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 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.