My dear brothers and sisters, I bear witness this afternoon of the divinity of the Lord Jesus Christ and specifically of the doctrine of grace that He extends to all mankind. (See Jacob 4:6–7.) In so doing, I humbly recognize the great gift the Father has bestowed upon us because He “so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son.” (John 3:16.)
Seeking the Gift
Perhaps some of us have not received or known how to use the great gift of grace the Father has given to us through the Atonement of His Son, Jesus Christ. “For what doth it profit a man if a gift is bestowed upon him, and he receive not the gift?” (D&C 88:33.) The prophet Zenock even said, “Thou art angry, O Lord, with this people, because they will not understand thy mercies which thou hast bestowed upon them because of thy Son.” (Alma 33:16.)
How many of us, at times, try to resolve life’s challenges ourselves, without seeking the intervention of the Lord in our lives? We try to carry the burden alone.
As some are faced with trials and afflictions, they say, “Why won’t God help me?” Some have even struggled with doubts about their prayers and their personal worthiness and say, “Perhaps prayer doesn’t work.”
Others who have suffered with sickness, discouragement, financial crisis, rejection, disappointment, and even loss of loved ones may say, “Why won’t the Lord heal me or help me with my son? Why didn’t He prevent her death? Does life have to be this unhappy?”
Yes, one might even cry out, “O God, where art thou? … How long shall thy hand be stayed?” (D&C 121:1–2.)
Jesus taught that we pass through all these trials to refine us “in the furnace of affliction” (1 Ne. 20:10), and that we should not bear them unaided, but “in [the] Redeemer’s name” (D&C 138:13). In spite of our feeling, at times, that He has forgotten us, He testifies, “Yea, they may forget, yet will I not forget thee …
“Behold, I have graven thee upon the palms of my hands.” (1 Ne. 21:15–16.)
I testify that the Lord, through His grace, can continually assist us in our daily lives and in our physical and mental sickness, pain, transgressions, and even in all of our infirmities. (See Mosiah 14:5; Alma 7:11–13; Alma 34:31.)
Being Centered on Christ
However, to pass successfully through the trials we encounter, we must keep our eyes and our hearts centered on the Lord Jesus Christ. Because “since man had fallen he could not merit anything of himself” (Alma 22:14); therefore, we needed an advocate, an intercessor, a mediator to assist us. “And it is because of thy Son that thou hast been thus merciful unto [us].” (Alma 33:11; emphasis added.)
We should have great hope in knowing, however unworthy we may feel or weak we may be, that if we will do all we can, He will come to our aid and provide for us whatever we may lack. (See 2 Cor. 12:9.) That statement, to some degree, defines grace.
Grace is a “divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.” It is “an enabling power.” (Bible Dictionary, p. 697.) The doctrine of the grace of the Father and the Son and how it affects us is so significant that it is mentioned more than two hundred times in the standard works.
If we can obtain the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, that divine enabling power to assist us, we will triumph in this life and be exalted in the life to come.
Let me share with you five principles that may help us obtain that divine intervention in our own life or perhaps vicariously assist in the life of another. These principles are simple to understand but most challenging to apply. You already know all of them. However, you may not have considered how directly related they are to obtaining grace.
The first principle is faith. “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:
“By whom also we have access by faith into this grace.” (Rom. 5:1–2.)
It is evident that this grace, or enabling power, is accessed by faith. No wonder faith in the Lord Jesus Christ is the first principle of the gospel.
How clear Christ’s question was to a sinking Peter, after he had walked on the water: “O thou of little faith, wherefore didst thou doubt?” (Matt. 14:31.) The moment Peter doubted and took his eyes off the Savior, he severed himself from the power of Jesus Christ that had sustained him on the water.
How many times, likewise, as we have prayed for assistance or help with our problems, have we severed ourselves from the power of God because of doubt or fear, and thus could not obtain this enabling power of God? (See D&C 6:36; D&C 67:3.)
Repentance is the second principle. The grace of the Lord through the Atonement can both cleanse us of sin and assist us in perfecting ourselves through our trials, sicknesses, and even “character defects.” We are both sanctified and justified through the grace of the Lord. (See D&C 20:30–31.) Truly, “as a man his sins confess, Christ, in mercy, manifests.” (Gene R. Cook and Holly Cook, “I Am a Healthy Man,” unpublished hymn; see Alma 24:10.) Remember, Christ can repair our flaws and failings that otherwise are not repairable. (See Gen. 18:14; Mark 9:23–24.)
That great truth ought to fill us all with hope, as long as we are quick to remember that the effect of grace in our lives is conditioned upon repenting of our sins.
“Therefore, blessed are they who will repent. …
“And may God grant … that men might be brought unto repentance and good works, that they might be restored unto grace for grace, according to their works.” (Hel. 12:23–24.)
A repentant heart and good works are the very conditions required to have grace restored to us. When someone pleads fervently in prayer for an answer, the answer may be more conditioned on repentance of personal sins than on any other factor. (See D&C 101:7–8; Mosiah 11:23–24.)
The third principle is humility. “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6.)
“And if men come unto me I will show unto them their weakness. I give unto men weakness that they may be humble; and my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me.” (Ether 12:27.)
Humility is an essential condition to obtaining this divine assistance.
Doing all in your own power is the fourth principle. Truly did Paul teach, “By grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:
“Not of works, lest any man should boast.” (Eph. 2:8–9.)
Yes, works alone cannot bring that divine gift, but they are a key condition upon which the gift is received. (See 2 Ne. 10:23–25.) “For we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Ne. 25:23.)
Thus, unless one has done all in his own power, he cannot expect the grace of God to be manifest. What a glorious principle to understand: the Lord’s assistance to us—whether we have strong faith or weak faith; whether a man, a woman, or a child—is not based just on what we know, how strong we are, or who we are, but more upon our giving all that we can give and doing all that we can do in our present circumstance. Once one has given all he can, then the Lord, through His grace, may assist him. (See D&C 123:17.)
Clearly, the Lord’s role and our role in our receiving divine help come into clear perspective in these inspired words: “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” (Philip. 4:13.)
The fifth principle, keeping the commandments, surely is a condition for receiving the grace of the Lord. “If you keep my commandments you shall receive of his fulness … ; therefore, … you shall receive grace for grace.” (D&C 93:20; see also D&C 93:28.)
To obtain grace, one does not have to be perfect but he does have to be trying to keep the commandments the best that he can. Then the Lord may allow him to receive that power.
Moroni sums up the doctrine of grace succinctly: “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; …
“Then are ye sanctified in Christ by the grace of God, through the shedding of the blood of Christ.” (Moro. 10:32–33.)
Hope through Jesus Christ
What glorious gospel news is an understanding of this doctrine of grace, which persuades us to more fully center our faith and hope upon Jesus Christ. Through the grace of the Father, we will better know how to come unto the Son. (1 Ne. 15:14–15.)
Let us be submissive to the Father’s will, recognizing that His will is preeminent. How thankful we ought to be to submit to His will, because He and His Son will never do anything “save it be for the benefit of the world.” (2 Ne. 26:24.)
By seeking the intercession of the Lord more fully in our lives:
We will “grow in grace and in the knowledge of the truth.” (D&C 50:40.)
We will “teach … diligently and [His] grace shall attend [us].” (D&C 88:78.)
For our labor, we will “receive the grace of God, that [we] might wax strong in the Spirit, … that [we] might teach with power and authority from God.” (Mosiah 18:26.)
We will not “fall from grace.” (D&C 20:32.)
We will “receive grace for grace” (D&C 93:20).
“Let us therefore come boldly unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Heb. 4:16.)
I bear witness that if we will seek the grace of God, He will come to our aid and the aid of our loved ones in times of need. Let us obey the Lord in all things and offer to Him the ultimate sacrifice of “a broken heart and a contrite spirit.” (3 Ne. 9:20; see also 3 Ne. 12:19.)
Now, as one of the Lord’s Seventy and as an especial witness of Christ to bear witness of His name in all the world and “to prepare a way before [His] face” (D&C 124:139), I bear witness of the majesty of the Father and of the Son.
I testify that Jesus Christ lives, that He is as capable of intervening in the lives of men today as He was in the days of old when He walked among men.
I bear personal witness before the Church of the touch of the Master’s hand in my own life in healing me from an incurable illness. I bear testimony also of His personal direction in my life, through a loving and yet chastening hand of correction, to refine my soul, deepen my feelings, grant a remission of my sins, and fill my soul with the love of God.
Let no trial or affliction, my brothers and sisters, ever separate us from the love of God and the true love of Christ. (See Rom. 8:31, 35–39.)
May we “seek this Jesus of whom the prophets and apostles have written, that the grace of God the Father, and also the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Ghost, which beareth record of them, may be and abide in [us] forever.” (Ether 12:41.) May the grace of God always be with you (see Rom. 16:20), I pray, in the name of Jesus Christ, amen.