March 16, 2003
I have wonderful, incredible news. This is Christ’s gospel. He stands at the head—holy, divine, supreme, full of power, majesty, grace, and truth. He lived for us, and He died for us, because He loves us. I love Him more deeply and powerfully than I can find words to express. He is my Lord, my Savior, my Redeemer, and my friend. I know that Jesus Christ is the Son of God, our Eternal Father. He lives and directs His Church today through His prophet and His Apostles. His great work will continue to roll forth until it fills the whole earth.
I have written my talk primarily using and quoting from the book “Believing Christ” by Stephen E. Robinson. I have also used past Ensigns and the scriptures.
Part of the good news of the gospel is the knowledge that finally perfection comes, to those who desire it, through the atonement of Christ instead of solely through their own efforts. When we become one with Christ in the gospel covenant, we gain access to his perfection. It’s as though two people with separate bank accounts got married and formed a joint account. When Clyde and I got married, my checking account was overdrawn, but Clyde had money in his. After the wedding, we went to the bank and merged our accounts to create a single, joint account. As far as the bank was concerned, I was no longer Alicia Walker and he was no longer Clyde Ferree. A new partnership had been created, Mr. and Mrs. Clyde and Alicia Ferree. That partnership included the assets and liabilities of both its individual parts. And since Clyde had more assets than I had liabilities, the new account had a positive balance. It was like a miracle! Just by entering into a marriage covenant and becoming one with Clyde, I was on firm financial ground for the first time in months.
This makes an excellent analogy for what happens when we enter into the gospel covenant. 2 Cor. 12: 9 “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” The Savior, who has infinite assets, proposes a joining with the individual, who has finite liabilities. I say “proposes” because the relationship proposed is often referred to in scripture as a marriage, and it is certainly as intimate and bonding as a marriage. That is why Christ if often call the Bridegroom and why the Church is often referred to as the Bride.
As husband and wife become one with each other through the covenant of marriage, so the Savior and the saved become one with each other through the covenant of the gospel. Just as the bride renounces all competing claims upon her loyalties and normally takes her husband’s last name, so those who enter this covenant with Christ give up all competing loyalties, put him first, and take his name upon them. To this union, we bring our righteous desires and our loyalty. He brings his perfection. In the covenant union, what is mine becomes his, and what is his becomes mine. Thus my sins become his for payment, and his righteousness becomes mine for justification.
When we become one with Jesus Christ, spiritually we form a partnership with a joint account. Since he has more assets than we have liabilities (he as an infinite ocean of assets), the new account has a positive balance as soon as it is formed, and the partnership is justified, even though its junior partners (you and me) could not make it on their own. This is what the Apostle Paul refers to as being “in Christ” and what Moroni calls being “perfect in Christ”.
Moro. 10: 32-33 “Yea, came 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. 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.”
Taken together, Christ and I make up a new creature. The old creature, the imperfect me, ceases to exist, and a glorious new creature, a perfect partnership, takes its place. Taken together as a single entity, the two of us, Christ and I, are perfect. I do not mean (this is absolutely crucial!) that we can become perfect later on. I mean that from the moment the partnership is formed in good faith, from the moment we have sincere faith in Christ, sincerely repent of our sins, and receive baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost—from this moment the partnership is celestial. The merits of the Senior Partner make it so. True, this is not individual perfection, which will indeed come later (much later), rather it is perfection-in-Christ through which we receive the benefits of our partner’s merits. Nevertheless, from this moment the kingdom is ours, provided that we maintain the partnership by abiding in the gospel covenant.
At this point someone will object by saying “I still have faults and limitations”. I admit that if I am judged separately and alone, this is true. But in the covenant relationship, I am not judged separately and alone but as one with Christ. Simply consider the mathematics of it: If Christ is infinite and unlimited, but I am finite and limited, and we become one, what do Christ and I together add up to? What is the sum of an infinite, positive quantity and a limited, negative quantity (infinity + -x)? It’s infinity, of course! And the math is the same whether I’m the prophet or a stake president or any other struggling member. Infinity plus any amount, positive or negative, equals infinity.
Grace in not something that I can trigger, manipulate, earn, deserve, or control, it is a preexisting aspect of Heavenly Father’s attitude toward me/us. Before I could even respond to him, he already loved me, wanted to help me, and wanted me to succeed. Because of the predisposition in my favor, he grants me gifts from time to time to help me succeed.
Like our Heavenly Father, most parents are predisposed positively toward their children even before the child does anything to return the favor. Even when all a child can do is cry and wet its pants, even then it can usually draw on a vast reservoir of parental love and care and concern. Though children consume much more than they produce, most parents are predisposed to treat them with favor, or in other words to grant them grace. Thus, they do things for their children that they might not do for other people.
This is not a doctrine of “easy” grace. 2 Ne. 25: 23 “For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” There is no virtue one might have possessed before entering the covenant that one may then discard or renounce upon entering the covenant—without violating the covenant. This means if you are really good at canning vegetables, but after you’ve realized the wonderful news of grace, you want to stop canning vegetables. Then, I think Heavenly Father would say to you, don’t stop canning, just can as much as you are capable of. The gospel covenant is not an excuse to work beneath our abilities. The covenant requires more than merely wishing we were better; we’ve got to actually do what is within our power. Although personal perfection is not required of us right now, our best attempt at it is. The good news is that God will not require of us more than the best we can do, but the bad news is he will not accept less than that either.
This is how I think of grace. I picture a ladder with say, twelve rungs. The ground the ladder rests on is where we all start from, each rung represents what we are capable of doing. The top of the ladder is the Celestial Kingdom. Maybe I can only step up to the third rung. I’ve worked as hard as I possibly could. I’ve done everything in my power to achieve what I am capable of achieving. And still I have only reached the third rung. Christ then reaches down, grabs my hands, and gently pulls me up the rest of the way. His grace becomes sufficient for me to enter into the Celestial Kingdom, provided I have kept my end of the bargain. I have entered into and obeyed all the covenants made available to me on earth. I have properly repented and offered a broken heart and a contrite spirit for my sins.
Now we can never compare what we are capable of against what another person is capable of. Who knows, maybe the prophet can make it to the tenth rung, maybe the person sitting next to me in sacrament can only make it to the first rung, maybe the relief society president can make it to the sixth rung. That doesn’t matter at all to Christ. That is what makes the gospel such good news! It is only about our own individual ability. Christ will never say to us, well your brother can do more, so why can’t you? He will ask us, “Are you doing the very best you can do??” I think we should be prepared to answer that question. “for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.”
There is really no such thing as “easy” grace because the partnership with Christ isn’t easy—it calls for the best and the highest within us. He requires our loyalty, our service to God with all our heart, might, mind, and strength. He demands ongoing repentance and continual recommitment. And he offers no proof and no guarantee beyond the private witness of the Spirit that he can do what he promises. Rather, he asks us to trust him, to accept his word on faith. Rom. 16: 24 The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. I say this in the name of Jesus Christ. Amen.
- The Holy Spirit of Promise Posted: 25 Sep 2008 "T...
- SEEKING PEACE: The Book Chapter Two
- Several of my favorite saved emails
- WHY I GO TO CHURCH
- Message to my friends
- What is my purpose?
- Revelation and Preparedness
- My Yoke is Easy and My Burden is Light
- The Great Things Which God Has Revealed Through Jo...
- Grace and Perfection
- FEAR NOT
- Sacrifice is Expected
- NASA and the Bible
- Family History and Temple Work
- Daniel's Prophecies of the Last Days
- Developing Christlike Attributes
- BECOMING A PEOPLE OF ZION
- What Jesus Christ Means to Me
- SEEKING PEACE: The Book Chapter One
- Contradictory parts of ourselves
- MY PERSONAL HISTORY
- Traditional Helton Family Thanksgivings
- Pure in Heart
- NATURE AND THE GOSPEL
- A MODERN DAY PARABLE
- Top 100 Things I Want to Do in My Lifetime
- ▼ September (28)