Mormonism and Grace
Question: Do Mormons believe in grace? Do they believe that we are saved by grace?
Answer: Mormons speak about grace, but they mean something very different than grace as taught in the Bible. You can get a mixed group of Bible-believing Christians—be they Baptist, Presbyterian, Lutheran, or Pentecostal—and they all teach that grace is unmerited favor. Grace is the favor and love of God to those who in no way merit that favor and love. That's why grace is properly defined as unmerited favor.
Mormon doctrine teaches that grace is given to those who first try their hardest to be good. In 2 Nephi 25:23, the Book of Mormon says:
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.
Writing for the Mormon magazine Ensign, Brigham Young University professor Clyde J. Williams states:
The perfect relationship between the atoning grace of Christ and the obedient efforts of mankind is powerfully stated by Nephi: "We know that it is by grace that we are saved, after all we can do."
In fact, Mormon president and twelfth apostle Spencer W. Kimball actually says that what evangelical Christians believe about grace is a teaching that originated with Satan. In his book The Miracle of Forgiveness, pg. 206, and also cited in The Book of Mormon Student Manual, Kimball writes:
One of the most fallacious doctrines originated by Satan and propounded by man is that man is saved alone by the grace of God; that belief in Jesus Christ alone is all that is needed for salvation.
There are two main problems with the Mormon denial of grace. First, Mormons don't trust the Bible. When it says something they don't believe to be true, they reject the Bible and add their own religious ideas. Salvation by works is a man-centered, man-made view that is virtually the view of all of the world's religions—"Be good and maybe God will save you."
Secondly, Mormons have failed to understand human depravity, and the holiness of God. We are all fallen sinners. There is absolutely nothing that any one of us can do to please God. If we had to be saved by a combination of grace and works, nobody would be saved. The Bible teaches that our best works are as filthy rags, according to Isaiah 64:6. God would never accept "filthy rags" from a Mormon or from anyone else.