What does it really mean, “…after all we can do?” God gave men weakness (singular). The gift God offers is what makes weak things strong. In reality, after all we can do, it is the grace of God that does the heavy lifting, …that changes a man into a new creature.
Introduction: The more I study the words of Christ, the more I realize how little we can do to “earn” salvation. The idea of personal worthiness creates a false tradition of unbelief, causing men to think that as they discipline themselves to “not make mistakes” that somehow they have earned the right to stroll into heaven, and stake a claim on a mansion of their choosing. The idea of self-discipline to obtain salvation is a tool of deception. To Nephi, and all prophets for that matter, salvation was a gift of grace. It is an undeserving, generous and gracious gift from God. Nephi says it this way:
2 Nephi 25:23-25
“23. 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.
24. And, notwithstanding we believe in Christ, we keep the law of Moses, and look forward with steadfastness unto Christ, until the law shall be fulfilled.
25. For, for this end was the law given; wherefore the law hath become dead unto us, and we are made alive in Christ because of our faith; yet we keep the law because of the commandments.”
The grace of God saves, not our discipline. But that does not mean we need not be disciplined. “After all we can do…” requires the discipline of obtaining both knowledge and faith. Just remember, our discipline cannot take us very far at all. It is the grace of God that does all the work. It is the righteousness of Christ that does the saving. That is the point of this blog.
What Can We Do?: Since it is the grace of God that saves, and not our individual righteousness, after all we can do, …then what is it that we can do? The answer is: there is only two things that we can do:
- Be Humble
- Have Faith
Over simplistic? Give me a chance to explain its definition, according to the Lord (void of traditionalism), and then I hope you’ll see how descriptive these two attributes really are.
“27. 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; for if they (1) humble themselves before me, and (2) have faith in me, then will (3) I make weak things become strong unto them [Christ’s grace].”
This scripture has been beaten and abused a ton by the traditions of men. But I’d like to offer a fresh look, using other scriptures. There are three steps in this prescribed process that Moroni gives us. But before we discuss the three step process, I want to first address the singular use of the word “weakness.” Whenever I hear people quote this scripture, they add an “es” to make “weakness” …into “weakness-es,” …as if all our weaknesses are God’s fault. May I suggest that the only weakness God has given us is …our flesh. And since every one has a different body (flesh), we don’t have the exact same weakness. Thus, you and I, no matter how well we’ve mastered our own flesh, have little to offer others, who have a completely different set of weakness, except to speak the words of Christ. Only the grace of God can make weakness into strength.
Moroni tells us the three step process. He says:
- Humble themselves
- Have faith in Christ
- The grace of Christ makes weak things strong
Humility: The first step is humility. Be careful not the think that you already know what it means to “humble yourself.” The traditions of men have produced talk after talk, and lesson after lesson, that mucks up the definition of how to humble yourself. The Book of Mormon repeats over and over again, the only way that a man can humble himself is by studying the words of Christ, period. There are many scriptures that say this, but I’ll use Alma:
“14. And now, as I said unto you, that because ye were compelled to be humble ye were blessed, do ye not suppose that they are more blessed who truly humble themselves because of the word?”
“10. And therefore, he that will harden his heart, the same receiveth the lesser portion ofthe word; and he that will not harden his heart, to him is given the greater portion of the word, until it is given unto him to know the mysteries of God until he know them in full.
11. And they that will harden their hearts, to them is given the lesser portion of the word until they know nothing concerning his mysteries; and then they are taken captive by the devil, and led by his will down to destruction. Now this is what is meant by the chains of hell.”
In both passages, Alma teaches that humility is tied to how we receive the words of Christ. Those who humble themselves do so by receiving the word. Receiving the word softens the heart, so you can obtain a greater portion of the word, until all the mysteries of God are given to you, for you “…to know.”
The words of Christ is what reveals knowledge. Light cleaves to light, and knowledge cleaves to knowledge. All truth is circumscribed into one great whole, and that is Christ. Knowing God and Christ is the definition of life eternal. Alma also teaches that “not knowing” the words of Christ is how Satan leads men into captivity, and eventually drags them down to hell. From above, we learn that ignorance of the words of Christ is “the chains of hell.” If the words of Christ is how a man humbles himself before the Lord, knowledge is the bi-product. But knowledge leads to action. The next step is to act in faith.
Faith: Just as humility is misunderstood by the traditions of unbelief, currently in mass circulation, …so is faith. Faith is where knowledge turns into action. Ask yourself, can you really take action in exercising faith, if you did not first humble yourself to obtain knowledge? Those who claim having faith, yet disregard the necessity to study the words of Christ, are faced with an internal contradiction. That is just not possible!
I suggest that faith is acting on the knowledge acquired by humbling yourself in the word. You cannot act in faith in something you don’t know. Faith requires a knowledge, otherwise the sacrifice required to change faith into a perfect knowledge will be too high a price for those ignorant of the words of Christ. Joseph Smith states it in The Lectures on Faith this way:
“But those who have not made this sacrifice to God do not know that the course which they pursue is well pleasing in his sight; for whatever may be their belief or their opinion, it is a matter of doubt and uncertainty in their mind; and where doubt and uncertainty are, there faith is not, nor can it be. Fore doubt and faith do not exist in the same person at the same time; so that persons whose minds are under doubts and fears cannot have unshaken confidence; and where unshaken confidence is not, there faith is weak; and where faith is weak, the persons will not be able to contend against all the opposition, tribulations, and afflictions which they will have to encounter in order to be heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ Jesus; and they will grow weary in their minds, and the adversary will have power over them and destroy them.”
(Lecture 7th, paragraph #12)
Joseph states emphatically that it doesn’t matter your belief or opinion. If you don’t know the mind and will of God, your belief or opinion is just a matter of doubt and uncertainty! And, in the end, you will not be able to offer up the necessary sacrifice, because your mind will grow weary and will faint.
If humbling yourself leads to feasting upon the words of Christ to obtain pure knowledge, then pure knowledge leads to acting in faith. Simply having a knowledge of the words of Christ is insufficient. To know God and Christ, you are required to act on the knowledge of Christ’s words, without a perfect understanding. Alma calls it “experimenting.”
“27. But behold, if ye will awake and arouse your faculties, even to an experiment upon my words, and exercise a particle of faith, yea, even if ye can no more than desire to believe, let this desire work in you, even until ye believe in a manner that ye can give place for a portion of my words.”
What a perfect word to use, “…an experiment upon my words.” It clarifies the necessity to have a knowledge of the word. It also teaches us that initially it is an experiment, that requires a new way of thinking, that might oppose your current understanding. We are constantly reminded that “my ways are not thy ways, saith the Lord.” The rest of this chapter is Alma’s explanation of how every experiment ought to be repeated.
Alma instructs us to plant the seed, or that portion of the word you have received in humility, …and then act upon it. If it’s a good seed, it will swell and sprout and begin to grow, …indicating that it is a good seed. If not, it’s a bad seed, so cast it out. Once you know it’s a good seed, Alma instructs us to continue to nourish it, until it bares fruit. This is the scientific method applied to proving the words of Christ. The result of repeating this process produces an unshaken faith. The bi-product of unshaken faith is the fruit that is white above all that is white, and if you partake of it, you shall never hunger or thirst (Alma 32:42). That fruit is code language for Christ Himself.
One last thing to note about this experiment of faith. Alma tells us to experiment upon “Christ’s words,” but he never said that Christ’s words were limited to …the written words on the page. I would suggest that it includes the words from the voice that whispers to your spiritual ears as well. The objective of the words of Christ is not to make men dependent upon the scriptures (the static law). Nephi said that it is Christ that matters, not the law. To Nephi, the law is dead! The static words on the page, familiarizes you with the voice of Christ. Since your flesh is unique to you, recognizing and receiving instruction from the voice of the Lord is absolutely necessary for your salvation. Christ speaks to each of us. Your instructions are different than mine. A collective revelatory process is another false tradition of unbelief. Christ is trying to speak to you. Christ’s words never cease (Moses 1:4). The question is, can you recognize His voice?
My Grace is Sufficient: Once you have done all that you can do (Humble yourself, and have faith in Christ), then is Christ’s grace sufficient to make your weak things into strengths. Those who receive Christ’s grace come to a reality of the “nothingness of man.” They realize that of themselves, they can do nothing. But to God nothing is impossible.
An interesting scripture of Lehi speaking to his son Jacob, before he dies, illustrates how all men of God realize that it is not their own righteousness that saves, rather it is the righteousness of Christ that saves. Lehi tells of Jacob’s diligence through the trials and rudeness of his brothers. Jacob is a little more than eight at this time, yet he has beheld the glory of the Lord already. But Lehi credits Jacob’s blessings, not to Jacob’s worthiness, but to Christ’s righteousness:
2 Nephi 4:3
“3. Wherefore, thy soul shall be blessed, and thou shalt dwell safely with thy brother, Nephi; and thy days shall be spent in the service of thy God. Wherefore, I know that thou art redeemed, because of the righteousness of thy Redeemer; for thou hast beheld that in the fulness of time he cometh to bring salvation unto men.
Because of Christ’s righteousness, those who humble themselves in the word, and have unshaken faith in him, can now be redeemed through His grace. Once you can hear His voice, Christ takes you through a process that turns men into gods. He has done it to Enoch, to Melchizedek, …and he offers it to you. Those who reject the words of Christ, which is the invitation to enjoy the grace of Christ, are condemned to suffer in their ignorance.
Conclusion: Don’t trust in the arm of flesh, …trust in God. Humbling yourself in the words of Christ cannot be hastened, but must begin now! The advantage of a large family is magnified only as we talk of Christ, preach of Christ, and rejoice in Christ. This alone can lessen the learning curve for those unable to read and comprehend scriptural language. We are fools not to use that advantage.
Faith is dependent upon knowledge of the scriptures. More importantly, faith is dependent upon our ability to recognize the voice of the Lord. Those who claim to have an unshaken faith, ignorant of the words of Christ and the voice of Christ, are only lying to themselves. Only those who have unshaken faith will be able to wait upon the Lord, offer up an acceptable sacrifice, and partake of the fruit, which is Christ.
Only after we are sufficiently humble, and exercise unshaken faith in Christ, …only then can His grace take action in you, to make you into a new creature in Christ. That is what is meant by “After all you can do.” It is Christ’s righteousness, His grace, His glory, His knowledge, His mind, and His will that gives men power to come forth in the morning of the first resurrection, with kingdoms, powers, thrones, principalities, dominions, exaltations, and eternal lives. All of it starts with the words of Christ. Feast upon the words of Christ, for they will tell you all things what you should do.