5 steps to share the Biblical concept of grace with Mormons

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"His Grace is Sufficient"

You understand the Apostle Paul's struggle, don't you?

Three times I pleaded with the Lord to take it away from me. But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me."  (2 Cor. 12:8-9)

Paul had already received everything he needed in this life. His salvation was secure. He was a forgiven saint. Any problem or condition in this life paled in comparison to the heavenly treasures that was waiting for him.

You relate to his source of comfort, don't you?

“God’s grace is sufficient,”still rings true today in Christians' hearts and minds. Those words are a source of comfort and peace - even when God doesn't seem to be saying "yes" to our prayers.

This is not the case for Mormons.

Instead of comfort and peace, these same words are used as a call to action.

Mormons borrow well-known phrases from the Bible to espouse a much different theology. By taking the time to learn the LDS definition of these terms, a Christian can share God’s Word with a Mormon more clearly. Instead of speaking past each other, they can speak to each other.

The concept of grace is a good example.

Paul knew God’s grace, and the Lord reminded him that it was sufficient. By faith alone, Paul received the forgiveness of sins. The teachings of Mormonism also claim that grace is a gift from God, but it can only be received after they have done everything within their power.

“Mormonism teaches that Christ's death on the cross (Atonement) is an act of grace. As a result, all people will be saved from physical death and be resurrected. For this reason, a Mormon will say they are saved by grace. The LDS Church extends the concept of grace in two different ways: a divine help and an enabling power.

"Through grace, made available by the Savior's atoning sacrifice, all people will be resurrected and receive immortality. But resurrection alone does not qualify us for eternal life in the presence of God. Our sins make us unclean and unfit to dwell in God's presence, and we need His grace to purify and perfect us 'after all we can do' (2 Nephi 25:23)."  (True to the Faith, p. 77)  In this well-known passage from the Book of Mormon, grace is the divine help and strength a Mormon can receive through the Atonement to help them remain obedient to fulfill their covenant promises and eternally progress.

The other part of grace involves receiving the "fulness of God's grace." This enabling power allows a Mormon to meet God's standard of perfection. Once a Mormon has done all they can do to follow His commandments, grace fills in the gap of worthy efforts. This will enable a faithful Mormon to qualify to live eternally with Heavenly Father in the celestial kingdom. Receiving grace is entirely dependent upon a Mormon's obedience and worthiness. (The Dictionary of Mormonism, www.tilm.org)

Through our Please Open the Door initiative, we have discovered that it is common for Mormon missionaries to hand out a copy of, "His Grace is Sufficient." http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966

According to this article - the best way to understand the LDS concept of grace is to define its purpose. Through the gift of grace, God gives people a divine opportunity to live at a higher level or a higher plane in this life and the next. Like a mother hiring a piano teacher as a gift for their children, Heavenly Father has given grace to his children. Now, he is calling upon his children to “practice for heaven” by being obedient to the commands and ordinances of the LDS Church.

“The grace of Christ is sufficient -- sufficient to cover our debt, sufficient to transform us, and sufficient to help us as long as that transformation takes place,” wrote BYU professor Brad Wilcox.

So, how can we talk to a Mormon about grace?

Mormonism understands the gift of grace of what they have been saved for: to reach their divine potential and inherit eternal life [become a god]. Christians need to introduce grace in the context of what we have been saved from: spiritual death.

Before a Mormon can begin to understand the biblical concept of grace, they need to learn the biblical concept of salvation. Using the term “rescue” gives a new, powerful illustration of what Christ already did for us. A Mormon cannot begin to comprehend the spiritual importance of salvation until they learn that all people are dead in sin and desperately need to be rescued. This emphasizes sharing the seriousness of sin and the eternal consequences of spiritual death.

Here are 5 steps to share the biblical concept of grace:

  1. Using a dictionary to define the common understanding of grace. This sets a foundation for the biblical concept of grace.
  2. Agree on the proper understanding of gift. This term also applies to understanding grace.
  3. Share that perfect love provides perfect gifts - no strings attached. Heavenly Father wants to give the perfect gift of grace because of His perfect love. A child can't wait to receive this gift and claim it as their own.
  4. Use this as an entry point to talk about forgiveness, instead of focusing on the concept of grace.
  5. Because Mormons commonly correlate grace and redemption together, the biblical teaching of redemption can be an easier concept for a Mormon to grasp.

The Mormon mindset is inherently works-righteousness, so the biblical concept of grace can be extremely difficult to grasp at first. From our experience, we encourage you not to delve into this topic until a Mormon understands the biblical concepts of sin and salvation.

God’s grace is sufficient for our salvation. God’s Word is sufficient to bring a lost soul to heaven. In everything we say and do, we treat Mormons with love and respect, focusing on God's Word by always going back to what Jesus has already done for us on the cross. By Dave Malnes Truth in Love Ministry