In her new book, Amazed by Grace, Sheri Dew talks about the enabling power of grace and how we have constant access to it. She writes:
"When the Apostle Paul said, 'I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me,' he was describing grace." She goes on later to say that "the flow of divine help is continuous, everywhere present, waiting for us to seek help."
Illustrating this point with an analogy, she explains, "We shouldn’t treat or think about the Lord as we sometimes do about our visiting or home teachers when we’re ill and could use some help—we have to let them in to help us until we can solve our problems or clean the house first. If we think we have to conquer a bad habit or an addiction by ourselves, before we seek help, we most likely don’t understand grace."
However, when we do understand grace and are working daily to change ourselves and become better, Sister Dew assures us that "Jesus Christ endured and completed His eternal, infinite Atonement so that you and I could change. So that we wouldn’t be tripped up by our sins or nagging weaknesses and doomed eternally. So that we wouldn’t have to pay for our sins forever, the price of which none of us has the capacity to pay. So that we could keep learning and practicing being Saints—realizing that practice always involves mistakes. The Lord has made it clear that no unclean thing can dwell with Him, but it is equally clear that no unclean person, meaning no unchanged person, will even want to.”
But, Sister Dew reminds us, Christ's grace is not a one-time deal. "Nonetheless, the Lord is not saving up His grace or power for one dramatic display at the Final Judgment, nor is grace something that kicks in at the end of an ordeal. It is there from the moment we exercise even a 'particle of faith' and ask for His help."
Learn more about the continuous purpose of grace and draw closer to Christ with Amazed by Grace by Sheri Dew.
Brad Wilcox adds to Sister Dew's description of grace as our source of light and energy, not just as a gift that will be given at the end of our lives. He, too, reminds us that grace is meant to give us strength and power constantly if we only turn to it. He writes in The Continous Atonement for Teens:
"Christ’s power is not an emergency generator that turns on once our supply is exhausted. It is not a booster engine once we run out of steam. Rather, it is our constant energy source. If we think of Christ only making up the difference after we do our part, we are failing to keep the promise we make each Sunday to remember him always." He goes on to quote Elder Bruce C. Hafen, who confirmed that "The Savior’s gift of grace to us is not necessarily limited in time to 'after' all we can do. We may receive his grace before, during, and after the time when we expend our own efforts" (Broken Heart, 155).
Brother Wilcox also points out that the continuous nature of grace "requires continuous enabling power. It requires more grace than can neatly be diagrammed, graphed, charted on whiteboards, or found in a concise listing of contractual responsibilities." In addition, he says, "Such power is found by going beyond defining parts and instead forging a relationship with God and Christ that is greater than the sum of the parts. When we finally do pass through the veil that separates us and the celestial kingdom, it will not be as individuals who have done our parts. It will be holding hand with the Lord. On that sacred day there will be no He and I—only we."
Help your teens understand more about the continuous nature of the Atonement and grace with Brad Wilcox's The Continuous Atonement for Teens.
Robert L. Millett
Rober L. Millet gave an address in February, 1998, called "What We Believe." In it, he discussed that grace is something we already have, not something we earn through our hard work. Grace gives us hope. He said:
"Too often we are prone to view grace as that increment of goodness, that final gift of God that will make up the difference and thereby boost us into the celestial kingdom, “after all we can do” (2 Nephi 25:23). To be sure, we will need a full measure of divine assistance to become celestial material. But," he goes on, "the grace of God, through Jesus Christ our Lord, is available to us every hour of every day of our lives. 'True grace,' as one non-LDS writer has suggested, 'is more than just a giant freebie, opening the door to heaven in the sweet by and by, but leaving us to wallow in sin in the bitter here and now. Grace is God presently at work in our lives' (John F. MacArthur, Jr., Faith Works: The Gospel According to the Apostles pg. 32)."
The invaluable gift grace, Brother Millet explains, is something that we can and should use in every aspect of our lives. "The grace of God is a precious gift, an enabling power to face life with quiet courage, to do things we could never do on our own. The Great Physician does more than forgive sins. He ministers relief to the disconsolate, comfort to the bereaved, confidence to those who wrestle with infirmities and feelings of inadequacy, and strength and peace to those who have been battered and scarred by the ironies of this life (see Isaiah 61:1–2, Alma 7:11–13)."
He also connects the traditional idea of "being saved" as compared to grace. Both, according to Brother Millet, work hand in hand and should be a part of our daily lives. "Are we then 'saved Christians'? Whereas the ultimate blessings of salvation do not come until the next life, there is a sense in which people in this life may enjoy the assurance of salvation and the peace that accompanies that knowledge (see D&C 59:23). True faith in Christ produces hope in Christ—not worldly wishing but expectation, anticipation, assurance. As the apostle Paul wrote, the Holy Spirit provides the 'earnest of our inheritance,' the promise or evidence that we are on course, in covenant, and thus in line for full salvation in the world to come (Ephesians 1:13–14; see 2 Corinthians 1:21–22, 5:5). That is, the Spirit of God operating in our lives is like the Lord’s 'earnest money' on us—his sweet certification that he seriously intends to save us with an everlasting salvation. Thus, if we are striving to cultivate the gift of the Holy Ghost, we are living in what might be called a 'saved' condition."
See more of Millet's insights on continually using grace in his book, After All We Can Do, Grace Works.