“For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”
Fewer passages present the gospel clearer than this one. It shows we are not saved by works. Rather we are saved by a gift. It can effectively convey the gospel to Mormons, especially because some have never heard it.
But it can also be a challenge to share these verses. People sometimes talk past their LDS friends because of the differing definitions of “saved” and “grace.”
Most Mormons equate salvation with bodily resurrection. In other words, when they talk about salvation, they often restrict it to Jesus’ conquering of physical death, which enables them to return to God’s presence. Usually left unsaid is that people return to God’s presence to face judgment. Remaining in his presence for eternity hinges on their obedience.
- Grace is defined in the LDS Bible Dictionary as “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” It further states: “This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.” In other words, LDS grace is the help God gives to people only after they have expended they have done their best. Biblical grace, however, especially in the context of salvation, is an attribute of God. It is his love for the unlovable. It is his unconditional, incredible love for sinners – the love Jesus talked about in John 3:16.
- Remember that the Book of Mormon states, “we know that it is by grace we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). It is a favorite passage of many Mormons. More and more, they are trying to weaken it through various interpretations. Mormonism’s official interpretation, however, is very clear. “The phrase ‘after all we can do’ teaches that effort is required on our part to receive the fulness of the Lord’s grace and be made worthy to dwell with him” (True to the Faith, p.77). Contrasting 2 Nephi 25:23 with Ephesians 2:8-10 can be a worthwhile exercise.
Don’t let these differing definitions deter you from using Ephesians 2:8-10. God has used it to enlighten many Mormons to the truth of his love for them. Just be alert to the importance of communicating clearly by taking the time to define key terms.