family has been in my prayers for quite some time now. Anon.-As far as the "levels in heaven" could you share where it says that in the Bible? I would very much like to read more about that. Also, the Bible is very clear when it says that while Jesus Christ was hanging on the cross he told the thief on the cross next to him that "TODAY" you will be with me in paradise. That very day that horrible awful sinner would be in the same Heaven as our Savior because he asked Jesus to remember him.