Perfection, pt. 2: His Grace is Sufficient

Because perfection is a matter of being, our focus ought to be in becoming more rather than doing more. Once we take care of the becoming, the doing will naturally follow.

The only hope we have of becoming heavenly is through the grace of Christ. His grace is sufficient to transform us—to turn our weakness into strength. As He Himself declared to Moroni, “my grace is sufficient for all men that humble themselves before me; for if they humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then will I make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27; cf. 2 Corinthians 12:9). And as Moroni declared to us: “Yea, 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; and if by the grace of God ye are perfect in Christ, ye can in nowise deny the power of God” (Moroni 10:32).

His grace is the enabling, sanctifying power that is sufficient to save us from our fallen natures. This is how we are saved from our sins. This is how we experience a mighty change of heart. This is how we are “born again,” changed from our carnal and fallen state to a state of righteousness. This is what it truly means to have faith in Christ; not that He’ll just come through for you on judgment day, but that He can and will save you here and now—as quickly as you’ll let Him in.

There is an actual process to this, and I hope that after we examine its parts in this and the following posts it will seem less vague and mysterious, and more within reach.

The Process

Like we’ve said, Christ’s grace is the central key to this transformational process. Salvation is the result of allowing His grace to work within you to bring about a mighty change. By nature, we resist His light. We put up blinders, we draw the shades, we close our eyes or look the other direction. The first step in allowing Christ to do His work is to put down your weapons of rebellion and surrender to Him. The natural man does not want to surrender, or submit, or yield. This is why faith is required.

Alma uses the analogy of a seed. Before you can have a tree, you must give place for a seed to be planted. This planting will take place as you make room in your heart for the word of God. Once the seed has been planted, you diligently nourish it so that it takes root in your heart, and by and by “it shall be a tree springing up unto everlasting life,” whose fruit is “sweet above all that is sweet, and… white above all that is white, yea, and pure above all that is pure” (Alma 32:41-42).

Nephi uses the analogy of a rod of iron. You must take hold and cling to the word of God, pushing forward along its path until you at last come to tree of life, which Lehi described as being “most sweet, above all that I ever before tasted,” and “white, to exceed all the whiteness that I had ever seen” (1 Nephi 8:11). As Nephi learned, this fruit represents “the love of God, which sheddeth itself abroad in the hearts of the children of men; wherefore, it is the most desirable above all things” (1 Nephi 11:22).

In both analogies, it is the word of God which leads to the love of God. There is only one process being described. As we yield to the word of God, which is the light and Spirit of God, then we are infused with the love of God (the mature fruit of the word of God). “But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected [or fully matured]: hereby know we that we are in him” (1 John 2:5).

This is also the same process Christ described when He said, “strait is the gate, and narrow is the way, which leadeth unto life, and few there be that find it” (Matthew 7:13). There is a beginning, middle, and end.

BeginningMiddleEnd
Strait GateNarrow WayLife
Taking Hold of the RodPressing ForwardTree of Life
Planting the SeedNourishing the SeedTree of Life

Once you realize that this is the pattern, you’ll begin recognizing it all over the scriptures: turn to God’s light, receive it, and then persist in it until your whole body is full of light. When you are full of light you will be like the Savior, having His image engraven in your countenance; “until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ” (Ephesians 4:13, NIV; emphasis added).

The Lord declared: “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light; and that light groweth brighter and brighter until the perfect day. And again, verily I say unto you, and I say it that you may know the truth, that you may chase darkness from among you” (D&C 50:24-25). Also, “And if your eye be single to my glory, your whole bodies shall be filled with light, and there shall be no darkness in you; and that body which is filled with light comprehendeth all things” (D&C 88:67).

This was also what was noted in the case of king Lamoni: “Now, this was what Ammon desired, for he knew that king Lamoni was under the power of God; he knew that the dark veil of unbelief was being cast away from his mind, and the light which did light up his mind, which was the light of the glory of God, which was a marvelous light of his goodness—yea, this light had infused such joy into his soul, the cloud of darkness having been dispelled, and that the light of everlasting life was lit up in his soul” (Alma 19:6).

Christ intends to heal us of our weakness by the gift and power of His Spirit. Rather than beat our fallen bodies into submission, the gospel is designed to elevate, purify, and sanctify our flesh by dispelling all darkness and infusing it with light. When all darkness has been dispelled and we are full of light, the process is complete—which is what it means to “endure to the end.” We are enduring to the end of a process or path: “they came and caught hold of the end of the rod of iron; and they did press their way forward, continually holding fast to the rod of iron, until they came forth and fell down and partook of the fruit of the tree” (1 Nephi 8:30 cf. Alma 32:40-42).

“O then, my beloved brethren, repent ye, and enter in at the strait gate, and continue in the way which is narrow, until ye shall obtain eternal life” (Jacob 6:11)

As a matter of fact, the word “end” in the New Testament phrase “endure to the end” (Matthew 24:13) comes from the Greek word τέλος, which has the same root as “perfect,” fully mature, completed, etc. “End” in this context refers to the principal aim or purpose. You are enduring to the purpose—persisting in the process until you become what He intends to make of you.

If you were planting and nourishing a seed, the end (τέλος) of that endeavor would be to have a fully mature tree bearing fruit. The purpose of Christ’s gospel is to make you holy, without spot—bearing fruit that is “pure above all that is pure” and “most joyous to the soul.” In short, He intends to make you perfect by filling you with His love, which is the hallmark of completion. “And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness” (Colossians 3:14).

This is the essence of the doctrine of Christ; we make room in our hearts to receive His word/Spirit, and let it work in us until we become fully mature in Him. Put another way, Christ said, “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (John 15:5). He is the life force of all creation; as we abide in Him, He will fill us with His Spirit until we bring forth fruit—then we are made perfect in Him.

Grace, Charity, and Perfection

His grace is sufficient; sufficient to make weak things strong; sufficient to save us from our sins; sufficient to turn us into the kinds of beings who can keep the whole law; sufficient to perfect us.

When you think of perfection, think of a tree bearing fruit. When you think of perfection in Christ, think of the fruit you would bring forth by grafting yourself into Him, and allowing His Spirit to flow into you; or think of the fruit you would bring forth by planting His word in your heart, and letting it grow to perfection. It is the fruit of the tree of life, which is the love of God. We are made perfect in love (1 John 4:18).

“By his grace, ye may be perfect in Christ” (Moroni 10:32). This is why Moroni pleaded with the Lord that He would give the Gentiles “grace, that they might have charity” (Ether 12:36). It is the only way our weakness can be made strong.

This is what we must become in order to inherit the kingdom of God in the resurrection: “And except ye have charity ye can in nowise be saved in the kingdom of God” (Moroni 10:21; cf. Ether 12:34). “But charity is the pure love of Christ, and it endureth forever; and whoso is found possessed of it at the last day, it shall be well with him” (Moroni 7:47).

How do we receive Christ’s grace that we might bear this fruit in our lives? Stay tuned.

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