The following is an excerpt from Brad Wilcox's new book, Changed Through His Grace
What sets Latter-day Saints apart from other Christians is not a reluctance to acknowledge our full and complete dependence on Christ’s grace but rather the possession of a full and complete understanding of salvation. Even scholars outside the Church have recognized that Latter-day Saints teach the most fully developed understanding of salvation, afterlife, and heaven of any Christian church (See Colleen McDannel and Bernhard Lang, Heaven: A History).
The word that was translated as salvation in many verses of the Bible could also have been rendered as victory. Latter-day Saints know we need victory on many battlefronts. The Book of Mormon tells of wicked Zeezrom, who ridiculed Alma and Amulek and attempted to publicly humiliate them. Later, that same Zeezrom—now repentant and sick with a burning fever—sent for Alma and Amulek to heal him (see Alma 15:5). Alma took Zeezrom’s hand and asked, “Believest thou in the power of Christ unto salvation?” (Alma 15:6), or we could say, “Do you believe in Christ’s power to offer victory?” Was Zeezrom thinking of being saved physically—victory over illness? Was Alma, who had been reclaimed from a life of sin, thinking of spiritual salvation or victory over sin? Either way, it is clear that “the Lord worketh in many ways to the salvation of his people” (Alma 24:27).
Elder Dallin H. Oaks has taught, “As Latter-day Saints use the words saved and salvation, there are at least six different meanings” (Dallin H. Oaks, “Have You Been Saved?” Ensign, May 1998, 55). Through the Savior’s grace, He offers victory over death, sin, our worst selves, ignorance, and hell. Ultimately, He offers the greatest victory of all in the form of exaltation.
The Savior Saves Us from Death
Teaching of the Resurrection, Paul wrote, “Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed, . . . at the last trump: . . . we shall be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51–52). Resurrection, victory over death, is a gift of grace. We can’t do it for ourselves. The Fall of Adam and Eve brought death to mankind, and Christ came to do what no mortal could ever do—break the bands of death. However, although many Christians see the Fall as disastrous, the plan of salvation allows us to see it as desirable. . . .
Scriptures teach that our resurrected bodies will be incorruptible (see 1 Corinthians 15:43; 2 Nephi 9:13). That means we will not age or fall apart, but it also means Satan will not be able to corrupt us. No wonder Joseph Smith taught that happiness and joy are dependent on having a body (see D&C 93:33, 34) and that “no person can have . . . salvation except through a tabernacle” (Joseph Smith, in The Joseph Smith Papers, History 1838–1856). The Resurrection is one of many ways we are saved by grace.
Learn more with Brad Wilcox's new book, Changed Through His Grace!
In this book, Brother Wilcox uses real-life stories and personal experiences to demonstrate how we can choose to receive Christ's grace more fully. This book is filled with hope. God's help is not a prize for the righteous. It is the source of righteousness. His grace is not a reward for the worth. It is the source of worthiness. It is not waiting for us once we change. It is the power we need throughout the entire perfecting process.
The Savior Rescues Us from Sin
Christ saved us from death, but He also offered victory over sin. His perfect life was a flawless model, but all along He knew we could not follow Him flawlessly. Paul wrote, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). Christ came to take “away the sin of the world” (John 1:29) and offer “forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace” (Ephesians 1:7). But “Christ died not to save indiscriminately but to offer repentance” taught Elder D. Todd Christofferson (D. Todd Christofferson, “Free Forever, to Act for Themselves,” Ensign, November 2014, 18). Because Jesus paid our debt to justice by shouldering the penalty for our sins, we can repent (see Helaman 14:18).
Picture the hopelessness of our situation if there were no second chances, no new beginnings, no clean slates, and no do overs. Imagine never being able to rid ourselves of shame and feel peace—never being able to live with God. Without Christ and the “beauties of [His] grace” (Hymns, no. 178), we would live in a world in which unavoidable sins could bring only regret and never reflection—a world where we would be forever tempted and never taught.
In most of the New Testament, the word repentance was translated from a Greek word meaning “to turn,” as in to change course. The gift of forgiveness is correctly labeled as conditional because it is dependent upon our course changes. . . . The opportunity to repent and be forgiven is one of many ways we are saved by grace.