His Grace Is Sufficient. . .For What?
“His Grace is Sufficient” is the title of a speech that many LDS members or missionaries point Christians to. They do so to try and demonstrate that Mormonism does teach salvation by grace. If you talk with Mormons at any length, there’s a good chance that they will give you a copy of it or a link to it. Here is a link to the original speech. http://speeches.byu.edu/?act=viewitem&id=1966
This speech was given by Brad Wilcox, a professor at BYU. Although it is fascinating for a number of different reasons, I will only focus on one question – the one posed in the title of this post: His grace is sufficient for what?
Wilcox answers that in three different ways: it is sufficient to cover us, to transform us, and to help us. All that sounds good. But it’s not good enough! He reflects classic Mormonism when he further states: “We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”
The first thing to note is that he says all will be resurrected and will go back into God’s presence. This is often how Mormonism defines salvation. (Click on word to take you to definition in Dictionary of Mormonism). Interestingly, the version of his article printed in the official LDS magazine, the Ensign, spells out more clearly the purpose for our returning to God’s presence: “We will all go back to God’s presence to be judged.” (my emphasis)
This, my friends, is the first key to understanding what Wilcox is saying and what Mormonism teaches. When he talks about Jesus filling the gap this is what he is talking about. The result of Jesus filling the gap is NOT that we will live with God for all eternity. It is only that we can return to his presence TO BE JUDGED. In other words, what Jesus did is get us to the courtroom – but the verdict that God pronounces over us will be determined by “our obedience”. “We will all go back to God’s presence. What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.”
Lying behind all this is Mormonism’s teaching that heaven consists of three kingdoms of glory. Seeing that is the second key to understanding Wilcox’ article. His illustration about learning how to play the piano, along with his emphasis on grace transforming and helping us, is classic Mormonism. According to LDS teaching, living with Heavenly Father for all eternity depends not on what Christ had done but on what people do! “What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to stay there.” This is Wilcox’s consistent message.
In a different place, he states: heaven will not be heaven for those who have not chosen to be heavenly.” This illustrates the last point I want to make about his article. Although before I talked about God pronouncing a verdict, that is not how Wilcox pictures it. Throughout the article, it is not so much about what God decrees but more about what a person chooses. It’s all about how comfortable we are, what kind of body we want, how long we plan on staying in God’s presence. In so many different ways, Mormonism turns the focus away from God and places it on humans. It even does that in regard to heaven.
According to Wilcox, God’s grace is sufficient to get us to the courtroom. But it is not sufficient to enable us to live with God for all eternity. In striking contrast, the Bible teaches that eternal life in God’s presence is his gift to us (Romans 6:23). Our being “comfortable” in God’s presence was accomplished not by our obedience, but by Jesus’ obedience for us. Because Jesus has already kept all the commandments for me, God’s grace is sufficient not only to get me to the courtroom but to have God render the verdict of “not guilty” over me (Romans 3:22-25). Because of Jesus, and ONLY because of Jesus, I will spend eternity in God’s presence.
Because of the different definitions Mormonism assigns these words, it can be confusing talking about salvation, grace, and heaven. But one thing that isn’t confusing is discussing living eternally with Heavenly Father. Two questions that can quickly and clearly illustrate the differences between Mormonism and Christianity are:
What do you have to do to live eternally with Heavenly Father?
Do you think that I, a Christian, if I don’t change my beliefs, will live with Heavenly Father for all eternity?
Ask those questions and then boldly and joyfully testify to the assurance you have that you will live forever with God - because God’s grace in Jesus Christ is sufficient to accomplish that!