Wednesday, September 3, 2008

Post 22 - Does Christ Require Works of Us?

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Christ in Gethsemane -by Harry Anderson
With the painting I have chosen to begin this post, it should be obvious that I am getting right to the very core of the Gospel - the atonement of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.

In my second ever blogpost, entitled: "By Grace are We Saved After All We Can Do," One of my dear, close relatives said in a comment he inserted into that post:

"A couple of comments about 2 Nephi 25:23. If grace only applies after all you can do, how do you know when you have done enough? Have you truly done ALL you could do? If not then it would seem that grace would not apply. A Christian rejoices in grace as presented in the Holy Bible."
"Good works are a *result* of grace, not a way to achieve it. (Gal 5:22-23 and Eph. 2) You do not pay for a gift. Grace is not a license to sin, but if you truly love God, you will want to please Him."
The following is the full scripture he was referring to: (Book of Mormon)

In my blog post , Have You Really Read the Book of Mormon, Post 3, I made an effort to answer his question. However, a few days later, Richard K. Miller, a member of the LDS Church clarified this matter with this comment in the earlier blog.
II Nephi 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."
To me, the question of doing "all that we can" seems to be about our willingness to keep the commandments, even if we fall short. The blessing offered on the sacrament each week asks for the Spirit to be with those who are "willing". Willingness drives us to try and will produce good works, even if the works alone don't matter.
What's more, I believe there's room for our "willingness" to improve, like the man who asked Jesus to help his "unbelief." In the Book of Mormon, the prophet Alma says that those who don't have faith but have a "desire to believe" can let it work within them and grow into faith. (Alma 32) To me this implies that even a "willingness to be willing" is a step in the right direction and qualifies us for the grace of Christ.
On the other hand, "Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven." (Matt 7:21)
Let's now refer back to the Book of Mormon. I think that Lehi's third oldest son, Sam is a person to now focus on in this discussion. Sam clearly supported his brother, Nephi, (who was just younger than himself) regarding the issue of whether or not he and his three brothers, Laman, Lemuel, and Nephi should go back to Jerusalem for a third attempt to obtain the scriptural records contained in the "Brass Plates" which the Lord had commanded Lehi to have his four sons obtain from the keeper of those records, Laban, a man of some importance in Jerusalem.

Sam supported Nephi to the extent that he was beaten along with Nephi by their elder two brothers, Laman and Lemuel, in their effort to keep Nephi from talking them into getting them to go back into Jerusalem to do what they knew was a very dangerous task.

As you may recall from your reading of the Book of Mormon, an angel of God appeared to the four young men and commanded Laman and Lemuel to cease and desist! They did and Nephi was led by the Lord to successfully obtain the Brass Plates.

At various times as recorded in I and II Nephi , Father Lehi made statements about his sons and gave blessings to them. In the following verse (I Nephi 8:3 ) Father Lehi mentions Sam.

3. And behold, because of the thing which I have seen, I have reason to rejoice in the Lord because of Nephi and also of Sam ; for I have reason to suppose that they, and also many of their seed, will be saved. (emphasis added)
Along with his other brothers, Sam was given a father's blessing not long before Lehi died. This is the blessing given Sam.

II Nephi 4:11 "And after he had made an end of speaking unto them, he spake unto Sam, saying: Blessed art thou, and thy seed; for thou shalt inherit the land like unto thy brother Nephi. And thy seed shall be numbered with his seed; and thou shalt be even like unto thy brother, and thy seed like unto his seed; and thou shalt be blessed in all thy days." (emphasis  added)
Through the Spirit of Prophecy and Revelation Lehi was able to say that. There is no further information about Sam or his descendants in the Book of Mormon. However we can say that this can be attributed to these words from the blessing "And thy seed shall be numbered with his seed; and thou shalt be even like unto thy brother, and thy seed like unto his seed;"

My point here is in answer to my dear relative's question: "If grace only applies after all you can do, how do you know when you have done enough?"

There is no record given of what good things Sam did throughout his life. Neither was there any word about him or his children having fallen by the wayside spiritually. The amount of good works Sam did aren't the key things. His willingness is a key thing, however.

Again referring back to Richard K. Miller's comment made at the end of the same blog post to which my relative responded, it is willingness which is really required. I am sure the Savior's grace applies to Sam and many others in this world who have done all they were able to do to further the Lord's work. Because so little was said about Sam I have supposed that he just didn't possess many of the leadership attributes that his younger brother and leader, Nephi, possessed. Despite that, his inspired father, Lehi, still indicated that Sam along with Nephi would be saved!

It is obvious that Sam kept the commandments of the Lord in showing us that he, at great personal risk, supported his younger brother Nephi in his decision to make that third attempt at getting the sacred records from Laban who had armed men to help him keep these sons of Lehi from getting them. Sam obviouslyknew the Lord had commanded their father, Lehi to have his brothers and him, Sam, obtain those sacred records and bring them back to their father in the Arabian desert.

Now continuing in my efforts to support Richard K. Miller who said it is willingness that really counts, not a certain calculated amount of good works that brings salvation along with the Savior's grace, I am going to remind you of Alma the Younger, the son of Alma who baptized at the Waters of Mormon as explained in a number of previous blog posts.

He, as those of you who have read blog posts 7 and 17, know well, was obviously possessed with many talents which he wrongly used to tear down the Church of Jesus Christ, that his father, Alma had painstakingly struggled, (as you have read about in previous blogs) with much success, to bring that church into being.

Remember that after the Angel of the Lord had appeared to him and his four friends, Alma the Younger had felt damned and severely condemned himself until he remembered his hearing his father, Alma teach about the redemption and salvation (grace)provided by the Son of God, Jesus the Christ, who was to come into the world in the future.

At that very moment Alma the Younger called out to that Jesus to save him. It was instantly done. The Lord did not wait for him to begin performing all of the deeds of service he eventually did! He could have thereafter slacked off in his efforts to serve others, but had he done so he would have lost that salvation or grace he had been given.

Alma the Younger became one of the most successful of all of the Savior's missionaries told about in the Book of Mormon, He was comparable to the Apostle Paul in his righteous zeal to do the Lord's work until the end, when his life was taken by the Romans.

I want you to read these particular words this younger Alma spoke some time later during his life of service rendered to others because of his great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. These words demonstrate his willingness to do all that he could do.

Alma 29:1-10
Now back to Sam. We have no record of great service on his part, yet his inspired father, Lehi, states in this sacred word of God, the Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, that he supposes Nephi and Sam will be saved. It was Sam's willingness to serve that qualified him to be saved through the Grace of Christ. It was after "all Sam could do" that qualified him to possess the precious gift of salvation. Maybe Sam's all he could do wasn't as much Alma the Younger's all he could do, but our Savior's grace applied to him equally.

So it is with each of us, my dear relatives and all of your dear family members, too. This applies to the rest of you readers of this blog also. The Lord Jesus Christ loves all of us!

The Crucifixion of Jesus Christ -by Harry Anderson
This website is not owned by or affiliated with the Church Of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (sometimes called the Mormon or LDS Church). The views expressed herein do not necessarily represent the position of the Church.


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