Wednesday, June 7, 2017

Grace to exalt us requires our best efforts



Image by: Eric Henderson https://flic.kr/p/zPRFUZ

Romans 6:1-2
1 What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound?
2 God forbid. How shall we, that are dead to sin, live any longer therein? https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/rom/6?lang=eng

On the topic of grace, there are two extremes, on opposite sides of the scale. The first extreme is believing that only through grace are we saved and that works are of no/little value or benefit in our salvation. The other extreme is that we are saved by our works. Grace actually doesn't even appear on that scale for it is not a ratio of grace to works, but rather both extremes exist harmoniously. The secret is that there are many levels of grace and we must qualify for increased grace. 

First and foremost let's look at the last command of the Savior as he gave the beatitudes.

Matthew 5:48
Be ye therefore perfect, even as your Father which is in heaven is perfect. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/matt/5?lang=eng

Now, let's compare that will His closing command to the Nephites during His beatitudes sermon to them.


3 Nephi 12:48
Therefore I would that ye should be perfect even as I, or your Father who is in heaven is perfect.

We are here on earth to progress, through our experiences, to become like the stature of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: https://www.lds.org/scriptures/nt/eph/4?lang=eng

So, how do we come "unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ?" First let's look at how Christ accomplished it and came unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of His Father.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:13
13 And he received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until he received a fulness; https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93?lang=eng

Do you see the secret; the levels of grace? His sinless life qualified him to go from grace to grace until He received a fullness. A few verses down we see how this applies to us.

Doctrine and Covenants 93:19-20
19 I give unto you these sayings that you may understand and know how to worship, and know what you worship, that you may come unto the Father in my name, and in due time receive of his fulness.
20 For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace. https://www.lds.org/scriptures/dc-testament/dc/93?lang=eng

It is so exciting, this is how and what we worship. We are to receive a fullness of Christ which is the fullness of the Father. In order for us to receive grace for grace, we must keep His commandments which requires a significant amount of effort and work on our part, but it is not working on our own, but rather we are yoked with Christ, and receive grace for grace along the way which strengthens us and allows us to perform an even greater work. Thus as you can see, grace and works are not separate entities but rather they coexist and only through grace are we capable of performing greater works and yet all glory be to the Father for the grace that strengths and exalts us.

So, to recap, to come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ and the Father, we must keep the commandments (works) and yet the only way to accomplish this is to be strengthened by and through grace and to go from grace to grace which empowers us to keep all the commandments of God and thus we come unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ, and become like Him in mind and in deed. And all of this is brought about by grace as we do all we can do because then grace will strengthen us to do it again and the process repeats itself until we are like Christ, by His grace. So, we are saved by grace and exalted by works made possible only by and through grace.

Craig

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