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Rob Bowman

Once again, 2 Nephi 25:23

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In another thread, Vance has insisted that I have misunderstood 2 Nephi 25:23. Since that thread has already gone off the track of its original subject, I thought it would be helpful to start a new thread on this specific topic. Here is the verse:

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (2 Nephi 25:23)

Vance claims that this verse does not mean "that we HAVE to do ALL we can DO." He claims:

THAT is the misunderstood/misinterpreted concept. And you are promoting it.... AGAIN, THAT is FALSE!!! That is NOT what that scripture means! This is ANOTHER CLASSIC example of you misunderstanding/misinterpreting OUR scripture and then declaring what it means, AND GETTING IT WRONG!!!" ... The scripture DOES NOT say, "for we know that it is by grace that we are saved (ONLY), after (we do) all we can do", but rather "for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do".

Let me see if I can state correctly the LDS understanding of 2 Nephi 25:23. Please tell me if anything I say here is incorrect.

As I understand it, according to LDS teaching, what 2 Nephi 25:23 means is that Jesus' blood, his atonement, will save us, but only after we have done all we can to save ourselves by keeping His commandments. We are saved by grace, but that grace of God comes only "after all we can do." Grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. "After all we can do" means a maximum of individual effort and includes extending our best effort; that is, grace is a supplement to our best efforts. In the plan of salvation as the LDS Church teaches it, God does for human beings only what they cannot do for themselves. No mortal

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So, is this an accurate statement of what the LDS Church teaches regarding the meaning of 2 Nephi 25;23?

I can't speak for everything the Church has taught ever, but I believe the general LDS reading of the text is that "after all we can do" means here that even having done everything we could, we cannot be saved without the atonement.

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As a heathen, it is likely presumptuous for me to speak on things Mormon, but when contemplating 2 Nephi 25:23, I used to find it useful to keep Mosiah 2 in mind.

Also, the character of Nephi seemed to dig black-and-white hyperbole.

Edited to add:

That being said, historically the passage seems to have largely been interpreted to mean we are saved only after proving our faithfulness (along the pistis line) by doing "all that we can do."

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So, is this an accurate statement of what the LDS Church teaches regarding the meaning of 2 Nephi 25;23?

I see the verses in question as an attempt to logically reconcile grace versus works in one succinct verse: salvation via faith alone is an absurdity, works are just as important, but are by themselves not enough to "save" someone. In this case, the Lord, or Joseph Smith, seems to be attmpting to strike a balance and say:

Righteous conduct combined with faith in Christ are the ingredients necessary for "salvation".

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It's quite possible that the verse is intended to have both meanings. "We must do everything we can before the atonement can help us" and "Our best efforts are insufficient without the aid of the atonement."

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In another thread, Vance has insisted that I have misunderstood 2 Nephi 25:23. Since that thread has already gone off the track of its original subject, I thought it would be helpful to start a new thread on this specific topic. Here is the verse:

"For we labor diligently to write, to persuade our children, and also our brethren, to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God; for we know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do." (2 Nephi 25:23)

Vance claims that this verse does not mean "that we HAVE to do ALL we can DO." He claims:

Let me see if I can state correctly the LDS understanding of 2 Nephi 25:23. Please tell me if anything I say here is incorrect.

As I understand it, according to LDS teaching, what 2 Nephi 25:23 means is that Jesus' blood, his atonement, will save us, but only after we have done all we can to save ourselves by keeping His commandments. We are saved by grace, but that grace of God comes only "after all we can do." Grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. "After all we can do" means a maximum of individual effort and includes extending our best effort; that is, grace is a supplement to our best efforts. In the plan of salvation as the LDS Church teaches it, God does for human beings only what they cannot do for themselves. No mortal

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The verse does not do very well as a stand-alone description of the interaction of grace and works relative to our salvation. It is not found in a chapter discussing doctrine (contrast 2 Ne. chapter 31), but rather a chapter where Nephi prophesies of Christ and then exhorts his people to follow him. It is extremely difficult to take a works-emphasis reading of the verse when read in the context of the chapter. Just read the surrounding verses -- read the whole chapter. Nephi's whole point in verse 23 is to emphasize Christ.

If people use the verse to emphasize works, so be it. Christ emphasized works too. But to use the verse to try to doctrinally define a preeminence of works in gaining salvation is silly. Nephi is proclaiming the exact opposite throughout the whole chapter.

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I thought it might be helpful to provide what was requested and explain any misstatements I see.

Let me see if I can state correctly the LDS understanding of 2 Nephi 25:23. Please tell me if anything I say here is incorrect.

As I understand it, according to LDS teaching, what 2 Nephi 25:23 means is that Jesus' blood, his atonement, will save us, but only after we have done all we can to save ourselves by keeping His commandments.

The bolded portion is some loaded language, especially following the first half of the sentence. The Bible instructs us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling, and also instructs us to sanctify ourselves. It is more correct to say that we sanctify ourselves by keeping His commandments (Lev. 20:7-8 ). Also you propbably are aware that having "done all we can do" requires that everything before that time be "all we could have done". And since we all admit we are not perfect, and don't perfectly do all we can do all the time, it is impossible to reach a state where we have truly, literally, done all we can do. Since it is impossible it surely can't be a literal requirement. Now perhaps you are being somewhat figurative, but I don't see that. However, if you can understand that your statement requires a figurative explanation to make any rational sense, then it might be one step towards understanding that the language in verse 23 is not to be understood in the literal way you present.
We are saved by grace, but that grace of God comes only "after all we can do." Grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. "After all we can do" means a maximum of individual effort and includes extending our best effort; that is, grace is a supplement to our best efforts.
This is expounding on your previous sentence, and only serves to emphasize your literal reading of the phrase "after all we can do" in a way that proves impossible. It also goes against reason that God expects perfection from His children when the entirety of the scriptures declare the inevitability of imperfection in this life. And a "maximum" "best" effort is precisely that, perfectly doing all that is possible.

If we are to understand "total effort" to be a complete committment then you are closer. If you are referring to a repentant attitude in which one recognizes mistakes and sins and limitations, and tries to do better -- always seeking that elusive best that comes when one is aligned with the will of God and seeking to be Christlike -- then you are closer to the truth. But your words paint a completely different picture.

In the plan of salvation as the LDS Church teaches it, God does for human beings only what they cannot do for themselves.
While the LDS Church teaches self sufficiency, and the need to be proactive, so does the Bible. The limiting of God's help you describe is foreign to me. Some individual may have stated it that way, but it doesn't make sense that God won't help in any way that I can take care of. Rain falls on my yard, even though I have sprinklers.
No mortal

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2 Nephi 25:23 is very Jewish:

"To effect complete reconciliation, the return must be mutual. Therefore, repentance requires both a human initiative and a divine response. The corollary of human contrition is divine grace (hesed). A midrash observes, "Consider the parable of a prince who was far away from his father-a hundred days journey away. His friends said to him: Return to your father. He replied: I cannot; I have not the strength. Thereupon his father sent word to him saying: Come back as far as you are able, and I will go the rest of the way to meet you. So the Holy One says to Israel: 'Return to Me, and I shall return to you.' [Mal. 3:7]." [Pesikta Rabbati, Shuvah Israel]" (Byron L. Sherwin, In Partnership with God: Contemporary Jewish Law and Ethics, Syracuse University Press: 1990)

As E.P. Sanders pointed out decades ago,

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So, is this an accurate statement of what the LDS Church teaches regarding the meaning of 2 Nephi 25:23?

Rob, I think you are emphasizing the wrong part of the sentence or putting specific meaning where there is none. When we read this verse within the context of other versus we arrive at a better understanding of the meaning of the scripture. For example, Mosiah 3:17: "And moreover, I say unto you, that there shall be no other name given nor any other way nor means whereby salvation can come unto the children of men, only in and through the name of Christ, the Lord Omnipotent." 2 Nephi 2:5-8 reads, "And men are instructed sufficiently that they know good from evil. And the law is given unto men. And by the law no flesh is justified; or, by the law men are cut off. Yea, by the temporal law they were cut off; and also, by the spiritual law they perish from that which is good, and become miserable forever. Wherefore, redemption cometh in and through the Holy Messiah; for he is full of grace and truth. Behold, he offereth himself a sacrifice for sin, to answer the ends of the law, unto all those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit; and unto none else can the ends of the law be answered. Wherefore, how great the importance to make these things known unto the inhabitants of the earth, that they may know that there is no flesh that can dwell in the presence of God, save it be through the merits, and mercy, and grace of the Holy Messiah, who layeth down his life according to the flesh, and taketh it again by the power of the Spirit, that he may bring to pass the resurrection of the dead, being the first that should rise." I believe the above clearly clarifies that we are saved only by the Grace that is found in the blood of Jesus Christ.

After all we can do is the second half that you focus on. To LDS this does not mean that good works are a prerequisite for Grace to be activated. Grace is activated by the acceptance of Jesus as our Savior and Redeemer. However, after we have accepted Christ, good works must always follow (Matt 7: 19-20). To accept Christ is to desire, to yearn to serve him. If we do not have this desire, then we have not accept him as our Savior and Grace is not activated (1 John 2:4).

In our Sacramental prayer it states that we may partake as long as we are willing to take upon his the name of Christ. We might be poor servants or we might be more obedient servants, but as long as we are willing we demonstrate that He is our Lord and Savior. Grace, and Grace alone, saves us.

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Dr Stephen E. Robinson suggested that "after" in this verse means "apart from," or as others in this thread have said, even if we do "all we can do," it is still "by grace we are saved." By the way, if you want to understand grace in the LDS perspective, I can't recommend his Believing Christ strongly enough.

Yours under the forgiven oaks,

Nathair /|\

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Hello Rob,

While I think you are straining at nats here, the verse is very plain if you read the scripture in context. It still shows a deliberate misunderstanding on your part. You still insist on LDS trying to "work our way" into heaven with no regard for the atonement. You did leave one post unanswered on the old thread which I now repeat here:

Thanks for answering my post. But I still wonder what you are trying to say, you still insist that we LDS are trying to "earn our salvation" just because we believe that righteousness is a requirement for having our names in the book of life, but I think the problem is one of perspective. If, by your point of view, a person is already saved does it mean that after their "saved" experience or being born again, does that mean that they will not commit sin after that? If so, or if they do sin are they still saved? Is this rebirth possible if they sin again or are you saying that their rebirth was not real? Or if they commit sins after being saved that they do not have to repent but it is automatically forgiven by the virtue of their saved status? In LDS theology repentance and the resultant salvation is a process by which we perfect our lives. We repent after we have faith in Christ, because without faith we cannot repent. The ordinance of baptism is required as well, and it is also part of the process of salvation and is a sign of our acceptance of Christ as our savior. Since Christ said we must be baptized it is part of "obeying Christ" as are all other requirements of the Gospel. If abandoning sin is not part of obeying Christ, then what is repentance? You view all these "lists of commandments" like they are not required by Christ, that is where we differ. I really believe that Christ requires these things of those who would be saved. It may be nice to say that these are fruits of salvation and not requirements, but in the real world people sin after conversion and that is where we disagree. What is the means of retaining a remission of sins?

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I think it is worth pointing out that the Hebrew hesed, which is translated as 'grace', 'mercy', 'loving-kindness', or gemilut hasadim ("acts of grace") "is an action that represents a doing something in return, which doing is expressive of a loyalty-or less clumsily, gemilut hasadim is an act by means of which one demonstrates his response to someone, in obedience to him or out of loyalty to him. In short, it really is an act of piety. And strictly speaking, any action...which an individual carried out as a fulfillment of a divine command, was an act of gemilut hasadim." (Judah Goldin, "The Three Pillars of Simeon the Righteous," Proceedings of the American Academy for Jewish Research 27, 1958) In the context of kinship, grace is both the love bestowed by the parents and the gracious response of the children: "As recipients of the gift of life, children had incurred a debt to their parents that they could never repay. So the virtuous person would honor the parents and "return the favors" bestowed by the parents throughout childhood and for the remainder of the parents' lives...Children were to honor their parents in word and deed, and especially to be loyal and serviceable to them in the parents' old age." (David A. DeSilva, An Introduction to the New Testament: Contexts, Methods & Ministry Formation, InterVarsity Press: 2004) DeSilva points out that becoming a child of God required a "like parent, like child" response. To fail to do so was to break off the divine familial relationship. These acts of grace essentially are the expression of imitatio Dei. "According to a statement of Rabbi Judah bar Nahamani (Babylonian Talmud 1948, 8b), gemilut hasadim is the distinguishing characteristic of the children of Israel, who hold to the covenant of Abraham." (Warren Zev Harvey, "Grace in Judaism," Encyclopedia of Love in World Religions, Vol. 1, ed. Yudit Kornberg Greenberg, ABC-CLIO: 2008)

We therefore see that in an ancient Semitic context, 'grace' is a reciprocal relationship.

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It is impossible for Grace to mean work. So, to me, people are reading the words with the wrong emphasis.

The word grace alone means to get something you do not deserve. It's just not compatible with the idea some put in there that work has anything to do with being saved. (being judged may be different however)

The way I read it is "It is by grace we are saved...after all we can do." (Bold = emphasis Italics = said with a passing wave of the hand)

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I remember a story in General conference which illustrated this idea:

A five year old girl wanted a certain bicycle, so her father told her to work hard to earn the money to buy it. She did her housechores and helped others, saved her allowance. She did everything she could do, as a five year old, to save up the money.

Finally, the day came when they went to the store, and she asked the store clerk how much the bicycle cost........

I think you know the rest. It would be impossible for her to earn the hundred dollars for the bike, but, *after* having done all that she could do, obeying the instruction and counsel of her father, the father then paid the gap between the money she had saved and the cost of the bicycle.

Rob, I also understand you saw the film which also explained the LDS view of grace. We do not believe that we earn our way to heaven, so you should have no excuse to pretend that you do not understand it.

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Charles,

Not only have I seen no film that explains the LDS view of grace, I don't even know what film you mean. And I must protest against your claim that I am pretending not to understand the LDS position.

I remember a story in General conference which illustrated this idea:

A five year old girl wanted a certain bicycle, so her father told her to work hard to earn the money to buy it. She did her housechores and helped others, saved her allowance. She did everything she could do, as a five year old, to save up the money.

Finally, the day came when they went to the store, and she asked the store clerk how much the bicycle cost........

I think you know the rest. It would be impossible for her to earn the hundred dollars for the bike, but, *after* having done all that she could do, obeying the instruction and counsel of her father, the father then paid the gap between the money she had saved and the cost of the bicycle.

Rob, I also understand you saw the film which also explained the LDS view of grace. We do not believe that we earn our way to heaven, so you should have no excuse to pretend that you do not understand it.

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The word grace alone means to get something you do not deserve

Rather it means to get something you cannot provide for yourself, or an act of piety, or of lovingkindness.

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Let me see if I can state correctly the LDS understanding of 2 Nephi 25:23. Please tell me if anything I say here is incorrect.

As I understand it, according to LDS teaching, what 2 Nephi 25:23 means is that Jesus' blood, his atonement, will save us, but only after we have done all we can to save ourselves by keeping His commandments. We are saved by grace, but that grace of God comes only "after all we can do." Grace cannot suffice without total effort on the part of the recipient. "After all we can do" means a maximum of individual effort and includes extending our best effort; that is, grace is a supplement to our best efforts. In the plan of salvation as the LDS Church teaches it, God does for human beings only what they cannot do for themselves. No mortal

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Rather it means to get something you cannot provide for yourself, or an act of piety, or of lovingkindness.

This is exactly how I view Grace. It must be givin to us.

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Charles,

Not only have I seen no film that explains the LDS view of grace, I don't even know what film you mean. And I must protest against your claim that I am pretending not to understand the LDS position.

I seem to remember that you quoted from this talk, and thought you had seen the video.

You can read Elder Boyd K Packer's talk here and it will give you an explanation of what we believe. This should give you a complete understanding of our belief in this regard.

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Rather it means to get something you cannot provide for yourself, or an act of piety, or of lovingkindness.

Don't you love when you have to repeat what has already been said, especially when sources have been provided?

To further expand on the idea of "something you cannot provide for yourself," let us look at it within the context of client-patronage:

"The world of the authors and readers of the New Testament...was one in which the personal patronage was the essential means of acquiring access to goods, protection or opportunities of employment and advancement

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Charles,

When I quoted Packer's analogy on this forum, a number of LDS objected that they didn't agree with it, while others offered differing interpretations of what it meant. So it isn't as simple as you make out.

I seem to remember that you quoted from this talk, and thought you had seen the video.

You can read Elder Boyd K Packer's talk here and it will give you an explanation of what we believe. This should give you a complete understanding of our belief in this regard.

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Charles,

When I quoted Packer's analogy on this forum, a number of LDS objected that they didn't agree with it, while others offered differing interpretations of what it meant. So it isn't as simple as you make out.

Ears to hear, and eyes to see.

You now have the teaching of a prophet and a parable to explain the relationship between mercy and justice. It is really that simple for those who can hear and see -- we do not believe that we can "earn our way to heaven."

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Charles,

Tell that to your fellow Mormons who criticized the parable.

Ears to hear, and eyes to see.

You now have the teaching of a prophet and a parable to explain the relationship between mercy and justice. It is really that simple for those who can hear and see.

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