It is by the grace of Christ through faith that we are saved.
Many Jews and Jewish Christians of Paul’s day believed that their good works would save them.
Paul taught the Roman saints that man is justifed by faith.
A man is justified when his present condition or state in life is approved or accepted of God.
The companionship of the Spirit is a witness or proof of justification.
The Holy Spirit may withdraw his approval when a man is not laboring diligently enough to have his course justified.
A man may have his course justified when he is doing all that he can do at a given point in time.
Faith in Jesus Christ is the power by which a man is justified.
Because of Jesus’ sinless life and his sacrifice for our sins, he can redeem us from the effects of our sins.
Faith, or the power of God, is acquired through a correct knowledge of God and through sacrifice (works).
We can be justified because of Jesus’ love and concern for us.
New Testament Reading Assignment
Chapter 39, “Man Is Justified by Faith”
D&C 20:30, 31. What doctrine is just and true?
Matthew 7:21-23. How did Christ feel about works and our devotion to him?
Mosiah 2:20, 21. Can we earn salvation?
2 Nephi 31:7-21. What puts us on the path that leads to the merits of the Savior?
Mosiah 13:28. What was the relationship of the law of Moses to the Atonement?
Alma 22:14. What does the Fall have to do with the need for grace?
Alma 42:12-16. When can mercy claim a sinner without robbing justice?
2 Nephi 2:5-7. What are the effects of law and grace?
Teachings, pp. 338-39. The prophet’s correction of the sectarians on falling from grace.
Discourses, p. 154. What will fill you with faith?
Discourses, p. 155. The fallacy of fear is here explained.
Gos. Doc, pp. 98-99. What are the conditions on which sin is washed away?
DS, 2:309-11. Why do we have to rely on Jesus’ merits rather than our own?
Bruce R. McConkie, Doctrinal New Testament Commentary. The teacher may want to look up all New Testament passages referred to in this lesson if he has access to the volumes.
Bruce R. McConkie, Mormon Doctrine, pp. 408, 670-72. Expositions on salvation by grace.
Joseph Smith, Lectures on Faith, especially lecture sixth.
Some Suggestions for Presentation
Those who have taught the correct doctrine on grace and its relationship to faith and other doctrines have learned that it is somewhat like walking a tight rope. This is because of the history of these doctrines as taught by various sectarian groups. Some have put too much emphasis on works and others too much emphasis on grace. Both have failed to see that Paul defended the need of both. He was simply putting them in proper perspective.
Presentation of a Dialogue
One way the teacher could present this concept of the separate roles of grace (obtained through faith) and works (the evidence of faith) is to use a catechetical approach. He could write a dialogue in advance. Then he could read (or flash on an overhead projector) the question of the inquirer and elicit the correct answer from the class. When he has been given the correct answer or needs to go on in the interest of time, he could flash his answer on the overhead projector and explain that this is the correct answer. Following is a sample of how this dialogue might be written.
Inquirer: In order to obtain the reward of exaltation in the celestial kingdom, why must we live every law and ordinance pertaining to that kingdom?
Answer: “… any person who is exalted to the highest mansion has to abide a celestial law, and the whole law, too. …
“… to get salvation we must not only do some things, but everything which God has commanded. … obey God in just what He tells us to do.” (Joseph Smith, Teachings of the Prophet Joseph Smith, pp. 331-32. Italics added.)
Inquirer: Does the Lord expect us to live the whole law of the whole gospel all at once, or is perfection a gradual process?
Answer: “… the Lord meant just what he said: that we should be perfect, as our Father in heaven is perfect. That will not come all at once, but line upon line, and precept upon precept, example upon example, and even then not as long as we live in this mortal life, for we will have to go even beyond the grave before we reach that perfection and shall be like God.
“But here we lay the foundation. Here is where we are taught these simple truths of the gospel of Jesus Christ, in this probationary state, to prepare us for that perfection. It is our duty to be better today than we were yesterday, and better tomorrow than we are today. Why? Because we are on that road, if we are keeping the commandments of the Lord, we are on that road to perfection, and that can only come through obedience and the desire in our hearts to overcome the world.” (Joseph Fielding Smith, Doctrines of Salvation, 2:18-19.)
Inquirer: But what, then, is the status of one who is sincerely striving but who still has far to go along the path toward perfection? pan a person enjoy the companionship of the Holy Ghost if he is really trying to live the commandments but has not completely succeeded?
Answer: Yes, as long as he in sincerely trying to live the gospel. If he is doing the best he can, the Lord will allow him to enjoy the companionship of the Spirit and the blessings of the gospel just as though he were already living the whole law. In this way he is justified in receiving the Holy Spirit because of his desires for righteousness. (See Joseph Smith—Vision of the Celestial Kingdom 9; Moses 6:60; D&C 20:30, 32, 33.) The grace of God, manifest through the atonement of Christ, makes justification possible for those who seek righteousness. But if a man is not doing his best to overcome the world, the Spirit will withdraw from him. President Joseph Fielding Smith explained further: “If a person violates a covenant, whether it be of baptism, ordination, marriage or anything else, the Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval, and the blessings will not be received.
“Every ordinance is sealed with a promise of a reward based upon faithfulness. The Holy Spirit withdraws the stamp of approval where covenants are broken.” (Doctrines of Salvation, 1:45.) Such a man is not justified; but if he sincerely repents, the Spirit will return and he may be justified again.