#BOMTC Isaiah Survivor Award!
What really stands out to me in these chapters is Nephi’s sincere desire to be so PLAIN that “no man can err” (vv. 7, 20, 28). This seems to be the pattern that Nephi has adopted from The Master Teacher–Jesus Christ. It reminds me of a quote by President Harold B. Lee:
“You’re to teach the old doctrines, not so plainly that they can just understand, but you must teach the doctrines of the Church so plainly that no one can misunderstand” (“Loyalty,” in Charge to Religious Educators, 2nd ed. , 64)
That is what I truly love about Nephi’s writings–his “plainness”. His “plainness” allows him to testify and teach so powerfully of Jesus Christ. He also gives commentary on Isaiah’s writings to help them to be more “plain” to us so that “no man can err”. My testimony is strengthened in the Savior every time I read the writings of Nephi. THANK YOU, NEPHI!
A friend once asked me a question about something found in 2 Nephi 25:23. He was wondering about the meaning of the phrase, “after all we can do,” and how it relates to God’s saving grace referenced in that passage.
Now, I have heard a lot of ideas and read a lot of commentary about this passage from both anti-Mormon and faithful-Mormon sources. However, for me, the key to understanding this verse is to simply study it in context of the verses surrounding it. Too many times we encounter problems with a scripture because we begin to isolate it from the rest of the text and it loses the original intent of the author. Elder Bruce R. McConkie taught repeatedly that the best commentary written for understanding the scriptures IS the scriptures.
One of the things that I would invite you to do is to re-read 2 Nephi 25:23 in the context of verses 16-30. Now, when you study these 14 verses surrounding verse 23, I invite you to mark and count the number of times that Christ is referred to by His different names. I also invite you to do this before reading any more of my post. Go ahead, my post will still be here…
Now that you have seen what Nephi’s real focus is–CHRIST–re-read verses 23-30 again and see what Nephi is really teaching us in these verses.
Continue reading below once you are ready…
One way that I have tried to help people to understand this verse in context is to simply change the order in which the phrase, “after all we can do” is read.
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 after all we can do, it is by grace that we are saved.
Nephi is clear that it is by the grace of God and His Son Jesus Christ that we are saved. Nephi’s personal illustration is his observance of the Law of Moses. Everything that Nephi did and taught his people to do concerning the Law of Moses was to help them come unto Christ and be “alive” in Him even though the Law of Moses was “dead” to them (see 2 Nephi 25:25-27).
President Dieter F. Uchtdorf gave a wonderful talk in general conference entitled, “The Gift of Grace”. I would invite you to read, watch, or listen to the entire talk. If you are strapped for time, at least read this brief expert from his talk:
“The Gift of Grace,” President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
The prophet Nephi made an important contribution to our understanding of God’s grace when he declared, “We labor diligently … 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.”31
However, I wonder if sometimes we misinterpret the phrase “after all we can do.” We must understand that “after” does not equal “because.”
We are not saved “because” of all that we can do. Have any of us done all that we can do? Does God wait until we’ve expended every effort before He will intervene in our lives with His saving grace?
Many people feel discouraged because they constantly fall short. They know firsthand that “the spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”32 They raise their voices with Nephi in proclaiming, “My soul grieveth because of mine iniquities.”33
I am certain Nephi knew that the Savior’s grace allows and enables us to overcome sin.34 This is why Nephi labored so diligently to persuade his children and brethren“to believe in Christ, and to be reconciled to God.”35
After all, that is what we can do! And that is our task in mortality! (Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)
Grace is a gift from God that we did not earn and that we cannot lose. It is a gift that each of us must choose to accept and use on a daily basis (see Ephesians 2:8).
Dear brothers and sisters, living the gospel faithfully is not a burden. It is a joyful rehearsal—a preparation for inheriting the grand glory of the eternities. We seek to obey our Heavenly Father because our spirits will become more attuned to spiritual things. Vistas are opened that we never knew existed. Enlightenment and understanding come to us when we do the will of the Father.
Grace is a gift of God, and our desire to be obedient to each of God’s commandments is the reaching out of our mortal hand to receive this sacred gift from our Heavenly Father. (Read, watch, or listen to the entire talk.)
“His Grace Is Sufficient,” by Brad Wilcox
“The Atonement: ‘After All We Can Do’,” by Brad Wilcox
Articles of interest related to this post:
- The Gift of Grace, by President Dieter F. Uchtdorf
- Have You Been Saved?, by Elder Dallin H. Oaks
- His Grace is Sufficient, by Brad Wilcox
- “Grace,” lds.org search
- “Grace,” True to the Faith (2004)
- KnoWhy: 2 Nephi 25:4, How Does Nephi Help Us Understand Isaiah?
- KnoWhy: 2 Nephi 25:16, Why Does Nephi Quote a Temple Psalm While Commenting on Isaiah?
- KnoWhy: 2 Nephi 25:26; cited 55 times in General Conference
- KnoWhy: 2 Nephi 26:16; cf. Isaiah 29:4, Why Does Nephi Use Isaiah 29 as Part of His Own Prophesy?
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