Since mortality began, God’s children have debated the mystery of grace and works and which has supremacy in our quest for exaltation. So, which is it? Are we saved by grace, by works, or both? I feel to best unravel this mystery, we need to clearly understand exactly what grace and works are, as well as what they are not.
Some may interpret grace as a free gift. It is what we get with no need for qualifications. It is given to us simply because we exist.
Some interpret works as the things we do on a consistent basis to put our believes in action. However, the harsh side of works is that failure to do these things puts our salvation at risk.
While these are both valid definitions, I fear they keep us from discovering the beauty of these two important concepts. Grace is far more than simply a free gift. Works are more than the things we must do. To start digging deeper into this doctrine, we need to focus first on God’s relationship with us.
He is our Father. As such, He loves us. He loves us so much that He created this world for us. Part of that creation process, and, indeed a further expression of His love, includes all the extra effort He exerted to make this world beautiful. This concept is clearly taught in the temple.
Beyond this loving act of creation, this world provides us the opportunity to participate in His Great Plan of Happiness which gives us all the only opportunity to live in His presence forever. This option to live with Him is not restricted to the few but is open to all who desire it. He truly wants all of us to be with Him.
We know this because He allowed His first born Son to pay the price for all of our sins, to suffer for all of our pain, and to heal our heartaches. This supernal act of love was extended to all of His children.
So, why did He create this world, provide us a path back to Him, and give us the means to successfully complete this journey through the life, death, and resurrection of Christ? There is only one answer.
He loves us.
All that God does has but one purpose — to show us how much He loves us. Grace, then, is an expression of God’s love for us. He loves us because we are His children. We don’t need to work for this love and we cannot deserve His love. He simply loves us.
While grace is an expression of God’s love for us, works, then, are an expression of our love for God. This may be why Christ said: If you love me, keep my commandments.
We do not do good works to earn a mansion in heaven. Such divine real estate can neither be earned nor can it be purchased by what we do. But we will not want to live with God if we are not willing to reciprocate His love by striving to keep His commandments.
Salvation is all about love. God demonstrated His grace by providing us the means to live with Him. We return that love be striving to align our lives this His by doing His will.