After All We Can Do

“After All We Can Do” Doesn’t Mean What You Think It Means

“For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do.” (2 Nephi 25:23; emphasis added)

Now, we discuss at length what Nephi actually means by this statement in a different post, but let’s keep this one simple.

Many members of the Church think this scripture means that we must do everything that is possible to do to “earn our part of salvation and only after we have completely exhausted ourselves physically, mentally, emotionally, and spiritually will Jesus come in with His grace and “make up the difference”; and pay the “rest of the price” of our salvation. The part that we couldn’t pay ourselves.

This idea is false.

This is not how salvation is obtained.

Let’s use an analogy to illustrate the truth.

Let’s pretend that we must have a ticket to get into the celestial kingdom. The Ticket of Salvation, if you will. Let’s say, for the sake of the analogy, that this ticket costs $100 (obviously it would be an infinitely larger number).

Now, many of us have understood salvation to be something like we must work as hard as we can to earn some pre-determined amount of that $100 by keeping the commandments and doing good works. (This is how we traditionally have understood being saved by grace “after all we can do”. That there is a portion of our salvation that we must earn by doing all we can do.)

We may have thought that if we worked as hard as we could our whole lives that we would be able to pay maybe a dollar, or even two, of that ticket price, and if we met that price, then Jesus would come in and pay the remaining $98. But only if we met our price first.

That is not how it works! Jesus has paid the ENTIRE $100 for every person. He has purchased the ticket for you. The ENTIRE thing. It is paid for.

That is why the scriptures say that we rely “wholly” (2 Nephi 31:19), “only” (2 Nephi 10:24), and “alone upon the merits of Christ” (Moroni 6:4).

Now Jesus comes to you and asks you to do something—to meet some conditions—so He can give you the ticket. He says that you must have faith in Him (see John 3:16; Mosiah 3:9, 12) and repent of your sins (see Alma 42:13, Helaman 5:11) and that if you do these things you will be saved. By grace.

Remember, He has already paid the entire price of the ticket. He has already earned salvation for you. He is not asking you to pay Him back or pay a part of the ticket price. All He asks of you is to have faith in Him and repent of your sins and then He will give you the ticket that He earned for you.

When we keep any of the commandments or do any good work, it isn’t paying any portion of that ticket price. We don’t keep the commandments to earn salvation. We keep them for a much different reason!

The ticket is paid for. The salvation is earned. Totally. When we keep the commandments, it should be because we love Jesus (see John 14:15). It should be because it is our nature to keep them.

You see, when we truly have faith in Him and we truly repent of our sins, the Holy Ghost comes into our lives and changes our hearts so that we “have no more disposition to do evil, but to do good continually” (see Mosiah 5:2).

Jesus calls this being born again and He says we must experience this change of heart or we cannot dwell with God (see John 3:3).

Do you get it? Do you see the incredible gift that our Savior has given us? We are saved 100% by His grace apart from all we can do. But we are also changed by His grace so that we can do more! So that we are more! So that we can become like He is!

Being saved by grace doesn’t mean that we don’t need to keep the commandments. It changes our nature so that we can and will keep them.

In conclusion, the gospel should not be a stress. It should not be a strain. It should be empowering and joyful.

Please don’t keep the commandments out of fear, obligation, or with an idea that you need to earn some portion of your salvation.

Focus on having faith in Jesus and repenting of your sins. That is what allows Christ to change your heart. And once that change has happened, keeping the commandments will become second nature to you.

Have faith and repent. Every day.

That truly is all we can do.

“… it was all we could do to repent sufficiently before God that he would take away our stain” (Alma 24:11, emphasis added)

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For a more thorough examination of grace and its connection to Nephi’s phrase “after all we can do”, including words from ancient and modern prophets, please click here.

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We Are Saved 100% By Grace

Two Mormon Guys

A podcast and blog by Josh and Dallan, two cousins seeking to truly understand and live the gospel of Jesus Christ.

  • idlebidle

    What’s your response to this:
    “One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.” Spencer W. Kimball, Miracle of Forgiveness, p. 206.

    • Les Graham

      Hi Idlebidle

      The main problem here is the fact that we have been using the same words over the different years, but meaning different things, whilst thinking we were communicating. The evangelicals have been pointing this out to us for years. By doing this and not explaining the contextual changes, it is causing issues.

      Some of us have eventually listened and tried to respond using the same/similar context to match our evangelical friends.

      This type of context misuse isn’t just done by us, but by evangelicals and many others. It stands out more with us because we have been a bit like the Jews and been arrogant, expecting everyone to understand our context, without understanding theirs.
      So as best that I understand evangelicals believe in a one off salvation and once saved always saved and that everyone is dammed.

      Our main focus of salvation has really been focussed on exaltation and that everyone else is dammed (Our talk of salvation in the prophet’s words therefore, is a different context to today’s usage that has to be explained).

      However the meaning of dammed is totally different to ours: Evangelical dammed is that everyone else goes to hell. Our dammed is that (mostly) everyone else is given a glory of heaven, but will not progress as families and into Godhood, where the eternal cycle of life will continue.

      To make a similar comparison, we believe that as it says in Corinthians:
      Paul or the person who wrote for Paul gives us an overall start to finish of the gospel. I will give you my overview of this chapter as I see it.

      1 Corinthians 15 King James Version.

      Christ died for us all as man both died physically and spiritually. Christ died for all mankind and was physically resurrected (physical salvations from death and hell – general salvation, our equivalent once saved always saved concept), and spiritual saving: such as those who believe in Christ partake of his further grace, become born again and demonstrate that by their fruits, the grace within them, love God and keep his commandments.

      We know to that there are different glories. These are like the rewards for those followers of Christ: Exaltation being the ultimate reward.

      We know that this can only be achieved through Christ: only he has done that and there is nothing anyone else could have done to overcome death and hell. We are all saved by Christ’s grace to some degree or other. We are all resurrected so this grace is really universal. I believe evangelicals are mistaking this grace for the being born again grace where they say that you cannot fall. However a dog returning to his vomit would suggest otherwise. Also verse 2 when Paul says “ye are saved, if”.

      Verse 29 seems out of place from an evangelical point of view, but it makes perfect sense when talking about the resurrection and being saved, as Christ himself said:

      Mark 16:16 He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved; but he that believeth not shall be damned.

      Viewed from evangelicals this is contradictory to their beliefs, based on their starting premise.

      Also John 3: 3-6
      3 Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God.
      4 Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?
      5 Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.
      6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.

      We see that being born again is to enable one to see the kingdom of God, however baptism is an entrance into the kingdom of God. I don’t see it in conflict with Christ’s grace, as it is Christ’s requirement, no one elses.

      In Acts, after the day of Pentecost, new converts were still being baptised: where there was much water and the apostles were conferring the Holy Ghost on those who were baptised with water.

      After that the apostles went to the members located in various countries. The instructions they gave were already for people who had already been baptised, but still needed reminding that any works they did were not works of salvation: which the law of Moses was helping them look towards Christ’s saving grace. It is bad habits coming back that they need to be reminded of the saving grace. At this point baptism is not the issue that evangelicals make it out to be, as they are not talking to non-members.

      Anyway, many of our differences are due to misunderstanding each other and talking to each other as if we do understand.

      I hope my long windedness makes some sense. If not then let me know.

      • Lisa

        Except, you are expected to follow the commandments and the word of wisdom BEFORE baptism, and BEFORE the laying on of hands which is where you are said to recieve the indwelling Holy Spirit. So, you are expected to earn your baptism by your own efforts. And since baptism IS a salvation issue, you have to earn your salvation.