Mar 12 2014

His Grace is Sufficient – by Brad Wilcox

SUCH an amazing article!!!!  Really good explanation of grace.  Amazing!

Today we are super lucky to hear from Brad Wilcox!

Brad Wilcox is a professor in the Department of Teacher Education at Brigham Young University where he also enjoys working with such programs as Especially for Youth, Women’s Conference, and Campus Education Week.

He is the author of many amazing books, two recent ones being The Continuos Atonement and The Continuous Conversion.

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His Grace is Sufficient

By Brad Wilcox

 

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Cover Us

A BYU student once came to me and asked if we could talk. I said, “Of course. How can I  help you?”

 

She said, “I just don’t get grace.”

 

I responded, “What is it that you don’t understand?”

 

She said, “I know I need to do my best and then Jesus does the rest, but I can’t even do my best.”

 

She then went on to tell me all the things she should be doing because she’s a Mormon that she wasn’t doing.

She continued, “I know that I have to do my part and then Jesus makes up the difference and fills the gap that stands between my part and perfection. But who fills the gap that stands between where I am now and my part?”   She then went on to tell me all the things that she shouldn’t be doing because she’s a Mormon, but she was doing them anyway.

 

Finally I said, “Jesus doesn’t make up the difference.  Jesus makes all the difference.  Grace is not about filling gaps. It is about filling us.”

 

Seeing that she was still confused, I took a  piece of paper and drew two dots—one at the  top representing God and one at the bottom representing us. I then said, “Go ahead. Draw the line.  How much is our part? How much is Christ’s part?”

 

She went right to the center of the page and began to draw a line. Then, considering what we had been speaking about, she went to the bottom of the page and drew a line just above the bottom dot.

 

I said, “Wrong.”

 

She said, “I knew it was higher.  I should have just drawn it, because I knew it.”

 

I said, “no. The truth is, there is no line.  Jesus filled the whole space.  He paid our debt in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins. He paid it all. It is finished.”

 

She said, “right! like I don’t have to do  anything?”

 

“Oh no,” I said, “you have plenty to do, but it is not to fill that gap. We will all be resurrected. We will all go back to God’s presence.  What is left to be determined by our obedience is what kind of body we plan on being resurrected with and how comfortable we plan to be in God’s presence and how long we plan to  stay there.”

 

Christ asks us to show faith in Him, repent, make and keep covenants, receive the Holy Ghost, and endure to the end. By complying, we are not paying the demands of justice—not even the smallest part. Instead, we are showing  appreciation for what Jesus Christ did by using  it to live a life like His. Justice requires immediate perfection or a punishment when we fall short. Because Jesus took that punishment,  He can offer us the chance for ultimate perfec- tion (see Matthew 5:48, 3 nephi 12:48) and  help us reach that goal. He can forgive what justice never could, and He can turn to us now with His own set of requirements (see 3 nephi  28:35).

 

“So what’s the difference?” the girl asked.  “Whether our efforts are required by justice or by Jesus, they are still required.”

 

“True,” I said, “but they are required for a different purpose. Fulfilling Christ’s requirements is like paying a mortgage instead of rent or like making deposits in a savings account instead of paying off debt. You still have to hand it over every month, but it is for a totally different reason.”

 

Christ’s Grace Is Sufficient to Transform Us

Christ’s arrangement with us is similar to  a mom providing music lessons for her child.  Mom pays the piano teacher.  How many know what I am talking about?  Because Mom pays the debt in full, she can turn to her child and  ask for something.  What is it?  Practice!  Does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher?  No. Does the child’s practice repay Mom for paying the piano teacher?  No. Practicing is how the  child shows appreciation for Mom’s incredible  gift. It is how he takes advantage of the amazing opportunity Mom is giving him to live his life at a higher level.  Mom’s joy is found not in getting repaid but in seeing her gift used—seeing her child improve. And so she continues to call for practice, practice, practice.

 

If the child sees Mom’s requirement of practice as being too overbearing (“Gosh,  Mom, why do I need to practice? None of the other kids have to practice! I’m just going to be a professional baseball player anyway!”), perhaps it is because he doesn’t yet see with mom’s eyes. He doesn’t see how much better his life could be if he would choose to live on a  higher plane.

 

In the same way, because Jesus has paid  justice, He can now turn to us and say, “Follow  me” (Matthew 4:19), “Keep my command ments” ( John 14:15). If we see His requirements as being way too much to ask (“Gosh! None  of the other Christians have to pay tithing!  None of the other Christians have to go on missions, serve in callings, and do temple work!”), maybe it is because we do not yet see through  Christ’s eyes. We have not yet comprehended what He is trying to make of us.

 

Elder Bruce C. Hafen has written, “The great Mediator asks for our repentance not because we must ‘repay’ him in exchange for his  paying  our debt to justice, but because repentance  initiates a developmental process that, with  the Savior’s help, leads us along the path to a  saintly character” (The Broken Heart [Salt lake  City: Deseret Book, 1989], 149; emphasis in  original).

 

Elder Dallin H. Oaks has said, referring to President Spencer W. Kimball’s explanation, “The repenting sinner must suffer for his sins, but this suffering has a different purpose than punishment or payment. Its purpose is change”  (The Lord’s Way [Salt lake City: Deseret Book,  1991], 223; emphasis in original).   Let’s put that in terms of our analogy: The child must practice the piano, but this practice has a different purpose than punishment or payment.  Its  purpose is change.

 

I have born-again Christian friends who say to me, “You Mormons are trying to earn your way to heaven.”

 

I say, “no, we are not earning heaven. We are learning heaven. We are preparing for it  (see D&C 78:7). We are practicing for it.”

 

They ask me, “Have you been saved by grace?”

 

I answer, “Yes. Absolutely, totally, completely, thankfully—yes!”

 

Then I ask them a question that perhaps they have not fully considered: “Have you been changed by grace?”  They are so excited about being saved that maybe they are not thinking enough about what comes next. They are so happy the debt is paid that they may not have considered why the debt existed in the first place.  Latter-day Saints know not only what Jesus has saved us from but also what He has saved us for. As my friend Brett Sanders puts it, “A life impacted by grace eventually begins to look like Christ’s life.” As my friend Omar Canals puts it, “While many Christians view Christ’s suffering as only a huge favor He did for us, latter-day Saints also recognize it as  a huge investment He made in us.” As Moroni  puts it, grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior (see  Moroni 7:48).

The miracle of the Atonement is not just that  we can live after we die but that we can live  more abundantly (see John 10:10). The miracle of the Atonement is not just that we can be cleansed and consoled but that we can be  transformed (see romans 8). Scriptures make it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with God  (see Alma 40:26), but, brothers and sisters, no  unchanged thing will even want to.

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To see all of Brad Wilcox’s books, go HERE.

8 responses so far

8 Responses to “His Grace is Sufficient – by Brad Wilcox”

  1. Vicki on 18 Mar 2013 at 5:08 pm

    Oh this is so wonderful! This has helped me so much in an area I have
    struggled with understanding, also.

  2. Vicki on 18 Mar 2013 at 5:10 pm

    I forgot the “thank-you so much” part!

  3. Julie D. on 18 Mar 2013 at 7:01 pm

    Thank you for this article! I need to figure out how to glue it in my scriptures!! Maybe I’ll just copy the link and keep in on my phone, then I’ll have it with me whenever I need it! This is great!

  4. Rhonda on 18 Mar 2013 at 8:10 pm

    I’ve learned so much from this talk! The piano lesson analogy fits so perfectly with so many of our youth – it helped my YW class understand grace so much better! Thanks for this website and thanks Brad Wilcox for your knowledge and testimony of this principle!

  5. Jessica on 19 Mar 2013 at 10:03 pm

    Wow I never thought about it like that. Thank you so much! You give clarity to a topic that I never really learned about.

  6. Kayleen on 12 Mar 2014 at 2:26 pm

    I love to have a break in the day and read such an uplifting article. It gives the rest of the day a whole new perspective!!!

  7. Tara on 13 Mar 2014 at 12:03 pm

    My favorite devotional ever! I’m so glad you posted it. I recommend it to all the kids I know that are leaving on missions. It explains grace so beautifully, and it explains why we work so hard at keeping commandments.

  8. Andrea on 02 Apr 2014 at 2:58 pm

    I used this talk in seminary this year and it changed so many lives. Thank you Brother Wilcox for this amazing talk.

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