June 29-July 5
If you prefer to listen over reading an article, keep an eye on A Balanced Saint of Mind on YouTube. I post video versions of my blog posts on my channel. The video versions are often posted a little later than the written blog posts.
Do members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in grace? Well that partially depends on how you define “grace.” Grace has different meanings across Christian denominations, but for this specific video, I define grace as the concept that “Christ paid for the sins of mankind in full and strengthens us to do good in order to return to live with Him.”
So do members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints believe in grace? The answer is a resounding YES! When Christ suffered and died for our sins, transgressions, and trials, He paid the price for our souls completely.
When I try to share this with others, I am often met with questions such as, “Well if you believe that Christ paid for you to get to heaven, why do you have so many rules? Why are you trying to earn your way to heaven by being worthy?” These are fantastic questions that I didn’t always know the answer to. Let’s talk about them.
Heavenly Father has given everyone commandments, and He is the one who called them “commandments.” He didn’t call them suggestions or fun advice. He commands us to follow a certain pattern of living. How do YOU reconcile the idea of Christ paying for your sins and simultaneously giving us commandments?
In my mind, it’s not a hard reconciliation. We have received commandments from our Father in Heaven, but following those commandments and striving to be worthy don’t pay for our ticket to heaven. We do believe in being worthy to return to live with God, but worthiness doesn’t pay the price for sin.
Think of it this way. Pretend we’re rolling back time, and we have decided to become indentured servants to travel to America. We traveled to America on a ship without paying, and then we were going to work until our debt was paid off. We jump on the ship, excited to go to America for new opportunities. However, once we arrive there, we learn that things aren’t what we expected. We start to work but with every mistake, more time is added on. Because we’re human, we invariably make mistakes and so it soons become apparent to us that we will NEVER be able to earn our freedom. It is literally impossible.
One day as we are working (despite our knowledge that we will never be free), a kind looking Man shows up and pays our debts. He asks us to follow Him, and He starts to leave. We are confused to find that He doesn’t actually turn back to see whether we’ve decided to follow Him. We realize that if we run now, we might have a chance at freedom.
But. He seemed kind, and His behavior is perplexing so we decide to follow Him. Upon arrival at His home, we are amazed at the beautiful structure standing in front of us. We go to place our foot on the first step and the Man puts His hand out to stop us. He points to the well and asks us to wash ourselves before we come in. He tells us that we don’t have to wash ourselves. If we want, we can simply leave and never return. He paid for our freedom without forcing us to follow. He wants us to come follow Him, but He is letting us go if that’s what we want to do.
So not everything in this parable translates perfectly. I chose to use “indentured servant” rather than “slave” because indentured servants often choose to enter their circumstances and slaves don’t. We often choose the wrong thing, and that’s what got us into this mess in the first place. What didn’t translate well is the fact that we don’t actually believe that every time we sin, we end up a little farther in debt. As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, we believe that once you make that first sin, you would be a goner without Christ. The perfect justice of God requires that we cannot return to live with Him.
But Christ came and He paid the debts incurred by our mistakes which means we can return to live with Him. Look at the following verses.
Doctrine and Covenants 45:3-5
3 Listen to him who is the advocate with the Father, who is pleading your cause before him—
4 Saying: Father, behold the sufferings and death of him who did no sin, in whom thou wast well pleased; behold the blood of thy Son which was shed, the blood of him whom thou gavest that thyself might be glorified;
5 Wherefore, Father, spare these my brethren that believe on my name, that they may come unto me and have everlasting life.
When I picture Judgement Day, this is how I see it. When Jesus Christ presents me before Heavenly Father, He isn’t going to say, “Oh, I know. She made some mistakes, but she also did some good stuff.” Instead, He is going to say, “Look at the price I paid and let her in because I love her.” Christ paid in full. There is no debt left to pay.
So where do the commandments come in? Well…while they are still COMMANDments, they have nothing to do with that debt that Christ paid.
Because this is a Come Follow Me video, I should probably actually share something from The Book of Mormon.
15 Yea, and they did keep the law of Moses; for it was expedient that they should keep the law of Moses as yet, for it was not all fulfilled. But notwithstanding the law of Moses, they did look forward to the coming of Christ, considering that the law of Moses was a type of his coming, and believing that they must keep those outward performances until the time that he should be revealed unto them.
16 Now they did not suppose that salvation came by the law of Moses; but the law of Moses did serve to strengthen their faith in Christ; and thus they did retain a hope through faith, unto eternal salvation, relying upon the spirit of prophecy, which spake of those things to come.
The ancient people of America kept the Law of Moses. We often get teased for how many rules we have, but you want to talk about a lot of rules? You should look at the Law of Moses. Anyway. The ancient people of America kept the Law of Moses, but they knew why. The Law of Moses helped them strengthen their faith in Christ.
Now. In my parable above, I talked about how the Man wanted the freed-indentured servant to wash before they came into the house. The person washes before coming in. Did the bath somehow miraculously give the Man his money back? Not anymore than our praying, attending church, and reading scriptures pays back the suffering that Christ experienced.
The debt paid for our sins for us to enter the kingdom of heaven is completely separate from us keeping the commandments.
We wash because we don’t want to get His house dirty, especially after He was so kind to us. And after we enter His house, we take advantage of the order that He has set up there. We follow the rules of His house because they will make us happy and make everyone else happy too.
The commandments have to be commandments because we can’t destroy the happiness available within His house by doing whatever we want. Everyone who remains in that house has to continually attempt to live their lives on a higher plane so that everyone can be happy.
I want to iterate my main point one more time. We believe in grace because Christ paid for our sins in full a long time ago. We also believe in commandments, and we believe that those commandments don’t pay for our debt. They are there to make us happy and those around us happy.
Christ paid our way to heaven in full. We choose to follow Him.