Saved by Grace, pt. 2

How do we receive grace?

Grace can be thought of as a gift or favor. A gift has no value if unreceived. Christ has laid down his life and paid for our sins, now He is waiting for us to receive that act into our lives. For grace to be effective in our lives, we must accept it.

Consider the following example (Randall D. Hughes, “God’s Saving Grace” ). You receive a check for a large sum of money. The check has no value to you until it is cashed. You didn’t earn the check, it was freely given, but to put it to good use, you must first cash the check to make it effective. Christ already wrote a check for your sins. You can receive it and cash it if you like, but the check is there and is given freely.

Perhaps a more relevant example is that of a drowning man who cannot reach the shore through his own actions (Christoffel Golden Jr., “Words of the Early Apostles: Grace,” Ensign, Oct 2003, 48–52). A lifeline can be extended to him, but unless he grasps onto the line he cannot make it effective in his survival. We are all drowning in the waters of sin. Under no circumstances can we extricate ourselves under our own actions or power. Christ has reached out the hand of his salvation and waits for us to grab on. He waits for us to receive his grace. We don’t earn his help by attempting to swim, he offers his hand freely. In like manner, grace is not earned, but our acceptance of it is necessary for salvation. That acceptance is based in repentance, but can also be thought of in terms of the first principles of the gospel: faith, repentance, baptism and the gift of the Holy Ghost.

The belief in grace brings happiness

The Atonement and, indeed, all grace is given through the love of our Heavenly Father. It brings great joy to me to contemplate that despite my shortcomings and overall wretchedness, Christ loves me and stands ready to forgive me. This is a principle of the gospel that brings peace and joy to my life and is the core of my belief in God.

A French philosopher named Pascal argued for the belief in God in what is called Pascal’s Wager. Consider that a man may believe in God or not. Let us examine the four possible scenarios in which this man may find himself: 1) he believes and God and, in truth, God does exist; 2) he believes in God, but in reality there is none; 3) he does not believe in God, but God does exist; and 4) he does not believe in God and, in fact, there is none. Each situation has a payoff or reward. When a man believes in God, it doesn’t matter whether he is right or wrong, since at the end of the day, either he is correct and is exalted or he is incorrect and it doesn’t matter since he’s dead. The man who doesn’t believe in God, however, when he finds that there is, in fact, a God and having rejected the truth will have a lot of explaining to do.

Pascal argues that the dominant strategy is to believe in God whether or not He exists. One criticism of Pascal’s argument is that the two choices are not equal in effort; that is, it requires much more of a man if he is to believe in God. I would argue that that is true, but also that the effort required to believe and follow God pays off in this life. For instance, my belief in, and testimony of, the Atonement of Christ brings hope and joy to me. The act of striving to follow Christ blesses my family, my community and in a small way, the entire world. Therefore, the benefit of the joy and peace that believing in the Atonement bring me outweigh the effort it takes to accept Christ in this mortal life right now irrespective of whether there actually is a God.

I don’t mean this to sound as if I don’t believe in God – I firmly do. But any doubts that I have about the gospel or the church can be minimized by remembering the happiness I receive when I think on the Atonement of Christ and try to apply it to my life and behavior. Living by the teachings of Christ and knowing that he will forgive you is the best way to live a happy life.

 

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~ by woundedhart on February 26, 2008.

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