Christmas Sermon — Doctrinal Commentary
BYU Religion Professor Robert Millet recalled That before leaving from Louisiana on his mission, he asked his LDS father, “Dad, what does it mean to be saved by grace?“
He answered quickly, “We don’t believe in that.“
“We don’t?” I said. “Why not?“
Without any hesitation he replied, “Because the Baptists do!“
Faith in the Lord and Accepting Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer
The first principle of the gospel always has been, is, and always will be faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. We must accept Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer. It is only by and through His name and His grace that we can be saved
The Bible declares: “For 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)
We cannot boast and take credit for:
- the creation
- the atonement of Jesus
- even our own existence
These are gifts of God’s grace.
The Bible and the Book of Mormon are filled with the language of grace
The Book of Mormon, Another Testament of Jesus Christ, also proclaims:
- We are saved by God grace.
- We are reconciled to God through His grace.
- God’s grace allows us to overcome sin.
- His grace enables us to overcome sin.
- God’s grace redeems us.
- We are created through His grace.
- We are preserved daily through God’s grace.
- We are blessed though His grace.
- We are perfected by God’s grace.
- His grace gives us second chances.
- His grace empowers us
- In short, God’s grace is sufficient
In King Benjamin’s wonderful speech in the Book of Mormon, he also proclaimed that we cannot take credit or boast because God
- created us
- preserves our lives every day
- and constantly blesses us
He concluded: “If you Render all thanks and praise which your soul possesses, and if ye should serve him with all your whole souls, yet ye would be unprofitable servants”. (Mos. 2)
Salvation in the Terrestrial Degree of Glory
Some Christians believe that accepting Jesus Christ is the final goal, it is the finish line.
Their view of salvation is consistent with the terrestrial degree of glory described in modern scripture.
- They will dwell in the presence of Jesus
- These are they who have testimony of Jesus, but are “not valiant” in that testimony, in other words, they have faith without works.
- These are the “honorable men and women” of the earth
However, they will not dwell in the presence of Heavenly Father, and since marriages are “till death do you part,” there are no marriages and there will be no families. (D&C 76)
Faith in the Lord is Not the Finish Line, It is the Starting Block
Latter-day Saint Christians believe that having faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and accepting Him as our Savior is the first principle of the gospel, but it is not the only principle. Faith in the Lord is not the end, it is the beginning. It is not the finish line, it is the starting block.
We must not only look to the cross, but we must take up the cross and follow Jesus
We must be changed by grace
The Book of Mormon explains, that grace isn’t just about being saved. It is also about becoming like the Savior
Jesus declared “If thou wilt enter into [eternal] life keep the commandments” (Matt.19: 16-22)
Jesus proclaimed, “Not everyone that saith unto me, Lord, Lord [ie not everyone who accepts Jesus as their savior] shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Fathers which is in heaven.” (Matt. 7: 21)
On the day of Pentecost, thousands received a witness by the spirit and accepted Jesus as their Savior.
They asked Peter, “What shall be do?
“Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.” (Acts 2: 37-38)
The Bible proclaims, “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.” (James 2: 17, 26)
The Bible repeatedly proclaims that it is not enough to be hearers and believers of the word, we must be doers of the word.
Exaltation and Eternal Life in the Celestial Degree of Glory
Latter-day Saints Christians not only know what Jesus has saved us from, but also what He has saved us for…
He saved us not only for salvation but also to gain eternal life and exaltation, in the celestial degree of glory.
According to modern scripture, in that celestial glory:
- We will live in the presence of not only Jesus but also our Heavenly Father
- We will be united with our spouses, children, and families
- In the celestial degree of glory families can be together forever.
The Book of Mormon challenges us:
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; (Moroni 10:32-33)
Accepting Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer is necessary for our salvation, but it is the first step to exaltation and eternal life.
Having faith in Christ and accepting Jesus is the beginning.
It is not the finish line, it is the starting block
Take Up the Cross, Follow Him, Keep His Commandments
Book of Mormon summarizes:
…Unless a man shall endure to the end, in following the example of the Son of God, he cannot be saved.
… After ye have gotten into this strait and narrow path, I would ask if all is done?
Behold, I say unto you, Nay; for ye have not come thus far save it were by the word of Christ, with unshaken faith in him, relying wholly upon the merits of him who is mighty to save.
Wherefore, ye must press forward with a steadfastness in Christ, having a perfect brightness of hope, and a love of God and of all men. Wherefore, if ye shall press forward, feasting upon the word of Christ, and endure to the end, behold, thus saith the Father: Ye shall have eternal life.
… “this is the way;” and there is no other way nor name given under heaven whereby man can be saved in the kingdom of God.
Behold, this is the doctrine of Christ (2 Ne 31 16-21)
I am grateful that God does not judge on the curve, but on the cross.
I praise the Lord for his goodness and grace
May God bless us to have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and to accept Him as our Savior and Redeemer, and to be saved by His grace
May God also bless us to be changed by His grace,
- by taking His cross daily
- by following Him
- by being doers of His word,
- by keeping His commandments,
- by becoming like Him and taking His image in our countenance
So that we can also receive eternal life and exaltation through His Divine Grace.