Monday, February 29, 2016

I'm a raccoon mixed with a squirrel? Understanding grace versus works.

Hey ya'll!

So. Good week. Well... yeah. It was a good week.

First off, I remembered something I was going to write in a letter home a while back but forgot, then I looked back in my planner and remembered. A couple weeks ago, Elder Peery turned to me at the end of the day and said, "You know who you remind me of?"


"The raccoon from Over The Hedge. Mixed with the squirrel."

Well thank you Elder Peery. I will actually take that as high praise. Those happen to be two of my greatest role models. ;) We had a good laugh about that one.

Canada is still pretty cold. It continues to snow then melt then snow then hail then melt then rain then freeze then snow then melt then snow. Yeah. That's my life. And it's a good one. I'm definitely setting records for how fast one can scrape/brush the ice off of a windshield and get back into the car.

There's an important point I want to bring up this week that has come up a lot in these past few months.

The importance of faith, and the importance of works.

We know from the New Testament that faith, without works, is dead. (see James 2:17-18) We also know that Paul states multiple times in his epistles that men are saved by grace, not works. So... how do we reconcile these two points? Was James wrong? Was Paul wrong?

Of course not. They were both men of God. So... what's the answer?

To start off, let me make an important point.

Works do not save us. Baptism, confirmation, temple ordinances, and just being a good person don't save us. Repentance doesn't save us. Faith doesn't save us. Enduring to the end doesn't save us.

Jesus saves us.

All of these things we do and are - faith in Jesus Christ and His Atonement, repentance, baptism, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, temple ordinances, attaining Christlike attributes, etc. - are nothing without the Savior. Without a living, resurrected, perfect Messiah, all of these "works" would be dust in the proverbial wind.

Now. To explain further, there is an important change which took place with the atoning sacrifice of Jesus Christ. Mankind, without Christ's Atonement, would be left under a law of justice, requiring that every mistake or sin or imperfection be repaid in full by him who committed it. This would mean that all who ever lived, who live, or who ever will live would be literally damned, unable to progress or learn or grow for the rest of eternity.

That is not our Father in Heaven's plan.

In order to progress, we needed to be mortal. But being mortal meant making mistakes. And making mistakes, under the law of justice, meant damnation. Unless.

Unless a perfect Being, namely Jesus the Christ, became mortal, and lived perfectly, and performed a perfect Atonement for every last one of our mistakes and failures and shortcomings and imperfections.

Now. Here's the important part.

Does the fact that Christ lived and died for us, the fact that He bled in the garden of Gethsemane for us, eliminate any personal responsibility? Do we really only have to look inside our selves and say we accept His Atonement, and we're automatically placed on a list of "Saved Souls" somewhere in the heavens?

Absolutely not.

The Atonement of Jesus Christ took us from under the law of justice and placed us under the law of grace. This means that it is no longer our works which save us, but those of Jesus Christ. We no longer have to live perfectly to live with God again.

But this is not a free ride, either.

Christ does indeed ask things of us. He asks us for faith in Him, which, as we see in James 2, manifests itself by WORKS. We show our faith through repentance, baptism by immersion, receiving the gift of the Holy Ghost, receiving sacred ordinances in the temple of God, and working to be more like Jesus Christ. But these things we do, they don't save us.

They QUALIFY us to BE saved.

Christ can not, and will not, save a soul who chooses NOT to be saved. And we choose whether we will let Him save us. We choose by showing Him our faith through our works.

"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."

2 Nephi 25:23

It is by Christ's grace we are saved.

After all we can DO.

En avant!

Elder Bryan McOmber

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