During his talk at the April 2018 General Conference, President Dieter F. Uchtdorf spoke on the theme “The Gift of Grace.” The address highlights well the difference between the Mormon and biblical views of the gift of grace.
Explaining The LDS Teaching on the Gift of Grace
In the first half of his talk, Ucthdorf explains how grace “unlocks the gates of heaven” and “opens the windows of heaven.” Through Christ’s sacrifice on the cross, a person’s sins can become forgiven. Grace has unlocked the gates of heaven and allows Mormons to fulfill Heavenly Father’s aspirations for them to enter through it and become like Him. A person “must enter through this gate with a heart’s desire to be changed.” Grace opens the windows of heaven by giving us the strength to overcome weaknesses and “be perfected in Christ.” (Moroni, Book of Mormon) For Mormons who “intend to inherit what has been prepared for us in His eternal kingdom,” namely how Christ’s atonement has saved all people from physical death,
The second half of Uchtdorf’s talk is what captured my attention. In response to the biblical motivation of obedience, he attempts to utilize the LDS version of thanksgiving for all that Christ has done for us. He states, “We obey the commandments of God – out of love for Him!” That is true, but in all Mormon Church teachings, we have to disseminate what the LDS church means by defining phrases and terminology. A Christian’s motivation for obedience is not a “joyful rehearsal” to prepare us for heaven, nor are we looking to be “refined” or “improved.”
Instead, it is a joyful service in response to the status of forgiveness that God has already declared through our faith in Jesus Christ.
Uchtdorf also provides a unique twist on a famous verse in the Book of Mormon. It is so popular that we often refer to 2 Nephi 25:23 as the John 3:16 of Mormonism. Grace is only received, according to the LDS Church, after “after all we can do” to be considered worthy of this gift. Uchtdorf provides a different twist in his answer. He states, “… I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase ‘after all we can do.’ We must understand that ‘after’ does not equal ‘because.” We are not saved ‘because’ of all that we can do.’” He refers to Nephi in the Book of Mormon, who persuades his people to believe in Christ and be reconciled – to believe is what we can all do.
Is this Biblical?
At first glance, a person can be led to think that the Mormon Church is coming around to Biblical teachings. But this is not the case. Again, the key is to carefully define phrases and key terms.
It is true that a Mormon believes that they are not saved because of what they can do. Jesus has earned salvation for all people through his death. As a result of his death and resurrection, all people will conquer physical death and appear before Heavenly Father to be judged accordingly. They will inherit an appropriate kingdom of glory based on their “faith” or obedience.
It is essential to understand how Mormonism understands faith or belief.
The only way for any person to receive the forgiveness of sins is to believe or to have faith. For a Mormon, faith is a principle of action. Faith or to “believe” means to carry out or be active in obedience. Christ has done his part, now it is up to the Mormon to take full advantage of their eternal potential and become like Christ in every way. They can be “perfected” in Christ and receive the forgiveness of their sins by carefully following and obeying the “gospel” of the LDS Church.
A big challenge in planting the seeds of God’s Word with a Mormon is to remember that they define many words differently. It is essential to take the time to define key terms to help understand what Mormonism teaches.
Visit our Dictionary of Mormonism to help you understand the language of the LDS Church and request a printed, abbreviated copy today.