**Answer by Cheryl
We do. But not in the way it is sometimes described.
The idea of simply acknowledging Jesus Christ as one’s Savior is sometimes seen as enough to be “saved” in the Kingdom of God. Paul, in Acts 16:30-31, tells a man, who has asked what to do to be saved:
Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.
Sounds simple, right? And yet, there is so much more. If we read in James 2, we learn that we cannot be saved through faith alone:
Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone…But wilt thou know, O vain man, that faith without works is dead?
So, where is the line? Mormons believe it is found through the Atonement of Jesus Christ. Grace is defined as “the help or strength given through the Atonement of Jesus Christ.” This help or strength can be accessed in our lives now, and is necessary for any eternal blessings we can and will receive. For example, it is through the Atonement of Christ that we will all be resurrected, having our spirits reunited with a body that will be immortal, never to die again. In that sense, we will all be saved from physical death. Resurrection, the gift of immortality, is a gift freely given through the Savior’s Atonement and grace.
We can also be saved from sin (which we sometimes call spiritual death) through the Atonement of Christ, but this element of “being saved” requires us to do something. All sin must be paid for in order to make the blessing of eternal life — the highest blessing we can receive from God — possible. Eternal life is reserved for those who overcome spiritual death by obeying the gospel of Jesus Christ. The Savior has suffered for our sins; He has made it possible for us to partake of mercy. But justice cannot be satisfied by the Savior if we don’t do our part. Simply put, we can’t rely only on grace. God has given laws and ordinances that we are asked to accept and obey to fully access the cleansing, enabling power of the Savior’s Atonement and His mercy and grace.
What does He ask of us? Christ asks us to have faith in Him and believe, but then He asks us to repent of our sins, and enter into covenants through authorized priesthood ordinances. We need to strive to live as He lived — to forgive, live a charitable life, keep God’s commandments, follow Christ’s teachings. Then, after we have done everything we can — knowing full well that we will come up short, since we are mortal, imperfect, and in need of intercession — Christ’s Atonement will make up the difference. Our works aren’t a matter of trying to be perfect through action; they are more of a matter of having a willing heart and trying our best. As we choose to give our heart to Him, even as we stumble and fail at times, God promises to keep us clean from sin, and to also help change our hearts through the Atonement, enabling us through grace to be more like Him.
I often tell my piano students that anything worth having in this life (or the next!) takes hard work. It truly does! Think about it for a moment. In order to get good grades in school, it takes study, preparation, and diligence. If one wants to become proficient at playing a sport, they must take care of their bodies, attend practices, get along well with teammates, and be on time! To learn a musical instrument, it takes dedication and lots (and lots and lots and lots) of practice. The same goes for relationships: marriage takes work. Being a good parent takes work. All of these things take work –but they are all worth it. The payoff comes in scholarships to college, athletic ability, the joy of being able to perform and share music, fulfilling/meaningful relationships.
Progression toward eternal life also requires hard work and practice. It takes dedication to covenants and endurance through trials. We call this enduring to the end. And even though hard work alone won’t save us, doing what God has commanded to come to Christ (faith, repentance, baptism by water and by fire, obedience to commandments, Christlike living) brings great blessings available through the grace of the Atonement. We can have comfort and peace, knowledge and strength — and in the end, we can have the most glorious reward there is: exaltation, or life with God forever in eternal families.
It is my belief and sincere testimony that Jesus Christ knows and loves us –and loves us enough to know what we need in order fully access His grace. Accepting Him is vitally important, yes; but we also are invited to demonstrate our devotion to Him and to Heavenly Father by how we live our lives —by our works and desires.
The following is a fabulous video that came to mind as I was pondering this topic; to me, it gives a better understanding of how the Atonement of Jesus Christ works in our lives.
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