I have been studying different explanations of ‘Grace’ as given by varying religious denominations. This seems to be one of the defining doctrines causing some religions to take offense with my chosen faith. If you look here, and here, and here, you will see several different descriptions of what ‘Grace’ means to some other sects.
The truth is that most have common threads with one another. For instance:
1. Grace is God’s unmerited favor. It is a gift we get simply because He wants to help us be better.
2. Grace is our ability to live righteous lives. Without the Grace of God, we would not be able to overcome our desire to commit sin.
3. Whether we have Grace or not will define how our actions on earth are interpreted. If we do good without the Grace of God within us, it is for naught.
For the most part, I have no quibble with the definitions given by these believers.
I believe that the Grace of Christ is a gift of astounding worth. Without it we would not be able to enter the presence of God or be judged clean through repentance.
It is also the means by which we are able to grow in strength and overcome Satan and his host as they attempt to lead us astray.
And the gift of Grace is truly the defining attribute that will differentiate a true Christian from one who is living a life of worldliness.
There are some parts of Grace that I believe Christianity has eliminated or ignored that make this gift, even more astoundingly, the ultimate blessing from God and Christ.
From the LDS Bible Dictionary:
Grace. A word that occurs frequently in the New Testament, especially in the writings of Paul. The main idea of the word is divine means of help or strength, given through the bounteous mercy and love of Jesus Christ.
It is through the grace of the Lord Jesus, made possible by his atoning sacrifice, that mankind will be raised in immortality, every person receiving his body from the grave in a condition of everlasting life. It is likewise through the grace of the Lord that individuals, through faith in the atonement of Jesus Christ and repentance of their sins, receive strength and assistance to do good works that they otherwise would not be able to maintain if left to their own means. This grace is an enabling power that allows men and women to lay hold on eternal life and exaltation after they have expended their own best efforts.
Divine grace is needed by every soul in consequence of the fall of Adam and also because of man’s weaknesses and shortcomings. However, grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. Hence the explanation, “It is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do” (2 Ne. 25:23). It is truly the grace of Jesus Christ that makes salvation possible. This principle is expressed in Jesus’ parable of the vine and the branches (John 15:1–11). See also John 1:12–17; Eph. 2:8–9; Philip. 4:13; D&C 93:11–14.
The gift of Grace comes because of the Atoning Sacrifice of Jesus Christ. It is a basic tenet of doctrine and should be emphasized in every discussion of Grace. Without Jesus’ suffering in the Garden of Gethsemane and on the Cross, there would be no Grace to escape the conditions of the Fall.
Because Christ was raised from the dead and overcame the effects of death, every man, woman, and child who ever lives on this earth will have the blessing of resurrection and a restoration of the physical body. No one is exempt! No one will be ignored! If you live on earth in physical form, you will be restored to your physical body sometime after your mortal death. (1 Cor. 15:23; Alma 11:42-44). This is one of the gifts of the Grace of Christ and His Father.
Finally, true Grace must also include effort on the part of the recipient. There is no such thing as “Spiritual Welfare” – meaning letting someone else do all the work necessary to provide for our eternal life in the Kingdom of God. It is not enough to just believe or have faith. There has to be action, or the proper use of agency, as a testimony of our acceptance of Christ, All must do their part to receive the blessings of God in the next life. Heavenly Father sent us here to learn and grow and without effort we cannot improve.
So, while we differ on some of the fine points, there are many parts of Grace where we can agree with our ‘Christian Friends.’ My hope is that one day there will be a banding together of all those who believe in Jesus and His majestic work for mankind. We are, after all, children of the same God and He has given us all the same gifts. Let’s use them to bless one another and not beat on these tabernacles of clay.