Wednesday, November 9, 2011

What Salvation by Grace Means to Mormons

Linked below is a BYU-Provo devotional address given by Brad Wilcox, a faculty educator at the university and member of the Sunday School General Board.  To be honest, I don't tend to like Brad Wilcox's talks because to me, they sound more like a string of nice, faith-promoting, uplifting stories rather than well-developed discourses on a central theme.  This talk is what changed all that.  Find 30 minutes to spare and watch it.  In all honesty, it will change your life.

I watched this talk on Saturday night and it filled me with hope and confidence.  I am so grateful that Brother Wilcox acknowledges how hard it is to be a Latter-Day Saint and what pressure it can put on an individual.  In his address, he debunks lots of myths that I think most of us have regarding salvation by grace versus salvation through our works.  Watch the talk because I won't do it justice, but the biggest take-home message I received is that grace isn't something that I get rewarded with after I've done all I can do, but instead is a gift I've already received and a tool that I need to use as I'm trying to do all I can do.

He begins by using a story of a student of his worrying because she knows that she's not doing all that she can do, as it impeaches in 2 Nephi 25: 23, "...for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."  This student acknowledges that she likes certain sins and dislikes certain virtues and knows that she hasn't reached the minimum requirement of "after all we can do." She fears that grace won't play a part in her life because she hasn't cleared that bar.  Thank goodness Brother Wilcox gently corrects her misgivings about grace.

He expresses the sentiment beautifully when he likens it to a mother paying for her child's piano lessons.  The child's practice time neither pays back the mother for the money she spent nor does it pay for the lessons themselves, but instead shows that the child appreciates and would like to take full advantage of the paid-for piano lessons. Additionally, the child's imperfections at the piano keyboard do not disqualify him from being able to keep practicing or taking the lessons; instead the child can go back and correct his mistakes and continue to improve. The mother will always supply the lessons when the child is willing to play and improve.

Brother Wilcox quips a few quotables. My favorite goes, "Latter-Day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from, but what He has saved us for."  Another good one comes after he relates a story about a Protestant friend arguing that Mormons are trying to earn their way without grace: "We are not earning Heaven, but instead are learning Heaven."  His point here is that we will fail and fall short, but this life is a time to practice being heavenly, because ultimately, it will be our choice to decide if we want to live with our Heavenly Father for eternity.

This thought intrigues me as well.  He tells a story of a young man who, after a downward spiral, is coerced by his family to attend EFY.  He doesn't even make it through the first day before he demands to come home, uncomfortable and annoyed as he is by his religious surroundings.  Brother Wilcox says that this is what Heaven will be like for some of us.  Instead of Jesus standing at the entrance, forbidding or allowing people to enter, He will be standing at the exit, begging people who want to leave to change their minds and choose to stay and become heavenly. The decision is ours, whether or not to give up.

The ultimate, overall feeling of the talk is one of the Savior's love.  The timing of the talk is excellent as well, because it filled me with hope and faith that, even in my imperfection, the Savior's grace is there for us to partake of and use to improve ourselves.  It makes me feel incredibly grateful that I don't have a minimum bar to reach to acquire this grace, and yet inspires and motivates me to do better now that I know and understand how His grace works a little bit better.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for sharing GMP. My view of grace changed for the better when I read the book "Believing Christ" by Steven Robinson.


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