Please join us in welcoming guest-poster Abdul Kalumbi. Abdul attends and studies Business Management at Utah Valley University. He loves the study of Mormon theology and the LDS Restoration Movement.
The grace of Christ unto salvation—it’s something that all believers are insufficiently appreciative of. Few of us really understand the intricacy of the all-encompassing grace continually bestowed upon us. Indeed, a fitting definition of the grace of Christ is the unmerited and undeserved bestowal of favor or goodness upon mankind by God.
There is a controversy in the Christian world over whether one must do good works to be saved, or whether acceptance of grace is enough. This is a false dichotomy, because good works and acceptance of grace are not two separate things. Good works are an integral part and product of what it means to accept grace. As prominent Christian author John MacArthur has put it, “God’s work in a [person’s] life is the inevitable fruit of transformed behavior.” Therefore, the genuine personal acceptance of grace necessarily manifests unceasing good works.
Pauline theology teaches that the bestowal of saving grace, when genuinely accepted, necessitates an unwavering initiative to manifest good works. Paul referred to Christ as He “by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand.” The imagery of “standing in grace” implies steadfast commitment, much like “standing in freedom” as citizens of the United States.
In light of the previous verse, Paul asserts that the abundant grace given to man, if one is disposed and allows God to work through him or her, can bring a transformation of behavior. Paul says, “God is able to make all grace abound toward you; that ye, always having all sufficiency in all things, may abound to every good work.” In this verse, the personal sufficiency (or ability) to “abound to every good work” is attributed to God. Also, consider the words “able” and “may” in this verse. Clearly, if God is able, man must also be “willing” to allow God to make grace abound within his heart. The word “may” indicates that allowing grace to abound in one’s heart is a choice, and must be initiated by a genuine complete acceptance of the terms of this grace.
Despite personal inadequacies, Paul wrote, “[God’s] grace which was bestowed upon me was not in vain; but I laboured more abundantly than they all: yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me.” The idea that God’s grace could be “in vain” implies that grace must be accepted by man; therefore, man can reject aspects of grace entirely, embrace it halfheartedly, or embrace it fully. The acceptance of the grace of God signifies that the receiver will be a good steward of such grace. Because grace is given to enable, the receiver is required, as good stewards do, to fulfill the measure of that grace. Grace is given to true believers so they can do as Jesus did; and if they do not do so, they take the grace of Christ with a lack of genuineness, irresponsibility, and in vain—hence fruitless grace.
Contemplate Peter’s remarks: “As every man hath received the gift, even so minister the same one to another, as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Also, consider Paul’s words: “let us have grace, whereby we may serve God acceptably with reverence and godly fear.” Likewise, another passage states, “by the mercies of God, . . . present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.” Binding all of these passages together in a notion, correspondingly Jesus did say, “He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also,” and “let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily.”
Moreover, Joseph Smith, Jr., the founder of the LDS movement, explained that if a disciple keeps the commandments of God they shall receive grace in exchange for grace. Smith’s revelatory declarations teach that Jesus himself “received not of the fulness [of the Father] at the first, but received grace for grace.” This presumably means that if a believer emulates Jesus’ graciousness to others, the Father “giveth more grace” to the believer so they can administer graciousness more universally. This corresponds to the concept of bestowed grace as a stewardship, but adds the idea that if one is responsible with grace previously received, he is given more grace. It seems that in the mind of Smith, the objective is for the meek disciple of Jesus to become like Jesus, that is, “full of grace.” Reflecting on Paul’s and others’ writings, it is evident that true believers are responsible to demonstrate good works as a fruit of having genuinely accepted Christ’s grace.
The genuine acceptance of the grace of Jesus Christ unto salvation is multifaceted. Good works are not something additional to acceptance of grace, but rather an aspect of it. They become a habitual occurrence that manifests naturally as a believer is progressively converted to their Lord. Succinctly, if grace genuinely abounds in a disciple of Christ, fruitlessness will he avert.
 2 Nephi 2:6