I’m not a doctrinal or theological expert. I’m just a normal, average, faith-transitioned member trying to work her way in the world. As a result of the faith transition, I feel . . . less worthy and certain. Before I was filled with certainty; how I saw the world, the eternities, and my place in it very clearly. I had confidence in my standing before God because I felt I was doing all that I could do. Now I’m incredibly uncertain about the world, the eternities, and really the only thing I know for sure is how little I know. My confidence in my place before God comes wholly from reliance on more of an evangelical form of grace. We are all broken, unworthy . . . and all I have to offer God every week is my broken heart and contrite spirit.
I’ve always had unexplained health issues that doctors have never been able to explain. About a year ago I began to have some pretty major health problems. I had so little energy it felt like I was moving through molasses. I was struggling to be able to lift up a gallon of milk in the morning. I was diagnosed with lupus about six months ago. It’s a lifetime, chronic auto-immune disease that in a lot of ways mimics MS (your body attacking itself). Gratefully I have a relatively mild case and as of now my kidneys, heart, and brain have nothing to worry about. That being said, I was counseled to start practicing self care and have a realistic outlook and what I will be able to accomplish in a day (not much). It’s been a difficult transition to learn how to do nothing (comparatively). Especially when I hear the oft-repeated phrase of “grace is the enabling power of the atonement to strengthen you to do more than what you can do on your own.” From how I was hearing grace being taught at church, it just felt like Bednar’s grace seemed out of reach – that it just wasn’t for me. I certainly wasn’t experiencing super-human feats of obedience and good works. I do the basic Sunday school answers. I volunteer on the local library foundation board. I substitute teach sometimes. And I can barely get dinner on the table. These things were stretching me to my limits; I felt like I was relying on the atonement not to strengthen me, but to allow me to accept my limits and to comfort me in my nothingness (being the dust of the earth and all).
Imagine my reaction of joy and happiness to hear Elder Uchtdorf’s sermon on grace Sunday morning.
…”the grace of God [is] —the divine assistance and endowment of strength by which we grow from the flawed and limited beings we are now into exalted beings of “truth and light, until [we are] glorified in truth and [know] all things.”8
The assistance we receive to grow from flawed to exalted beings – this spoke to my heart. I hope that is what has moved upon me lately to produce my broken heart and contrite spirit; to make my heart softer, less judgmental, and more empathetic. Indeed my heart has been changed. When he went on to say,
Salvation cannot be bought with the currency of obedience; it is purchased by the blood of the Son of God.26 Thinking that we can trade our good works for salvation is like buying a plane ticket and then supposing we own the airline. Or thinking that after paying rent for our home, we now hold title to the entire planet earth.
I almost collapsed, because I felt like I had been there. That WAS me. I am eternally grateful for the message the Spirit spoke to my heart during this talk. It’s been interesting to see others’ reactions. Some have matched mine, others decidedly not; including lamentations of whiffs of this evangelical type of grace.
So what do you think? Do you find any stark differences between Bednar’s grace and Uchtdorf’s grace? Are they competing or compatible views? Do you think we may have swung the pendulum along the spectrum a little too far into works and we’re in need or a slight course correction? What should I make of the fact that Uchtdorf’s grace works perfectly for me but others hope it doesn’t speak of things to come? Is grace *more* than the enabling power of the atonement? Are the two approaches just different layers to the same onion?
The problem with Bednar’s position, I think, is that we’re left feeling that we ought to be able to do more, because atonement. We should just do it, and let Christ carry us in the doing, or something. And which of us will ever feel when we’ve done enough under that measure? How can we measure up to the atonement? It’s like another stick to beat ourselves with. Sometimes, we just can’t do, and need to be carried in learning to accept our limitations. I do prefer Pres. Uchtdorf’s take on this subject.
I enjoyed your opening paragraph:
“As a result of the faith transition, I feel . . . less worthy and certain. Before I was filled with certainty; how I saw the world, the eternities, and my place in it very clearly. I had confidence in my standing before God because I felt I was doing all that I could do. Now I’m incredibly uncertain about the world, the eternities, and really the only thing I know for sure is how little I know. My confidence in my place before God comes wholly from reliance on more of an evangelical form of grace.”
It describes me pretty well. Following the recent ward amalgamation I’m now primary pianist (should I see this as the go to calling for folk like me following Sis Wixom’s talk?), so when I was set apart, my initial feeling was, so this is where I get reprimanded, or whatever, about my attitude or something (constantly having butted heads with ward leaders in my previous music calling). Instead I was told the Lord was pleased with me, and not to be afraid to say what I think. That was a moment of grace for me.
There is no need to try to reconcile the two addresses. Both are perspectives from good and honorable men, even inspired men, sharing some thoughts to help their fellow Saints. We need not say one is right and one is wrong. Both can be right. If one seems more relevant to you, that’s fine. As life circumstances change, perspectives may change, too. Neither man took it upon himself to give an academically complete treatment of the Lord’s grace, and neither address should be seen as such.
The scripture says there is safety in a multitude of counselors. That’s why we have a First Presidency of three and a Quorum of the Twelve. In pastoral matters (these were pastoral addresses, not doctrinal addresses), we don’t need explicit unanimity. Even so, I think both men offered good insights for the benefit of their fellow Saints.
All that said, in an glad President Uchtdorf said what he did. It resonated with me, as reinforcing what I already believed.
Beautiful post. It was interesting to compare your personal reaction to Uchtdorf’s talk compared to the T&S one you linked. Perhaps the reason we have widely different and even paradoxical ways of discussing grace/works is that we as members respond so differently to these two approaches. Some need a more grace-based approach, some need a more works-based approach.
You might say that works-based views like Bednar’s are more “perfectionist” and grace-based views like Uchdorf are more “wholeness” oriented ( less about proving ourselves as equal to God’s demands and more about letting Him fill us with His wholeness.) Jesus said “be ye therefore perfect” which can also be translated as “be ye therefore ‘whole'”.
I bring up Jung too much I know, but Jung said that “perfection” is the masculine desideratum and “wholeness” is the female desideratum. The masculine seeks the kick in the pants that comes from works-oriented perfectionism because they respond to structure, ambition, discipline. The feminine seeks the wholeness that comes from love, forgiveness, mercy, and unity. (Please note ” the masculine” and “the feminine” does NOT necessarily correspond to men and women, which have both in them. But rather these two reflect differences which people in general have towards perfectionism in life.)
I don’t recall what Elder Bednar said, but as a TBM who’s been through the faith transition wringer, I can add my voice that I found Pres. Uchtdorf’s comments about grace spot on! IMHO, we as members get too caught up in the works thing and would live happier lives if we focused more on grace and saw God as someone who wants to draw us to Heaven with His love rather than force us to the same with guilt.
Uchtdorf is more firmly grounded in the New Testament which is to say Christianity than any apostle in resent history. The LDS view of the New Testament is biased by viewing it through an Old Testament lens elevating the letter above the spirit of the law and largely ignoring Christ’s center piece sermons of mount and plain, the beatitudes (see SWK, BKP etc) which is how we arrived at a Pharisaical Mosaic church in spite of it’s advanced Christianity plus doctrine and that view is perpetuated via the conservatively biased hierarchy.
I appreciate the thoughts. But I don’t find the views to be different. Taken together, they help paint a more clear picture of how truly amazing grace is. I sometimes think of General Conference as sitting around a campfire. The fire is always changing just a bit, and each of us is viewing from a different angle.
Added to these two speakers, I think a third is relevant, Elder Holland from April 2011 conference:
“Consider the variety of the messages that you hear–all the more miraculous with no coordination except the direction of heaven. But why wouldn’t they be varied? …In the wide variety of sermons given is the assumption that there will be something for everyone….please be reassured that when we speak on difficult subjects, we understand not everyone is viewing pornography or shirking marriage …when we come to that subject, listen for another which addresses a topic where you may be lacking. If we teach by the Spirit and you listen by the Spirit, some one of us will touch on your circumstance, sending a personal prophetic epistle just to you.”
It sounds like you had that kind of experience in the most recent talk by Elder Uchtdorf. Good for you!
Given the depth of knowledge of both of those speakers, I doubt that either was able to share all of their knowledge about Grace in the short time available in one talk; on another day, when speaking to a different audience, either might give a talk that encompasses both aspects (and more). I guess I am sensitive about viewing this as an Elder Bednar vs. Elder Uchtdorf thing, because my research team routinely gives presentations where we offer different views on the same dataset–perhaps one of us presenting the percent of young people who drink alcohol regularly, and the other presenting the percent of people who drink alcohol regularly who are young people. As the audience discusses the value of each, they invariably refer to it by our names. When really, we both own both viewpoints.
normal, average, faith-transitioned member
That “average” represents a wide, flat bell curve. 🙂
I think perhaps (and I’ve made this same assumption in relation to some issues of my own) that you may have interpreted the phrase “to strengthen you to do more than what you can do on your own” fairly narrowly, and related it to your physical well-being and ability. And then, of course, felt a little forsaken when you still couldn’t lift the milk? I had a similar experience on my mission, especially with relation to the implications of the promise in D&C 84:33, which was PROOF POSITIVE that I was a lousy missionary, or I would have felt better! Right?
However, your passage, even more than Section 84, is so much more than your ability to perform physical labor. “More than what you can do on your own”? Did you ever imagine being a source of inspiration for thousands of people seeking a way to come to grips with the God and the faith that they love, and the cries of their heart? Or your own struggles with infertility, or faith crises, or (and this is a little meta) even your physical weakness?
Ah, dear sister, strength is so much more than – well, than “strength.”
I sometimes think of General Conference as sitting around a campfire. The fire is always changing just a bit, and each of us is viewing from a different angle.
This is an utterly fantastic metaphor.
1. I think they’re substantively different concepts – as opposed to just opposite sides of the same coin. We’re talking about the role of obedience, right? The debate seems to be: (a) Our obedience is a necessary contribution to earn exaltation (even if it’s mere pennies on the dollar, or pennies on a thousand dollars) vs. (b) Our obedience is not even “currency” (a penny) that is contributed. Rather, obedience is important because it is how we show gratitude for the atonement. Pres. Uchtdorf’s explanation of “after all we can do” is particularly enlightening.
2. The difference reflects divergence among the 15 on important things, which doesn’t bother me. If they disagree, certainly its okay for those of us in the pews to disagree, as well.
3. I’ll have to mention this talk in Sunday School or Elders Quorum the next time someone mocks the evangelical concept of faith and works.
Howard, if you think that the Old testament is not absolutely saturated with the same exact kind of grace as the New, you need to go read it again.
You’re making my point Kullervo, Christians believe the Old Testament provides the covenant of the law and the New Testament the covenant of grace through Jesus Christ.
Thanks for the thoughts everyone. JI I think this is the first time we’ve ever been so single minded in our agreement.
Nate, I like your Jung references. And I appreciate the qualification of your M/F split – as there is a good chunk of mormon women I know in pursuit of perfection. In fact I feel like I’ve been on both sides of this – I used to try to be perfect, now I just feel like I acknowledge my brokenness during the sacrament.
Naismith, I like the metaphor you used of the campfire. We’re all sitting around the exact same thing – but we all see it differently. I go back and forth between thinking it’s all one layered concept together – and seeing the works/grace pendulum described by Joel.
New Icon . . . I think I have interpreted Bednar’s strengthening and enabling power of the atonement a little narrowly. But every time it’s explained it’s about how the Lord strengthen’s our necks to bear the load we’ve been given and how we are enabled to DO more than we could have on our own. I think I feel an application of being enabled to bear a load (trial, etc. – I like Bednar’s last GC talk abt loads), but this enabling to DO more than is humanly possible on my own? Sometimes I have to take a nap after walking a mile. And I see many opportunities to serve others where I just feel like I can’t make it. Instead of seeing opportunities I see limits. I’ve never had to accept my physical limitations as I have had to do these last six months.
Beautiful thoughts. The difference you are describing is the very nature of being born again. Embrace the grace and be born again in the resurrection of jesus Christ’s grace. Experience the resurrection before your natural death.
What Christians? We Reformed types say the covenant of works was given in Eden and broken by our first parents, and immediately replaced by the covenant of grace, which was operative in both the Old Testament (where it was forward-looking) and the New.
6 But now hath he obtained a more excellent ministry, by how much also he is the mediator of a better covenant, which was established upon better promises.
7 For if that first covenant had been faultless, then should no place have been sought for the second.
Amazing Grace? Amazing Uchtdorf. He’s like water in a desert.
The debate seems to be: (a) Our obedience is a necessary contribution to earn exaltation (even if it’s mere pennies on the dollar, or pennies on a thousand dollars) vs. (b) Our obedience is not even “currency” (a penny) that is contributed. Rather, obedience is important because it is how we show gratitude for the atonement.
Either way, (a) or (b), obedience is important.
“Either way, (a) or (b), obedience is important.”
Absolutely! Which reminds me of my 3rd point. When we characterize Protestants, and particularly evangelicals, of believing that “you’re saved no matter what you do as long as you believe”, and stop there, we fail to account for the importance they do put on obedience.
I am happy to talk to a people who, at least, found something good about conference. First of all, the talk given by President Uchtdorf was, singular, in the history of the Church, in what it accomplished, in this dispensation. To most, its’ accomplishment might have been rather small, but to me it was a little short of breath taking. For the first time, I believe, in the history of the coming forth of the Book of Mormon, someone in the Church, namely, President Uchtdorf interpreted 2Nephi 25:23 correctly. For since that time all Latter-day Saints have misinterpreted it terribly. At least, if there were some that got it right, they didn’t say anything.
“I found Pres. Uchtdorf’s comments about grace spot on!” Yes, KC, you couldn’t have been more correct. I remember, a couple of years ago, I was trying to tell an early morning Sunday meeting that if you want to know what Nephi in 2 Nephi 25:23 meant than go to 2 Nephi 10:24 and see how he says it earlier but they just looked at me like I was on the road to apostasy. I’ve waited 20 years for what happened that Sunday. To me, it was a great Easter Sunday. During the last part of his talk, I was yelling, in my mind, ‘President, say it, just say it’. Say what? I wanted him to say that due to what is said in 2 Nephi 25:23, we know that our works have absolutely nothing to do with salvation. EVER! IN ANY TIME FOR ANY REASON! That’s what I wanted him to say.
Now, Kristine. Time for you. Let’s start with a quote – one of yours.
“Imagine my reaction of joy and happiness to hear Elder Uchtdorf’s sermon on grace Sunday morning.
…”the grace of God [is] —the divine assistance and endowment of strength by which we grow from the flawed and limited beings we are now into exalted beings of “truth and light, until [we are] glorified in truth and [know] all things.”8
Well, it’s hard to be critical of President Uchtdorf after what he has just done but let me just tip those words a little bit to get out of that, this kind of picture. This description has grace helping us throughout our lives and into the spirit world unto the final judgement and finally unto being exalted. I can’t quite go along with that. When our lives are ended, the work is over. The test is done. The work of salvation is done. The work of grace is done. What we have accomplished is what we have accomplished. There is no turning back. As far as our works go, what we have is what we will be judged by. End of story…..except for one thing.
At the end of the Book of Mormon, Moroni has some parting words for us.
“32 Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God.
33 And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot.
At the end of your life, if you have served God with all you might, mind, and strength then His grace will be sufficient for you to be perfect in Christ. What is it to be perfect in Christ? My interpretation of that is even though you may not even have gotten close to perfection, you will, indeed, be perfect because God said so. He is God and He can do that. He knows the laws and He is authorized to use them that way. The grace He pours out on you is to strengthen you in your life, not to strengthen you in the life to come. That strength is His care for you now. That’s why He tells you that ‘his grace sufficient for you’. Your work is to use that grace to get through each and every day. Never give in to despair and discouragement: “despair cometh because of iniquity.”(Moroni 10:22) Always trust in His grace. It will bring you through. To let go of that grace is iniquity. Oh, and Kristine, please don’t fall into terrible criticisms and mockery coming out of the Bloggernacle. If they aren’t careful they will end up mocking themselves right into hell.
Finally, this Church is going to become a Church of grace. I suppose it will take some doing to get that to happen, but it will happen.
Excerpts from a talk given by Bruce R McConkie in 1984.
We are saved by grace, without works; it is a gift of God. In his goodness and grace the great God ordained and established the plan of salvation. No works on our part were required.
The blood of Christ was shed as a free gift of wondrous grace, but the Saints are cleansed by the blood after they keep the commandments
…heresy…It is the doctrine that we are saved by grace alone, without works. It is the doctrine that we may be born again simply by confessing the Lord Jesus with our lips while we continue to live in our sins.
Interesting quote. What are your thoughts?
The battle between grace and works is a long standing doctrinal issue.
I don’t like the concept of cheap grace that some churches teach nor the teachings on the other extreme that Christ is absent from our lives until we have done all we can do.
My experience has taught me that we need to embrace the blessings of grace that are made available through the atonement and then by means of repentance work out our salvation.
My experience with repentance is that Heavenly Father is there with us as we work through the process of repentance as long as we have “real intent”.
Real intent doesn’t mean we repent of “sins” in an instance. To me it means to be committed to becoming the man or woman we have potential to become. In Mormon theology that is to be justified.
Joseph Smith’s revision of the Bible includes and interesting insight:
(JST | 1 John 3:9)
Whosoever is born of God doth not continue in sin; for the Spirit of God remaineth in him; and he cannot continue in sin, because he is born of God, having received that holy Spirit of promise.
What I understand from this is that once we are committed followers of Christ and have had some kind of born again experience if we continue trying, repenting, and doing the will of the Lord we will be made clean by fire and the Holy Ghost and enter into the presence of God in the Celestial kingdom.
Excellent comment Jared!
A person can only be obedient to someone else.
It is impossible to be obedient to yourself.
You can be true to yourself.
You can act in accordance with your principles.
You can live according to your beliefs.
But as long as you are obedient to someone else, even God, you are separate and not yet at-oned with him.
There is no exaltation in obedience.
Only control and maintenance.
I share your understanding of the conventional Mormon view. And I think most previous leaders would not have signed on to Uchtdorf’s articulation. Nor would several of the current apostles–hence the funny caption underneath the picture of Bednar and Uchtdorf.
What do you do with that disagreement? Or, do you suppose that Uchtdorf didn’t understand or mean what he said.
I gotta say, I respect your candor. It is rare for someone taking the traditional position to recognize that they’re doing so partly out of personal preference: “I don’t like the concept of cheap grace…”
I can’t say for sure if I totally get grace, and I totally get if other commenters will try to tear my comment to shreds…but how I understand it is like this:
Grace is free because it is a gift. You don’t get gifts because someone “owes” you a gift, or because you “earned” a gift or because you “deserve” it. A gift comes regardless of what you’ve earned or what you deserve.
But you still have choices with gifts. You can choose to accept it or you can choose to reject it.
But even more, the way that one *accepts* the gift is of crucial importance. You can say you accept a gift and treat it badly. You can say you accept a gift, but have the attitude that you earned it. You can accept a gift and not thank the giver. You can horde a gift. Or you can take care of that gift. You can be gracious and grateful and recognize that this was freely, thoughtfully, and carefully given. You can express your thanks. You can recognize that you should share that gift far and wide.
I think that the proper relationship between “grace” and “works” are to be understand in the proper relationship between “receiving a gift” and “expressing gratitude for that gift.”
In other words: when we believe that works are required for salvation/grace, we are incorrectly relating to the gift by instead assuming that we have earned the gift (or that we have to earn the gift). We turn a gift into something more like wages — and although it’s great to be paid for our jobs, we don’t have the same sort of gratitude for wages earned as we do to gifts freely received.
On the other hand, when we think that gifts do not require any works, then we are incorrectly relating to the gift by being ungrateful. If we are thankful and gracious for the gift, we should be willing to share the gift, we should be willing to trust, appreciate and follow the gift giver, and so on. This is not because we are trying to “earn” the gift, but because we are trying to express “gratitude” for the gift.
OK, so hopefully I kept most of y’all on board up till now. Now I will probably lose most of you:
I think of grace similarly to the social justice concept of “privilege”, in that “privilege” is also unearned, undeserved, unwarranted. Whenever we have privilege (in any dimension), that was something freely given to us.
The problem with privilege isn’t having it. The problem with privilege is more that not enough people benefit from it, that people with privilege often do not relate properly to it, and as a result, they either 1) do not recognize their privilege, 2) do not express appropriate gratitude for their privilege, and/or 3) do not share that privilege with others.
The way this comes out is in many ways. For example, the person who doesn’t recognize privilege may say, “I earned what I got! I deserve what I got! My life wasn’t handed to me on a silver platter.” (This is similar to the belief that one can earn salvation/grace through works.)
On the other hand, someone who recognizes privilege but doesn’t do anything with it might say, “Well, if I have privilege, I might as well make the most of it for myself.” This is basically what the hashtag #CrimingWhileWhite represents: white people who are aware that their privilege means that they can do the same things that would get a minority put in jail or killed…but they’ll get off scot-free. Because the privilege is “unearned,” they err in thinking, “Well, if it’s true that my innocence is unearned, then I don’t need to act according to the law.”
Or, let’s put it in another way that conservatives might understand. I think a lot of conservatives dislike things like “welfare” because they believe that this will create dependency — if people receive “unearned” support, the fear is that they will not work hard, because they can instead just keep getting the “unearned” support.
In both of these instances (to the extent that they happen), the problem would be an ungratitude for the gift. Just because a gift is free, unearned, etc., doesn’t mean that you can just do whatever you want with it.
The “right” way of reacting to grace is to be thankful, recognize it is a gift, and act with that gift responsibly, sharing it with others. For example. in the privilege example, the idea is to “check one’s privilege.” A lot of people say, “Well, I’ve check my privilege; what next?” And the answer is, “Since you know you have that privilege, you know you didn’t earn it and you don’t deserve it, use that privilege to help others who may not have it. Don’t just say, “Well, those others don’t deserve it” because neither do you.”
So, a gratitude for one’s privilege would inspire one to use it to help others who are not as privileged, in whatever the best way they can do it. Or, like, if we go back to the welfare example, the “gratitude” would involve doing one’s best with those funds out of gratitude and thankfulness.
I heard someone say in a talk once…about affirmative action, “But affirmative action didn’t write my grad school papers.” The “criticism” is that affirmative action is unearned, unwarranted, undeserved, but still, a person has to put in the time on the job, at school, wherever. They still have to write the papers and do the work.
So, that’s how I see grace and works…where grace is not earned by works, but still, there are works associated as a *response* to one’s recognition of grace.
I’m persuaded that we don’t need to have a profound understanding of doctrine in order to access the gifts (grace and etc) of God.
We just need to be believing and sincere (real intent) and the rest is in the Lord’s hands.
This approach to God’s grace is seen many times throughout the Book of Mormon (Nephi, Alma the younger and older, Lamoni, Aminadab and associates, to name a few).
Grace was always something that was hard to fully grasp for me, especially when I was younger. My understanding was that grace could only help me after doing all that I could do, as the scripture goes. In other words, if I did my best, then grace would kick in to help out, at some point. This sounds fine, except that I never understood what it meant to “do your best” and I certainly never understood how I would know if I had done my best.
As a child, before school, my mother would often tell me to do my best. I never knew how to do that, because, and maybe this speaks more to my personality than anything else, I felt that I could have always studied a little longer, or a little harder. I could have always paid a little more attention to what the teacher was saying. In sports, I felt that I tried my best during the game, but I could have practiced more the day before, I could have done one more pushup or one more sit-up. In other words, I always felt like my best was an unattainable goal. This is a good characteristic, in some ways, because I always believe I can do better. But it is also very frustrating, because by the same logic, if I can always do better, then doing my best is forever out of reach. And if I can never do my best, can I ever receive grace?
Well, as I have gotten older, I still hold myself to this frustrating standard. But with others, I am much more inclined to say, they did their best, especially with children. I’ve had the opportunity to be very close to children who had tough times, and I was amazed at their strength and love despite what they had gone through. Whether they were truly doing their best or not, this attitude certainly has helped me love others more fully and accept their mistakes more easily.
This attitude towards others has also helped me when I judge myself. Logically, I am able to turn my view of others on myself and say, perhaps I did my best, but it is just an illusion that I could have done better. Maybe those days as a kid I really did the best I could do, as my mother asked, but it just seemed like I could have done more. If God exists, perhaps he sees us differently than we see ourselves. Perhaps we are beating ourselves up thinking we could have done better, or we could have done more, but he understands our limitations and is proud of us and understands that we did better than we thought, and perhaps, we did our best, and the grace we didn’t think we had earned, maybe we did.
I know a lot of members beat themselves up over minor things, and that they may suffer from the same type of attitude I had/have. If Elder Uchtdorf’s talk helped people give themselves a break and a pat on the back, I’m all for it. There are plenty of other talks that teach us to get in gear and do better.
Sorry this was long.
I love this post and comments! The campfire metaphor especially resonates with my heart.
My father was a wonderful man, but a very letter of the law father. He thundered the words, “you will obey!” with such booming power that we fearfully did, indeed, obey, and swiftly!
Yet, I think how the Savior did not use that word. Rather, He entreated, “Follow me….” And so, it is by grace that we are saved–after all we can do……to follow Him.
Kristine, your first paragraph is scripture for me. They are rather holy words of my truth and light. No matter where I am in life, I have learned that it isn’t through obedience to religion that saves me, but following my Savior every step of the way. For He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. My health issues limit my works in some ways, but have taught me that works are so very much more than what I once believed them to be. I have loved learning of these layers previously unknown which have helped me follow Jesus to realms of wholeness and light I never had before dreamed.
“We are saved by grace, without works; it is a gift of God. In his goodness and grace the great God ordained and established the plan of salvation. No works on our part were required.
The blood of Christ was shed as a free gift of wondrous grace, but the Saints are cleansed by the blood after they keep the commandments”
The underlined part of the quote is not so:
1. Keeping the commandments constitutes our works in this life.
20 Behold, this is your work, to keep my commandments, yea, with all your might, mind and strength.(D&C 11)
To quote myself from the previous post:
“The grace He pours out on you is to strengthen you in your life, not to strengthen you in the life to come. That strength is His care for you now. That’s why He tells you that ‘his grace sufficient for you’. Your work is to use that grace to get through each and every day. The grace He pours out on you is to strengthen you in your life, not to strengthen you in the life to come. That strength is His care for you now. That’s why He tells you that ‘his grace sufficient for you’. Your work is to use that grace to get through each and every day.”
And so, with all this, if you go through D&C 76:40-44, this is what you come up with:
1. Outside the sons of perdition, everyone will be saved. “He saves all except them.” (D&C 76:44 – them refers to the sons of perdition. Read it for yourself.
2. Therefore, works have nothing to do with our salvation. (Remember, to be saved, you have to have been baptized with a valid baptism. Temples accomplish a lot of that.
3. Since we are judged by our works, the judgment has nothing to do with salvation. Salvation and the judgement are two different events. Don’t mix them together. All you will get is nonsense. Once you are saved, then the judgement comes. In the judgement it will be decided where you will spend your ‘saved’ existence. The judgement uses the works you performed in the probationary or mortal existence of your life. Outside the sons of perdition all will be saved in one of the three kingdoms of glory regardless of the works they did in this life. Which kingdom we go to will be determined by your works in this life.
If you don’t agree with this then, I would say you didn’t read the verses. If you did read them then I would say you didn’t think about them. If you didn’t think about them then you don’t have an important key – a key that will help to understand everything that is mentioned in the scriptures about grace, works, the judgment, salvation and who knows what else.
Now the heresy – “It is the doctrine that we are saved by grace alone, without works. It is the doctrine that we may be born again simply by confessing the Lord Jesus with our lips while we continue to live in our sins.”
No, this is the heresy – It is the doctrine that we are saved by grace with works. It is the idea that God needs our mortal works combined with his saving power. This is not only blasphemy, it is sacrilege. Forget the whole part about being ‘born again’. The subject is not being born again, it’s about salvation. You can be born again in this life and leave it, but once you are saved, you never leave it.
We haven’t been told anything about disobedience in the worlds to come so maybe we shouldn’t get into that.
The underlined part of the quote is not so. The underlined part of the quote is: but the Saints are cleansed by the blood after they keep the commandments”
The ‘underline’ part didn’t go through.
Andrew, I think your analogies are some of the best I’ve ever heard – the gift one works for me.
Rich, I think I see what you are saying. But often we’re heard the analogy that we are the debtor who can never repay our debt in order to return to live with God again. Christ is the intercessor who pays the debt we never could have done on our own. Where does this fit into your “everyone’s saved, period. then everyone’s judged, period” explanation.
I enjoyed reading your comment.
I’m too busy today to add any more thoughts on this post, but I wanted to let you know I read your comment.
Do you remember the time we, and many others, participated in a marathon comment session at Mormonmatters.org?
Reading your comment got me thinking about it, and if I recall correctly it was nearly 800 comments long. It is by far the most commented on post I’ve participated in.
Do you recall the post? If so, I wonder if the post is still available?
Yep, I remember that! That was during the post “Trying to Understand My Friends Who Didn’t Leave the Faith”
Since Mormon Matters has turned back into a podcast and changed themes, you can’t see the comment counts, but I think they are all there…
Kristine, thankyou so much for bringing this to my attention-I was too unwell to attend this session. I too have had many years of debilitating illness and feel that God’s grace to fulfill the tasks of caring for my sick children and myself has been abundant, and I work on focusing on what I have been able to achieve, and, indeed on enjoying it.
Clearly I will no longer be a kingdom builder.
But that has been the lot of most of humanity for most of history. Great and good works are for those who can do them. for the rest of us, some days kicking a little gravel back into the cracks between the paving stone so nobody slips over, may have to be enough. for the weary and broken, which will be all of us eventually, Uchtdorf’s words are balm of Gilead.
You’re the man! I just did a CTRL + F and found that you, all by yourself, made 104 comments on that post.
I am anxious to reread it. LOL
Andrew 26 see where you are coming from, and agree. Also I suspect there is a political element to this.
If you are politically conservative you believe more strongly in everyone working for what they get, and you are not happy with people gettin handouts. This is the version of grace, for the conservatives.
Not being a political conservative, I think the Lord is more likely to agree with Uchtdorf.
To the extent the politically conservative message emphasizes not being happy with people getting handouts, I think that that misunderstands grace. I mean, I am really surprised by Mosiah 4, especially starting around verse 16:
Latter-day Saints need to get it out of their systems that their works can purchase salvation. Only the grace of God can do that.
After He has saved them by His grace then He judges them by their works to determine where they will live in their saved conditions – the
Latter-day Saints need to get it out of their systems that their works can purchase salvation. Only the grace of God can so that. After He has saved all of us then He will judge us according to our works to determine where we will spend eternity in our saved conditions – the Celestial Kingdom, the Terrestrial Kingdom, or the Telestial Kingdom. Just because you are saved, does not mean you will be totally happy.
Comment 39 – I am working on another computer and I messed things up.
It’s kinda trippy reading your comments on a 6 year old post…