Grace for Grace…
How often in life have we found ourselves wishing and hoping that we could possess things beyond our earning, or know beyond our learning the events which are to come? Is this daily, weekly, or simply when we are frustrated that events and circumstances are not cooperating with our personal aspirations or timetables? I have held and stared in the eyes of many infants, newborn to the world, in wonder of what they know and what they see, but by the time they are toddling and struggling for independent mobility and to communicate their desires, it is clear that they learn and receive from life little by little and from day to day. Reasoned truth, real truth, tells us that the old scriptural adage prescribing “milk before meat” (1 Corinthians 3:2) is sure. We must crawl before walking, walk before we run, learn ABC or 1,2,3 before we can write a book or build a city. As impatient as we may become with this process, this is how it was meant to be, as even the Son of God endured this often painful journey.
I am certain that Mary and Joseph wondered as they looked into the eyes of the newborn Savior what He knew and of what He was aware, even in infancy. He was in the flesh the literal Son of God, in possession of greater divinity. It would make sense that He would have a greater advantage than His brothers and sisters, the other spirit children of Father in Heaven. Nevertheless, we know that He grew and learned much as do we all. In Luke 2:52 it is recorded of His growth, progression and learning, “And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.”
John knew the Redeemer, and that He learned from childhood in steps and by process. John was sent to testify of the Christ, before and after Jesus received a fullness of His divine potential, His full preparation for the infinite and saving mission He had come to earth to fulfill. “And I, John, saw that He received not of the fulness at the first, but received grace for grace; And He received not of the fulness at first, but continued from grace to grace, until He received a fulness; And thus He was called the Son of God, because He received not of the fulness at the first” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:12-14).
When Jesus came unto His own John bore record, “…and lo, the heavens were opened, and the Holy Ghost descended upon Him in the form of a dove, and sat upon Him, and there came a voice out of heaven saying: This is my beloved Son. And I, John, bear record that He received a fulness of the glory of the Father; And He received all power, both in heaven and on earth, and the glory of the Father was with Him, for He dwelt in Him” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:15-17).
In like manner we are gifted to learn and to grow, to progress and gain understanding in steps and paces, not altogether being born with complete knowledge of truth and in full possession of gifts and skills. In Isaiah of the Old Testament we read, “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts. For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little” (Isaiah 28:9-10).
I believe that like Jesus we came here to life on earth having lived and learned somewhat before as spirit children of our Heavenly Father. Our new awakening in mortality was necessary for our continued progression, as we needed to inherit a body and more fully understand and learn what it is to be a child of God, more than we could learn as spirit only. When the light of day first struck our infant eyes and we became living souls, there was already light and knowledge contained therein, experienced before and inherited by birth as sons and daughters of God.
Our learning of truth did not begin with our mortal birth, nor does it end upon our burial in the earth. Our education as children of our loving Father, or eternal progression if you will, was and is offered grace for grace, line upon line, precept upon precept. The Prophet Joseph Smith taught, “When you climb up a ladder, you must begin at the bottom, and ascend step by step, until you arrive at the top; and so it is with the principles of the gospel—you must begin with the first, and go on until you learn all the principles of exaltation. But it will be a great while after you have passed through the veil before you will have learned them. It is not all to be comprehended in this world; it will be a great work to learn our salvation and exaltation even beyond the grave.”
When we exercise patience and endurance, a willingness to listen, work, and to learn by steps and by process, keeping those commandments and understandings and sharing those gifts as we receive them, we are blessed to know more and to receive more light and understanding for our sojourn here on earth and in preparation for the life to come. As the Lord has taught, “I will give unto the children of men line upon line, precept upon precept, here a little and there a little; and blessed are those who hearken unto my precepts, and lend an ear unto my counsel, for they shall learn wisdom; for unto him that receiveth I will give more” (2 Nephi 28:30).
The Savior Jesus Christ learned in life, even from His infant birth, grace for grace, precept upon precept and line upon line, just as He would have us do. It is the divine process through which the Savior passed, descending below all things, and in so doing providing by His grace the whole of mankind opportunity to ascend with Him, even unto the presence of the Father, to inherit all things with Him. “For if you keep my commandments you shall receive of His fulness, and be glorified in me as I am in the Father; therefore, I say unto you, you shall receive grace for grace” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:20). “He that keepeth His commandments receiveth truth and light, until he is glorified in truth and knoweth all things” (Doctrine and Covenants 93:28).
May we be blessed with patience and endurance to learn, to work, and to receive grace for grace, just as the example provided by our Redeemer. Let us not fight or resent the process so wisely and lovingly provided that we might grow and learn to become more like He who has simply called, “Come, follow me.” As we peer into newborn eyes and watch and help the little ones grow, let us with our Lord provide truth and light (Doctrine and Covenants 93:40), that we may all climb that ladder together to an eternal inheritance as sons and daughters of the Most High, by birthright and by grace, and receive fullness in Him. In the name of Jesus Christ, amen.