A year or two ago, one of my co-workers gave each member of our team a new copy of the Book of Mormon and a challenge: choose a topic to study and use this new copy to take notes on that topic.
I loved the idea, but I was reading a different book of scripture and eventually I gave that copy of the Book of Mormon to a friend, so I let the challenge just slide into “someday”. But as I finished up another round of the New Testament this year, I decided to try the challenge.
My chosen topic: Grace
I love the word grace. It has always meant love, kindness, gentleness, and mercy to me.
Also, this song is one of my favorites and speaks of walking in the power of God’s daily sufficient grace.
But I chose to study it because I don’t always understand grace. I don’t always believe that grace is available for me, personally. I don’t always know how to receive grace or when I’m receiving grace.
As I began, these principles from the Bible Dictionary entry on Grace guided my study.
- “The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.”
- “This grace is an enabling power“
- Grace allows people “…to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means.”
- All things are possible because of the grace of the Lord Jesus and His atoning sacrifice.
How the scriptures show grace
- the voice of the Lord
- the Lord’s hand
Questions I pondered as I studied grace:
- Do I desire grace?
- Do I believe in grace?
- What am I doing to receive grace?
- How does God reveal grace to me ?
- Am I recognizing it when I receive it?
- How can I continue to receive or abide in grace?
Impressions about Grace
While I shouldn’t have been surprised, I was shocked at how much many phrases and passages I underlined in my study of grace (pretty much my whole Book of Mormon is underlined). I found the Lord’s mercy, power, and grace woven throughout the Book of Mormon in ways that I had never seen before. The Lord is “full of grace” as so many scriptures proclaim. His voice speaks directly to His children throughout the Book of Mormon. Also, Mosiah 4 is pretty much the best “talk” on understanding and receiving grace, learning who it comes from, and how to act when we receive grace. The Savior extends a constant invitation: Come, partake of my grace. The price of grace was paid by the Savior through his sacrifice, death, and resurrection.
While I can’t give a full account of a 531 page journey to understand grace (and I still don’t fully understand it), I want to share some of my impressions. I often replaced the words “God’s power” or “mercy” for grace, which might help in the passages below.
- On the first page of the Book of Mormon, I already found evidence of God’s grace. The book is given to the house of Israel and “also to the Jew and the Gentile”. Grace is available to “all nations”. It is a gift. Grace allows us to know what God has prepared for us. Grace is a reminder of the “covenants of the Lord, that [we] are not cast off forever”.
- Grace is a gift of knowledge and power.
- Sometimes God shows grace by giving a warning or a call to repentance.
- Grace is evident when we receive divine help in answer to a sincere plea.
- Mercy is possible because of grace. Grace enables us to be mighty. “Thy power, and goodness, and mercy are over all” (1 Nephi 1: 14).
- We can partake of grace if we desire to.
- Sometimes receiving grace and divine help isn’t an immediate “result” but rather building up faith and strength for a future day. Similarly, sometimes God shows His grace by withholding divine help for a time to let greater purposes come to pass.
- Grace helps us understand our covenants.
- Grace helps us understand why, when, and how we need to change.
- We can seek grace to give us rest and guidance.
- Grace works in us as we keep the commandments–blessings are a sign of grace.
- God’s grace never fails.
- Grace is a manifestation of charity.
- Grace is a calm assurance.
- Prayer is a petition for grace.
- Grace is a fulfillment of promise. It includes all that Christ is willing to do, has done, and will do.
- Our weaknesses help us understand the magnitude of the divine help we are given every day “by his grace”
- As we exercise faith, we can be blessed with increasingly more grace.
- The more we receive Christ’s grace and mercy, the more we have a desire to share it.
- Christ’s grace is fully upon little children, which is probably why we are asked to be like little children.
- Grace allows us to retain a remission of our sins–an ongoing act of divine help in our lives.
- God’s grace allows us to become His children.
- God’s grace is always before us even when we choose not to accept it.
- Receiving grace leads to gaining charity.
- Grace gives us access to God’s wisdom, power, justice, and mercy.
How to receive grace
- Be humble, submissive, gentle, full of patience
- Have a broken heart, contrite spirit
- Ask in faith for what we need
- Believe that we’ll receive grace
- Keep the commandments with diligence
- Labor with our might
- Make covenants
- Have the faith to give heed to what we receive
- Listen to the Lord
- Give away all our sins
- Receive His grace
- Experience a mighty change in our hearts
- Abound in grace: do good continually; esteem our neighbors as ourselves; labor with our hands for our support
Signs of Grace
- Receiving answers
- Hearing the voice of the Lord
- Receiving blessings
- Feeling guidance in our lives
- Recognizing that others are helping us to receive God’s grace
What it feels like to accept grace
- Redeemed; a remission of sins
- Encircled about eternally in the arms of his love
- Delight in the things of the Lord
- Our hearts ponder God’s grace continually
- Filled with love
- Feel supported by God
- Feeling gladness
- Filled with joy
- Remembered by the Lord
- Peace of conscience
- Feeling the Spirit
- A desire to help others
- Cannot bear the thought of any other soul perishing
- New; whole; complete
Testimony of Grace
This study of grace helped me to see that God’s hand is constantly before me and He offers grace if I am willing to accept it. It comes in the form of blessings; it comes in the form of blessings withheld to help me develop faith. It comes through my covenants. Grace is in and throughout all that I do. “My soul delighteth in his grace, and in his justice, and power, and mercy in the great and eternal plan of deliverance” (2 Nephi 11:5).
My life is a constant attempt to keep turning back to God and have faith. This study helped me dedicate myself more to keeping these promises:
- I will “praise him through grace divine” (2 Nephi 10:25)
- I will remember the grace God has given me in the past.
- When I go through something difficult, I will recognize and record God’s grace in delivering me.
- I will teach my future children how the Lord speaks to me and shows His grace.
- I will show more gratitude for the grace I’ve been given.
- I will seek grace and believe it is for me.
I echo Moroni’s testimony.
“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. And again, if ye by the grace of God are perfect in Christ, and deny not his power, then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ, which is in the covenant of the Father unto the remission of your sins, that ye become holy, without spot” (Moroni 10: 32-33, emphasis added).