- Grace (Christianity)
A series of articles on Grace in Christianity
In Christian theology, grace is God’s gift of God’s self to humankind. It is understood by Christians to be a spontaneous gift from God to man - "generous, free and totally unexpected and undeserved" - that takes the form of divine favour, love and clemency. It is an attribute of God that is most manifest in the salvation of sinners. Christian orthodoxy has taught that the initiative in the relationship of grace between God and an individual is always on the side of God. Once God has reached out in this “first grace,” however, each person has the option to accept it or reject it, and a responsibility for the continuance of the relationship, though the Calvinist idea of irresistible grace says that a person cannot resist the efficacious call of God to salvation.
The concept of grace has been called "the watershed that divides Catholicism from Protestantism, Calvinism from Arminianism, modern liberalism from conservatism." The Catholic Church holds that grace is bestowed in a particular way through sacraments, while Protestantism almost universally does not. Calvinists emphasize "the utter helplessness of man apart from grace." Arminians understand the Grace of God to be cooperating with one's abilities and will. According to Christian theologian Charles C. Ryrie, Modern Liberalism "gives an exaggerated place to the abilities of man to decide his own fate and to effect his own salvation entirely apart from God’s grace." He writes that conservatism holds that God’s grace is necessary for salvation.
Grace in the Old and New Testaments of the Christian Bible
"Grace" is the English translation of a Greek word meaning "that which brings delight, joy, happiness, or good fortune."
Grace in the Old Testament
The Septuagint translates the Hebrew word root meaning "favor" as grace, as found in Genesis 6:8 to describe why God saved Noah from the flood. The Old Testament use of the word includes the concept that those showing favor do gracious deeds, or acts of grace, such as being kind to the poor and showing generosity.Descriptions of God's graciousness abound in the pentateuch, for example in Deuteronomy 7:8, Numbers 6:24-27. In the Psalms examples of God's grace include teaching the Law (Psalm 119:29) and answering prayers (Psalm 27:7). Another example of God's grace appears in , a prayer for restoration, for forgiveness, for the grace and mercy of God to bring about new life following the Exile.
Grace in Roman Catholicism
Part of a series on Attributes of God in
Grace has been divided by some theologians into two forms, Sanctifying Grace and Actual Grace. Sanctifying grace is the divine life that infuses our soul at justification (normatively at baptism) and, through the spirit of adoption, transforms the sinner into a holy child of God. As such we participate in the Divine Childship of Jesus Christ. With this divine childship comes the indwelling of the Holy Spirit (who is the divine personification of the bond of love between God the Father and God the Son, Jesus Christ). Sanctifying grace is a permanent part of the soul as long as one does not reject one's adopted childship by committing a mortal sin or unforgivable sin, which severs one's bond to the Father. However, God is infinitely merciful, and sanctifying grace can always be restored to the penitent heart, normatively in the sacrament of reconciliation. Since the end and aim of all efficacious grace is directed to the production of sanctifying grace where it does not already exist, or to retain and increase it where it is already present, its excellence, dignity, and importance become immediately apparent; for holiness and the sonship of God depend solely upon the possession of sanctifying grace, wherefore it is frequently called simply grace without any qualifying word to accompany it as, for instance, in the phrases "to live in grace" or "to fall from grace". Actual Grace is a supernatural help of God for salutary acts granted in consideration of the merits of Christ. A theological debate has opposed Catholicism, both internally and to Calvinism, concerning the nature and exact role of the efficacious grace. Augustinism and Thomism asserted that efficacious grace did not contradict human's free will. They claimed that although man always retained the willpower to resist to divine grace, by the effects of the efficacious grace, he did not want to resist to it. Thus the ambiguous doctrine of an "irresistible grace", which led to important debates first during the 5th century, opposing Pelagianism to Augustinism (see following section) and then again during the 16th and 17th century, explaining in particular the creation of the Congregatio de Auxiliis as the Jesuits denied the existence of an "efficacious grace," while the Dominican Order, Augustinists and Thomists asserted its trueness. The debate, which took place in the context of the Counter-Reformation, was revived during the formulary controversy between Jansenists and Jesuits.
Augustine versus Pelagius
In the fifth century, a debate that affected the understanding of grace in Western Christianity, and that was to have long reaching effects on subsequent developments in the doctrine, took place between Pelagius and St Augustine of Hippo.
Pelagius, an ascetic who is said to have come from Britain, was concerned about the retention of man's moral accountability in the face of God's omnipotence. He strongly affirmed that men had free will and were able to choose good as well as evil. Pelagius denied that original sin had extinguished God's grace in Adam's heirs, and that consequently mankind had the power to do good, to convert themselves from sin by their own power, and the ability to work out their own salvation. Religion's purpose is to teach us virtue, from which we can expect reward from God. By great efforts, it is possible for those in the flesh to achieve moral perfection.
Pelagius's seemingly optimistic creed in fact burdens weak mortals with a burden too great to bear; or at least this was part of the response of St Augustine. More importantly, it does not clearly explain why Jesus Christ had to die for anyone's sins; if men can redeem themselves by their own efforts, atonement by Jesus on the Cross was at best a vague sort of moral example. The taint of original sin did extinguish God's grace in men's souls; no matter how righteously they conducted themselves, their virtues could never make them worthy of the infinite holiness of God. Men are massa peccati, a mass of sin; they can no more endow themselves with grace than an empty glass can fill itself. While we may have "free will" (liberum arbitrium) in the sense that we can choose our course of conduct, we nevertheless lack true freedom (libertas) to avoid sin, for sin is inherent in each choice we make. It is only by God's sovereign choice to extend His grace to us that salvation is possible.
Pelagianism was repudiated by the Council of Carthage in 417, largely at Augustine's insistence. The Eastern Orthodox Church, as expressed in the teachings of John Cassian, holds that though grace is required for men to save themselves at the beginning; there is no such thing as total depravity, but there remains a moral or noetic ability within men that is unaffected by original sin, and that men must work together (synergism) with divine grace to be saved. This position is called Semi-Pelagianism by the West. A similar teaching is Arminianism, but Arminians believe in total depravity.
Jansenism versus the Jesuits
At about the same time that Calvinists and Arminians were debating the meaning of grace in Protestantism, in Catholicism a similar debate was taking place between the Jansenists and the Jesuits. Cornelius Jansen's 1640 work Augustinus sought to refocus Catholic theology on the themes of original sin, human depravity, the necessity of divine grace, and predestination, as he found them in the works of St Augustine. The Jansenists, like the Puritans, believed themselves to be members of a gathered church called out of worldly society, and banded together in institutions like the Port-Royal convents seeking to lead lives of greater spiritual intensity. Blaise Pascal attacked what he called moral laxity in the casuistry of the Jesuits. Jansenist theology remained a minority party within Catholicism, and during the second half of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries it was condemned as a heresy, though its style remained influential in ascetic circles.
Grace and merit
According to Eusebius, the Roman emperor Constantine I was not baptised until shortly before his death in the year 337. To some this might suggest that his commitment to Christianity was lukewarm; in an attempt to rebut this suggestion, a contrary suggestion was made. Christians at the time of Constantine, or at least at the time this explanation was devised, believed that the performance of the ritual itself conferred forgiveness of sins. This, however, was a one-shot deal; post-baptism sins cannot be forgiven in a second ritual, and could only be resolved by penance. By postponing baptism until the last illness, it made it unlikely that the believer committed a serious sin between baptism and death. Another explanation is that many men at that time followed a very strict interpretation of the passages in 1 John that said Christians do not sin; since they thought themselves unlikely to stop sinning upon their conversion, they put off their conversion and baptisms until shortly before death. Thus, postponing their baptisms was understood as an act of humility.
From a contemporary perspective, it is impossible to tell what Constantine intended. But the theology assumed in this explanation suggests that the concept of grace as understood by Constantine may have been altered into something Protestants find hard to fit into the New Testament's treatment of the concept.
Rather than God's property to be offered at His sole discretion, in Medieval Western Christianity at least, grace became a sort of spiritual currency, and the Church was its banker. Believers acquired grace by participating in the Church's sacraments. The sacraments were effective in conferring God's grace by virtue of their being performed, provided that the liturgist was authorized by the Church to perform them. The grace offered through the sacraments enabled Christians to lead better lives and to deepen their faith. In addition to sanctifying grace, merit was earned by good works; by this merit, believers can earn the right to rewards from God. This included the declaration by Trent that the faithful could be "accounted to have, by those very works which have been done in God, fully satisfied the divine law according to the state of this life, and to have truly merited eternal life." 
Conversely, sins reduce one's merit before God and incur a debt to Him in the divine economy. According to Medieval Roman Catholicism, sufficiently serious sins not only remove merit, but also extinguish sanctifying grace in the baptized believer's soul, which can be restored by the sacrament of penance. These sins are mortal sins or deadly sins. Less serious sins, venial sins, incur loss of merit. Believers whose accounts were overdrawn at the final accounting went to Hell; believers without enough merit for Heaven went to Purgatory, where they could work off the debt they owed to God.
Fortunately, some saints achieved so much merit in their lifetimes on Earth that they got into Heaven with some to spare. This surplus was called works of supererogation, the Church's treasury of surplus merit. The Church can offer the excess merit in its treasury to be applied to the deficits in merit suffered by its penitent sinners. Pope Clement VI proclaimed this to be a doctrine of the Roman Catholic Church in 1343.
Grace in Eastern Christianity
In Eastern Christianity, Grace is the Uncreated Energies of God. The Sacred Mysteries (sacraments) are seen as a means of partaking of Divine Grace because God works through his Church, not just because specific legalistic rules are followed; and Grace is the working of God himself, not a created substance of any kind that can be treated like a commodity. There is no distinction made between mortal and venial sins, no doctrine of Purgatory - although there is a strong tradition of a period of "purification after death" and prayers for the dead, but for cultural reasons not called by the "corrupt Augustinian" term "Purgatory" (this was a recurring controversy leading to the Great Schism between the West and the East), and no Treasure House of Merit. Instead, the Eastern Church has emphasized the role of the Holy Spirit in the Christian's life and has maintained ascetic disciplines such as fasting and prayer (the minimum fast obligatory on Orthodox faithful is two days weekly), not as a way to make satisfaction for past sins or to build up merit, but as a means of spiritual discipline to help reduce one's susceptibility to temptation in the future (again, a concept absolutely equivalent to concupiscence, but for cultural reasons, not referred to by the "Western" or Latinate term) to exercise self control, and to avoid being enslaved to one's passions and desires.
Orthodox theology actively opposes any implementation or implication of Augustinian concepts of total depravity or irresistible grace and any fruits of Thomist or scholastic philosophical theology, viewing philosophy and discursive theology (compare to the Mohammedan concepts of bidah and kalam) as corruptions of the "true theology" of the Cappadocian and early Desert Fathers which lead the Western Church astray into heresy. It teaches that it is possible and necessary for the human will to cooperate with divine grace for the individual to be saved. This cooperation is called synergism (see also monergism and semipelagianism), so that humans may become divine—a process called theosis—through merging with the "uncreated energies" of God (the so-called "Tabor light"), especially through a form of prayer called "hesychasm" (compare to the Mohammedan concepts of salaat and dhikr).
Grace in the Protestant Reformation
Martin Luther's posting of his ninety-five theses to the church door in Wittenberg in 1517 was a direct consequence of the perfunctory sacramentalism and treasury doctrines of the mediæval church. The act was precipitated by the arrival of Johann Tetzel, authorized by the Vatican to sell indulgences.
The effectiveness of these indulgences was predicated on the doctrine of the treasury of grace proclaimed by Pope Clement VI. The theory was that merit earned by acts of piety could augment the believer's store of sanctifying grace. Gifts to the Church were acts of piety. The Church, moreover, had a treasury full of grace above and beyond what was needed to get its faithful into Heaven. The Church was willing to part with some of its surplus in exchange for earthly gold. Martin Luther's anger against this practice, which seemed to him to involve the purchase of salvation, began a swing of the pendulum back towards the Pauline vision of grace, as opposed to James's.
Luther taught that men were helpless and without a plea before God's justice, and their acts of piety were utterly inadequate before His infinite holiness. Were God only just, and not merciful, everyone would go to Hell, because everyone, even the best of us, deserves to go to Hell. Our inability to achieve salvation by our own effort suggests that even our best intention is somehow tainted by our sinful nature. This doctrine is sometimes called total depravity, a term derived from Calvinism and its relatives.
It is by faith alone (sola fide) and by grace alone (sola gratia) that men are saved. Good works are something the believers should undertake out of gratitude towards their Savior; but they are not necessary for salvation and cannot earn anyone salvation; there is no room for the notion of "merit" in Luther's doctrine of redemption. (There may, however, be degrees of reward for the redeemed in Heaven.) Only the unearned, unmerited grace of God can save anyone. No one can have a claim of entitlement to God's grace, and it is only by His generosity that salvation is even possible.
As opposed to the treasury of grace from which believers can make withdrawals, in Lutheranism salvation becomes a declaration of spiritual bankruptcy, in which penitents acknowledge the inadequacy of their own resources and trust only in God to save them. Accepting Augustine's concern for legal justification as the base metaphor for salvation, the believers are not so much made righteous in Lutheranism as they are considered covered by Christ's righteousness. Acknowledging that they have no power to make themselves righteous, the penalty for their sins is discharged because Jesus has already paid for it with His blood. His righteousness is credited to those who believe in and thus belong to him.
Calvin and Reformed theology
Eager to give all the credit to God's mercy, Lutheranism eliminated any role of humans in achieving or meriting their own salvation. The Lutheran Augsburg Confession says of baptism, “Lutherans teach that it is necessary to salvation and that by baptism the grace of God is offered and that children are to be baptized, who by baptism, being offered to God, are received into God’s favor.” John Calvin expanded and further developed these Augustinian themes in his Institutes of the Christian Religion in 1536.
- Total Depravity (also known as total inability, which is inexorably tied to a strong doctrine of original sin as having enslaved the human will completely)
- Unconditional Election
- Limited Atonement (also known as definite atonement or particular redemption)
- Irresistible Grace
- Perseverance of the Saints (colloquially known as "once saved, always saved" or, as interpreted a distinct way among Reformed or Strict Baptists as well as non-Calvinist General Baptists, eternal security)
The notion that God has foreordained who will be saved is generally called predestination. The concept of predestination peculiar to Calvinism, "double-predestination," (in conjunction with limited atonement) is the most controversial expression of the doctrine. According to Reformed theology, the "good news" of the gospel of Christ is that God has freely granted the gift of salvation to those the Holy Spirit causes to believe; what He freely grants to some (the "elect" individuals), however, He also withholds from others (the "reprobate" individuals).
Calvin sought to provide assurance to the faithful that God would actually save them. His teaching implied what came to be known as the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints, the notion that God would actually save those who were his Elect. The actual status and ultimate state of any man's soul were unknown except to God. When assurance of election was rigorously pressed as an experience to be sought, especially by the Puritans, this led to a legalism as rigid as the one Protestantism sought to reject, as men were eager to demonstrate that they were among the chosen by the conspicuous works-righteousness of their lives.
The relatively radical positions of Reformed theology provoked a strong reaction from both Roman Catholics and Lutherans. In 1547, the Council of Trent, which sought to address and condemn Protestant objections, aimed to purge the Roman Catholic Church of controversial movements and establish an orthodox Roman Catholic teaching on grace and justification, as distinguished from the Protestant teachings on those concepts. It taught that justification and sanctification were elements of the same process. Grace, usually dispensed through the sacraments, actually enables believers to become more righteous and worthy through the power of the Holy Spirit, apart from the imputed righteousness belonging to Christ, and to perform good works that contribute to one's salvation. Various actual Protestant doctrines were framed as extreme and unprecedented; they were associated with older heresies and generally condemned by the Council, whose work formed the basis for the Roman Catholic Counter-Reformation.
In 1618 James Arminius departed from Calvin's theology and put forth a contrary position that sought to reaffirm man's free will and responsibility in salvation, as opposed to the immutable, hidden, eternal decrees of Calvinism. Arminius taught that God's grace was preveniently offered to all, and that all people have the real option to resist the call of the gospel. It is possible for a believer to backslide and abandon the faith, losing the salvation that believer truly once possessed. These positions came to be known as Arminianism. With respect to the Calvinist Reformed churches, they were firmly rejected by the Synod of Dort (1618–1619), and Arminian pastors were expelled from the Netherlands.
Wesley and Arminian theology
Later, John Wesley also rejected the Calvinist doctrine of predestination. His most comprehensive pronouncement on the subject was his sermon "Free Grace,"  preached at Bristol in 1740. In Wesley's position, the believer who repents and accepts Christ is not "making himself righteous" by an act of his own will, such as would alter his dependency on the grace of God for his salvation. Faith and repentance, rather, are the believer's trust in God that He will make them righteous. Wesley appealed to prevenient grace as a solution to the problem, stating that God makes the initial move in salvation, but human beings are free to respond or reject God's graceful initiative.
John Wesley believed that God provides three kinds of divine grace:
- Prevenient grace is innate from birth. "Prevenient" means "comes before." Wesley did not believe that humanity was totally "depraved." He believed everyone is born with a modicum of divine grace—just enough to enable the individual to recognize and accept God's justifying grace.
- Justifying grace today is what is referred to as "conversion" or being "born again." God's justifying grace brings "new life in Christ." Wesley believed that people have freedom of choice—to accept or to reject God's justifying grace. Wesley defined his term Justifying grace as "The grace or love of God, whence cometh our salvation, is FREE IN ALL, and FREE FOR ALL."
- Sustaining grace. Wesley believed that, after accepting God's grace, a person is to move on in God's sustaining grace toward perfection. Wesley did not believe in the "eternal security of the believer." He believed people can make wrong (sinful) choices that will cause them to "fall from grace" or "backslide." He said it is insufficient to claim God's salvation and then stagnate, return to sinning deliberately, or not produce any evidence (fruit) of following Christ. Wesley taught that Christian believers are to participate in what Wesley called "the means of grace" and to continue to grow in the Christian life, assisted by God's sustaining grace.
Wesley's rejection of Calvinism was more successful than Arminius', especially in the U.S., largely because it was spread through popular preaching in a series of Great Awakenings. The churches of New England, with roots in Puritan Calvinism, tended to begin to reject their Calvinist roots, accepting Wesley's version of Arminianism, or overthrowing their historical doctrine entirely to depart into Socinianism. John Wesley was never a student of the influential Dutch theologian Jacobus Arminius (1560–1609). The latter's work was not a direct influence on Wesley. Yet, he chose the term "Arminianism" to distinguish the kind of evangelicalism his followers were to espouse from that of their Calvinist theological opponents. Many have considered the most accurate term for Wesleyan theology to be "Evangelical Arminianism." It remains the standard teaching of Methodist churches, and the doctrine of prevenient grace remains one of Methodism's most important doctrines.:p.100
The Protestant Reformation and ecclesiology
Protestantism in either variety, Calvinist or Arminian, emphasize God's initiative in the work of salvation, which is achieved by grace alone through faith alone, in either stream of thinking - although these terms are understood differently, according to the differences in systems. The Protestant teachings on grace suggest a question, however: what is the role of the Church in the work of grace? Such Reformation churches taught that salvation is not ordinarily found outside of the visible Church; but with the increasing emphasis on an experience of conversion as being necessary to salvation, Sola fide began to be taken as implying that the individual's relationship with Jesus is intensely individual; we stand alone before God. Since Protestants accept that men are saved only and decisively by their belief in Christ's atonement, they often rank preaching that message more than sacraments which apply the promises of the gospel to them as members of the Church. The sermon replaces the Eucharist as the central act of Christian worship. The church's authority comes from the message it preaches, practically to the exclusion of the sacraments. This is often reflected in the arrangement of the pulpit and altar at the front the church; as preaching becomes more important, the pulpit moves from the side to the center, while the altar for the Eucharist shrinks to the size of a small coffee table or is eliminated entirely.
Classical Calvinism teaches that the sacraments are "signs and seals of the covenant of grace" and "effectual means of salvation", and Lutheranism teaches that new life, faith, and union with Christ are granted by the Holy Spirit working through the sacraments. However, for a large portion of the Protestant world, the sacraments largely lost the importance that Luther (and to a slightly lesser degree, Calvin) attributed to them. This happened under the influence of ideas of the Anabaptists which were ideas also seen in the Donatists in North Africa in 311 A.D. (Jack Hoad, The Baptist, London, Grace Publications, 1986, page 32) and these ideas then spread to Calvinists through the Congregationalist and Baptist movements, and to Lutherans through Pietism (although much of Lutheranism recoiled against the Pietist movement after the mid-19th century).
Where the sacraments are de-emphasized, they become "ordinances," acts of worship which are required by Scripture, but whose effect is limited to the voluntary effect they have on the worshipper's soul. This belief finds expression in the Baptist and Anabaptist practice of believer's baptism, given not to infants as a mark of membership in a Christian community, but to adult believers after they have achieved the age of reason and have professed their faith. These ordinances are never considered works-righteousness. The ritual as interpreted in light of such ideas does not at all bring about salvation, nor does its performance bring about the forgiveness of sins; the forgiveness which the believer has received by faith is merely pictured, not effectively applied, by baptism; salvation and participation in Christ is memorialized ('this do in remembrance of me' in the Lord's Supper and baptism picturing a Christian's rebirth as death to sin and alive in Christ), not imparted, by the Eucharist. The Church to the Baptists becomes an assembly of true believers in Christ Jesus who gather together for worship and fellowship and remembering what Christ did for them.
Churches of Christ
The church of Christ believes that the grace of God that saves is the plan of salvation, rather than salvation itself. This plan includes two parts, 1) the perfect life, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus the Christ, 2) the gospel/New Testament/the faith.
Concerning Ephesians 2:8 which states: "For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God", it is noted that the word "it" is a pronoun and refers back to a noun. As the word "saved" is a verb, "it" does not refer to "saved" but to grace, giving the definition of grace as "the gift of God". Furthermore, as the book of James distinguishes between a dead faith (a faith without works) and a living faith (a faith accompanied by works of obedience), it is believed that by God's gift operates through an individuals living faith resulting in that individual being saved.
- Grace is contrasted with the Law of Moses (Romans 6:14; Hebrews 10:4; John 1:17) and the church of Christ believes that Paul's contrast between work and faith is as described under the Efforts to resolve the tension section, a contrast between works of the Old Covenant and obedient faith under the New Covenant.
- Grace saves (Eph. 2:5); justifies (Rom. 3:24; Titus 3:7).
- Grace can not be added to (Gal. 5:4).
- Grace teaches (Titus 2:11); can be preached (Eph. 3:8).
- Grace calls us (2 Tim. 1:9; Gal. 1:15).
- Grace is brought by revelation (1 Pet. 1:13).
- Grace and truth came by Jesus Christ (St. John 1:17)
- Grace is sufficient for us (2Cor. 12:9)
The Galatians were removed from the calling of the gospel (Gal. 1:15; 2 Thess. 2:14) unto another gospel (another message) which verse 7 says is not a gospel at all but a perversion.
The church of Christ believes that grace provides the following plan, which, if followed, results in salvation:
- One must hear the gospel/word (Rom. 10:17).
- Believe the gospel (Mark 16:15-16).
- Repent of their past sins (Acts 2:38).
- Confess their faith in Christ before men (Matt. 10:32; Rom. 10:9-10)
- Be immersed in water into Christ for the remission of those sins (1 Pet. 3:21; Romans 6:3-18; John 3:3,5; 1 John 5:6,8; Acts 2:38; Mark 16:16; etc.)
- Live faithfully even to the point of death (Rev. 2:10; Rom. 11:17-22; James 5:19-20)
The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (Mormon)
The Book of Mormon declares: “Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind and strength, then is his grace sufficient for you, that by his grace ye may be perfect in Christ; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God,” (Moroni 10:32-33) illustrating the need for compliance with the laws and ordinances of the gospel and the need for the pure love of Christ in conjunction with the receipt of the gift of grace, which comes “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). It should also be noted that in the Book of Mormon there is a people therein which said, after being converted to gospel of Christ, that "it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain" (Alma 24:11). In addition, the apostle Neal A. Maxwell stated "The submission of one’s will is really the only uniquely personal thing we have to place on God’s altar. The many other things we “give,” ... are actually the things He has already given or loaned to us." (Ensign, Nov 1995) Together, these suggest that "all we can do" entails of repentance and giving our will to God. The Book of Mormon prophet Nephi also emphasizes that after the law of Moses was "fulfilled in Christ," the Nephites "need not harden their hearts against him when the law ought to be done away," understanding that the law of Moses would be fulfilled through Christ's atonement and resurrection, as He also taught. (2 Nephi 25:24,27)
Latter-day Saint doctrine also emphasizes Jesus’ mention of the Final Judgment, where works will be a determining factor in personal assignment to degrees of glory, such as the Celestial Kingdom. Such works must be motivated by love for Jesus Christ and others, not focused on appearances for the sake of pride or trusting in the "arm of flesh" (2 Nephi 4:34), but focused on Christ's grace and His power to change men's hearts as they look upon Him "with faith, having a contrite spirit." (Helaman 8:15) Nephi taught, "Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth." "And the way is prepared from the fall of man, and salvation is free." (2 Nephi 2:6,4) "Hath he commanded any that they should not partake of his salvation? Behold I say unto you, Nay; but he hath given it free for all men; ... all men are privileged the one like unto the other, and none are forbidden." (2 Nephi 26:27,28) Christ says, in effect, that He has given all men the gift of His grace as the opportunity to access His power to cleanse them, heal them, and make them whole (perfect), but to access that power, the divine law of mercy requires that they come unto Him "with full purpose of heart" through faith and repentance (3 Nephi 18:32).
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- Philip Yancey, What's So Amazing About Grace? (Zondervan, 1997) ISBN 0-310-24565-6
- R. C. Sproul, Grace Unknown: The Heart of Reformed Theology (Baker Book House, 1999) ISBN 0-8010-1121-3
- Randy Maddox, Responsible Grace (Kingswood, 1994) ISBN 0-687-00334-2
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