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[Karen]
Welcome to I Believe Podcast: Expressions of Faith. We are so glad that you are with us today. The topic for today’s episode is grace. We’ll talk about its power, its beauty, its sufficiency, and how you and I can tap into that grace.

Are you Facing Impossible Rivers to Cross?
We’d like to ask you right out of the shoot, a question to consider. The question is this:

Are you, or is anyone you know, facing anything like this:

…a mountain that seems insurmountable?
…a trial that seems unbearable?
…a relationship that seems irredeemable?
…a guilt that feels unpardonable?
…an addiction that seems unbreakable?
…a river–maybe of loneliness, or grief–that seems uncrossable?
…a goal that seems unreachable?
…a powerlessness that feels intractable?
…a despair that might feel impenetrable?

If so, then we invite you to stay. We are going to speak to a hopeful solution to these today. And maybe it’s by a very act of God’s grace that you’re with us.

Grace: Hurtful Misperceptions Short-Circuit Spiritual Growth

Jesus Christ GraceThat said, I’d like to set this up a little bit, and then introduce you to a special guest. Grace is a significant concept for us to grapple with. Especially if we want to reach our potential and become the person that we’re intended to become through Jesus Christ. Unfortunately, though, as you may know the subject is well-charged and there are lots of hurtful misperceptions and partial truths about grace that can actually short-circuit our development. We’re here to talk about those today.

We’ll address questions like, “What is grace?” “Does it really apply to me?” “What do grace and addiction have to do with each other?” “What’s my part in becoming like Christ? Can I even think about that; is it possible?” “What happens when I fall short and fail?” “Is this really for me?” We’ll talk about those things here. We invite you to join us on Facebook, on Twitter, or ibelievepodcast.com, or to call us at 185-KNOWGOD1 if you have a sincere question, comment, or prayer request.

I would love to introduce to you a very special guest today, Brad Wilcox. Welcome, Brad.

[Brad]
Thank you.

[Karen]
I have admired you for a long time Brad, and have respected you. I’m so glad that Brad is with us today. Brad is a religious educator, and a gospel scholar. He has taught audiences, young and old for years. He has shared insights into the gospel of Jesus Christ. Particularly, Brad has studied the area of grace and the Atonement. One of Brad’s signature works, The Continuous Atonement addresses this topic of grace, spiritual growth, faith, repentance, atonement, in a very graspable, hopeful, and compelling way. We are going to distill some of those insights and Brad’s writings today as we talk. And we will also bring up some additional topics for us to consider. We are thankful that he is here.

Should we just dive in, Brad?

[Brad]
You bet! I’m ready.

Grace As God’s Love Manifest in Divine Help, & in the Enabling Power of Jesus Christ

[Karen]
Let’s just first start with the working definition of grace. And we’ll expound on that as we go.

[Brad]
I’ve found it helpful when I’ve come across “grace” in the scriptures or in conversation to kind of replace it with a few other terms. These can be terms that I literally put in place of the word “grace,” or mentally, to kind of help remind myself what we’re talking about. But the two phrases I like to use are “enabling power.” The grace of Jesus Christ is the “enabling power” of Jesus Christ. Or another phrase that is helpful is “divine help.” The grace of Christ, the “divine help” that is available to us through Jesus Christ. And that helps me to kind of remember exactly what we’re talking about when so many people use the term, and they use it often thinking of many different things.

[Karen]
Thank you. That’s great. We’ll try and do that as we’re talking today. And we invite our listeners to do that, too–to think of those terms. You know, sometimes it’s easy to get your mind wrapped around a subject intellectually. And what we hope for our audience is that this will penetrate far more than just through the intellect. And I think this helps us when we have these working definitions that aren’t rote that we can consider. We invite you to really contemplate what this means and how this can apply in your life, and not just intellectually in regard to the idea of grace.

I like what Berkhof said: “Grace is the unmerited operation of God in the heart of man, effected through the agency of the Holy Spirit” (L. Berkhof, Systematic Theology, p. 427).  I think you have encapsulated it well. So the enabling power, and divine help, that comes through Jesus Christ to us. When our eyes are open to it, it’s all around us, but we have to cultivate an ability to see it. Don’t you think?

[Brad]
Yeah, I think in the definition that you just gave, it’s important to remember that it is unearned. It’s not deserved. It is born of love. The love of God. The love of Jesus Christ. And I also like that you say that the messenger of grace is the Holy Ghost. Now that is a lot to take in. So again, if it gets a little too complicated, go back to the phrases “enabling power,” go back to the phrase “divine help.” I think that keeps it very simple and straightforward.

What Is the Atonement of Jesus Christ?

[Karen]
That’s perfect. Thank you. Since God’s grace, His enabling power, and divine help, flow through God’s love, and that is manifest through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and considering that our audience spans the spectrum–from agnostic to believer, from Eastern to Western practicer or adherent of a faith–perhaps it would serve us well to address the question right now “What is the Atonement through which this enabling power comes?” “What is the Atonement of Jesus Christ, and what does it offer us?” Can you address that succinctly?

[Brad]
Yes. Again, that’s a word and a topic that whole volumes have been written. But succinctly, I think it’s important for us to remember that when we’re talking about the Atonement, we’re talking about the suffering of Jesus Christ in the Garden of Gethsemane, on the cross, that in those moments he was able to take upon Himself our sins, our mistakes, and even our infirmities–our sicknesses, our hurts, our pain. We don’t exactly know how Jesus was capable of doing this because we are coming at this from the perspective of humans. But we have to remember that Jesus was the Son of God, that He had power that we don’t understand. …And that He was able to feel those things so personally so that then He would be in a position to help us.

The Atonement & the Resurrection; The Atonement & Consolation

Now many people think of the Atonement as just having to do with the Resurrection, the empty tomb, that because of Jesus we will live again. But here’s the thing: The Atonement has to be broader than just life after death. Some people find great comfort in the Atonement knowing that Jesus suffered these same feelings so that they’re not alone in their suffering. And that’s a beautiful concept, but again, if it’s just about consolation, why do we have to go through trials in the first place? Why do we have to go through pains and sicknesses if it’s just about pain and consolation?

The Atonement & Transformation

As beautiful as those aspects of the Atonement are, we have to be able to step back and see one more aspect, and that is the transforming power of the Atonement because Jesus was willing to vicariously take upon Him our sins, then we can be forgiven. Not only can we be forgiven, but we can be changed. So the question comes, “Why did we live? Why do we have to go through trials?” Because as we go through that, we can be transformed, we can be made better. And that gives an overarching purpose to Christ’s suffering. One friend of mine says that it’s not just about Christ doing a favor for us, and opening the door of heaven; it’s about Christ investing in us and helping us to become heavenly. I think that is an important concept that we can’t overlook.

[Karen]
Thank you for sharing that. Again, we want to witness to those watching that we believe that, and we know that’s true, that the Atonement really did take place. It implies more than just the resurrection. It implies that the Savior loved us enough to suffer for us so that he could be in a position to provide what we need, that we may be able to become like Him.

[Brad]
Yes. The Atonement is not just about the hereafter. It’s a real power in our lives here and now, not just after we die.

Jesus Provides for Us Daily: The Riches of His Grace & Our Inheritance

[Karen]
I think that, because Jesus was and is the intended sacrifice provided for us, He can now stand as Provider of all that we need. Supplying the grace that we’ll talk about, the “enabling power.” We’re going to explore that now. That’s necessary for us to be transformed. In fact, what comes to mind is the scripture in Ephesians where we’re told that we have the riches of His inheritance as a result of His sacrifice (Ephesians 3:8). We can tap into that. In fact, the more we avail ourselves of the gifts of the Atonement, the more we can tap into that. One writer said that He doesn’t give it to us all at once, as if we had a checkbook that we could draw from everyday, and constantly draw on the power, the strength, and the gifts that He gives us as a result of that Atonement.

[Brad]
One clever saying, or acronym, is G.R.A.C.E.: “God’s, Riches, at, Christ’s, Expense.” G.R.A.C.E. And it is clever, but you have to stop and think that a wise Father is not going to give a son’s inheritance all at once. A wise Father is not just about giving us His riches, it’s about preparing us to receive them. That’s a whole different thing. A rich man can die, and a guy could be told that he inherited everything. Well, we’ve seen people in those situations and they blow it. They blow everything. Here they were just given everything on a silver platter, and because it came on a silver platter they just blow it. Jesus’ intent isn’t just about giving us riches on a silver platter. But helping us to become enriched ourselves so that we know how to wisely use this incredible gift that he’s given us.

[Karen]
And that is the purpose of the gifts He us, or of the quality that will transform us on a daily basis. Let’s talk about that because there are a couple of common misconceptions about the Atonement and grace that can halt our progress and our hope for change. One of them is that we earn the Atonement’s blessings of forgiveness and/or that we need to pay back God for this gift. The second is that we have to be perfect before we qualify for grace. So let’s talk about the first one. Will you share with our audience here, Brad, your thoughts on this; including your thoughts on both the completeness of the Atonement and the analogy of the child taking piano lessons.

Misconceptions About the Grace of Jesus Christ: Earning Heaven or Learning Heaven

[Brad]
You know, I think you do hear many people say that they need to earn their way into heaven. I think that’s a misconception in that we are not earning our way to heaven, as much as we’re learning to be heavenly. We’re not trying to impress God with our sacrifices. Rather, we’re trying to let God’s sacrifices, and the sacrifice of His son be a little bit more impressed upon us. But then people say that means you don’t have to do anything; but no, there is plenty to do, but it is for a different reason. We’re not paying a debt, we’re not paying rent, it’s more like using the payment that’s already been made.

Piano Lessons’ Analogy of Grace: Jesus Desires Practice Not Payback

The analogy I use often, especially when I’m speaking to the youth, is a mother who pays for piano lessons. I ask how many of them know what I’m talking about. And all of Grace & Piano Lesson Analogyteenagers raise their hands because mom has paid for piano lessons. Then I say, because mom has paid for the piano lessons, she can then turn to you and require something. Not just ask something, but require it and command it. And what is it? Well, practice.

Now does the child’s practice pay the piano teacher? No. Does the child’s practice pay mom back for paying the piano teacher? No. So what does the child’s practice do? The child’s practicing is how the child thanks mom for this incredible opportunity. And it’s how the child uses this wonderful chance that mom is giving him to live his life on a higher plane. Now the kid may not see it. Just like many children, “Oh, why do I have to practice? This is stupid. Nobody else has to practice. And I just want to be a professional baseball player anyway.” So the child that is expressing that is simply not seeing through mom’s eyes. He doesn’t realize how much better his life would be if he’ll take this great chance to step up to a higher plane. Now, he doesn’t realize that.

Christ’s Atonement Covers the Whole Debt:  It’s Paid in Full

So let’s put that in terms of Jesus’ relationship with us. Justice requires perfection, or a punishment if perfection is not obtained. Jesus took the punishment. He paid our debt to justice. He paid that debt, and paid it in full. He didn’t pay it all except for a few coins, He paid it all. And because He did, then He can now turn to us, just like the mother in the analogy, He can turn to us with a different arrangement. He can expect eventual perfection, and He can be willing to help us practice, practice, practice; learn, learn, learn–as long as that perfecting process takes. So Jesus turns to us and says, “If ye love me, keep my commandment” (Holy Bible, John 14:15). He turns to us and says, “Come follow me” (Matthew 4:19). But He is not asking for immediate perfection, He is simply saying, “This is how you practice. This is how you use my gift so that you can actually become better. This is how you can lift yourself to a higher plane, and allow Me to help you in that process.”

The Continuous Atonement: Perfection Is a Process, Not an Event

[Karen]
And I think that brings up a couple of things to me. The idea of perfection, number one that you’ve raised, the idea of not earning the Atonement is second, but the third is what you just said about not having to do it all at once.

Extreme Views of Grace: Believe & Do Nothing: Or: “I’ve Got to Do It All Myself”

I guess there are two extremes there: Some people would say–if we use the piano metaphor, for example–“All I have to do, I thought, is sit and believe. I just look at the piano and look at my hands, and I can play Mozart tomorrow! That should work,” and it doesn’t work; the Lord does something to allow us to become the pianist he intends.  He wants faith and repentance; He wants practice.

The other extreme would be to say, “Well, I have to learn how to play, but I don’t have a teacher, I can’t use a metronome, and I can’t use the pedals, and I don’t have a score!” And that’s to do it all on our own. I think both extremes are wrong, is what I hear you saying, number one.

Satan’s Lie: “If We’re Not Perfect, We’re Failing.”

And secondly, and related to that is the idea we have to be perfect right away. I think that’s one of Satan’s biggest card tricks–it’s if we’re not perfect we failed. I think we have to be able to recognize that as His tactic in order to overcome it, and see, as you’re saying, that that’s a process. Repentance and this whole enabling power of the Atonement is a developmental process to help us in order to become like Him.

Pre-Qualifying or Thinking We’re “Not Worthy of Grace,” “Not Worthy to Pray”

[Brad]
Yes, Karen, if you stop to think about it there are so many people who say “I’m not worthy, I’m not worthy.” I hear it all the time, I hear it from young people. “Oh, I’m not worthy to pray. Oh, I’m not worthy to go to church. I’m not good enough to do that. I’m not worthy.” We have to remember that Christ and His grace are not waiting for us like some light at the end of the tunnel, waiting for us to get our acts together, and break all of our bad habits, and to be perfect so that we can finally go to Him. No, Christ and His grace are surrounding us right here and now. It’s the light that comes and helps us through the tunnel. It’s not waiting for us at the end; it’s what helps us through. “I’m not worthy to pray”?

We don’t pray because we’re worthy, we pray because we need help. We go to church because we’re willing to be perfected. We don’t partake of the Sacrament or the Lord’s Supper because we’re perfect, but because we’re willing to jump into that process.

[Karen]
I love that. And in fact, as I thought about the Sacrament, I was thinking that we offer a broken heart and contrite spirit, which to me says in a really practical way, “I recognize my insufficiency.” It says, “I can’t do this all on my own,” and we’re in a do-it-yourself culture (We’ll talk about that a little later), but I think that we’re so used to thinking that I should be able to do this all myself. But the broken heart itself means, “You know what? I’m not sufficient on my own, and so I bring that insufficiency to the altar.” Jesus Christ promises His grace in return, His enabling power, so then together we cooperate and we can become who were intended.

[Brad]
One of my favorite titles for Christ is “Emmanuel.” “O come, o come Emmanuel, and ransom captive Israel.” I love the title, and we’re told right in scripture what it means: “God with us.” It’s not about a ratio of what Jesus did and now what I have to do; it’s about a relationship. And as we look at this relationship, then we realize that we can do what He asks us to do: practice.

Cheap Grace

See, some people, like you were saying, they say, “Oh, well, I just have to believe and then everything’s fine, I’m saved by grace.” And so they cheapen grace by saying that they don’t have to do anything. And again, grace is an unearned gift, but Jesus does require faith, repentance, covenants, the Holy Ghost–those are requirements because that’s how we practice. If He didn’t require faith and repentance, there would be no desire to change. And you look at how many millions of people out there who have given up faith and given up repentance, they don’t desire to change. Why? Why change? God–if there’s a God–He can accept me just the way I am. If Christ doesn’t require covenants, baptism, and the gift of the Holy Ghost, there’s no way to change, there’s no power to change. And if He doesn’t require us to endure to the end, then there’s no way to really internalize those changes over time and become more like Him.

[Karen]
That’s perfect, thank you. And you’re right, there are people who don’t wish to repent because they may want out of their misery, but they don’t want to follow the Lord. (They want a Savior but not a Lord.) And that’s a whole different topic.

Reincarnation, Karma, & the Atonement of Jesus Christ

So, Brad, we were talking about not earning the Atonement, and we have some people who are listening who may be Buddhist, Hindu, or of another religion where they feel that they continually have to come back and perhaps pay for something they’ve done in a previous life, that they’re maybe not even aware of. Can you speak to that just briefly?

[Brad]
I think that their understanding that there are consequences for sin is a very real truth. But, sometimes they view it in an incomplete way, because without Christ they continually feel upon their shoulders the burden of paying for mistakes and paying for sins, in this life or in the next life. What I hope they will realize is that the truth they have can be expanded and broadened so that they understand that Jesus has already paid for those sins, and that Jesus has already taken upon Him those mistakes, and that with Jesus they can be made better.

[Karen]
Thank you, that’s perfect. I add my witness to that, that it’s an infinite Atonement; therefore, we don’t have to pay infinitely ourselves through many lives, but rather He paid infinitely for us. I think that is powerful to know, and we witness to those listening, that we don’t need to be reincarnated or morphed into someone else. Our identity is eternal, and the payment for those wrongdoings and sins has been paid in full by Jesus Christ. And that’s a completely different world view; we witness that that is the case. Thank you for sharing that.

Jesus Christ: Savior & Redeemer

Speaking of the Savior and Redeemer, you mentioned in The Continuous Atonement that you learned and you this insight about the difference between Jesus as Savior and Jesus as Redeemer. I think you just touched on that, in one sense, but I think there are other pairs of words like that that help us to see the Savior not only paid for our sins but is wanting to change us. I think a couple phrases come to mind.

[Brad]
Well, think about Savior and Redeemer. For many years I grew up thinking that those were synonyms. That Savior meant Redeemer and Redeemer meant Savior, and I just didn’t quite grasp the difference. But as I started learning more about redemption, which is more than just buying back or renewing us to where we were before, kind of getting back to the starting line, but there’s actually a dictionary definition that says “to make better.” It’s one of many definitions of redemption, but it is what actually gives meaning to all the others, because if you start seeing redemption as just getting back to the starting line, that’s a lot of journeying to just get back to where we were. It’s not about getting back to where we were as much as it is about getting back to where were, better. That’s why we can love the Savior for saving us, but not stopping there.

[Karen]
Thank you, I love that. And I think there are other phrases that in the scriptures that remind us of that. We can be free from the presence of sin, that’s justification or the same thing as the Savior saving us from that sin, but also from the desire to sin, which is that enabling power that changes our dispositions so we don’t have that desire.

[Brad]
Or what some people call “sanctification.”

Justification and Sanctification: Clean Hands and a Pure Heart

[Karen]
That’s exactly what I was going to say, “justification and sanctification,” exactly. So the scriptures talk about those processes, but sometimes we don’t internalize the second half of that process. It’s clean hands and a pure heart.

[Brad]
Exactly, and those are another pairing of words that are often familiar to us, but we need to realize that Jesus makes both possible–the clean hands and the pure heart.

Willpower vs. the Enabling Power of Jesus Christ

[Karen]
Wonderful. I think that’s helpful as we think about it that way. This applies to bigger sins, not just to “little sins,” all sins require the atoning blood of Christ. So, let’s look at people who have addictions, that have struggled and fallen and that are struggling out there maybe right now with us today, Brad, and they wonder if they can really change. Can you talk for just a second about willpower versus the enabling power of Jesus Christ?

[Brad]
I think sometimes, going back to our piano analogy, I think sometimes people think “Okay, I’ve got to be playing in Carnegie Hall or I’m just giving up, I can’t do this.” That’s not the way this game is played. A pianist has a lot of things that go one between starting piano and playing in Carnegie Hall. I think we have to start realizing that this is a long process. When a child hits a wrong note, we don’t say, “You’re not worthy to practice the piano. You’ve blown it.” No, that’s part of the learning process. Now, it’s easy to see that when we’re talking about learning piano, but it’s hard to see that when we’re talking about learning heaven. We get so down on ourselves.

Giving Up on God, Church Because We’ve Tried to Reach the Goal on Our Own & Failed

We say, “I’ll never do it again,” and then we do it. “But, I will never do it again,” and then we do it. “Well, for real, this time I’m absolutely sure, I will never do it again!” and then we do it. And finally, we finally just give up. There are a lot of people who say, “I’m spiritual without being religious.” But what they’re really saying is, “I have a desire to please God, I have a desire to love God, but I can’t do this! I can’t do all these commandments. I try and I fail, and I try and I fail, and it’s just getting me discouraged.” And so then they think the answer is just to give up on piano completely. Instead, we have to say the answer is to look for help. Instead of looking down in shame, we have to be able to look up in hope. We have to be able to start reaching up. Instead of shaking an angry fist at heaven and saying, “Why me!? Why this addiction!? Why do I have to face this!?” We need to open our hand, and extend an open hand ready to receive help.

Now you mentioned willpower and God’s power, and I should get to that, I’m sorry.

[Karen]
No, you’re great, but just right there when you said that it reminded me of what Gerald May said who said “When we’re most vulnerable, wounded and weak, where our personal power seems most defeated, that’s where we have the greatest opportunity to step out in faith and reach up” (Grace and Addiction, 1998, San Francisco, Harper p. 128),  which is exactly what you said. Go ahead, continue.

[Brad]
I think sometimes we think we have to do it alone, and we say–well, you know, we all have grown up hearing “where there’s a will there’s a way.” Well, my last name is “Wilcox,” but my mom always said, “where there’s a Wilcox there’s a way.”

[Karen]
A double-whammy!

Willpower vs. God’s Power: Gas Station Analogy

[Brad]
Yeah! But the older I get, the more experience I have, I think it’s not true. All the will and Wilcox’s in the world just don’t cut it. We have to be able to turn to His power, not willpower, but His power. Well how, how do I do that? We access that power through covenant. We access that power by being able to build a relationship with him. When I talk to young people I often compare a covenant to a cross-country trip and to getting gas. I say, alright, perfection is a journey, conversion is a journey–we’re talking about a long-term trip here, long cross-country trip. So, a covenant is when I promise that I will stop for gas and I’ll keep going, and God promises that He’ll fill my tank. So if I promise to keep trying, and I promise to keep going, then He promises to fill my tank. And in that way, that cross-country trip is doable.

[Karen]
I love that.

[Brad]
One girl said to me, “I know the Atonement’s there; I know that Jesus’s help is there, but my goal is to never use it.” Now, I know what she’s saying, she’s saying, “I know that Jesus’ forgiveness is there, and I hope I never sin so that I don’t have to ask for His forgiveness.” I mean, I know where she’s coming from. But in my mind it sounded like a girl striking out on a cross-country trip saying, “I know the gas station’s there, but my goal is to never use it.” It just is a little unrealistic.

[Karen]
I think that’s a great metaphor as well, I really, really do. I think what you’re saying is so true about that fact that we’re sometimes culturally indoctrinated into thinking we can do it ourselves, it’s something we have to overcome generally speaking. I mean everything we read is–I remember the 90’s titles: “How to get control of your spouse,” How to Get Control of the Boardroom,” “How to Get Control of your Kids”–and we have this sort of Tower-of-Babel if-we-can-engineer-it-ourselves kind of syndrome. I think, like you said, if we do that we–

[Brad]
Well, it’s in our heritage! “Pull yourself up by your bootstraps!” “Meet God halfway” “God helps those who help themselves.”

[Karen]
And the antidote to that is humility and prayer, recognizing our insufficiency and, like you said, letting those fists turn open so we can receive the grace that God has for us at the filling stations. And I find in my own life, I have to say, that the Lord always brings me to a posture of dependence over and over again. You and I talked about that before, and I believe that.

[Brad]
He reminds us now and then that our tank is getting close to empty. Yeah.

[Karen]
Yes! Yes. And I think it’s a good thing because that’s when we come to Him. That’s when we feel His supernatural power, and His love, and His presence, and that’s how we come to know Him. The goal is to come to know Him and become like Him. So I’ve come to appreciate being in that posture of dependence a little more than I used to, and I think that He sometimes allows trials to come at an alarming speed or level because that’s what it takes for some of us to get to the end of ourselves, to say, “I need Thee.”

For example: The Apostles on the Sea of Galilee; they had toiled, and toiled, and toiled, and toiled, and they probably thought, “Well this is my profession.  I’ve done this before, I’ve been through storms, I can handle this…”

[Brad]
I can do this.

[Karen]
I can do this! You know, we’re not going to ask for direction until we’re lost, kind of a thing, you know, really lost!

[Brad]
Men don’t even do it then!

[Karen]
That’s awesome, and so we’re going to perish, right? And that’s what happens. I wonder what would happen, if before we go through our whole list of contacts, we went to Him. And the Lord certainly wants us to use the talents and resources that we have at our disposal, but at the same time, all through that process He is wanting us to reach out to Him as well. It’s not intended for us to wait until we get to the end of that, and getting to the end of our self-sufficiency, but I think that happens. And I think we need to be culturally and spiritually aware that there is a cultural bias that way that we have to kind of fight. And then like you said, be willing to be fueled along the way through Christ’s grace.

[Karen]
I think that’s so true. I think that we all need to be reminded that we are not autonomous. Even when we’re not sailing rough seas, even in very ordinary days, He has given me breath, He has given me everything I have to function. I think we are very dependant. And if we lack all of that hold, then we can receive grace. If we ask for it, we can receive that grace. So for those that are out there struggling right now, we hope that you’ll avail yourself and go to the Lord–no matter how many times it is that you have fallen, go and ask Him today for the grace to succeed. We do know that His reach is infinite and deep, so He can reach through those walls of self will and of habit. And we all know stories, I know a guy that had substance abuse issues. One day he hit rock bottom and he knelt and he prayed and he felt that transforming power of grace. And does he have to stay vigilant? Absolutely!

[Brad]
And does it take time? Yes!

[Karen]
Yes! He did relapse once, but he is on the path. For those that are listening and are wondering how you take the next steps if you are feeling that call to know Him better, and to partake of the ordinances and covenants that you talked about earlier, there really is a process that the Savior has provided the way. There is the process of baptism, receiving the Holy Ghost, and other ordinances.

[Brad]
Yes. He hasn’t sent us on a journey without gas stations along the way.

[Karen]
Exactly. So if you would like to know where those gas stations are, and who has the authority to run them and pump them, then please contact us on our site.

To Arielle: Lion of God: Come Boldly to the Throne of Grace

Well you know, there is somebody that is listening that I wanted to refer to for just a minute. Her name is Arielle. And Arielle, I just wanted to say a word to you. As I have thought about you and prayed about you–your situation, your hopefulness and your desires–I had this inclination to do something that I don’t usually do, and that was to look up your name. And your name means, “a lion of God.” I love that. And I thought immediately of the scripture in Hebrews 4:16 that says “come boldly to the throne of grace.” And Arielle, I think that may be a message for you today–to come boldly to the throne of grace to begin the process and to continue on the path. And we’re here to support you.

And maybe it is an act of grace that I even came to know about you through a dear friend of mine who loves you enough that it came up in conversation. So I feel God’s awareness of you today. And we pray that your desires might be met in Jesus Christ. Also as I thought of you the scripture in Philippians 1:6 where it says that He has begun a work in us, and will finish that work in us. And that reminded me of a statement that you made about the Savior being the Author and Finisher of our faith–[another word pair signifying both parts of the Atonement that opened to me as I prepared for this very cast ] (Hebrews 12:2).

[Brad]
Yes, yes!

[Karen]
And that’s another one of those situations where He begins the process but He also will be with us through the whole process until completion.

The Finisher’s Touch

[Brad]
Grace isn’t… And I will say this to you Karen, and I will say this to Arielle. I didn’t even know about her until you just mentioned this now. But grace isn’t the finishing touch, you know, after we have done everything we can. Grace is the Finisher’s touch throughout that entire process.

[Karen]
That’s beautiful Brad. That is beautiful and true, Arielle. And that was for you and for all of us because we are all dependent. You know, each of us has addictions is some ways–not just the big substance abuse addictions. We can be addicted to financial security, or the ding on our car, security, image….

[Brad]
Yeah, but don’t talk about overeating because that gets a little too close to home.

[Karen]
That was one of mine too, and I didn’t overcome it.

[Brad]
We’re in the process, Karen. We’re in the process.

[Karen]
And it wasn’t willpower that changed my desires there, I can testify to that.

[Brad]
I mean, how many years have we turned to will power for that one? And it doesn’t fly.

[Karen]
It doesn’t cut it, does it?

[Brad]
We’ve got to make it a spiritual journey.

[Karen]
It’s true, and for me that really was the case, Brad, for a number of years 30 years ago that was my issue, and I learned how the Lord changed my desires. So you’re exactly right.

Well, as we wrap this up, this has been wonderful to speak with you. I just wanted to come back again to the beginning where we started, which was with all those bridges that seemed uncrossable, and rivers to cross. And I hope now that you feel and think differently, I’m speaking to our audience who’ve listened, about your potential, about the Savior’s extended arms. When we extend our arms to a child, we don’t expect them to reach up to us, we stoop down and reach them, and we pick them up and lift them. And the Savior’s arms are outstretched as well.

But I’d like to close with a verse that I think ties together what we started with at the beginning, and how you’re adversity is crossable through Jesus Christ–and how, [through His grace and His atonement, and the Father’s love, it will be transforming].

Have you come to the Red Sea place in your life
Where in spite of all you can do
There is no way out, there is no way back
The only way out is through?

Then wait on the Lord, with a trust serene
‘Til the night of your fear is gone,
He will send the wind, He will heap the floods
When He says to your soul, move on.

His hand will lead you through, clear through
‘Ere the watery waters roll down
No foe can reach you, no wave can touch
No mighty sea can drown.

The tossing billows may rear their crests,
Their foam at your feet may break,
But o’er the sea bed you’ll walk dry ground
On a path that your Lord will make.

In the morning watch, ‘neath a lifted cloud
You will see the Lord alone
When He leads you on from the place of the sea
To a land you have not known.

And your fears will pass and your foes will pass
And you will be no more afraid
You will sing of His praise to a better place
In a land His hands have made.

Annie Johnson Flint

I want to close with the fact that the river is crossable, that you’re facing, and you will be changed and lifted through it by virtue of the Atonement of Jesus Christ. And I add  Brad’s words, “The Atonement never expires.” I love that, that he said, and that means that God’s grace will never run out.

Again, we invite you to continue in His grace, and to contact us and let us know if this has helped you or can help a friend. God bless you in your spiritual journey, and thanks for being with us.

Thanks so much, Brad.

[Brad]
Thank you.

 

Additional Episodes of I Believe Podcast:

When Your Prayers Seem Unanswered: Special Guest S. Michael Wilcox

God Has the Bigger Picture

Finding Peace and Stillness Through Jesus Christ

 

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About karenrose
Living out a great season of my life, thanks to Jesus Christ, and two wonderful daughters, a great life's work. Loving this opportunity to share faith online... I'm a single Mom, convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, second-gen Italian, from the East coast originally. Love the fine arts, dance, frozen yogurt, temples, scriptures, writing, jazz, helping others reach their potential, king salmon, ....and not in that order. God is good. I feel it deeply when people have a misconception of Heavenly Father or Jesus Christ, His Son, that lessens or cheapens Them and blinds one's ability to feel His presence or to trust in an ultimately good eternal end to life's circumstances.

2 Responses to “Changed by Grace: Discussion with Brad Wilcox [Video & Transcript]”

  1. Gloria Pratt 2 years ago

    I have been blessed by this podcast. My understanding of God’s grace has been broadened and clarified in many ways. Thank you both!

  2. Lex Mullis 5 months ago

    Thank you for sharing this website with me today! (we met at Blendtec)This topic of Grace has been made a lot more clear, thanks to this podcast. Thank you!

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