As I have considered the miracle of the loaves, the thought came to me that Jesus Christ was the sole provider of the bread. All were dependent on him for the bread they needed. There was a lad who brought 5 loaves and 2 fish, but in the Book of Mormon there was another miracle of the loaves where no one else brought any bread.
Now, there had been no bread, neither wine, brought by the disciples, neither by the multitude; But he truly gave unto them bread to eat, and also wine to drink. 3 Nephi 20:6-7
Ultimately Jesus Christ is the Light and the Life of the world, nothing on his planet would exist were it not for him. We are dependent on the as the sole provider for our lives and all that we need. He was the sole provider of the bread, so is the sole provider of our salvation. Our efforts to be obedient do not merit salvation, any more than our efforts to grow a garden earn the blessing of sunshine. The sunshine is a gift that the gardener cannot take any credit for, and yet without it his efforts to grow a garden would do produce nothing.
Even though it is through the grace of God that we are saved, it is important that we obey God’s commandments, for no unclean thing can dwell in the presence of God. (1 Nephi 15:34) So, if we continue to make choices that are not in harmony with God’s will, then we will remain unclean, even though the Savior is offering to cleanse us with through his grace. As Amulek taught us in the Book of Mormon:
And I say unto you again that he cannot save them in their sins; for I cannot deny his word, and he hath said that no unclean thing can inherit the kingdom of heaven; therefore, how can ye be saved, except ye inherit the kingdom of heaven? Therefore, ye cannot be saved in your sins. Alma 11:37
I think sometimes I have thought of the judgement day as a day when God looks at a tally sheet, and counts how many good things I have done vs how many bad things I have done. Somehow in my mind I think because I don’t smoke, I live the law of chastity, I go to church and pay my tithing, and I have a temple recommend, I am more worthy and deserving of salvation than those who are not obeying these commandments. WRONG! We are all equally in need to the grace of Jesus Christ to redeem us, not one of us are entitled to it. We are all unprofitable servants and beggars before God. Jesus Christ is the sole provider of the Bread of Life, the mercy that we need to be forgiven. Our obedience is our best effort to accept his invitation to follow him. It is also through his grace that our hearts can change, we can become like him. As we are obedient, we still need to his grace to help us overcome the natural man and truly be born again. Our obedience is essential because no unclean thing can dwell in the kingdom of God, we cannot continue to sin against the light and truth God has given to us and expect Christ to save us in our sins. He has already paid the price for our redemption, now we need to work at yielding our will to his and becoming like him.
With the ‘tally sheet’ paradigm, it is easy for the Adversary to slip in the rationalization, “This one time won’t hurt.” We become confident that we have been good for so long, our “good” tally marks are way ahead of our “bad” tally marks, so why not indulge in a little sin? “What could it hurt, see how good I have been?” Or, sometimes a person may feel they are so far behind on the tally sheet, they can never catch up and be good enough. “Why bother even trying to do the right thing, I am hopeless!” is a common, despairing thought. Actually, I think if there were such a tally sheet, we would all be in a hopeless state. We can never catch up and pay God back for his countless mercies. He is merciful to us, not because we are good, but because he is good.
Below are some links to two very good talks on grace. I highly recommend watching and studying these for further insights on God’s grace and mercy. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
President Dieter Uchtdorf, April 2015, The Gift of Grace